Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Book Challenge: Readers’ Choices

The results are in!

Reader’s choice quickly became readers’ choices with so many of you voting and leaving comments. I apologize for any technical difficulties you may have encountered in doing so and greatly appreciate your efforts and opinions.

Lolita and A Prayer for Owen Meany were the clear winners. I’ve been meaning to read both of these for some time based on many personal recommendations over the years so that worked out well.

First up, however, owing to early love from John Marcher and others, is Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. I figure I might as well tackle my nemesis when I’m fresh and enthusiastic. Hopefully, the story at least features a lighthouse somewhere. Don’t tell me and crush my hopes and dreams if it doesn’t.

To the Lighthouse was one of six books in a tie for third place. I’ve decided to put all of them on the list, even Oryx and Crake, for which Jennifer made a compelling counterargument. (I’m going to blame her anti-Canadian sentiments on hormones: Jenn stop jeopardizing your baby’s future in the Great White North by criticizing Atwood—will no one think of the children!?!)

Other books I really want to read based on comments here and on Facebook and Twitter are Crime and Punishment, The Master and Margarita, Never Let Me Go, and The Sense of an Ending. That last one is strictly in honor of Aaron, ultimate Barnes fan as well as creator, potentate, and Lord High Executioner of the original Facebook challenge that kicked off this crazy reading frenzy.

So, I ended up with a list of twelve, which, if you know me at all, is a very good thing as it would drive me crazy all year long not to be matching the number selected in previous years.

The Dirty Dozen
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)
The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov)
Middlemarch (George Eliot)
Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes)
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)

These twelve books have 6000+ pages between them. Doable? Certainly (Goodreads tells me I read approximately 18,000 pages in 2011). Likely? Only time will tell.

If anyone wants to join me, I’m happy to read these in any order, depending on library availability (which probably only affects The Sense of an Ending, for which I’m currently no. 178 of 192 holds). Just let me know and we can coordinate.

I will be starting a secret group (meaning only members can see the group, who's in it, and what they post) on Goodreads for discussing these books as I go along. Selfishly, I am also hoping it will be a space for motivation and encouragement.

If you want to read along with any or all of these selections and join the discussion there, please contact me and I will invite you to the group. If you are not already on Goodreads, it is quite easy to set up an account just for these discussions. You can get an idea of how it looks and works by visiting my profile.

I am not getting To The Lighthouse from the library until this weekend, so I don't anticipate any real activity until next week.


Polter-Cow said...

Ooh, I'd love to read To the Lighthouse with you, as I bought it at a yard sale a year or two ago. I'm almost done with Little Brother on my Kindle, but...maybe...maybe I can read my real-book copy of To the Lighthouse at the same time? What fresh hell is this?

The Other Athens said...

I've got Middlemarch on my Kindle right now. But as it's the one big classic I plan to read all year, I suspect we are not on the same plane in terms of pace.

Sylvie said...

Well, I'm very ADD about my reading and I was thinking it may be a good idea to spread out both Middlemarch and War and Peace while I read other things, maybe 6 months each? I own Middlemarch and might avail myself of Katie's ripped-in-half copy of W&P, so it wouldn't be a problem.

I was talking with Jenni and thinking of starting a private Facebook group for people wanting to discuss these, or at least post thoughts, while reading. You don't have to be "friends" with everyone in a group. I think I'd just need to add you to the group once I set it up. Thoughts?

Polter-Cow said...

I'd be up for that. You're definitely starting with the Woolf, right? Maybe I'll start it tonight.

ab said...

you know I'm down for some war and peace action. What translation are you going to use? Is there a preferred one? Also onboard for crime and punishment.

KB said...

I'd like to (try to) read all of these, except for the ones I've already read, of course, with you. I've tried to read over half of them before, so I love this idea.

Like the facebook group idea too.

Katie Crouch said...

I am down for facebook group participation and my ripped W&P is all yours. I've read 5 on this list and have attempted but gave up on 2 more. Curious to check out the others and discuss all!

Sylvie said...

Glad to see a number of people interested in the discussion idea. I will accumulate a list as the week goes along and add everybody together this weekend.

As for War & Peace, I used the new Pevear/Vol... (long Russian name--I know, I know, I'm one to talk) when I read about 350 pages 2 years ago. I chose them because they leave all the original French in the text and translate it in footnotes whereas the others use a French word here and there but never indicate that sometimes pages and pages of the book are in French, which for me was an important distinction (but then I didn't have to read the translation at the bottom).

I thought they did a fine job, but they have a controversial method so you might want to go with the Maudes as John Marcher suggested in his comments on the original book list.

The size of the hardcover was quite an impediment to me for reading so I'll probably just use whichever translation Katie has offered as a split. (And please do not suggest an e-reader, we hates them precious, yes we do.)