As I look back at my Best of 2011 and Best of 2010 lists I'm struck again and again by the number of new-to-me authors I've discovered in the past two years and how much I love their work. I've been doing a nice job reading new releases by these authors, but this year I want to focus more on reading the backlists of authors I've enjoyed in the past. I'm not swearing off new releases, debut novelists or new-to-me authors by any means, but I want to make time for the authors I already love too. I'm aiming to read at least two books a month by authors whose work I've enjoyed in the past. My first priorities are the backlists of Ann Patchett, whose latest novel State of Wonder was my favorite read of 2011, and Pearl Cleage, who has been my favorite author for fifteen years, yet I haven't read any of her books in the last three years. I'll be reading or re-reading all of Pearl Cleage's novels, as well as several of her plays, this year.
1001 Books to Read Before You Die
Last year I made a ridiculous goal to read all of the pre-1700's books in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I failed miserably. After rethinking this goal, I'm going easier on myself. If this project is going to take 40-50 years, I don't want to save some of the titles I'm most excited about until the end. I'm aiming to read at least 24 titles from the list this year, but I'm giving myself free reign to pick the titles.
Orange, Booker, Pulitzer and Bellwether winners
One of my goals before we have a baby (not anytime soon) is to have read the Booker and Pulitzer winners from 1980 (the year I was born) until the present and all of the Orange Prize and Bellwether Prize winners. I know my reading habits will change immensely when we have a baby, but at the very least I hope to manage to read these three or four winners each year, as they're my favorite awards. This year I'll be reading the winners from 2000 to the present. Given the titles I've already read, it leaves me with 9 Pulitzers, 11 Bookers, 9 Oranges and 6 Bellwethers. I anticipate reading the Booker and Pultizer winners from the 1990's in 2013 and the winners from the 1980's in 2014.
The 2012 Prize Lists
As always, I'll be eagerly awaiting the announcements of finalists, longlists, shortlists and winners of the literary prizes. I may not attempt to read each and every title if they don't interest me, but I will still focus my reading on prize lists during several months this year.
I'm thrilled to be participating in Orange January again this year. I'm planning to make a dent in the remaining winners. I'm determined to at least read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, and Property by Valerie Martin.
I'm also eagerly awaiting tomorrow's release of Naomi Benaron's debut and Bellwether Prize-winning novel Running the Rift. I've pre-ordered it for my Kindle and cannot wait to get started. I think it could be a contender for this year's Orange Prize too.
Other titles I hope to squeeze in this month: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage (re-read), Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (re-read and 1001 selection), Watchmen (1001 selection), Gillespie and I by Jane Harris, The Silent Oligarch by Christopher Morgan Jones, One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (book club), Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff (book club), and Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell.
Most of all, though, I want to read what I feel like reading and feel proud of what I'm reading. I don't want to over-schedule my reading. Now tell me: what are your reading goals this month and year?
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