Here I am 19 months into Simon’s 12-month challenge to read one book for each year of the 20th century, and I still have 12 books to go. In January I had 38 left to read. If I had any kind of discipline I would be done by now. After all I have read 61 books already this year. But I found that that kind of discipline is nothing but an invitation to reader’s block for me. Back in 2012 I limited myself to the ACOB list and it really cut back on my desire to read. This year mixing the list up with whatever catches my fancy has been a much better recipe for progress.
Here are the 12 books I have left to read:
1934 – Burmese Days by George Orwell 1936 – The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West 1939 – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 1942 – Clark Clifford’s Body by Kenneth Fearing 1947 – Not Now, but Now by M.F.K. Fisher 1963 – The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy 1965 – Of the Farm by John Updike 1971 – Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller 1972 – Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl 1973 – After Claude by Iris Owens 1977 – Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald 1979 – The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
Would I be foolish to say that I am going to try and finish these by the end of August? Probably, but maybe I will say it anyway. I am, after all, unemployed at the moment. Should be a breeze right? Since about January I have been reading the list in chronological order. I wonder if I Should I stick to that? It is kind of fun to see how style and content evolve or how some books are either ahead of or behind their times. But forcing myself to read them in order does sometimes slow me down as well.
Here is the whole list. It is amazing how much the books have changed since I posted the very first iteration. When I finish the whole century I plan on doing a bit of a comparison to show how the list evolved as I jettisoned some titles in favor of others that were more readable.
1900 – Claudine at School by Collette 1901 – Claudine in Paris by Collette 1902 – The Immoralist by Andre Gide 1903 – The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers 1904 – Peter Camenzind by Hermann Hesse 1905 – The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin 1906 – Young Torless by Robert Musil 1907 – The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (ML100) 1908 – Love’s Shadow by Ada Leverson 1909 – Martin Eden by Jack London 1910 – Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett 1911 – Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (ML100) 1912 – The Charwoman’s Daughter by James Stephens 1913 – T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett 1914 – Penrod by Booth Tarkington 1915 – The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela 1916 – Under Fire by Henri Barbusse 1917 – Gone to Earth by Mary Webb 1918 – Patricia Brent-Spinster by Herbert George Jenkins 1919 – Consequences by E.M. Delafield 1920 – Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson 1921 – Dangerous Ages by Rose Macauley 1922 – The Judge by Rebecca West 1923 – The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy 1924 – Some Do Not by Ford Madox Ford (ML100) 1925 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 1926 – Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne 1927 – Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards 1928 – Quartet by Jean Rhys 1929 – Passing by Nella Larsen 1930 – Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestly 1931 – The Square Circle by Denis Mackail 1932 – Year Before Last by Kay Boyle 1933 – Ordinary Families by E. Arnot Robertson 1934 – Burmese Days by George Orwell 1935 – A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett 1936 – The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West 1937 – Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson 1938 – Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan 1939 – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 1940 – Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather 1941 – The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge 1942 – Clark Clifford’s Body by Kenneth Fearing 1943 – Gideon Planish by Sinclair Lewis 1944 – Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp 1945 – The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford 1946 – Every Good Deed by Dorothy Whipple 1947 – Not Now, but Now by M.F.K. Fisher 1948 – The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh 1949 – Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford 1950 – Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns 1951 – A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor 1952 – The Far Country by Nevil Shute 1953 – Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis 1954 – Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins 1955 – The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith 1956 – The Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch 1957 – Angel by Elizabeth Taylor 1958 – A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym 1959 – The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley 1960 – The Bachelors by Muriel Spark 1961 – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (ML100) 1962 – A Clockwork Orange by A. Burgess (ML100) 1963 – The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy 1964 – The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble 1965 – Of the Farm by John Updike 1966 – The House on the Cliff by D.E. Stevenson 1967 – My Friend Says It’s Bullet-Proof by Penelope Mortimer 1968 – Sarah’s Cottage by D.E. Stevenson 1969 – The Waterfall by Margaret Drabble 1970 – 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff 1971 – Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller 1972 – Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl 1973 – After Claude by Iris Owens 1974 – House of Stairs by William Sleator 1975 – Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Crucial Conversations by May Sarton 1976 – The Takeover by Muriel Spark 1977 – Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald 1978 – The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym 1979 – The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer 1980 – The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco 1981 – Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (ML100) 1982 – Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar 1983 – Look at Me by Anita Brookner 1984 – Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner 1985 – Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson 1986 – Anagrams by Lorrie Moore 1987 – Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher 1988 – The Temple by Stephen Spender 1989 – Passing On by Penelope Lively and Summer People by Marge Piercy 1990 – Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman 1991 – The Translator by Ward Just 1992 – Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells 1993 – While England Sleeps by David Leavitt 1994 – The Longings of Women by Marge Piercy 1995 – Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson 1996 – Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood 1997 – Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty 1998 – The Book of Lies by Felice Picano 1999 – Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson