I’m writing this post primarily as a form of public accountability, but also to come clean about something. You see, Jonathan recently told me he’d committed to a personal challenge and asked if I’d like to take part…
His proposal: Read one book per month for at least one year.
Yes, yes, I know. For most of you this could hardly be considered a “challenge.” To some of you, I’m sure, one book per month is actually too easy.
But… the truth is… neither Jonathan or I have actually read and finished a real book for… we have no idea how long. At least since before Fay was born, which means over two years ago. And if we’re being honest, it’s probably been much longer than two years.
It’s bad. We’ve been so bad and it’s embarrassing.
This isn’t to say we haven’t read anything; we are both voracious consumers of online news and periodicals: current events, op-eds, investigative journalism, media news, blogs. But that has meant an increased dedication to our phones and computers, and it’s something we absolutely want to curb — particularly now that Fay pays such close attention to what we do and works hard to emulate it.
All this to say, I accepted this challenge with open arms.
Jonathan proceeded to tell me that, for his first book, he wanted to start with Dune. He’d always planned to read it, he said, and was committed to it now. He then listed several other titles he’d long wanted to get lost in — some we own, some he’d have to buy.
I sat and considered a few of the new and popular books I’d recently seen dedicated reader friends and bloggers rave about — this one, this one, and this one, for example — but then I stopped myself. What was I thinking? I have a veritable library of books I have packed up and lugged around from apartment to apartment, house to house — some for upwards of 10 years. Under no circumstances, I chided myself, will you buy another book. A minute later I was at my bookcase pulling out novels and memoirs, one by one into a pile on the floor — every single book one which had survived multiple, intense purges.
Suddenly this reading proposal of Jonathan’s had morphed into a 2-year challenge to tackle the long-neglected books on my shelf.
MY PERSONAL RULES FOR THIS CHALLENGE:
- No purchasing anything new
- If it hasn’t been on my shelf since at least 2013 (or 5 moves ago, when I lived in Orange County), it doesn’t make the cut
- Complete each book before the next designated month, but can read ahead, if desired
Are you curious which books I’ll be tackling over the next 24 months? Here they are, to be read in alphabetical order by author:
|January 2019||SAY YOU’RE ONE OF THEM – Uwem Akpan|
|February 2019||FLIGHT – Sherman Alexie|
|March 2019||I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS – Maya Angelou|
|April 2019||NAKED LUNCH – William S. Burroughs|
|May 2019||SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD – Orson Scott Card|
|June 2019||ENDER’S SHADOW – Orson Scott Card|
|July 2019||MY ANTONIA – Willa Cather|
|August 2019||FRED & EDIE – Jill Dawson|
|September 2019||AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED – Khaled Hosseini|
|October 2019||ASA, AS I KNEW HIM – Susanna Kaysen|
|November 2019||UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN – Jon Krakauer|
|December 2019||THE INLAND WHALE – Theodora Kroeber|
|January 2020||YOU DON’T LOVE ME YET – Jonathan Letham|
|February 2020||AKHENATEN: DWELLER IN TRUTH – Naguib Mahfouz|
|March 2020||BLACK SWAN GREEN – David Mitchell|
|April 2020||LAMB – Christopher Moore|
|May 2020||READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN – Azar Nafisi|
|June 2020||THE NIGHT IN LISBON – Erich Maria Remarque|
|July 2020||TEN DAYS IN THE HILLS – Jane Smiley|
|August 2020||A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN – Betty Smith|
|September 2020||JUST KIDS – Patti Smith|
|October 2020||ON BEAUTY – Zadie Smith|
|November 2020||WALDEN – Henry David Thoreau|
|December 2020||THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE – David Wroblewski|
So, any interest in joining me?
Not to read these specific books, of course. Sure, perhaps it’s not a full 24 books needing attention on your shelf, but I bet there are at least a few you keep putting off reading and yet still refuse to get rid of time and time again…
Or perhaps you’re realizing you, too, are one of those people who just doesn’t read books like you used to, or never did read them — and you want to change that.
If either of those statements are true, perhaps now’s the time for a challenge of your own.
What are some books you’ve had sitting on your shelf for a really. long. time. that you’ve been wanting to read but haven’t committed to? I’d love to know!
As for me? My personal challenge starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!