Thursday, January 21, 2010

Books of the Century Challenge

One of my blogging goals for this year was to participate in reading challenges when they would encourage me to read things I normally wouldn't. The first challenge I signed up for, while fun, is pretty achievable without trying. The Books of the Century challenge, however, looks like a great one for me because it really will be a challenge--but it's something I want to do.

Books of the Century Challenge  

(condensed from challenge website): The challenge is based on Daniel Immerwahr's The Books of the Century website. Immerwhar has compiled a list for each year of the 20th Century based on:

1. The top ten bestsellers in fiction, as recorded by Publishers Weekly;
2. The top ten bestsellers in nonfiction, also as recorded by Publishers Weekly;
3. The main selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, founded in 1926;
4. "Critically acclaimed and historically significant books, as identified by consulting various critics' and historians' lists of important books."
    Although I've been reading a lot of young adult and contemporary stuff recently, I don't want to forgo all the "classics."  While these books only represent a narrow range of literature, they also have affected our current understanding of literature in many important ways.  Besides, I also want to be able to talk "canonical literature parlor talk" with the best of the English teachers!  What's interesting about these lists is that they include both popular books and historically significant books. 

    I'm going to participate at the Popular Literary Culture 401 level, which requires participants to read one book from each decade on the list.  I went ahead and listed some reading possibilities below.  I had to rely mostly on books I'd vaguely heard of or read before, so it will be interesting to see how I like the books once I actually sit down with them.

    1900s: completed!
    E. M. Forster, A Room with a View (1908)

    1910s: completed!
    Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)

    1920s: completed!
    Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929)  

    1930s: completed!
    Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth (1931)

    1940s: completed!
    Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942)

    1950s: completed!
    John Steinbeck, East of Eden (1952)
    Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
    David Howarth, We Die Alone (1955)

    1960s: completed!
    Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)

    1970s: completed!
    Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions (1973)

    1980s: completed!
    Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1989)

    1990s: completed!
    E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News (1993)

    1 comment:

    1. That challenge looked super intimidating to me - so awesome you're undertaking it! Also looks like you've got some great ideas (I love The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, though I have to say I've been remiss in not reading Herland!). Good luck!