Beginning in the early 1990s, I began an annual project of reading most of the books on the American Library Association Notable Books List.
It all started when I was the supervisor of South Branch Library. Lois, a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, bopped in to return some books. As we chatted, she mentioned that she organized a “Booklovers” group at the church. They used to have an annual presentation on the ALA Notable Books list, but the previous presenter no longer lived in Lincoln. Lois wondered if I’d be willing to do that.
And I did. I’ve been doing so ever since, even though “Booklovers” is now a thing of the past.
Each year, I read all of most of the 25 or so books on the list, and read at last some of all of them. Since I do this reading on my own time, I give myself permission not to finish the ones that just don’t grab me. I do give all books at least two tries.
I encourage people to take on a discipline like this, whether the Pulitzer Prize winners, the National Book Awards winners, the Newbery books for youth, or whatever. It has certainly gotten me out of my reading groove (which is sometimes a rut) and reading some fabulous books that I’d not know about otherwise. I’m also reading much more nonfiction as a result, another Good Thing.
As I read each book on the 2009 list, I’ll keep you posted.