In my last week of high school, I gave a presentation to my peers and teachers. For the hundred of us that made it through all four years of a grueling academic program, we gathered one last time before commencement to pledge our commitments for continuing education, personal and professional goals, and what came to be known as “The List.”
Three months earlier, we were each tasked with creating a list of books that we were promising to read in our lifetime – a challenge given that we forced into being well-read before we entered adulthood. (Translation: On top of curriculum, we had to complete the College Board’s 101 Great Books before graduation, and read a Wild Card book each month that met the “rules” below.) (Alternate translation: I used to be a BEAST.)
When I was finished, I had 100 books on my list. By the time I was done with college, I had read them all.
I tucked my list away but thought about it from time to time. For years, I thought it was lost or trashed as happens with the ever-mounting paperwork that comes with being a grown up. And then last week, I found it. To say it was emotional would be an understatement. So much *life* has happened to that hopeful and studious 18 year old who once carefully selected every book.
After a lot of reminiscing (read: crying and wine), I’ve decided to create a new list. Today, to my new community, I want to share it. In case any of you want to play along, the “rules” are as follows. I promise to read books that will: challenge me; show me things vastly different from my own experience in the world; make me think and feel new things; not always be just “literary,” but indulge in the popular; change your life. Our guidelines to help with all that loftiness were equal parts Classics, Award Winners, Best Sellers, and Miscellany (like Plays, Poems, Non-fiction, Memoir, Translated Works). For my new list, I added two additional categories – Re-reads (mostly stuff from my first list) and Freebies. Feel free to break or amend the rules to suit you, and choose as many or as few books as you want.
I landed on 30 this go-around.
If you decide to create your own list, I would love to know what winds up on it!