Friday, 9 January 2009

12 Books in 12 Months

One of my New Years resolutions this year is to read one "good" book per month. Maybe I shouldn't call it a good book but rather an educational book. Yes lets go with educational. I have made a list of books I want to read so that I won't spend the first half of the month trying to decide which book to read and then get discouraged. Most of the books from the list are selected from The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. This book was recommended to me by a friend some time ago and I found it very very useful during my literature course at gradschool last semester. I will blog about the steps she recommends at a later date. Today it is about the list. So for without further ado the list:

January: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The first book that Wise Bauer recommends in the novel section is Don Quixote. I've tried reading this book several times and I keep getting stuck. So since classes don't start until the end of the month I thought I would make a concerted effort this month to read it. I feel that this is most definitely the time to do it.

February: John Adams by David McCullough
This book is not recommended by Wise Bauer but I have never studied American history pre-civil war. I grew up in Sweden but spent one year in an American High School, we studied American history post civil war. So this year as part of my self-education I want to study some American history. I was recommended the books by David McCullough as being excellent. I am currently listening to 1776 and so I thought that John Adams would be a good next step.

March: Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
This book isn't recommended in The Well-Educated Mind either but an online book club was going to read it for January and so I bought it. Unfortunately I got really busy in December and didn't get around to reading that book or much of anything really, so I have slated it for March.

April: The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
This book follows Don Quixote in the list of novels in The Well-Educated Mind. I have actually wanted to read this book since I was a teenager when I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott where the girls get the book for Christmas, so I am looking forward to this.

May: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
This book is such a part of the fabric of our society that I am looking forward to reading it just to see the lilliputians for myself. I have heard of them growing up and now I want to see it for myself.

June: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Well-Educated Mind actually calls for Pride and Prejudice at this point but I have recently read that and so I thought I would read a different Austen.

July: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I can't remember if I have or haven't read Oliver Twist. I know I have seen the movie but I just can't remember if I have read it. So I am definitely reading it now.

August: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
The Well-Educated Mind actually calls for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and then The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn in between Oliver Twist and Moby-Dick but I am reading both those books for my History of British and American Literature and Ideas course so I will get them read outside of this list. I do feel a bit apprehensive about reading this book as I have heard that a lot of people find it difficult but I shall give it an ernest go.

September: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
This book goes well with my studies of American history so I figure I am hitting two birds with one stone. I have read it before but it has been quite some time so it is probably a good idea to re-read it.

October: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I read this book for my World Literature class in High School but that was quite some years ago now so I am going to re-read it. I remember thinking Emma quite annoying. It will be interesting to see if I have a different opinion of her now that I am older.

November: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I bought a copy of this when I was studying a module of Russian history in High School but I never got around to reading it. I really enjoyed Russian history so I am hoping that this book will capture my interest.

December: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A friend of my tells me that this book is very good so I am hoping that the year will end with a good one. Of course this is a book that one hears a great deal about so I am interested in seeing if it is as good as they say.

As you can see I often recommend the Penguin Classics. I really enjoy the formatting with these editions and I also like the introductions in them. I highly enjoyed the introduction in Don Quixote because it deals with the difficulties with translations and I studied translation this fall. The translator talks about the difficulties of translating accurately when there isn't a perfectly corresponding word or phrase something I deal with as an ESL teacher.

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