After making a list of classics I've never read (a list that was in no way comprehensive), I decided to launch my first blog project. I made a list of 12 of these books to read in 2012 and I'm going to blog about it over the year because I know you're dying to hear my thoughts on Tolstoy and Plath and Orwell.
I asked friends to suggest their top picks. Only a few of you had recommendations and I know why: Because most of you suckers haven't read these books either. I can see right through you.
Based on the suggestions I did get and which books I'm curious about, I came up with this list. I'm going to shoot for one each month.
here for my review.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Why am I beginning with Anna Karenina? January seems like a good time for something especially substantial. I can picture myself sitting next to the fireplace in my bedroom on winter's coldest nights reading about a doomed love affair. I'm all about doom and gloom in January.
Why am I ending the year with War and Peace? Because I think I'm probably going to need to put nearly 12 months between my first experience with Tolstoy and my second.
Why am I doing this at all, setting up a project for myself, when I could easily spend most of my time watching movies I've already seen, reading books that aren't quite as important?
Because I have no idea where my life is headed. 2012 is a mystery to me. At least, this way I have something that I know I'll be doing. I'll be reading Anna Karenina. I'll be reading The Bell Jar. I'll be reading Brave New World.
But the rest of the year is full of questions. When and where and who and how?
Will I ever find an agent? Will I ever find a publisher? Will I finish my book? I hope to finish the rough draft of it by the end of this year. I'm on target to do so if I can stay focused and hopeful and avoid videos of adorable animals on the Internet.
So I do know I'll spend the first part of next year editing my book and anxiously awaiting edits from my friend and copy editing genius, Stephanie Gibson. I'll keep sending out my book proposal and hoping it lands in the inbox of someone who believes in this "small" book. As I've shared before, it's considered small because I'm not famous. I'm not Kim Kardashian. I'm not someone like Amanda Knox whose tragedy has been featured on Today ad nauseum. My book has no vampires. So I'll just keep trying to show people that it's worthwhile.
But I don't know much else beyond that. I'll keep mothering my wonderful children, but will we be living in Alabama by the end of 2012? I don't know.
Will I find a job? Where will it be?
Will I finally date George Clooney? OK, so I do know the answer to that one.
So who will I date? It's a mystery. Perhaps I'll be too busy reading The Count of Monte Cristo. At least, the guy on the cover of the paperback edition is pretty cute.
In truth, there are few people who truly know where they will be in a year. Their lives may look secure. They have steady jobs and stable marriages and the gift of certainty.
Unfortunately, certainty is an illusion. No one really knows what life will bring them.
In an instant, everything you have ever counted on, everything you ever assumed about the universe and how it works could change. Then what?
I honestly have no idea.
But I know that, come January, I'll be reading Anna Karenina.
That's something, anyway.