Saturday, 3 May 2008

The 1% Well-Read Challenge

1% Well-Read ChallengeBook lovers of the world, unite!

Peter Boxall's book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, is the basis of a challenge that is being thrown out by Michelle of To accept this challenge, you commit to read 1% of the list over the next 10 months, which is one book a month. She even refers us to a nifty spreadsheet that allows you to tick off all the books you've read and get an automatic calculation of how many you need to read a month to get them all in before you die. I would have to read three a month. Not going to happen. Reading three books a month is not the issue; I just have too many books outside of that list I want to read.

But there were so many books on this list that I really wanted to read anyway, I figured I'd officially throw my hat in the ring.

The 10 books (subject to change) I have selected for this challenge are:

City of God - E.L. Doctorow
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
Beloved - Toni Morrison
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K. Dick
The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
The Betrothed - Alessandro Manzoni

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Fern said...

I love books, lists and spreadsheets, and the idea of combining all three is tempting, but there are so pretty harsh criticisms of the book on the link you provided. Do you have the book? Do you think it is too heavily weighted to modern lit? Do you think it unfairly focuses on some authors to the detriment of other authors that should be on the list but aren't?

Janet said...

The list is arbitrary, of course, as any such list will be. You don't have to think it's definitive to use it. You don't even have to buy it for this challenge; the entire list is in the spreadsheet. There are a good number I have no intention of reading, ever, and an even larger number that I wish were on the list but aren't.

But it doesn't matter. This is entirely for personal enjoyment, and having a friendly challenge online adds a little extra push. That's all it is and I refuse to take it any more seriously than that. I had no trouble finding 10 books out of the 1001 that I haven't yet read and that interest me. So I'm doing it. If the idea pleases you, do it. If it doesn't, don't. I won't think any better or worse of you either way.

3M said...

Glad to have you on the 1% challenge!

Gary said...

Young lady, you are a treasure trove when it comes to this sort of thing! I think I shall erect a shrine to you out in the front yard and start calling you "Goddess!"

Sadly, in looking over the list, I hate to admit how my prejudice toward contemporary literature has left me so lacking with the titles on it. I am going to have to do better, that is for sure.

Oddly enough, depending on how voracious a reader one is, I think this proves reading is a more expensive habit than smoking! If we take trade paperbacks as the mean price, and figure their cost at $13, wow! at the amount you would spend just on this list alone. If only smokers had a used cigarette store, I guess! :-s

Janet said...

*Chortle* "young lady"

That is too incredibly funny.

The list is in reverse chronological order, so I picked one book from each 100 listed, so as to spread out my efforts a bit. City of God is waiting for me on the hold shelf at the library. Got to hustle my bustle over there.

Book habits can be very cheap. Between libraries (and the used books often available for pennies at libraries), used book stores, clearance tables, and friends who lend... I do make a point of buying the particularly good ones though. Or of putting them on my wish lists.

C. B. James said...

You have a very impressive list.

Very ambitious, too.

Janet said...

Ambitious? The only one intimidating me is Mann's Magic Mountain. I've got it somewhere around here, I think, still shrink-wrapped after 30 years in the original German. Now THAT'S intimidating. It's probably guilt that is driving me in that case. (The book isn't even mine. How's that for the book borrower from hell?) The rest are just books that intrigued me for one reason or another.

What I find strange is how little patience I have for most literary fiction, seeing as I got a degree in the stuff. Maybe that's why. I read too much of it in too little time and got fed up with certain aspects of it. Now that I'm older and crankier... But every now and again, I come across something that enchants me. Life of Pi pulled it off, for example. I'm hoping at least a couple of these will enchant me.

May Vanderbilt said...

OOH! Read Their Eyes Were Watching God, first. I LOVED it.

Janet said...

Too late. I've already done City of God.

That's the second personal recommendation I've gotten for Their Eyes. I've read the first couple of chapters in the bookstore and it does look promising.

reading1001 said...

I really want to read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
I've only read Philip K. Dick's short stories, but found them engrossing.

Janet said...

I'm looking forward to that one, Reading. I am ashamed to say, I haven't read anything of his yet.


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