The Premise: 100 Great Books

Dear Reader,

So, you must be wondering why I’ve gathered you here today.  Or, more accurately, why you’ve gathered yourselves here.  Although, you’re probably sitting there reading this alone, so ‘yourselves’ is a bit of a stretch, and ‘gathered’ is definitely the wrong verb for stumbling upon a random blog page . . . but, hopefully, you see what I mean.

My purpose for writing this blog is actually rather specific, but it has a bit of a back story, so hopefully you’ll be patient.

I’ve been an avid reader since I was about two.  So no one was surprised when, halfway through my senior year, my great aunt left to me her complete set of The Franklin Library’s collection ‘The 100 Greatest Books of All Time’.  One hundred beautiful, leather bound, gilt-edged volumes, featuring some of the best prose, poetry, plays, and nonfiction ever produced by mankind.  I was in seventh heaven.  I sorted them by type and carefully arranged them on six shelves in my bedroom.

Time passed, I actually got accepted to college (a beautiful Big 12 school), and then, finally, I graduated from high school.  However, as I began packing up for move-in day, I had a startling revelation.

I had yet to actually read any of them.

That’s right; my fantastic, awesome, coolest-thing-ever collection of books had languished on my shelves.  Sure, I’d read the first few pages of one or two, but I’d made no significant progress on any of them.  A large portion of the wealth of knowledge of mankind (or, at any rate, a lot of the most famous words ever written) had been staring me in the face for the past six months, and I hadn’t been bothered to actually read any of it.

Then, it hit me.  An idea so intriguing, so daunting, that I couldn’t possibly turn it down.  Theoretically, I was heading off to college to become educated, to learn how to think, to become an informed citizen of the world, all that nonsense.  What better way to supplement such an education than by reading the 100 greatest books of all time?

I mean, I suppose it’s not the authoritative list of the best books ever.  But somebody had to think they were pretty good, good enough to spend time making fancy editions of them.  So it would work.  Take one hundred books, subtract the three or four I’ve read in the past, divide by eight semesters, and we get the magic number 12.

12 books per semester for the next four years.  I mean, I read a ton; for me, that’s like a cake walk.  Only problem is, the average length of these books seems to be a mind-numbing 500+ pages.  (I haven’t even dared to check the page count on War and Peace.  I shudder at the thought.)  And it’s easy to fall into the trap of reading without paying a lot of attention to what I’m reading.  I mean, the point of this project is to somehow edify myself by reading these books – skimming for plot is probably not the best way to accomplish that.

So, I figured, what better way to gain an in-depth understanding of the books I’m reading than to write about them to other people?  And how could I accomplish that?  Oh, I know, a blog!  It’s, like, part Julie Powell and part AJ Jacobs.  But, of course, I’m pretty much talking to myself unless someone else reads and enjoys and (hopefully) gains something from what I write.

And that’s where you come in.



Spoiler Note: Just to be up-front with everyone, pretty much all of my posts are going to include at least glancing mentions of plot points in the books I’m reading, so if you’re one of those people who really doesn’t want to know anything that happens before you read it . . . don’t read it. On posts where it’s particularly bad, where the content will focus heavily on plot twists or endings, I’ll do my best to say so at the beginning. In other words, if a post starts out with ‘includes spoilers’, I’m going to tell you exactly what happens.

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 10:59 PM  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I just read your Blog and found it very interesting since I have read some of the books you mentioned,the Divine Comedy comes to mind. We had it once in a book club at church.

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