Today is the second in a three-week series of Sunday Salon posts in which I also reviewed my 2011 reading goals and will be shifting my reading focus a bit.
As I promised last week, today I’m unveiling a new project. Reading projects have been, by far, my most successful and enjoyable reading endeavors. They encourage me to explore books I may never have picked up without the project to encourage me. The Classics Reclamation Project has gotten me reading and enjoying classics alongside my other books, and Reading Buddies has allowed me to finally pick up some long-standing TBR books along with fellow readers. These two will, of course, continue, alongside a third. So what is this new project, you ask?
Introducing: just READ it.
just READ it (JRI) is about tackling the “hard” books. “Hard” might mean long, or dense, or confusing, or intimidating, or far outside my comfort zone, or written by a “hard” author, or so universally beloved I’m afraid I’ll be the only person in the world who doesn’t see their brilliance. I have a bunch of these on my shelf, and without fail, my hand passes them by when I’m choosing my next book.
What are these “hard” books? For me, they include: The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov, Possession by A.S. Byatt, Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, The Aeneid and The Inferno, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and anything by Orhan Pamuk, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison or Salman Rushdie. There are others, of course, and I’m working on a Goodreads shelf to keep track of them, but these are the ones that come immediately to mind. Some of these overlap with my classics project, and if I read them, I’ll count them toward both.
There are a couple of reasons I’m singling out these “hard” books. First, I want to make myself admit why I’ve been avoiding them and then face them. I don’t want there to be any book I’m afraid to try, and by pushing myself, I hope to reach that goal.
I also want to read these books because some of the “hard” authors I’ve read recently have become my favorites. Margaret Atwood, José Saramago, David Mitchell and Kazuo Ishiguro all struck me as “hard” initially, but I’ve ended up loving their work. War and Peace is one of the scariest-looking books I’ve encountered, yet thanks to Jillian’s readalong, I’ve undertaken to read that tome this year and thoroughly enjoyed the half of it I’ve gotten through so far. So, I want to focus on these “hard” books because I do believe many of them will end up becoming life-long favorites.
The Technical Stuff
I’m not setting rules for this project the way I did initially with the Classics Reclamation Project. I don’t want to push myself too hard or stress myself out by setting deadlines or requirements. Instead, I’ll aim to read one of these books a month but will not feel guilty if I don’t. My posts about these books will be less formal reviews and more exploration, the way Classics Reclamation Project and Reading Buddies posts are. I’ll also try to say why each book intimidated me and whether my fear was justified!
These books will also show up on occasion in Reading Buddies book selection polls. If they are chosen as monthly reads, I know I’ll be glad to have the company!
What books or authors scare you?