I know it’s typically a time for feeling generally depressed, and wanting to pack away all the decorations that you pretend to like because the kids made them, but I love New Year. I love the feeling of expectation, of promise, the notion of a fresh start, that anything is possible. As soon as Christmas is over I want to get on with all the New And Exciting Things that I feel sure are just around the corner. I start tidying, throwing things away and thinking about the year to come. I itch to have the cupboards empty of biscuits for cheese, and I scoff the amaretti biscuits so I can organise Useful Things into the empty tins.
No surprise then that I also love the idea of New Year Resolutions. This year I have been thinking a lot about what I want to achieve in 2011, as it feels like a significant one for me – Bee finishes school this year, and if that isn’t enough to make you feel old, and want to take stock a bit, I don’t know what is.
Obviously I have toyed with the standard Get Fit, Get Thin, Get Rich type of resolutions, but to be honest, they are never going to happen are they? And who wants to be thin and rich when we all know really that the secret of happiness is a cup of tea, a Sex and the City box set, and a packet of cheap rich tea fingers?
A couple of years ago, I made a resolution to read 100 books in a year. It worked really well for me, as I told everyone about it at the beginning of the year, and let my natural competitive instinct drive me forward – no way was I going to have to tell anyone I had failed. Something like weight loss doesn’t work quite so well, as none of your friends are exactly going to say ‘hey, you’re looking a bit porky, weren’t you meant to be getting thin?’
So this year, I have another book related resolution, as a joint project with my sister’s boyfriend. The 100 books thing was a challenge, but it was a question of quantity rather than quality. This year I’m going the other way, and we have come up with a list of 25 classic books to read in the year, books that might take a little longer, but that will look far more impressive on our shelves.
I’m telling you all this obviously so that you can hold me to account. Below is the list we have come up with, and I need to aim for two a month. I thought a fortnightly classic literature slot might add an air of faux intellectualism to the blog, perhaps balance out the usual low-brow mix of smear test stories and dating disasters.
Anyway, here’s the list. Wish me luck!
Bram Stoker – Dracula
Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
Joseph Heller – Catch 22
Muriel Spark – Momento Mori
Isaac Asimov – Foundation
Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited
John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath
Franz Kafka – The Trial
James Joyce – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Jules Verne – Journey to the Centre of the Earth
F Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway
Ivan Turgenev – Fathers and Sons
Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina
Homer – The Odyssey
Dumas – The Three Musketeers
Chekhov – The Steppe
Plato – The Last Days of Socrates
Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra – Don Quixote
Dickens – Great Expectations
One Thousand And One Nights
Daniel Dafoe – Robinson Crusoe
Confucius – The Analects
Ernest Hemmingway – To Have and Have Not