I’ve been planning my reading challenge for the past five months. I knew I wasn’t reading outside my comfort zone (which happened to be white American men) and that I wanted to read stories from a different perspective. Taking a year to only read books by female or international authors, or U.S. authors of color made sense to me.
My challenge starts in five days. As I spend the last days of 2015 frantically trying to finish Franzen’s Freedom, I’m excited and a little bit scared. This challenge will stretch me. It’ll mean neglecting some promising books that have been waiting patiently for me since the summer and not revisiting old favorites. Stephen King has been one of my favorite authors for years and I’m going to go a whole year without his books.
This challenge will mean neglecting some promising books that have been waiting patiently to be read since at least this summer and it will mean not revisiting some old favorites. There’s the small, insistent thought that I’m going to spend a whole year reading books I won’t like; that some cultural barriers might be too big for me to cross and I won’t be able to relate to anything I read.
But as I started preparing my list for the year, marking out what books to
read and when, I started finding that several books I’ve always wanted to read meet my criteria. My first book for January, Reading Lolita in Tehran, has been sitting on my shelves for over year. Too many other books kept pushing it down the bottom of my to-read list. But now, it gets pushed straight to the top. The same goes for Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights. I won an advanced reader’s copy at the start of the fall, but have been too busy to actually open the book.
Some of the apprehension is still there. There will be books I don’t like. There will probably be books that I don’t relate to. But I’ve read books in my comfort zone that I don’t like or relate to. Even the great Stephen King has disappointed me once or twice. So, I’m choosing to face my challenge with eager anticipation. There is so much potential to discover new authors and genres that the risk will surely be worth it.