I had ‘A Cry’ on this blog back in September 2014.
I’m happy to say I have stopped crying and I’m well into some new projects, one of which is completing a reading list.
At the beginning of February I decided to read the best 100 books in one year, so I searched for the definitive list, only to find there isn’t one.
The BBC has one, Time has one, Amazon has one, the UK Telegraph has one. Type “best books”, or “best 100 books”, or “books to read before you die” and you will see there are oodles of lists. I think the total number of best 100 books came to about 195 so I cross referenced the lists and chose the books that appeared most often.
I deselected books I’d never heard of and I kept on the list the handful of books I’d read years ago and could no longer remember anything about them. This time I decided I would enjoy them, get to know the readers, analyse the writing and appreciate their uniqueness.
I scrambled the list so I wouldn’t get bogged down by too many long reads in a row. I was a bit nervous about my ambition knowing I something of a recovering bibliophobe. Accordingly I peppered the list of heavy and long works with Huckleberry Finn, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, and Wind in the Willows. I started withTreasure Island.
So far I’m doing quite well although I had to seek counselling after running some too close to others. Holden Caulfield’s mind is not something that softens the troubles of Grandpa and Rosasharn Joad.
I can’t spend the whole year doing nothing but reading all day so I break each book down to sets of fifty or so pages per session.
I romped through Treasure Island, The Great Gatsby, Wind on the Willows, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath, Alice in Wonderland, The Catcher in the Rye, Frankenstein, thinking the rest of the project would be a snap, and then I hit my former nemesis, grumpy old Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy and let him try to beat me to death with his pen and drown me with his ink and befuddle me with his annoying lapses into 150 year old French and German which none of my French or German friends could even understand, but happily I survived Anna Karenina. I still don’t know why he called it Anna Karenina instead of Russian societal, religious, agricultural and philosophical dilemmas as seen long windedly through a family of struggling middle class aristocrats of the centre half of the 19th Century.
Anyway, follow my Goodreads column (https://www.goodreads.com/colinpearce) to see what I really think of poor little Anna with the thin hands and the feeble heart as well as all the others as the year progresses.