Today is a milestone of sorts for my reading through this list of 100 novels. It was four years ago today,that I began reading my first book, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. This wasn't exactly the day I started this project, as I hit a few stumbling blocks at the beginning. I remember thinking I was going to start with Nineteen Eighty-Four, but when I went to start reading my copy, I discovered the first few pages were missing. Not wanting to start the project off skipping the first eight pages, I began with a different book.
After that and a couple of other delays, it was November 21, 2009 that I actually began reading. Fast forward to today, and I've completed 68 novels, and am nearly finished my 69th; Possession.
I suppose I look at today with mixed emotions when it comes to looking back at this project. Initially I had hoped to finish the project in four years, a modest 25 books each year. For the first two years, I was more or less on schedule too. I finished #48, The Painted Bird two years ago today. But from that point on, I have struggled to keep pace.
In the third year, I only read 13 books, having completed #61, The Assistant on November 29, 2012. Since then, I slowed down even more, as evidenced by my still reading #69 a year later. There are a bunch of reasons for my slow-down, all of which would sound like excuses because that's exactly what they would be.
Personally I put most of the blame on The Lord of the Rings, which took me an astounding five months to finish. And for whatever reason, I haven't seemed to be able to recover from this, reading barely a book a month since then.
I don't exactly know why one tough, long read would derail me so completely. Maybe it just forced my attention away from the list, as I grappled only with finishing one book, instead of having my sights set on the remaining 40 books. But maybe it's just that it's difficult to tackle a project that takes so long. I'm only human, and eventually my attention drifts from the task at hand. I think of it as a long, three hour lecture in university. No matter how interesting the topic, your attention naturally begins to drift after a couple of hours. Right now, with regards to reading these books, I'm in hour three.
The good news is this anniversary of sorts really makes me realize I need to rededicate myself to tackling the list. At the rate I've been going the past two years, I would still have another three years before I finish, and that's unacceptable.
First off, I have to finish Possession. I'd like to do that this week. Then I have to proceed with vigor! Looking at the remaining books, I'm trying to decide what my next step will be. My thinking is that I need to read a couple of quick ones, to get myself back into list-reading mode, before I try something like Gravity's Rainbow, which could possibly drag me down again (I know, that's not the attitude to have!).
Despite all this doom and gloom, I also look back at the past four years with some pride. After all, I have read 68 books from a list of 100! Perhaps that can help motivate me for the final stretch. If I can get back to my original pace, maybe I'll be writing my final review on November 21, 2014.
Then what will I do?