Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The 1%Challenge, or How to Become Well-Read

Yes, I'm joining another one! This is thanks to 3M over at 1 More Chapter, who has decided that she would like to read more on the '1001 books to read before you die' list that came out last year. Now, while many of the books are from the 20th century, and certainly I am not interested in alot that came out in the last 10 years, I do want to read many from early 20th century back into the 19th century, a time I prefer to read in. I am happy to say I have read 7.79% already! That's 78 books on the list! I'm not totally illiterate....thank you, university courses and English degree!! But I could do with reading more, as ever looking for ways to read more classics and read more of the authors I did enjoy or have heard about. Other than Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, who I read every couple of years anyway. There are so many books that I haven't read yet, that I have always meant to read - War and Peace, I'm looking at you!! Ulysses, why can't I find you anywhere???

Here are 3M's rules (I've given you the link, above):
The goal of this challenge is to read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. For you non-math people, 10 out of 1001 is approximately 1%, hence the title. The challenge will run from May 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009.

You may change your list at any time and cross-posting to other challenges is permitted. The only requirement is that your ten book choices must be on the ‘1001 List‘. Another helpful tool is an Excel spreadsheet by Arukiyoma that is found here.

And, the Arukiyoma link is a fantastic spreadsheet that is easily downloaded (if I can do it, anyone can!) to keep track of what you've read, and have yet to read. It even calculates it all for you!

So, all you have to do is choose 10 books from the Well-Read list....and then you can go to any dinner party, and when someone asks you, "and what have you read lately?" or "and what do you read?" you can say, "Well, I read War and Peace recently - or Everything is Illuminated, or Cryptonomicon!" (look, it's on my list already to read this year!!!) or any number of books you've been meaning to read that fall into the supposedly-literature don't have to agree with the '1001 books to read before you die' list, and certainly I don't intend to read all of them, I disagree with the list - so many authors are left off, or books by authors that aren't considered must read - No Ursula K. LeGuin, but Douglas Adams is, for the Dirk Gently series, no less! Not Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I would have picked for the list. No Dune. This list, I've seen written somewhere, is supposed to be a list about the books that developed the novel. That is why so many favourites are missing. I still disagree with it, and consider that if I read The History of the Kelly Gang instead of Oscar and Lucinda (both by Peter Carey), I will still be well-read AND have read the book I wanted to!!! Besides, Kelly Gang won the Booker prize, which is a list I am going to complete (one day). Many of the books on the Man Booker Prize list are on this list. So, it's an easy way to read books that are considered important in the history of the novel. So, see if there are 10 books you've been meaning to read, and come join the fun. Let 3M know, and come join the well-read party :-) Also, lest you think this list is really pretentious, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Gone With the Wind and I, Robot, and The Story of O are also on this list!!!! And Kurt Vonnegut....Interview with a Vampire...even The Shining, which I am very very happy to see, as I think Stephen King should be on this list, and this is one my favourite horror novels of all time.

Here is my list of books I am going to read:
1.Middlemarch - George Eliot (also on my 888 classics and chunky challenge list, yaay!) - DONE
2. Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
3. The Once and Future King - T.H. White (see, not a pretentious list at all!!)
4. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson (chunkster, was on From the Stacks....)
5. Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five- Kurt Vonnegut (depending on which I can find)
6. The Sea, The Sea - Iris Murdoch
7. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (already on my Man Booker Prize challenge)
8. The House of the Spirits - Isabelle Allende (thank you Kim at Bold.Blue.Adventure!! I won this in her BAFAB giveaway....) -DONE June 2008
9. White Teeth - Zadie Smith (888 challenge)
10. The House of Doctor Dee - Peter Ackroyd (sounds really good and scary, could read with RIP 3......)
11. Underworld - Don DeLillo
12. All Soul's Day - Cees Nooteboom

my spares, alternate choices (some of the above are hard to get or out of print now)
13.The Afternoon of a Writer - Peter Handke (I never heard of this book or writer! Must have this!)
14. The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy
15 Possession - A.S. Byatt
16. The Secret History - Donna tartt
17. Legend - David Gemmell
18. Ulysses - James Joyce (still looking for a copy.... already on the Birthday and TBR challenge)
19. Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges (mentioned in A History of Reading (my previous post), now I want to read it!)
20. If On a Winter's Night A Traveler - Italo Calvino (thank you Eva!)

Yikes, I have enough for two challenges!!! There is so much to read! I want to read everything! Well, not everything, but apparently more than 100 books on the 1001 books to read before I die!!!! I had to leave some titles off...Of course, next to reading these books, and making these lists, is going shopping for the books!!


3M said...

Great list, Susan! I plan on doing another 1% challenge back-to-back with this one after it's over, so never fear, you can put those books that you didn't get to this time on the next challenge!

Michelle (3m)

Eva said...

That's a great list! :)

I'd like to make my own 'books to read before I die' list someday...but I think it'd change on an almost daily basis!

Rhinoa said...

Good luck with your new challenge. I wanted to join this one but there is no way I will get the reading done for it so am passing for now. I like your list, I am reading Middlemarch, The Once and Future King and Ulysses aoon. I loved White Teeth and Midnight's children and hope you do too. I have Possession and I am looking forward to finding time to read it soon.

I did go through the list and found I have read 68 books which I am pleased with for now.

Nymeth said...

Oooh, I hope you read Possession...that's such a great book. I love your "official" list as well. And yeah, I agree with you...there are some authors whose absence from the list I can't understand, and some book choices that I find dubious. But it's an interest list nonetheless.

Susan said...

3M: thanks, Michelle! And I figured whatever I don't get read by next Feb, will go on the next challenge. I'm very happy to know there's another one planned for next year again!! :-)

Eva: I'll have to come look at your list, since I know you joined too. I know what you mean by making your own 1001 books list, because I thought of doing the same for myself! what 1001 books would I like to have read - in my lifetime....I wonder if we should do a meme or challenge, with, say, 100 or 200 books we feel are necessary? Could be interesting!!
I'd like to know what would be on your list, both of them!! :-) PS just saw your list, and left a comment there :-)

rhinoa: 68 books is pretty good to have done so far!! If I hadn't cheated on one or two university courses...!! I've tried reading Possession once and put it down, but keep finding incredible reviews so I put it on my list. and I joined this one because it runs into the New Year. It's fun, anyway!! I hope I'll like Salman Rushdie, it's the first one I'll have read by him.

Nymeth: so you like Possession too!!! :-) I have got to get to this book! At least Uncle Stevie is on the list :-) and Tolkien.

Bybee said...

I don't like this's like the makers of it only have 3 or 4 favorite authors from the 20th and 21st centuries and they just repeat them over and over ad nauseum. Margaret Atwood, Jeffrey Eugenides, Philip Roth...yeah yeah yeah zzz. All good authors, but the list lacks variety & feels stale. I didn't have the courage to go back to the 19th century.

I give a lot higher marks to 3m for coming up with the 1% Challenge idea than I do to the compilers of this list.

Aaron and I saw a woman at What The Book carrying this book around and checking the shelves then dutifully checking the pages. Seems like that would take the joy out of the bookstore experience when you find something that really sparks your interest.

The above remarks sound a little grumpy...there *are* some great reads on the list. Good luck with this challenge! As always, I look forward to reading your reviews!

Bybee said...

I'm glad you're going to read Middlemarch!!!

heather (errantdreams) said...

Good luck! I can't imagine trying to fit so much in! :D