These past few weeks, I’ve been shopping around for a challenge to kick off 2013. Noting that I’m not quite as devoted to finishing challenges as I am to starting them, I decided to stack the deck and choose a challenge based on something I would be doing anyway: reading.
Back when I was first researching the possibility of homeschooling my kids, I read Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind. In this book, she gives a brief explanation of the trivium and how to apply that method of study to reading The Classics. She then goes on to give suggested reading lists in literature, memoir, history, drama, and poetry. I bought the first several books on her literature list (except for those I already owned) and actually read Don Quixote (the first novel on her list and, actually, the very first novel ever) in the manner she recommends. I liked it. It required a lot more brain than I think I usually use when I read, but I retained a lot more of the plot than I usually do. I’d intended to go back and read the rest of the books from her lists, but so far that’s not happened.
Then a couple of weeks ago I found a link to The Classics Club on Shelf Love, one of my favorite book blogs. The Classics Club is basically a reading challenge. To join, one chooses 50+ classics, posts the list on one’s blog, and vows to read all of the books on the list within 5 years.
This seemed like my kind of challenge.
So, I’ve named my challenge “Cavalcade of Classics,” and I’ve made what I hope is a realistic but challenging list. It’s drawn primarily from the literature, memoir, and history lists in The Well-Educated Mind except that I’ve replaced some books I’ve already read with others by the same author, and I’ve added a couple of others, most notably Atlas Shrugged, which I think I really ought to read to see what all the hubbub’s about even though it’s really long and I’m not at all sure I want to spend that much time with Ayn Rand (I read her Anthem in high school and liked it, though, so maybe it won’t be so bad). I also removed Mein Kampf. I know I should read it because of its large and abominable influence on the 20th century, but I heard that when you read something your brain waves mirror those of the author when he was writing it, and I don’t think I’m up for that in this case. This is also why I’m also not too sure about reading Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, but I’m still feeling up for that challenge, at least for now. We’ll see how I feel after a few dozen classics.
If a re-read is still on the list it’s because I last read it for a school assignment and think I ought to give it a closer look or because I really liked it and just want to re-read it. But if the thought of slogging through The Great Gatsby again threatens to derail the whole project, I’ll simply skip it. Actually, I reserve the right to cut this list ruthlessly if I get to 2014 and have only read five of the books or something. It’s my list, and I’ll cut a book if I want to.
Now without further ado…
(Click the link above for the book list)