When I sorted out my TBR and scanned it into GoodReads, I discovered a few interesting things.
For example, I have an extraordinary amount of Irish short story collections (I barely ever read short stories), a whole stack of Jo Nesbo novels (I have never read Jo Nesbo), quite a few Patrick White novels (I haven't read a Patrick White novel since I reviewed The Solid Mandala in 2007) and quite a lot of what I would call "classic" 20th century fiction.
In fact, many of these "classic" novels feature in Peter Boxall's recently updated 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, which got me thinking...
Last year I pretty much read on a whim — apart from, of course, my Australian Literature Month (in January) and my Shadow Giller Prize jury obligations (in October) — and simply chose to read those novels that attracted me at a particular point in time, usually dependent on my mood and whether I was feeling partial to a crime novel or, say, some newly released literary fiction.
But, occasionally, when it came to choosing my next read, I'd be overwhelmed by choice and didn't know what to read next (you may have seen me Tweeting about this) and I'd pick up a book, read the first page, think, hmmm, not sure I'm in the mood for this, pick up another, read the first page, think, hmmm, not sure I'm in the mood for this, and, well, you get the picture. Sometimes it would take me four or five tries before I found something my brain could settle on.
This year I want to be a little more organised. And I want to read more from the backlists rather than a constant diet of new fiction. Which is where the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die comes in. I own 69 of the titles in this book — yes, 69! — and while I'm not foolish enough to think I will read them all this year, I would like to make a bit of a dent in the pile — a dozen would be good, 20 would be excellent.
Here's the list of titles I have in full (hyperlinks take you to the book's description on GoodReads):
I'm already off to a good start, having just finished Robertson Davies' Fifth Business (which dovetails nicely with KevinfromCanada's 2013 project in which he plans to reread 12 Canadian novels that have influenced him).
If you want to join along with me, please do. I'm not going to be too thorough about it all — I still want to read the occasional new release and work my way through my translated fiction, crime fiction, Irish fiction and Commonwealth fiction piles — but I'm hoping that whenever I get stumped about what to read next, I can look at this list and find something to amuse me. It seems to be a rather good mix, actually, with a good geographical spread, a relatively equal mix of men and women writers, and a variety of different styles/genres.
Do you have any reading plans this year? How do you decide what to read next? Are there any on my list above that you would recommend?