My Reading List: 25 Books of The Year

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the number of books I would need to read to be a “well-educated” person.  Every time a colleague references a “classic” that I haven’t conquered, I cringe and add it to a Word document full of unread literature.  I also fall prey to guilt-inducing, bookseller-funded Top Book lists:

“The Top 10 Books of The Year”

“The Top 10 Books of Last Week”

“The Top 10 Books of Yesterday”

“The 150 Epic Poems Every Writer Should Reread Annually”

So it was a relief to encounter Joshua Bodwell’s essay, “You Are What You Read: The Art of Inspired Reading Lists” in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Poets & Writers.  He opens with an epiphany–“I won’t get to all the books I want to read in my lifetime”–and backs it up with statistics: there were 300,000+ books published in 2010.  As he points out, that’s almost 900 books a day.  No one could get through them all, or even through all the good ones.  And, of course, there are the millions already out there on the shelves.

Once you give up on the idea that everyone has to read particular books from a universal best-of list, you can embrace the idea that you have your own literary niche.  Relish the knowledge that you can follow a theme or author to its natural works of literature, replacing the should-reads with the want-to reads.

Bodwell made his own list of books, “Bodwell’s Baker’s Dozen,” of books, both old and new, that inspired him over the past year.  I think this is a valuable idea for all of us–and for our children and students.  (You can do the same with movies, television shows, or even music.)

Any of these lists can provide an insightful look back into your mind over the past year.  In that spirit, here’s my list:

Of the Books I Read in the year 2011, Here Are 25 Notable Ones (and Some Audio Books)

I read books about education:

And self-help:

Books for older children:

And much younger:

And books about children, including how to prepare for and then raise them:

And how others prepare for and raise them:

And how they cope when their children struggle or suffer:

I also used to listen to these plays, most of which I’d recommend, though generally for teens and adults:

  • Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
  • Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies
  • Great Men of Genius by Mike Daisey
  • Molly Sweeney by Brian Friel
  • Sight Unseen by Donald Margulies
  • Speed the Plow by David Mamet
  • The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife by Charles Busch
  • A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller

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