12:16:18 Reading Plan 2018, a Resolution Kept

Twelve months into 2018, I've kept my new year's resolution to read a novel a month, each 100+ years old. Reading Plan 2018 was outlined here.

As I said in the April post, I started easily with novella-sized The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Followed with Jack London's White Fang, then Alphonse Daudet's Sappho.

Then an inspired simplification led to limiting my choices to gutenberg.org. Killing two birds with one stone: Most of what gutenberg offers is 100+ years old (public domain), and getting ebooks off the Internet is convenient.

What did I read? In not quite chronological order, the list of fourth and subsequent novels were:

* Notre-Dame De Paris by Victor Hugo
* The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
* Moby Dick by Herman Melville
* Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
* Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
* Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
* Hunger by Knut Hamsun
* Shallow Soil by Knut Hamsun
* Ragged Dick, Or, Street Life in New York with the Bootblack by Horatio Alger, Jr.
* Germinal by Emile Zola
* Father Goriot by Honore de Balzac
* Colonel Chabert by Honore de Balzac
* The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
* Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
* The Moneychangers by Upton Sinclair
* King Coal by Upton Sinclair.

So now it's December & I can say I kept my new year's resolution, exceeding it by about 50% (19 novels in 12 months). Staying on-pace tended to generate momentum. For example, I so enjoyed Hamsun's Hunger, I eagerly read more of him (Shallow Soil).

cat reading a book

As is evident from the list, most of what I read was written in the 1800s. The themes often reflected the Industrial Revolution underway and societal impacts. Thus, the reform-minded fiction of Dickens continues into the early 1900s of Upton Sinclair with a growing division between capitalists and laborers. A divide shown in Zola's Germinal echoes decades later in America with Sinclair's King Coal.

Another theme was stubborn conflict between science & materialism (abetted in part by industrialization) and millennia of religious and spiritual tradition. Zola suggests this conflict contributes to Marxist thought, but it is Tolstoy, who movingly writes about selling out our soulful inheritance for material gain, an attitude not lost on activist Upton Sinclair, I would add.

In sum, 2018 was a year well-spent in reading classics. Where to go from here? I'm not sure. For Reading Plan 2019, the thinking is something along the lines of Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight (late 1300s). Oldies, but in verse.

Image credit: fanpop.com


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Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection [and feel free to share with a friend] The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

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.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)


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