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Revisiting 2011: The Beginning

This week, I’m revisiting some of my favorite posts from 2011 while I take a one-week break from writing and simply focus on reading and spending time with my family. So, technically, today’s post isn’t from 2011. It’s actually the first post I made on 101 Books on August 30, 2010. But I thought it might give newcomers an opportunity to see the “whats” and the “whys” behind 101 Books. The blog will return live on Monday January 2. See you then!

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Here’s the deal: I’m going to read all 100 of Time Magazine’s Top 100 novels since 1923. (Why 1923? That’s the year Time Magazine was first published.) Join me if you would like. Come back every now and then and see which novel I’m reading and what I thought of it. Or don’t. You won’t hurt my feelings.

This crazy idea started when I was researching some good fiction books for a late summer trip to the beach. As a former English major, I’m quite fond of a good book.

But since graduating years ago, I’ve strayed away from the classics—really, almost all fiction—while spending my time reading about golf, running, cooking, you name it. Those are all well and good subjects—I love ‘em—but I need a little fiction in my life. Who doesn’t?

While browsing online, I stumbled across Time Magazine’s list of the Top 100 novels. As I scanned the list, I realized I had read very few, only 12 of the 100. All of which I read during college or shortly thereafter. That was a sad discovery for an English major who is supposed to be in the know when it comes to great books.

That list sparked a little burst of creativity in my head—why not read through the entire list? I love to read, and I love a good challenge.

So that’s what I am going to do here. That’s what this blog is about. I don’t have a time table. I’m not out to read 100 novels in two years or something ridiculous like that.

While I considered that briefly, I decided placing a time limit on myself would probably take the fun out of the process, making me speed read through books in order to meet the time goal, instead of sitting back and enjoying them.

Time had a couple of rules in choosing the list. Basically, the books had to be English-speaking novels published since 1923—the year Time first hit the shelves.

Sadly, this means Ulysses (1922) didn’t make the cut, although many people consider it be the greatest novel of all time. That’s why I’ve added one extra book–Ulysses— to the list. I actually read Ulysses in a James Joyce class in college, but I hope to understand it a little more this time around. To find out more about Time’s selection process, click here.

If all goes well, I should be publishing a review, a commentary, a hopefully-inspirational thought—to be honest, I don’t know what it will be, but I promise it will be about the book—a couple of times per month. But since all of the books are varying lengths, who knows how long it might take?

The entire list is below. In my next post, I’ll dig a little deeper into the list and try and figure out what I’ve got before me. Maybe analyze it a little bit. The only thing I can say is that my first read will be J.D. Salingers’ The Catcher in the Rye .

Wish me luck.

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