Friday, November 19, 2010

27 Books Before My 27th Birthday? Not A Chance.

Well, I had the best intentions, and I'd love to say that I did it - but I didn't make it.  Well, at least, I don't think I'm going to.  My birthday is less than two weeks away and there's no way I'll read (I mean, *really* read) 9 books in that time.  Sigh of all sighs.  Grumble.  And I had really wanted to prove the naysayers wrong (John, who scoffed, "That's impossible!" or "You should just read short stories or a really thin book!"  Err ... great idea, but defeats the purpose of my quest).  Oh well.

It was an interesting experiment though, and I learned quite a lot of valuable lessons along the way - I highly encourage everyone to attempt it.  Think about it: out of all of you, who can honestly say, with their hand on their heart, that they read *regularly*?  I just don't think it's possible, with a full time job and a social life, to do so, unless you're motivated by a bookclub (which I have since joined) or a peculiar self-motivational experiment like mine.  Over the course of this experiment, I've read some truly, great books - and some that were ... um ... not-so-great.  I even received my first hate mail on this blog (see my review of Julie/Julia, then subsequent bashing of Cleaving - I had some hardcore Julie Powell fans running after me with spiked clubs and the like), which I was quite proud of, and a lovely, touching letter from a 90-year-old World War II veteran - none of which would have happened without my grand (little) scheme.

At the end of the day (and boy, do I hate that phrase), attempting to read 27 books before my 27th (whoops, I actually typed 17 in there at first!  I wish ...) birthday made me realize how little time I truly devoted to myself.  Time to yourself is always important to have, but not a lot of us have the luxury of curling up with a good book for 2-3 hour chunks of time.  So we find time: we read on our commutes, on our lunch breaks, in waiting rooms and reception areas.  We read books that make us so angry, we throw them (again, refer to Julie/Julia).  Or books that humble us, make us so grateful, that they move us to tears.  We read books that are so-so and we read books that we are practically evangelical about.  We even read trashy books for fun.  That's okay (because books don't judge you - people do).  

So what made the list?  Here they are, in all their 18-titled glory (and with some annotations):

1) To The Nines - by Janet Evanovich (That was my one trashy allowance.  Hey, we all have to start somewhere!  Right?  Right??)

2) Disobedience - by Naomi Alderman (Good effort, but ultimately crap)

3) Then We Came To An End - by Joshua Ferris (Utterly brilliant)

4) The Grass Arena - by John Healy (Touching, harrowing, and yet, amazing)

5) The Road - by Cormac McCarthy (Not bad, for a bestseller main-stream type)

6) The Help - by Kathryn Stockett (Best Oprah endorsed book of the year)

7) Travels With Charley - John Steinbeck (I *hearted* it - yes, I used "heart" as a verb and in the past tense - I didn't study English at Oxford, Mount Holyoke and York for nothing)

8) Julie/Julia - by Julie Powell (Despicable)

9) Cleaving - by Julie Powell (Even more despicable)

10) The Unnamed - by Joshua Ferris (Not as good as the other one)

11) Perfume - by Patrick Suskind (Just ... plain ... weird)

12) For Esme: With Love and Squalor - by J.D. Salinger (Classic beauty)

13) Short Girls - by Bich Minh Nguyen (Too ambitious)

14) Skippy Dies - by Paul Murray (What *should have* won the Man Booker Prize 2010 instead of the awful title in #18)

15) First Light - by Geoffrey Wellum (My hero)

16) Finding Nouf - by Zoe Ferraris (True airport literature - basically crap)

17) Girl In Translation - by Jean Kwok (Thought provoking and relatable from a cultural viewpoint)

18) The Finkler Question - by Howard Jacobson (Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2010 - awful, just awful)

I wish I'd ended on a high note but I'm afraid to say the opposite was true.  Granted, I still do have a week or so to squeeze in one last book, but in case I don't make it, readers, there you have it.  My full and final list.  I think a more realistic goal for next year will be to aim for at least one book per month.  But come on, people, 18 books in 9 months isn't too shabby.


  1. You inspire me!!! Hmm....maybe i could watch 27 movies in a year.... That would be a challenge . Or run 27 miles ....hey I'm almost there !

  2. btw what was that book you recommended that you said was your #1 choice for 2010? oh and you'll be pleased to know the mhc chicago book club is reading travels with charley later this year ;)

  3. I think it was "The Lottery And Other Stories" by Shirley Jackson - it was unlike anything I have ever read Let me know what you think if you do read it so we can discuss! I am so excited that you'll be reading Steinbeck! I hope you all like it! It's very light hearted so will be great relief, I think, and it's just so endearing as well. I remember wishing he was still alive so I could meet him after reading that.


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