I said I would never do this again. Simon Thomas at Stuck in a Book has reissued his dastardly A Century of Books challenge. The first time (has he done it more than once?) the century was 1900 to 1999 and participants were to read 100 years of books in a year, one from each year. I made the stupid mistake last time of trying to read them in chronological order which really hindered my progress. And, as much as I read old books, getting through the first 20 years of the century was way more painful than I had thought prior to starting. This time around Simon has proposed that the century consist of 1919 through 2018. This twenty-year shift is just enough for me to make this a much attractive (and doable) challenge.
Although the first 20 years from the last time around had a few books that I truly enjoyed (and one that is an all time favorite), the overall memory of those 20 years still makes my stomach churn six years later.
1900 – Claudine at School by Collette (so boring)
1901 – Claudine in Paris by Collette (so boring)
1902 – The Immoralist by Andre Gide (kind of enjoyed)
1903 – The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (really needed to be 100 pages shorter)
1904 – Peter Camenzind by Hermann Hesse (loved)
1905 – The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin (kind of okay)
1906 – Young Torless by Robert Musil (really disliked)
1907 – The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (why is he so hard to read?)
1908 – Love’s Shadow by Ada Leverson (enjoyed)
1909 – Martin Eden by Jack London (all-time favorite)
1910 – Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett (snooze)
1911 – Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm (man, I hated this book)
1912 – The Charwoman’s Daughter by James Stephens (fine)
1913 – T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett (enjoyed)
1914 – Penrod by Booth Tarkington (snooze)
1915 – The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela (boring)
1916 – Under Fire by Henri Barbusse (unpleasant writing style)
1917 – Gone to Earth by Mary Webb (kind of liked)
1918 – Patricia Brent-Spinster by Herbert George Jenkins (loved)
I guess that only half the list makes me shudder in recollection. But then there were 4 more that I only kind of enjoyed. I think the problem was that there are too many “esteemed” books on the list that I should have chucked instead of finished. This time I plan to set books aside and find something more enjoyable.
Like last time I am going to try and read mainly from my TBR pile, but the shift in dates, and the fact that my TBR is much bigger and more diverse this time around means, I hope, that I won’t run into so many problems finding enjoyable books. Last night I stayed up way too late combing the shelves to fill in my century. So far I like the way that list is shaping up and will post about it in the coming days.
In the meantime, I think this one challenge may encompass every urge I have this year for reading resolutions. Anyone who listened to the year end recap that Simon Savidge and I did on The Readers will know that I am anti-resolution this year, but my resolution to not have resolutions seems to be wavering. By participating in this one challenge, I think I can manage to
- Read at least 100 books.
- Greatly reducing my TBR pile.
- Pick up the pace on my Brookner re-read–If I wanted to, all 12 of the remaining Brookners I have to re-read could be put on the list.
- Follow whims–the addition of 2000-2018 really allows for room to read recent and diverse novels.
- Get a complete accounting of my TBR–I’m going to make a list by year so that I know what I have to choose from, and if I have more than one book for a given year I can choose the most enjoyable one.
I do know this. I will fail. My hope is that this time I don’t let that keep me from reading or ruining my year. If it does…well, I can always blame Simon Thomas.