Friday, July 1, 2011

My 8 Favorite Books: Happy Birthday to Me

Months -- years, I think -- before I turned 25, the Columbus Dispatch ran a list of the 25 books you should read before you turn 25.

I dutifully clipped the list and hung it on the refrigerator. I had already read about half of the books, and I finished the remainder weeks before I celebrated the appropriate birthday.

I love a reading challenge.

And so here we are five years later, in the month of my 30th birthday. I never came across nor looked for a list of 30 books to read before you turn 30, and so I'm doing something a little different:

I'm reading what I consider my eight favorite books to see if they're still my favorite. In all honesty, I'm finishing what I consider my eight favorite books this month -- I've already started no. 8

8. "The Prime Minister" by Anthony Trollope
7. "Persuasion" by Jane Austen
6. "Cass Timberlane" by Sinclair Lewis
5. "Emma" by Jane Austen
4. "Middlemarch" by George Eliot
3. "Anne of the Island" by L.M. Montgomery
2. "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami
1. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

I've had this project in mind all year, and I came up with the list a couple of months ago. It was more difficult than I expected. At least one -- "Middlemarch" -- I read about a decade ago. I barely remember the characters' names, let alone the plot. But I remember thinking then that it was one of my favorite books. Will it still hold up?

Two of the books on the list are part of a multi-book series. "Anne of the Island" has always been my favorite of the "Anne of Green Gables" series and was probably my favorite book before I was introduced to Jane Austen when I was 16. "The Prime Minister" was the most difficult choice on the list. When you consider entire bodies of work, Trollope is my second or third favorite author, and every book in the Palliser series is terrific. I chose this as a representative sample.

I've read eight books a month for years -- usually a combination of popular novels, classics and informative (and occasionally boring) non-fiction. I won't be bored this month. I consider that my birthday present to myself.

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