Reading Challenges

My Read Shelf:

Erin W's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)


I have just finished my library degree (woohoo!) and I am back into reading! Mostly I read whatever I want to read at the moment.

However, because I can’t live without a little structure, and because I am never going to do that PhD in American lit that I once envisioned, I am working methodically through every decade in American history back to the year 1600, reading at least one primary text. (Primary text = novels or poetic works when they are available; works of nonfiction when they are not. The early settlers, it happens, did not produce much in the way of novels. Lots of sermons, though! This will be interesting.) I will not be working chronologically; I will be checking off decades as they happen and following my fancy as I go.

I started with the a collection of Washington Irving’s works that has been a shelf-sitter of mine for a few years. I’ll fill this table in as I go!

1681-1690 Mary Rowlandson: A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
1721-1730 Elizabeth Hanson: God’s Mercy Surmounting Man’s Cruelty, Exemplified in the Captivity and Redemption of Elizabeth Hanson
1781-1790 Abraham Panther: A Surprising Account of the Discovery of a Lady Who Was Taken by the Indians
1791-1800 Charles Brockden Brown: Wieland

Bunker Gay: A Genuine and Correct Account of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Deliverance of Mrs. Jemima Howe

Shepard Kollock: A True Narrative of the Sufferings of Mary Kinnan

Ben Franklin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Hannah Webster Foster: The Coquette

1801-1810 Washington Irving: A History of New York
1811-1820 Washington Irving: The Sketch Book
1821-1830 Washington Irving: Bracebridge Hall / Tales of a Traveller

James Seaver: A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison

1831-1840 Mary Godfrey: An Authentic Narrative of the Seminole War; and of the Miraculous Escape of Mrs. Mary Godfrey and Her Four Female Children
1841-1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
1861-1870 Sarah Wakefield: Six Weeks in the Sioux Tepees: A Narrative of Indian Captivity
1871-1880 Henry James: Daisy Miller, Washington Square
1881-1890 Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
1891-1900 Emmeline Fuller: Left by the Indians: Story of My Life
1901-1910 Edith Wharton: “The Lady’s Maid’s Bell,” “The Eyes,” “Afterward”
1911-1920 Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence, “The Triumph of Night,” “Kerfol”
1921-1930 Sinclair Lewis: Babbitt

Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon

Nella Larsen: Passing

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Beautiful and Damned

Edith Wharton: “Miss Mary Pask,” “Bewitched,” “Mr. Jones”

1931-1940 Edith Wharton: “Pomegranate Seed,” “The Looking Glass,” “All Souls'”

Katherine Anne Porter: “Old Mortality,” “Noon Wine,” “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”

1941-1950 Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire

James M. Cain: Mildred Pierce

Flannery O’Connor: The Cartoons

1951-1960 Flannery O’Connor: The Violent Bear It Away

Ernest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

James Agee: A Death in the Family

Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House

1961-1970 Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Ira Levin: Rosemary’s Baby

Joan Didion: Play It As It Lays

John Steinbeck: Travels With Charley: In Search of America

1971-1980 Marilynne Robinson: Housekeeping

Stephen King (Richard Bachman): The Long Walk

1981-1990 Lorrie Moore: Self-Help

Barbara Kingsolver: The Bean Trees

1991-2000 Allan Gurganus: White People

Lorrie Moore: Birds of America

Toni Morrison: Paradise

Tracy Chevalier: Girl With a Pearl Earring

Lucy Grealy: Autobiography of a Face

Stephen King: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

2001-2010 Lauren Groff: The Monsters of Templeton

Jean Kwok: Girl in Translation

Laura Moriarty: While I’m Falling

Pamela Ribon: Going in Circles

Dan Chaon: You Remind Me of Me

Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire

Dan Chaon: Among the Missing

Jonathan Tropper: This is Where I Leave You

Suzanne Collins: Mockingjay

Brad Gooch: Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor

Jennifer McMahon: Promise Not to Tell

Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Lisa Genova: Still Alice

Gillian Flynn: Dark Places

Alison Bechdel: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Jon Krakauer: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Sarah Vowell: Assassination Vacation

Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects

Gail Collins: Scorpion Tongues (New and Updated Edition): Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics

2011-present Paula McClain: The Paris Wife

Amy Waldman: The Submission

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

Michael Chabon: Telegraph Avenue

Ellen Meister: Farewell, Dorothy Parker

Cheryl Strayed: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Dan Chaon: Stay Awake

Justin Torres: We the Animals

Ann Patchett: State of Wonder

Marisha Pessl: Night Film

Will Allison: Long Drive Home

Susannah Cahalan: Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness

Karen Russell: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Megan Abbott: The Fever

Julie Schumacher: Dear Committee Members

M.O. Walsh: My Sunshine Away

Lauren Groff: Arcadia

Amy Poehler: Yes Please

Cheryl Strayed: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar

Patton Oswalt: Silver Screen Fiend:
Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film

Claire Messud: The Woman Upstairs

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore: Bittersweet

Maria Semple: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch

Lorrie Moore: Bark

Connie Willis: The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories

Leah Remini: Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

Bonnie Jo Campbell: Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

Elizabeth Brundage: All Things Cease to Appear

Jennifer McMahon: The Winter People

Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing

Cathleen Schine: They May Not Mean To, But They Do

Lynn Steger Strong: Hold Still

Emma Cline: The Girls

Amy Schumer: The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo

Mindy Kaling: Why Not Me?

Jenny Lawson: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Mara Wilson: Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame

Robert Kolker: Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery

Jennifer McMahon: The One I Left Behind

Roxane Gay: Difficult Women

2011 Genre Fiction Challenge

Each month in 2011, I’m going to read at least one book in a genre or medium that I have historically ignored in favor of literary fiction.  I’ve decided to go by instinct, deciding every month which new genre I’ll look into.  I am broadening my horizons in a completely different way than last year.

January: Mysteries

One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News, Kate Atkinson

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith

February: Nature writing

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard

The Call of the Wild, Jack London

March: Memoirs

Teacher Man, Frank McCourt

Night, Elie Wiesel

Lucky, Alice Sebold

April: Short story collections

One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, eds. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jhumpa Lahiri

American Salvage, Bonnie Jo Campbell

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, Kazuo Ishiguro

A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Wells Tower

Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro

May: Graphic novels

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

Breakfast After Noon, Andi Watson

Concrete, Vol. 1: Depths, Paul Chadwick

June: Chick lit / romance

Girls in Trucks, Katie Crouch

Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman

Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, Gail Collins

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

July: Gothic / horror

Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier

The Shining, Stephen King

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

August: YA

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

September: Popular nonfiction

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, Barbara Ehrenreich

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin

Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, Jon Krakauer

October: Sci-fi / fantasy

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell

The Illumination, Kevin Brockmeier

November: Poetry/verse

The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot

The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton

December: Oral history

Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller

I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, Craig Marks & Rob Tannenbaum

“The Good War”: An Oral History of World War II, Studs Terkel

(updated 1/11/12)

And in the past…

2010 Global Reading Challenge

I have completed the Expert Challenge!

North America (2 books) – DONE (The Devil in the White City and The Women)

South America (2 books) – DONE (Daughter of Fortune and Collected Novellas of Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Europe (2 books) – DONE (Dracula and Never Let Me Go)

Africa (2 books) – DONE (Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and Purple Hibiscus)

Asia (2 books) – DONE (Life of Pi and An Artist of the Floating World)

Australasia (2 books) – DONE (Theft: A Love Story and Cloudstreet)

Antarctica (2 books) – DONE (White-Out and The Brief History of the Dead)

(updated 12/26/10)

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