The year is slipping by ever more quickly. Even as I weekly wish for Friday to come sooner (and Monday to come later) I wish the months wouldn't slip through my fingers as fast as they do. I tend to fret quite a lot about the things I don't have time to do, the things I want to do (read that as 'read more books') but do so very slowly. I try and break myself of the habit of worrying about things I have no control over (and the things that really in the scheme of things don't matter so much), but it's easier said than done. I think I will avoid revisiting any plans I made at the beginning of the year--the lists I made (which I am sure I will make again in anticipation even as I fail miserably now--I am a glutton for punishment, what can I say) and projects I started that remain uncompleted.
But there is one . . . One project that I began at the beginning of the year with no end date in mind, only a project that will be ongoing until I finish it. I think it's time to take a peek at my Century of Books. I haven't really given it a lot of thought--especially of late. The idea behind the project (and I was inspired by Simon to give it a go) is to read one book that was published in each year of the Twentieth Century--1900-1999. My own take on it is to include only novels, no novellas, short story collections or nonfiction (but maybe I'll revise those guidelines at some point as I get nearer to filling in the years). This first year was meant to be random. I would just add books as I read them that would fit within my regular reading choices.
I'm up to twenty-four books so far, so at this rate it'll take me at least two more years to fill in all the slots! (I'm being optimistic, too). So far these are the years I've managed to 'fill in'/read:
1905: Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg
1922: Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf
1928: Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth
1932: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey
1933: Flush by Virginia Woolf
1941: Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
1943: The Last of Summer by Kate O'Brien
1950: There's No Home by Alexander Baron
1951: Transit by Anna Seghers
1953: Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton
1965: Airs Above Ground by Mary Stewart
1974: Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
1975: Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban
1977: The Wars by Timothy Findley
1981: A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
1983: Pitch Dark by Renata Adler
1984: Testing the Current by William McPherson
1985: Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym
1986: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
1991: Letters from Constance by Mary Hocking
1992: At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott
1993: A Grave Talent by Laurie King
1995: Total Chaos by Jean-Claude Izzo
1996: Hotel Paradise
I've done much better with the latter half of the twentieth century than the first half, which sort of surprises me. I've read at least one book per decade except for the 1910s with the 1980s and 90s being the most complete and the first decade and the 1910s being the least. Two books are by Virginia Woolf (okay, so I cheated here as her novels are short novels, but I had to include VW!). Most are (unsurprisingly) by women authors. Only two are works in translation (there would be far more had I included novellas). Three books are thanks to my NYRB subscription. Several are mysteries.
Hmm. So, do you think this gives me sufficient excuse to go in search of some books to read from the earlier part of the century in order to fill in more slots? Any excuse to start a new book is always welcome . . . And I was just thinking this weekend how much I would like to pick up a Virago to read. Loads of Viragos would fit the bill nicely. Maybe now is where the fun comes in and I can actually do a little planning to fill in missing years.
In case you are curious, I have written about most of the books (and I have a few I still need to catch up on). You can click on the Century of Books tab and there are links to my posts. This is one project that I think I actually have a chance of completing, and one I am enjoying working on!