why write about books?
It all started with Tess.
Some time in 2009, I read Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles for the first time. For the two or three days I spent reading that book, it was the only thing I could think about. I read as I walked to the bus. I read while I ate. I couldn’t concentrate at work.
Then, when I’d finished, I put the book back on the shelf, looked at it sitting there and realised that just reading books was no longer enough for me. I wanted to share how much I’d enjoyed this book, but had no idea how.
It wasn’t as if Tess of the D’Urbervilles was the first book I ever loved, though I still count it as one of my all-time favourites (just don’t make me choose between Tess and Jude the Obscure or I might not be accountable for my own actions). I’ve been a reader all my life. I studied literature at university.
For some reason, it was Tess that broke me, in the best possible way. It was the book that convinced me to start writing back to books.
Consider Book to the Future my long, rambling, frequently distracted love letter to literature.
Fast-forward a few months. Towards the end of 2009, a conversation with a Properly Bookish Person at a party left me feeling like a prize idiot*. How could I call myself a reader when I’d read so few of the classics?
In 2010, besieged by literary guilt, I decided it was about time I filled in the gaps in my reading. I’d start with the classic works of the twentieth century. And, to keep myself accountable, I’d write something about each of the books I read. Plus, to add an extra degree of difficulty, I’d do it all in chronological order. Why? Why not?
1900 seemed as good a place as any to start, so that’s where my project began – with L Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. From there, I moved on to 1901, and My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, then 1902 rolled around and I read Heart of Darkness…and so on.
how book to the future works
Book to the Future started as a project to read and review one book to represent every year of the twentieth century. However, rules were made to be broken.
Occasionally, I cheat and read modern books. With all the great books around at the moment, can you really blame me? Sometimes, I’ll read two books published in the same year. Other times, I’ll review something published before 1900. Or perhaps my response to a book will take a form different to a traditional review.
I’ve been writing this blog for five years now. Book to the Future is, and probably always will be, a work in progress. Every book leads to another, which in turn points toward two or three more.
Will I ever be the well-read person I so earnestly set out to become when I started blogging? Definitely not, and I’m okay with that. Will this project ever end? It’s possible, but unlikely. A prospect I find pleasing rather than daunting.
* There are so many things I’ve learned after five years of writing about books, but here’s the most important: beware the book snob. There aren’t too many of them – they’re an endangered species of sorts. Most bookish people are lovely. But take care to avoid anyone who goes out of their way to make you feel small because you haven’t read everything. The fact is, they haven’t read everything either. No one has.