Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The New Classics Challenge

So I've decided to join my first reading "challenge". Challenges are a big part of the book blogging culture and at any given time there are a multitude of them going on. They are organized or hosted by different bloggers and anyone can sign up to participate. The one I've chosen to participate in is being hosted by Joanna on her blog Lost In a Good Story and it's called "The New Classics Challenge".

The challenge is centered around the recently circulated Entertainment Weekly's list of new classics, which is a list of what they call the best reads from 1983 to 2008. Here is what I need to do to participate:
1) Copy the Entertainment Weekly list and bold the titles that I have already read and post the list on my blog.
2) Choose at least 6 other books from the list, read and review them between 1 August 2008 and 31 January 2009.
3) Post links to my reviews on Joanna's blog.
4) In January 2009, cast my vote for which one of the 100 books on the list is my favorite (and write a post on why). The winning book will be sent to a lucky winner chosen by the scientific method favored here in the blogosphere, i.e. names in a hat. Other contests are very probable too.)

My thinking is as follows:
1) 5 months is a fair amount of time to read 6 books, so I'm not over committing myself.
2) This seems like a good way to "test the waters" and decide whether I like participating in these types of things.
3) I like lists.
4) Some of these books have been on my "to do list" for some time.

Here is the EW List with the books I've read in bold:
1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)

30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Only 21! This is another reason to add to my list - to improve my shoddy score. I know this is a bit Debbie Downer of me, but just a few gripes about the list before I start - I felt annoyed by the fact that I'd read other books by authors on this list, but not the specific book listed. For example, I've read every one of Nick Hornby's books EXCEPT High Fidelity. Ditto Zadie Smith, and almost with Margaret Atwood and Annie Proulx. Oh well... I'll just have to settle for 21. Also, and I'll stop after this one last gripe - but did they seriously not put The Time Traveler's Wife on this list? Really? Okay, now I'm really done.

The 6 I'm planning on reading by January are:
1. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997) - I've been interested in reading this for a while. I have a weird fascination with Mount Everest that I believe stemmed from that show on the Discovery Channel "Everest: Beyond the Limit" which I would watch for hours, way past my bedtime, through my fingers, like a train wreck I couldn't tear my eyes away from.

2. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986) - Comes highly recommended by many book bloggers and friends, PLUS it was one of the books I got at my recent book swap so I won’t even have to buy it!

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007) - After reading Raychel's review, I'm really interested in reading this.

4. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989) – A friend of mine says it’s one of her favorites, so I’m adding it to the list.

5. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002) - I've almost bought this a few times but for some reason haven't read it yet.

6. I'll let you YOU choose the sixth book for me. Leave your suggestion in the comments and I'll go with the most interesting or compelling suggestion. (Hot tip - don't choose #38. I won't read it no matter how nicely you ask.)


mari said...

Atonement is really good. :)

cranky rae said...

Eat, Pray, Love. With your love of chic lit., I don't think it'd be possible for you to hate it. And it's genuinely a really good book -- I read it twice when I was going through my breakup.

Kristin said...

I strongly, STRONGLY urge you to read Love In The Time of Cholera especially if you have never read any Gabriel Garcia Marquez before (or even if you have). Out of all the authors on that list, he is the one that struck me as a certified "Classics" level author. Not that many of the others aren't, but he is the one recent author on there that I don't think anyone could argue will not eventually be considered one of the greatest novelists of all time.

Not to mention, I've read this book myself and loved it. (I heard that the movie is a really poor substitute).

Kristin said...

Whoa, I just noticed that one of my absolute favorite books of all time is on there...Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware. (ACTUALLY the official title is "Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid On Earth"). This is a graphic novel, so it doesn't even really count, you can just tack it on to your six! I'm still officially voting for Love In The Time Of Cholera. But you have to borrow this from me sometime.

joanna said...

Welcome to the challenge! I totally agree with you about The Time Traveller's Wife. :-)

I can recommend The Giver by Lois Lowry - it's a young adult book, a very quick read and absolutely fantastic. At least I thought so.

Anonymous said...

We have read some of the same books and not read some of the same books. AND your wishlist is MY wishlist - except I've got The Lovely Bones out of the way. Truthfully, I'm not diggin' the Oscar Wao book. and I've never read John Irving - gotta cross him off eventually.

Anonymous said...

I basically read the same ones as you. So, I don't know what to recommend.

I didn't list the six I was going to read for the challenge. I'm going to keep my options open :>