I was at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago with my friend Ryan when I noticed a paperback called Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits by Jack Murnighan. Intrigued, I picked it up and gave it a skim. Partly because it seemed interesting, and partly because it was on the "Buy 2, get the 3rd free!" table, I bought it (along with a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Working Poor by David Shipler).
Well, I've gotten around to actually reading it, and in doing so, I've found my new project. A Ph.D. in medieval and Renaissance literature, Murnighan picks 50 of the all-time greats (in his opinion, at least, but the list seems pretty standard) and tries to make the pitch for reading them (or re-reading them, in the case of hated high school classics like Moby Dick, Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights).
So I have a new goal: reading the 50 books on Murnighan's list in the next year. Some of them are, frankly, pretty intimidating (I have never had any desire to read The Faerie Queen or Madame Bovary), but that's what unrealistic goals are all about, right?
So with the help of my friendly internet random number generator (see www.random.org for a greater explanation), I have picked my first challenge:
Number 38: The Trial by Franz Kafka.