I've been thinking about books for next year. Sort of my own advanced planning. I just finished reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and I really enjoyed it so it propelled my brain into thinking and planning.
I used to always read the exact same genre of books. I was a fan of female contemporary sleuths and usually they were part of a series. For example:
- Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich
- Sharon McCone by Marcia Muller
- Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton
- Goldie Bear by Diane Mott Davidson
- China Bayles by Susan Wittig Albert
- Cat Marsala by Barbara D'Amato
- Carlotta Carlyle by Linda Barnes
- VI Warshawski by Sara Paretsky
Over the last 10 years I've started expanding my reading and I still read a few of those authors, a very few, but I have certainly diversified my reading materials. I love books with a comedic twist and dark humor (Chris Moore or Jonathan Tropper come to mind). I also like something with a bit more intellectual challenge. Daddy-O says I like smart books, or something like that. I want my brain to be stimulated. I find that fun. I read plenty of crap (like James Patterson) because too many 'meat and potato' books needs a balance with 'cotton candy' for the brain.
I am NOT a fan of chick lit, though I do find myself reading one on a very, very, rare occasion- usually I get suckered in and I find out about half way through it's chick lit. I don't usually ready anything that's going to terrify me, like Stephen King, though I completely respect the man as a writer and his talent. (On Writing is one of the best books I've ever read.) I used to avoid Oprah recommendations like the plague because they were usually so tragic with no redemption. I don't mind something heavy and serious but I need to have something redeeming happen to characters at the end. And redemption doesn't always mean a happy ending, either. I also hate romance novels and historical romance.
Last year I decided I wanted to read more non- fiction. Fiction as always been my "thing." I read some memoirs last year and decided I wanted to bring more non-fiction into my reading life. I decided in 2010 I would read a minimum of 12 non-fiction books. So far, I've read 11 and 1/2. The half comes from the book War. (It was so emotionally hard for me to read, I just couldn't get all the way through it, though Lord knows I did really try.) I have to read one more to make the goal and I have several that I'm looking at (a few memoirs and Me, Katherine Hepburn's autobiography that I'm chipping away at.) I'm going to try and surpass that goal and read at least 15 non fiction books in 2011.
Now, here's the other thing. You would think as an English teacher I would've read more classics over the years but I really haven't. I've read my fair share, of course, but there always seems to be something that is missing from my "literature" education. SO!!! In addition to my non-fiction goal, I decided I wanted to read 10 classics. But I have no idea where to start. I was hoping that you, my wonderfully well read reader, would be willing to give me lists and lists or suggestions of what you think are "classics" that I should read because ... well, you decide the because. Please, either in my comments or shoot me an email, what do you think I should read next year? titles please (authors would be good, too) and if you want to give a brief "why I should read these (this) book(s)" I would really appreciate it. I'm trying to get a good list, so your suggestions are necessary!
I appreciate your help in expanding my literary horizons!
(By the way: I have book reviews with a virtual book club here at Read Any Good Books Lately?, and the same reviews appear here, too.)