Recently, for my birthday, my friend Bex sent me a book for my birthday. Actually, she sent me three books. The last one has something to do with fifty books that changed the life the author, Andrew Miller. Even though I have read the lengthy introduction and the first chapter, I can’t remember the title except the part about Reading Dangerously. I only remember the author’s name because the author has the same name as a former Red Sox pitcher, which was mentioned in the lengthy introduction as well as the many other people who share the author’s common names. I wonder what fifty books Andrew MIller the baseball player would have suggested. I don’t remember any of the other Andrew Millers that were mentioned.
So far, I haven’t been given a clear picture on how the books he read in a year’s time saved his life except that the mere privilege of dedicating a year to reading is powerful and gave him an opportunity to move beyond the mundane and ritualistic life.
I like the notion of writing about books that I am reading, though Miller does make a distinction between blogging and writing a book as if blogging doesn’t count. Perhaps he’s right as I have attempted to write about books in the past, but those are the blogs that go unnoticed, and my motivation stops midstream. Maybe this is the book that will encourage me to blog to the end of the book and the other books that follow. I might even follow Miller’s path and see if those fifty books can alter my life. Don’t we all need a little bit of saving?
I know from experience that determining a Great book creates endless possibilities. As an English Major at the University, most of the Great books that fit into the Literary Canon were mostly if not all, Dead White Guys, I used up my electives quickly if I wanted to read women or authors of color or authors still alive.
One summer I had to bribe myself with a Bear Claw if I managed to get to Chaucer class. I barely passed the class. I wonder if Chaucer made it on Andrew’s list.
In Andrew Miller’s lengthy introduction, he describes the Western Canon as “‘Great books’ of this kind may be important but they are not always straightforward or entertaining. Some, such as Under the Volcano or Ulysses, may require other great books to help make sense of them…”
I have a hard time reading books that I don’t understand or are not entertaining, which is why Dan Brown books are not included in the fifty great books. Too easy and too entertaining.
Because the definition of what constitutes a Great Book, I am asking for reader participation. What book or books would you suggest for my list of fifty books I’ll read in a year? There’s also the list of books can I read in the next thirty-three years, my optimistic number of years left on this earth. Living to ninety is not out of the question, though I have a slight fear that my mind and body are going to age drastically differently, but I can only hope to keep my faculties until the end.
The first book I’ll slowly examine will be the first book that Andrew Miller started with, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Stay tuned for the next segment, and please let me know what other books you think will make an impact on my life.
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