With the passing of Bloomsday on 16th June meant 2 special occasions (actually 3 but that moment’s over). First of all, this blog is 1 years old. Now, I know it doesn’t seem like it, because I wrote 2 blog posts in June last year, and then nothing until December, which was solely due to the arrival of my daughter into this world. Secondly, it meant the end of the fourth year of my 300 book reading plan (now 360), and the beginning of the fifth year.
I won’t recount the whole story (you can read that here) but essentially on my 35th birthday in June 2016, I began a plan to read 10 great books a year up until I am (God willing) 65. The aim wasn’t about saying I have read classic 10 books, but was to read them very well, and become almost an expert on them.
Now, I am far from becoming an expert on any book, but hey, it’s a 30 year plan, I’ve got time. The most important thing about this plan is that I absolutely love reading classic books, and bar the odd disappointment, continue to relish in this fantastic hobby. I still believe that reading the classics leads to personal growth and a better understanding of the world.
Most people’s reading year (if they have set a plan) generally runs through the calendar year, but mine works more like a sports season, approximately mid-year to mid-year, and that works for me.
So how did I do this year? Well, as my ability to blog was greatly reduced from June to December, so was my actual reading itself. I was very tired, working full-time, adapting of course to becoming a father, and not having the energy or focus to read. The reading I did do was in bite sizes, so I continued to read The Bible, and the occasional short story by Anton Chekhov.
My Bible reading was very successful though, because I had a separate plan set a couple of years earlier to read the whole Bible (New International Version), and during this year I achieved that. Reading Anton Chekhov’s short stories also allowed me to complete 1 of his short story collections, meaning by November, I had completed 2 books on my list.
That same month, I decided I had to start trying to read a novel again, and believed that would help me get my energy for reading back, and the novel I chose to read was Germinal by Émile Zola. That was sensational. It is a fairly long novel (over 500 pages of typical classic novel small print), but it took me about 2 months to complete, as I was gradually getting over my tired months and lack of energy.
I have no regrets about the length of time it took me to read Germinal though, as I absolutely loved reading that novel for those 2 months, having it a part of my life for that long. When I finished reading it in January this year, I was almost overwhelmed how much I loved how it all came together towards the end. It’s always going to be one of my favourite novels.
During my reading of Germinal, I found the energy and passion again to get this blog up and running, and most people have found me (and thank you all for that!) since then. My intention with this blog was always to share my love and passion for the classics, and I have continued to love writing and conversing with fellow classic readers in the comments sections.
I’ve managed to keep a steady stream of reading going since finishing Germinal for a grand total of 8 books read during the last year, which considering I basically had 5 months off, and one of those books was The Bible (albeit already began reading earlier), is not too bad. In contrast though, the year before I read 18 books (including 10 Shakespeare plays).
My original intention was to read 10 books a year, but I felt I was generally reading above that (past year not included!), so I introduced another 60 books to my list, to encourage me to have a stretch target of 12 books a year.
I have now read 46 books during the 4 years, which is above my original target of 10 books a year, but slightly under my stretch target of 12 books a year, though I think I will read above that over the next year. I have listed the 46 books completed during these 4 years at the bottom of this blog post.
So, where am I going for year 5? I have of course noticed that my reading recently has been very top heavy with Émile Zola novels. But guess what, it’s probably not going to change! I wanted to vary up my reading more this year, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and I just keep wanting to read Zola.
I have a vague goal of wanting to have completed the whole Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels (20 in total) before I turn 40 next June, but I won’t be disappointed if I don’t. I have 11 to go, and that is achievable of course, but that might mean that little else gets read, which is not my intention. I really do want to read more Shakespeare this year, as well as Balzac, Tolstoy and the greek playwrights Euripides and Aristophanes. But again, I will let inspiration guide me.
In fact, I have some shocking news to announce. I have actually begun reading a contemporary novel!!! I am not normally at all inspired to read modern novels, but I occasionally get sucked in by the hype surrounding a novel, though the last time that happened was when I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2010.
The novel in question I have begun reading is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. My plan for the next couple of weeks was only to read this book, but it didn’t work after only 2 days. It seems fairly interesting to me, but I could take it or leave it. I didn’t feel complete not having a classic to read, so I hired my old friend Zola to get me going with his novel The Masterpiece (1886), and I am feeling normal again.
So I am currently doing another rare thing, reading 2 books at once. I do want to keep going with Where the Crawdads Sing, but will be heavily devoted to The Masterpiece as well. Where I go from there we will see. I have also recently bought the first Agatha Christie novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and would like to read that at some point as well.
Anyway, here’s to the fifth year of my reading plan, and another year full of joy and delight at reading classic literature.
The 46 Books read so far in my 360 book reading plan (in order)
|William Shakespeare||♦||Twelfth Night|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Richard II|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Henry IV, Part I|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Henry IV, Part II|
|Fyodor Dostoevsky||♦||Crime and Punishment|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Henry V|
|Leo Tolstoy||♦||Master and Man and Other Stories|
|Epictetus||♦||Discourses and Selected Writings|
|William Shakespeare||♦||King Lear|
|Leo Tolstoy||♦||The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories|
|C. S. Lewis||♦||The Great Divorce|
|Sophocles||♦||The Three Theban Plays|
|John Bunyan||♦||The Pilgrims Progress|
|Fyodor Dostoevsky||♦||The Idiot|
|James Joyce||♦||A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man|
|William Shakespeare||♦||The Merchant of Venice|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Measure for Measure|
|William Shakespeare||♦||The Tempest|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Julius Caesar|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Much Ado About Nothing|
|William Shakespeare||♦||The Winter’s Tale|
|William Shakespeare||♦||As You Like It|
|William Shakespeare||♦||Titus Andronicus|
|Anton Chekhov||♦||About Love and Other Stories|
|Emile Zola||♦||The Fortune of the Rougons|
|Aristotle||♦||The Nicomachean Ethics|
|Emile Zola||♦||Pot Luck|
|Emile Zola||♦||The Ladies’ Paradise|
|Emile Zola||♦||The Drinking Den|
|Various||♦||The Holy Bible|
|Anton Chekhov||♦||The Lady with the Little Dog and Other Stories|
|Honore de Balzac||♦||Pere Goriot|
|Emile Zola||♦||The Kill|
|Emile Zola||♦||The Belly of Paris|
|Emile Zola||♦||The Bright Side of Life|