Crazy Reading Project: Introduction

I briefly mentioned my crazy reading project last Thursday, and now I thought I would formally introduce it. 

I am trying to be well-read, not just someone who reads a lot.  A while ago, I did a google search, like anyone in this day and age, to see if I could find a list of books that are considered “classics” and must reads for anyone who claims to know what they are talking about in literature. Of course, the list that caught my fancy was the longest, most comprehensive, most ridiculous to use for a reading syllabus. I think the reason that the “Western Canon” list caught my eye was because it had so many works in the list that I really felt I was lacking in. I have not read any classic philosophy. I never read poetry. Other than knowing author’s names and titles of famous books, I am woefully uncultured.

There are a lot of works on the list that appeal to my love for myth and legend, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, Oedipus and Antigone. I know the rough stories, but I have never read the actual works. Le Morte D’Arthur- be still, my heart! Then there are the ones that make me feel so guilty, because I am sure that I should have read these by now, and what is my excuse?!? The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Dickens, Moby Dick, etc., etc.  I am actually dreading Moby Dick. I’ve tried to read that book on four separate occasions, and never got past page 59. There is also a lot of poetry on this list. I feel about reading poetry the same way I feel about eating green leafy vegetables. I don’t really mind them (it), I just don’t prefer them (it) and I always do it with the feeling that I am being extremely virtuous by doing something that is good for me.

The list starts out with religious texts and ancient Greek and Roman works. Since those are some of the things I am most intrigued in right now, I am going to follow the list pretty much as it is. I plan on writing a short essay on each of the books/works that I read. If you like, you can look at my version of the list here. I am going to be updating that file occasionally with my progress.

Wish me luck! The list is 1500 items long, so I don’t expect this to be a short fling. However, I have already finished my first book on the list, and I will be writing about that later in the week.

Anyone want to read with me?


  1. You go girl! I would love to do something like that one day. But at the moment, I am finishing the Harry Potter series! I just started The Half Blood Prince. My goal when I started this in December was to have them all read by the time the final movie comes out.... I don't think its going to happen, especially since the Deathly Hallows is very long!

  2. You know, it's funny that you mention Harry Potter, because I have such strange/mixed feelings about those books. I refused to read them for a while, and then read them all in a row before Deathly Hallows came out. I always finished the book without really remembering much of the plot points, and feeling vaguely uneasy, possibly made worse by all the hoopla over those books by evangelicals. And then I read Deathly Hallows to just finish it out, and loved that book. It took me a while to figure out what bothered me about the other books, and I came to my own conclusion that in every book until the end, Harry is the accidental hero. He ends up making the right decision and doing the right thing only because it is the easier thing, and he has people around him pushing him into the right thing. He doesn't actually make a conscious decision to be the "good guy" until the last book.

  3. You should totally start by reading all the books in the penguin classics cloth bound collection, because then you have an excuse to buy them! (search Coralie Bickford-Smith)