2011 Resolution #3: Read 100 Unread Books

In an effort to talk about the power of goal-setting along with some methods of setting and achieving goals, I’m going to discuss my three resolutions for 2011 this week.

Over time, any voracious reader winds up with a list of books that they intend to read someday, but they find themselves reading more urgent things in the interim. They could read this challenging novel, but there’s this great page turner to read instead. This novel is pretty good, but it’s so long that I’ve lost my place in it. Boy, this nonfiction one is really challenging reading.

As a result, I’ve gradually built up a long list of “to-be-read” and “come-back-to” books that I keep telling myself I’ll read someday.

2011 is that “someday.”

I’ve been assembling an actual list of these books over the last few weeks. I’ve mentioned many times on here that I keep a running Word document of books I’d like to read (or, in a few cases, re-read) at some point. I essentially took that list and eliminated some of the chaff, boiling it down to 100 titles that really sum up some of the things I’ve strongly considered reading over the past couple of years, but put aside for whatever reason.

Here’s that list.

The Best American Short Stories 2010, edited by Richard Russo
The Best American Short Stories 2009, edited by Alice Sebold
PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2010
PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
Makers, by Cory Doctorow
The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano
Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson
The Confusion, by Neal Stephenson
The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Tinkers, by Paul Harding
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris
Austerlitz, by W. G. Sebald
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon
Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon
Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow
The Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski
Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami
American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
Less than Zero, by Bret Easton Ellis
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
2666, by Roberto Bolano
The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb
The Northern Clemency, by Philip Hensher
I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
Selected Stories, by O. Henry
The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Rainbow’s End, by Vernor Vinge
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman
Under the Dome, by Stephen King
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
Shogun, by James Clavell
Ilium, by Dan Simmons
Olympos, by Dan Simmons
Accelerando, by Charles Stross
The City and the City, by China Mieville
The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged), by Alexandre Dumas
Sons and Lovers, by D. H. Lawrence
Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
The Age of Wonder, by Richard Holmes
Reality Hunger, by David Shields
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010, edited by David Sedaris
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, edited by Dave Eggers
Consider the Lobster, by David Foster Wallace
The Best American Sports Writing 2010, edited by Peter Gammons
The Best American Sports Writing 2009, edited by Leigh Montville
The Best American Essays 2010, edited by Christopher Hitchens
The Best American Essays 2009, edited by Mary Oliver
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010, edited by Freeman Dyson
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009, edited by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Language of God, by Francis Collins
Belief, edited by Francis Collins
The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan
God Is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens
The First Tycoon, by T. J. Stiles
Lords of Finance, by Liaquat Ahamed
Just Kids, by Patti Smith
The Beautiful Struggle, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, by Rick Perlsetin
Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein
The Book of Basketball, by Bill Simmons
The Best American Magazine Writing 2010
The Best American Magazine Writing 2009
A Soprano on Her Head, by Eloise Ristad
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins
The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
Play Their Hearts Out, by George Dohrmann
Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robison
Fordlandia, by Greg Grandin
The Progress Paradox, by Gregg Easterbrook
Hungry Monkey, by Matthew Amster-Burton
Nudge, by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami
The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
American Sphinx, by Joseph J. Ellis
What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky
The Religious Case Against Belief, by James Carse
Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
Manufacturing Consent, by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins
Hurry Down Sunshine, by Michael Greenberg
Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence, by Geoff Dyer
Bringing up Geeks, by MaryBeth Hicks
The Trouble with Physics, by Lee Smolin

It’s a wide mix. It’s roughly half fiction and half nonfiction. There’s a fairly strong religious theme running through there, with some strong apologetics and some strong atheist writing, too. I could go on and on with the observations about the list.

In the end, though, my goal is to read every title on that list in 2011.

Where will you find time? I currently read just shy of two books a week for personal enjoyment – and this is my “personal enjoyment” list for 2011. Some of the titles are a bit more challenging than my usual stuff, but I plan on coming up with that time by making sure I’m always carrying a book with me when I leave the house so that I don’t find myself idly reading a newspaper at the car repair shop and the like.

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