Reading List for 2013

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I thought it might be good to take a more active approach to reading. I don’t think I’ve ever made an ‘official’ reading plan before. Unless you count the summer before my senior year in high school, when I tried to read ahead for my A.P. English class based on what my brothers had read for the same teacher in previous years (can you say nerd?).

So, besides waiting tables in a little Mediterranean café, I spent the summer of 1996 reading Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby, and The Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison’s, not H. G. Wells‘).

Thankfully Mrs. Hudson still taught the first two books in my class, and I was able to use Gatsby for another assignment, but my labour through Ellison’s book was definitely in vain. Yeesh. Maybe I’d feel different if I read it now, but at 17 it was merely painful. Sorry, Ralph.

my library

my library: the lovely old section

When you walk in my house the first thing you see are shelves and shelves, full of books. I’ve probably read at least half of the books many times over — but there are still [too] many that I have packed and moved over the years, without ever having opened them.

my library: the poetry shelf

reading plan


Here is my reading list for 2013 (in alpha author order):

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
    I watched a cartoon movie based on this book as a kid. All I remember is that it was about rabbits and it made me cry. I mix it up the The Secret of NIMH — not sure if the stories are similar or if I just saw the movies close together. I’ve owned this book for years and never cracked it open.
  • Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
    I love this movie (Christian Bale, already brilliant as a child actor!), and had no idea it was based on a book, until I stumbled upon it in a clearance stack at Half Price Books a few months ago.
  • Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
    So many people reference this book. I started it a few years ago, but got sidetracked. I love Chesterton’s fiction and look forward to finally reading one of his nonfiction works.
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevksy
    I first read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (so long, but wow!), and then, The Adolescent. This one has just sat on my shelf gathering dust. Not for much longer.
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hess
    A friend handed me a copy of this book, after declaring it one of his favourite books. That’s compelling. And it certainly helps that it’s so short.
  • bird by bird by Anne Lamott
    I have started this book two or three times since I first got it in 2005. It’s a great book, but somehow I never finish it. This is the year. And I won’t even feel bad it’s taken me this long. When I put off reading a book, it often ends up that when I finally do read it — it’s at exactly the right time.
  • Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandra, and That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis
    Oh, the Space Trilogy. I love C. S. Lewis, but I’m not a science fiction fan. Yes, Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia top my list of favourite books, but those stories are different — they’re more in the past and medieval-y. I don’t get excited about futuristic, space-y stories. However, this is Lewis we’re talking about, so I’m going to set my science fiction feelings aside and finally take the plunge.
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Started this last November so I could  read it before I watched the movie. Got too busy to do either. I did get 100 pages in, so only have 200 more to go.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Agh. Several of my friends have named this their favourite book of all time. My bookclub even read it a while ago, but that month I was overloaded with work and could barely finish the first chapter. Now I have the “I know too much about it” syndrome, but I refuse to let that ruin it for me. I will finish this book — even though I know the last line. (Shhhh. I’m trying to forget.)
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    Russian novels can be a bit daunting. I’m hoping if I watch the movie first, I might be able to keep up with the story and characters better.
  • Brit-Think, Ameri-Think by Jane Walmsley
    Read a bit of this when I visited a friend in London last July and ended up ordering my own copy. The parts I read were fascinating.

 

Added on January 15:
  • Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
    I confessed to never [yet] having read a Christie mystery and decided my first would be the book I bought at a great little antique shop just blocks from her London home.

what’s on your reading list this year?
anyone want to set me straight on Ellison’s
Invisible Man

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bet mercer

Bet Mercer is a poet-photographer who writes at Gimme Some Reads and Everyday Poetry. She loves quotes, reading her favourite books over again, great conversation, laughter, trees, films, and travelling the world. Follow along with Bet on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Etsy and Google+.

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Comments

  1. dad — January 3, 2013 @ 11:46 am (#)

    i AM a SciFi nut (as you well know) and did read Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength years ago.

    if it helps, they’re not all that SciFi-ey. when Merlin the Magician shows up it gets pretty medieval.

    there are some space references, and Lewis’ idea of space and planets is quite different that anyone else i’ve read.

    • bet — January 7, 2013 @ 9:51 pm (#)

      merlin, eh? interesting. :)

    • Chad — January 9, 2013 @ 9:54 am (#)

      I hated Invisible Man…with a passion. Sorry you had to endure that monstrosity.

      Will _loves_ Lord of the Flies, and I’ve tried to convince him that it’s not that great in comparison to others.

      But he’s not hearing it. He just finished Great Expectations last semester and hated that. And he still won’t read Lewis & Tolkien. Really.

      Parenting makes my head hurt.

    • bet — January 9, 2013 @ 9:59 am (#)

      I mostly just remember being thoroughly disturbed by Lord of the Flies, which I guess is the point, but still.

      Hopefully, Will comes around in the end in reads at least one of the two (CS Lewis and Tolkien). Maybe he’d like one of Lewis’s nonfiction works — they’re basic brilliant debates written down.

  2. kate swartley — January 6, 2013 @ 5:49 pm (#)

    Ive read empire and life of pi…enjoyed both. I recently came up with the idea to read all the high school lit books that were never assigned to me. Ive gotten thru the giver, the outsiders and am on huck finn. Dont know if ill make the whole list,though. I mean, the odyssey? I cant imagine enjoying it, but i guess you never know.

    • bet — January 7, 2013 @ 9:53 pm (#)

      ooh. nice goal. where’d you find such a list? i read The Outsiders in junior high. made me want to publish a book before i was 16 so i could be like SE Hinton. ah well.

    • Gayle Mercer — January 9, 2013 @ 2:37 pm (#)

      And you tried to publish a novel, I think before your were 16 wasn’t it?

    • bet — January 10, 2013 @ 10:38 pm (#)

      something like that. but it wasn’t a good novel. :)

  3. maux — January 7, 2013 @ 8:49 am (#)

    Life of Pi is fantastic, and as you may know I just started the Lewis trilogy and loving it so far. I also loved “Bird by Bird”. I’ve got The Great Gatsby on my list for this year–never read it and the movie is finally inspiring me to do so. Still wavering about if I’m going to commit to LOTR or not. I read the first few chapters…

    • Ali | Gimme Some Oven — January 7, 2013 @ 9:10 am (#)

      I would join you for re-reading Gatsby. Or maybe we should encourage it to be a book club pick?

    • bet — January 7, 2013 @ 7:18 pm (#)

      oh yeah. let’s make it a bookclub pick!

    • bet — January 7, 2013 @ 7:20 pm (#)

      hope you will choose to continue LOTR at some point. and i’ll be curious to discuss the space trilogy with you once i start reading it myself. have you used your phrase, yet??

  4. Ali | Gimme Some Oven — January 7, 2013 @ 9:09 am (#)

    Such a great list!! I love “Bird By Bird” and “East of Eden”. Was iffy on “Life of Pi”. But I’ve always wanted to read Orthodoxy — would happily read it with you!

    • bet — January 15, 2013 @ 7:56 pm (#)

      I’ll give you a heads up when I start reading Orthodoxy! :)

  5. Rachel Budke — January 7, 2013 @ 6:21 pm (#)

    I’ve been thinking about reading Anna Karenina. I loved the movie so much, Joe Wright is such a great director. But, I’m not a big reader so I can’t decide if I should take it on or not. Let me know how it goes!

    • bet — January 7, 2013 @ 9:51 pm (#)

      definitely agree about Joe Wright. looking forward to watching the film. never hurts to try taking on a book. :) but definitely check back when i post about it — i’ll let you know how ‘easy’ it is to read.

  6. Sarah M. — January 8, 2013 @ 10:25 am (#)

    oooooooooh. this is such a great list. We definitely need to put the Great Gatsby on our book club list. Let me know when you get to Orthodoxy and the space trilogy; those are on my list, too. Hoping to make some headway on my to-read shelf, but I keep adding books to it without taking any off : )

    • bet — January 8, 2013 @ 12:24 pm (#)

      will do. i love that you actually have a shelf dedicated to your “to-reads”. :)

  7. Doreese — January 15, 2013 @ 5:03 am (#)

    We have quite similar reading taste! I am reading Catcher in the Rye right now then Great Gatsby next! Life of Pi is also on my list.

    I loved Anna Karenina- it was hard to get into at first but once I did it was amazing. :)

    • bet — January 15, 2013 @ 7:53 pm (#)

      Glad to hear you found Anna Karenina worth the effort. I’ll remember you said so when I struggle through the beginning. :) Let me know what you think about Catcher and Gatsby!

  8. Heather — January 15, 2013 @ 10:39 am (#)

    Awesome list! I keep meaning to watch Empire of the Sun…….pretty curious to see what Christian Bale looked like as a kid. I also saw the Watership Down cartoon when I was young, and remember being moved to tears by the rabbit’s plight. Pretty sure I read the book a couple of years later and loved it, although I believe it was also fairly depressing.

    • bet — January 15, 2013 @ 7:58 pm (#)

      Thanks, Heather! If you haven’t yet seen Empire of the Sun, you should definitely move it up your list. It’s been too long since I last saw it, but I still remember the effect it left me with.

      Any books you’ve got on your list to read this year?

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