Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? I do. Usually mine are too big; I want to be a successful blogger and lecturer; I want to be rich and famous; I want to be less insecure and never make any mistakes again. Well, that never worked out. This time, therefore, I set myself a slightly more realistic goal – and yes, of course it’s book related, since nothing is more important than books! Want to know what it is? Read on!
Over the years I’ve read quite a few awful books, but to be honest, I usually don’t mind. There are times I even prefer reading a silly book over Proper Literature, because I’m tired and unable to concentrate. I enjoy reading uncomplicated books from time to time, since they help me relax after a particularly bad day at work. Sometimes, however, I do mind: whenever I read a book that’s absolutely dreadful, I get so annoyed that I complain about it to everyone. People then wonder why I don’t put them away (or tear them up, or ritually burn them), but somehow that would feel like admitting defeat. Instead, I plow through them and get my revenge by writing a scalding review. And that definitely makes me feel better. But no, my New Year’s Resolution is not to read as many terrible books as possible and then writing mean posts about then. Quite the contrary, in fact.
So here we go, my New Year’s Resolution. I’m quite scared it might come off as pretentious or show-off, but here it is. This year I want to read at least twenty (modern) classics that have been on my to-read list for quite some time. These are the books I’ve heard a lot about, or the books that have won multiple awards, or are supposed to be so great your life will be changed once you’ve read them. I can’t wait to read them all – even though some of them have over a thousand pages and are considered quite challenging. Here they are:
- Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
- Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! by Kurt Vonnegut
- The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn
- The Dispossed by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Purity by Jonathan Franzen
- Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
- Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- The Man With Six Senses by Muriel Jager
- The Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
- Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
- Demian by Hermann Hesse
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
While browsing my bookcase, I started wondering what actually constitutes literature, as opposed to merely a novel. I must admit that I still don’t know the answer, even though I studied English Literature for years. I’m not sure it even matters, to be honest. Some people prefer to solely read chick flicks, while others feel fantasy is the one true genre; to some, literature died a hundred years ago, while others obsessively read everything published right now. One genre is not necessarily better than the other, even though sometimes others (including myself, I must admit) claim the opposite.
Actually, come to think of it, here’s one more New Year’s Resolution which we could all benefit from: Be kind to others. Even is they don’t share your opinion on, say, books, music, or even the way we deal with the pandemic.
I guess there are some things more important than books, after all.
Which books do you feel you simply have to read this year? Do you think we should all read (modern) classics or Big Literature? And what makes a book truly worth reading? Please let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more book-related posts!