Bibliophilia – 50 in 2011

50 in 2011


As an incessant collector of books and a bibliophile (Another might go with the much less delicate “hoarder.”) I often find I’m swimming in them – negotiating a constant mess of piles. I’ve decided that I want my reading to take a more goal oriented approach in an effort to make progress in reading books I own. For instance, I have an ever growing collection of biographies about women but most of them have gone unread. Same with fiction that doesn’t have a science/fantasy element to it. This could be a laughable endeavor given I seem to acquire a new stack of books weekly, but I like impossible challenges!

Methodology: I selected fifty books that I’d really love to get to this year from my collection. I’m not aiming to read them all so much as using them as a guide to prioritize what to pick up. I will probably keep the list at 50 throughout the year – once one is read on the list I will add another to replace it. I’m also not requiring that I read only what’s here, I know I’ll be reading many other things though they will probably be lighter reads.

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Lolita – Vladimir Nabakov
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
She – H. Rider Haggard
Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
Dubliners – James Joyce

Vera: Mrs. Vladimir Nabakov – Stacey Schiff
Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi – Katherine Frank
Gellhorn: A Twentieth Century Life – Caroline Moorehead
The White Boned Demon: A Biography of Madame Mao Zedong – Terrill Ross
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA – Brenda Maddox
Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle
Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis – Ralph Freedman
A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII – Sarah Helms
Geisha: A Life – Mineko Iwasaki

Politics, Current Events and Economics
Anarchism: From Theory to Practice – Daniel Guerin
Man Made Language – Dale Spender
Women, Culture and Politics – Angela Davis
Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform – Sharon Hays
Zapatista Reader – Tom Hayden
The Cost of Living – Arundhati Roy
Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace – Vandana Shiva
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty – Dorothy Roberts
Juki Girls, Good Girls: Gender and Cultural Politics in Sri Lanka’s Global Garment Industry
Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East
The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy – Raj Patel
Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda – Peter Uvin
Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives – Cynthia Enloe
Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World – Mike Davis

Various Non-Fiction
A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present – Howard Zinn
An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales – Oliver Sacks
The Cosmic Serpent – Jeremy Narby
In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development – Carol Gilligan
Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit
God is Red: A Native View of Religion – Vine Deloria Jr.
ADDED: The Frailty Myth – Colette Dowling

House of Leaves – Mark Danielewski
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula LeGuin
Mistress of the Art of Death – Ariana Franklin
Petals of Blood – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
The City and the City – China Mieville
Surfacing – Margaret Atwood
The Glass Bead Game – Hermann Hesse
Still Waters in Niger – Kathleen Hill
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Christy

    I really like this idea! I generally refrain from making lists of books to read in this way unless they are for a specific project (writing something scholarly or planning a course), but I have lots of books that won’t help me with those projects that I definitely want to read – and that are often passed over for newer or more exciting material. I may try to set up a similar system for myself.

    • Erin O’Rourke

      Thanks! The fastest way for reading to feel like a burden is when I “have to” read a book in my spare time (as opposed to academic reading), such as for a book club. Then I’m looking longingly at all the other books I’d love to be reading and being sulky about it, no matter how good the current read is! This definitely had to be more about creating focus as opposed to a “must read” list so I wouldn’t feel like I was limiting myself from other books. It’s funny how psychology works like that.