Today marks one year since I shifted my reading away from whatever interested me or whatever happened to be similar to things I liked in the past, to the Gilmore Girls Challenge.
For anyone who doesn't remember, this is a book list that is comprised of the books read by Rory Gilmore on the show the Gilmore Girls, over the seven years the show ran. Rory was a highly intelligent girl, Ivy League bound, and as such, her book choices include a lot of classics, non-fiction, and books that also fall into many lists of "books everyone must read in their life" as well as some modern, interesting stories (not that I like everything I have read or will read).
When I filled out the checklist, I found myself intrigued by a lot of the books on the list, and a lot of regret over all of these classics and well known books I had heard of and never read. So, I decided to read them. All of them. I knew from the outset that this was not going to be a short term goal, but a long term one, as there are more than 300 books on the list, and a chunk of those are 600+ page classics.
As this is my one year anniversary, I felt it was a good time to reflect on the experience so far.
My major triumph for the year was Don Quixote. I had wanted to read it for a long time, had even bought it for myself years ago, where it just gathered dust, and this was a good time to break it open. It literally took me almost a whole year to finish it, and that only happened with the help of the audio book version, but I did it. The funny thing is that I enjoyed it. It took forever, it wasn't even close to a hooking book that kept me coming back... but when I made myself listen or read it, I enjoyed the story. There is a lot of wisdom in there, and a lot of humor, including parts that genuinely made me laugh. There is true friendship, and devious tricks. Really well written, interesting story. I want to say I recommend it... but honestly, unless you have a deep desire to get through classics, it is a long journey.
The two major offshoots from Don Quixote that I have read so far are Madame Bovary and a Confederacy of Dunces. The second was funny, and I loved his filing system, the first was a sobering tale of being unsatisfied with the good that you already have. I very much recommend both.
An interesting experience of this year is the author discoveries. More than once, I have read a "Rory" book, and enjoyed the writing so much that I sought out the other books by the author. The first major example of this happened from Bel Canto. First off, the book is AMAZING. It has probably shaped me more than most books I have ever read in my life. Basic premise is of a hostage situation... but the terrorists are not portrayed as evil, just human, and you hear the story from both viewpoints. I have now read enjoyed a number of her other books as well.
Eric Larson is another author who I admire from this adventure, as he is incredible in his ability to write non-fiction, historically accurate books that are as enjoyable as any novel, with his unique ability to find historical individuals to follow.
I've read books set in the past, present and future, in places near, far and fictional, that made me laugh, think and cry. They have shaped my understanding of the world, and the lens that I look through. I am much more proud of my book list from the past year than from the years before, sprinkled with so many classics and fond memories of the stories.
This last year I read 43 of the books from her list.
So, combined with ones I had read previous to starting the official challenge, I am up to 82 out of the 339 listed on http://www.listchallenges.com/rory-gilmore-reading-challenge/, almost 25%. Still a long way to go, but I look forward to the journey.