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Why Time Magazine?

I often get asked the question: “Why the Time Magazine list?”

That’s usually followed up with “Why not the Modern Library list? Or why not create your own?”

All fair questions.

The short answer: Time had the first list that popped up on Google when I was researching books for a summer vacation. Great SEO, Time.

The longer answer: I love lists. Making my own “list” is basically what I’ve been doing my whole life. I pick what I want to read, and I read it. Ironically, that approach had severely limited my reading.

Before this project, and despite being an English major, I felt my exposure to the classics was sorely lacking. So that’s why the Time list was appealing, as opposed to creating my own list.

Here’s a list of 100 novels that two esteemed literary critics thought were the best of the best. The Modern Library list is pretty awesome, too, but I thought Time’s list was more varied, a little more untraditional, and I liked that.

So that’s how my “association” with Time got started.

I use the term association loosely because Time Magazine hardly knows this little blogger exists. A couple of years ago, I landed an email interview with Lev Grossman—one of the two critics who selected the books on the list—so that was cool.

But, for the most part, Time hasn’t paid much attention to 101 Books. And why should they?

When I got started, I was just any other dude in America who clicked a button, created a blog, and started rambling off into the great internet abyss. There’s no telling how many people and PR hacks harass Time Magazine every day. They ain’t got time for that.

My hope is, though, with the longevity of this blog (getting close to three years now), and the closer I get to completing the project, that Time might take notice. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what that looks like.

But I think it would be cool. So if you want to send them a note/email/tweet to tell them about this project, I won’t stop you!

I’ll be fine either way. I’ve said all along that I’d still be writing 101 Books even if only 10 people read it every day. But I’d also be lying if I said that some exposure isn’t exciting.

And that’s not just about me. It’s about promoting the idea that everyone has the time to read—even those of us with families and full-time jobs.

I write this blog AND I read every day, on top of living a fairly busy life. Anyone can do this. I’ve written about that in detail for Michael Hyatt’s blog.

Reading fiction shouldn’t be something you do in junior high and high school, then forget about for the rest of your life. You do have time to read. You just have to make it a priority.

Slowly, that’s what 101 Books has evolved into. I see myself as a sort-of reading activist, if you will.

Yes, this is about reading the Time list. Yes, this is about sharing cool stories about authors and books and reading. But it’s also about showing that we all have time to read. Those of us who say we don’t have time just haven’t made reading a priority.

So, maybe Time Magazine will eventually hop on board this journey with me. If not, I’ll be fine to keep on chugging along.

You guys are great company, and we still have a long way to go!

Note: I won’t be posting on Monday due to Memorial Day in the U.S. Have a great weekend!

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Matt #

    I’ve wondered if Time has been involved with you in this. Sounds like they are missing out on an opportunity! I think it could be a win for both of you.


    May 24, 2013
  2. I like that you call yourself a reading activist. I like to think of myself that way too! I love when I’m reading in public and total strangers will ask me what I’m reading or what I think of the book. I’m a true believer that every one has time to read, we simply have to make the time!


    May 24, 2013
    • Absolutely. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned while writing this blog and reading through all the books.


      May 24, 2013
  3. Finding time to read has been a huge thing for me over the past couple of years. Having kids really threw me for a loop. I’ve been successful lately because I stopped watching TV. I don’t even miss it!

    Do you ever get sick of the Time list and want to read something else? Or DO you read other stuff in between? I’ve moved away from the 1,001 Books list lately, partly because I missed new books, and partly because the list is limited in many ways. Not much love for female authors or for CanLit – lot of dead white American and European guys. Don’t get me wrong, I love many of those guys. I’m ready Melville right now. But I feel like I’d have a pretty narrow world view is that’s ALL I read.

    I’ve been meaning to post about all this, and I will soon. Thanks for the inspiration!


    May 24, 2013
  4. I’m an inveterate list-maker, too. I’ve tried to read through lists like the one in Time, but never got very far, though. My most notable failure was the Harvard Classics, which I attempted, but set aside after only four or five books. I’ve had much more success in making up my own lists, and then sticking to them. There were too many books which just screamed out for my attention. But the more I read, the more lists of the so-called “great” works appear to be rather arbitrary. Which leads to my question, do you find the same thing to be true? I’ve heard other critics of such lists express the same opinion, which I could not understand why until I had quite a few more books under my belt. Perhaps some authors are better than others at expressing fundamental human ideas, but one begins to run into these ideas anyway in other ways. Nowadays, if I look through book lists like the ones in Time, I’m surprised to find that I’ve already encountered most of the main themes represented therein without having read all the books which are recommended in those lists. And sometimes the books in such lists almost seem dated, with the same ideas being expressed by more modern writers in ways that are more relevant to today’s world. One can still learn a great deal from the books in such lists, but one may not find the best representations of the great literary themes only in those books.


    May 24, 2013
  5. “Everyone has time to read.” I like that.

    We just organized our school’s annual book swap, where families bring in all the books they no longer want in the house and take home books they do want. This year, we received about half of the books we normally receive. Maybe I’m an old fogie, but I hope this doesn’t signal the end of the “real” vs. “virtual” book. Although, if they’re reading using some app, that’s OK. My greater fear is that the decline in books means Minecraft is taking over everyone’s (adults and children) reading time!


    May 24, 2013
  6. Rosie Baillie #

    Promoting that everyone has time to read is brilliant. I used to read a lot when I was younger, but a few years ago I just felt I had no time at all, so I just decided to stop watching so much TV and read instead, and reading is so so much better.


    May 24, 2013
  7. Joe Bunting #

    Cool post, Robert. I was wondering the same.


    May 25, 2013
  8. Good choice, Robert! I’ve always found Time’s lists, on any subject, invigorating, bold, and well-thought out!


    May 28, 2013
  9. After the Time list, will you make your own list do you think?


    June 3, 2013

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  1. Why Time Magazine? | Collecting the Dots

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