Wednesday, December 31, 2008

50 Book Challenge & Reading Resolutions

At the beginning of the year, I joined a challenge on the Reading is Sexy Facebook group to read fifty books in one year. I didn't include anything much shorter than the shortest play I read (about seventy pages, I think) or anything I didn't read completely (which is too bad because the Encyclopedia of New York State would have looked amazing on here).

Yesterday, I finished the challenge. Here, purely because I want to see them all together, is my list. Yellow is YA/juvenile/children's lit. Green is fiction. Salmon is poetry. Purple is nonfiction. Blue is drama. The two in black are crossovers (A Book of Ireland is a compilation of Irish writing and Eugene Onegin lives somewhere between poetry and fiction.)

  1. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  3. Dubliners by James Joyce

  4. Yiddish with Dick and Jane by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman

  5. Earthly Astonishments by Marthe Jocelyn

  6. From Fatigued to Fantastic by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum

  7. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

  8. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  9. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

  10. Some Writers Deserve to Starve: 31 Brutal Truths about the Publishing Industry by Elaura Niles

  11. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

  12. The Playboy of the Western World by J.M. Synge

  13. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

  14. Ireland (LIFE World Library) by Joe McCarthy

  15. Healing Stones by Nancy Rue

  16. Saints Behaving Badly by Thomas J. Craughwell

  17. Villette by Charlotte Bronte

  18. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  19. The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins

  20. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience by William Blake

  21. Irish Saints by Robert Reilly

  22. The Coal Tattoo by Silas House

  23. A Book of Ireland edited by Frank O'Connor

  24. The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoyevsky

  25. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

  26. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

  27. Terpin by Tor Seidler

  28. How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

  29. World War I and Nationalist Politics in County Louth, 1914-1920 by Donal Hall

  30. Carlingford Town by P.F. Gosling

  31. The Autobiography of S.S. McClure by S.S. McClure and Willa Cather

  32. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

  33. Master Harold... and the "Boys" by Athol Fugard

  34. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

  35. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

  36. The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland by R. F. Foster

  37. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore

  38. Who Let the Blogs Out? A Hyperconnected Peek at the World of Weblogs by Biz Stone

  39. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

  40. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

  41. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

  42. King Lear by William Shakespeare

  43. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  44. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

  45. The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

  46. Woman's World by Graham Rawle

  47. West Wind: Poetry and Prose Poems by Mary Oliver

  48. Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth

  49. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

  50. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

  51. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler

(If I didn't feel so lazy, I'd have more hyperlinks here.)

About 20 of these come from my favorite Greatest Literature list. About 10 were directly related to research for my book (several more were indirectly related). Perhaps what surprises me the most about this list is the amount of nonfiction I read.

I'm starting the challenge again for 2009, but I don't think I'll be very particular about whether or not I get to fifty next year. I already know I can do it, and right now I'm much more interested in finishing the book I'm writing. I would, however, like to read more poetry and drama this coming year, particularly poetry.


  1. hey Bethany! happy new year! i am powering through 8 nobel-prize winning novels over christmas break. they are the assigned reading for my class on the form & theory of fiction this spring. let me know how your reading list is going; i'd be interested in what books you read that you really liked.

    also, have you read Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson? It was recommended to me by a visiting writer here, but I haven't had the time to look at it yet. Also, I really like Sharon Dolin and Susan Rich. Do you have any poetry recommendations for me?

  2. Hey! I haven't read Autobiography of Red; you'll have to let me know what you think if you get to it first.

    As far as poetry goes, I doubt I've read and enjoyed anyone you don't already know.

    My reading plans for this year are pretty loose. Poetry: more Yeats, Black Box by Frank X Walker, and Rice by Nikky Finney--beyond that I imagine it will be a struggle between poets I should be reading right now and poets I should have already read (but haven't). Fiction: Ulysses.