10 books I vow to read this year

March 14, 2012 – Like most people, I go through peaks and valleys when it comes to reading.

At times I’m an avid reader, devouring one book after another, and then I don’t pick one up for weeks. That’s why I put together a list of 10 books that I want to finish before midnight on December 31, 2012. If it’s written down and out there, I will do my best to make it happen.

1. The Good Earth
I’ve heard wonderful reviews about Pearl S. Buck’s classic novel about the struggles of a poor Chinese farming community for years, but I’ve never read a word. Now that I’m taking a writing class at the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center (her actual home in Perkasie, Pa.), I feel compelled to give it a go. The woman who runs the center continuously tells us that Miss Buck looks over us all when we’re in class, under the same roof where she wrote many of her works. So, I’ll return the favor and look over her most famous novel.

2. The Purpose Driven Life
While I’m not one of those people who is always searching for the meaning of life, do I believe we all have a purpose and it benefits us tremendously if we find it. Make fun all you want about reading a self-help book, but “The Purpose Driven Life” is actually spiritual in nature. Author Rick Warren’s premise that there are no accidents is intriguing and I want to learn more.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
LOVE the movie, but I’ve never read the actual Truman Capote story, which I understand is quite different and a grittier than the Audrey Hepburnized screenplay. I’ve also never read Capote before, so it will be an interesting experiment.

4. Made to Stick
As a corporate communications professional, I’m always looking for good reads about the industry to sharpen my communication skills. However, I typically don’t enjoy those that read like a college textbook; I lose interest too quickly. Whenever I ask those I respect for suggested titles, Chip and Dan Heath’s guide to understanding why some ideas survive and some do not is always mentioned in the mix.

5. Then Came You
As a fan of Jennifer Weiner, I put her latest novel on my list as a good beach read for the summer. I’m not ashamed to admit that I read other books besides literary novels (and usually more often), nor am I offended by the label chick lit, even though literary snobs condemn it. Still, I’m fairly certain whoever coined the phrase “chick lit” didn’t mean it as a compliment so I don’t label her novels that way. Instead, I’ll  say they are funny and often compelling stories that appeal to women. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

6. The Magic of Thinking Big
The title alone makes this book seem like a must read. We all need a little magic. The book was written by Dr. David Schwartz and first published in 1959. Dr. Schwartz claims – and I believe him – that the only thing holding people back from their goals is small thoughts. Just paging through it in the bookstore gave me confidence that although the premise is similar, this book has much more credibility than “The Secret”.

7. The Millennium Series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
I saw the Americanized film version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” a few months back and loved it. Before I see the other two movies in production now, I want to read the trilogy, also known as the Millennium Series, by Stieg Larsson. I’m counting these three books as one, so I hope I get extra credit.

8. More Room in a Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carly Simon
There’s been plenty of controversy plaguing this biography penned by Stephen Davis, from accusations of plagiarism and poor journalism, to downright lies. Yet, I’m still drawn to this book because I adore Carly Simon. Davis apparently had access to a lot of Simon family information (he knows Carly’s brother well) and while it’s not touted as a scandalous tell-all, I’ve read reviews that it does contain some things that upset Carly. Oh, I keep trying not to buy it, but I’m getting weaker and I know I’ll give in.

9. The Four-Hour Work Week
I laughed out loud when I saw my son reading this book. It seems absurd that you can be successful and only work four hours a week. But he assured me that blogger and author Tim Ferris offers solid advice on finding out what you want, eliminating society’s expectations and perfecting time management, which is key to everything. I’m still not sure if the title is literal or not, but it will be easy to borrow, so I’ll read it and hope it enhances my life as the book jacket claims.

10. Daughters of the Hall
This title won’t sound familiar to anyone because it’s written by the same author who writes this blog. It’s also just a working title at this point. That class I mentioned above at the Pearl S. Buck Center is one that encourages you to write a novel in a year. We meet the fourth Saturday of each month from January through December, and check in online with word counts and questions/suggestions in between. I should be finished the first draft by year’s end (hopefully sooner) and it will need a good read through before the actual editing process begins. And yes, it counts.

I’m always open for new suggestions if you’d like to pass some my way.


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A girl trying to live the dream.

10 thoughts on “10 books I vow to read this year”

  1. Good luck, Jane! That’s actually 12 books because the Dragon trilogy is three large books! I am in a book club, so I may use some of the books in your list as reading suggestions. I love the book that Charlie is reading! Too funny. Rex has been working at least 70 hours a week these days, so maybe I’ll get it for him 🙂

    1. Thanks, Patti.

      You should get it for Rex, then maybe he can at least bring it down to a doable 40 or 50 hours a week. 70 is way too much!

  2. A great list. I read the Good Earth while still in school, but remember it to be a good read — I think I was doing a book report at time. I think I’ll take up your challenge and make a list of books to read this year too and will include a re-read of the Good Earth. You’re a good mentor.

    1. Thanks, Pam. I look forward to reading your list … and your new novel at the end of the year! The subject sounds fascinating, by the way.

  3. Check out “Still Life With Chickens” by Catherine Goldhammer. About making a new life post divorce near the sea with a daughter and yes, chickens. Stumbled on it and the title tickled me. The writing is very, very good. I’m going to get her sequel “Winging It’ – don’t know if she still lives with chickens though. Bet she does.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I will check it out. I read “Still Life with Woodpecker” years ago because I got a chuckle out of the title, and I loved it.

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