Christopher Hitchens, Dave Eggers, Joseph Heller, Orson Scott Card, Ernest Hemingway, and Neil Gaiman.
What do they have in common? They’re the authors of books that I’m currently reading. To say I read a lot is a massive understatement, at any given time I’m working my way through 3-6 books of different lengths and genres. But this crew is special, because this school year every book I read gets added to a lists. I’m 19 books into a 50 book stretch that I decided to start a few days before returning to school.
Anyway, why did I start this challenge?
Well, like I said before, reading really isn’t a challenge for me. The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t reading; it was that I was often rereading, and that feels limiting to me. The number is certainly more than doable. But it’s not really about the number anyway. That was just a guide and a bit of a fun, something to allow me to look up 50 books I’d like to read and try and cross as many of them off the list. I don’t want to get to caught up in the number because I truly enjoyed the books I’ve read so far, and because I never want this to feel like a task.
So what does a book have to be to get on my reading list? Well the only rules are that I can’t have read the book before and I can’t be reading it for class.
I pick some authors I know and like: Dave Eggers, John Green, Kurt Vonnegut. I pick some genres I know I can get into: memoirs, science fiction, satire. I pick books off “back to school” lists that I’d never read. Books by Hemingway and Bradbury and Heller. And of course I go after the “cool” stuff, The Hobbit is coming to theaters in December and the Hunger Games series is a must read. And this is about expanding my library so I added books from authors I never thought I’d read like Ayn Rand and books from authors I can’t believe I haven’t read, like Neil Gaiman.
I also spend a more than healthy amount of time wandering around Books-a-Million.
I love it. I love that I’ve sort of balanced out the sadness of ending a really great book with the fun of adding it to an ever growing count of brand-new books. I love having a “reason” to buy a new book. I love that when I’m reading before class someone will invariable ask, “what it’s about, who is it by, do you like it,” and I get to answer and talk about the books that I’m reading and have read and am planning to read and they’ll suggest their favorite book, or what they’re reading.
And I love that I’m reading works from authors I’d barely heard of, David Foster Wallace, Christopher Hitchens, and that leads to more books and even more authors and stories and ideas that I would otherwise not encounter.
Reading has always been part of my life as more than an escape but as a chance to encounter new ideas and alternative realities and sit in the mind of a character doing things you could only imagine. Reading gave me the message Kurt Vonnegut said many people need desperately to receive:
“‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”
So I continue to read, ebooks, short stories, novels, anything I can get my hands on, 4 or 5 at a time.