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To Infinity and Beyond > Rachel's 50 Before 50 Plan

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message 1: by Rachelnyc (last edited May 03, 2019 07:00AM) (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Inspired by Jody and others, I've decided to create my own version of this challenge and will be reading 10 books for each decade I've been alive so far. I have a little less than four years to complete and would like to include a pre-1970 component but I'm still working that out because I don't want to be overly ambitious.

Whew, I finally narrowed it down and have a final list with a few alternates for each year just in case I decide to make a swap.


Roots: The Saga of an American Family
The Thorn Birds
Breakfast of Champions
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders
All the President's Men
The Lathe of Heaven
Roadside Picnic
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
84, Charing Cross Road
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
The Complete Stories

The Color Purple
The Remains of the Day
The Clan of the Cave Bear
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Midnight's Children
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
The House of the Spirits
White Noise
The Black Dahlia
The Pillars of the Earth
The Complete Maus

The Secret History
The God of Small Things
The Virgin Suicides
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
American Pastoral
Interpreter of Maladies
Motherless Brooklyn
The Sparrow
The Tortilla Curtain
Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
Breath, Eyes, Memory

The Thirteenth Tale
A Thousand Splendid Suns
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Kafka on the Shore
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
White Teeth
The Known World
The Year of Magical Thinking
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Savage Detectives
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Cane River

The Night Circus
A Visit from the Goon Squad
The Orphan Master's Son
Burial Rites
Home Fire
The Refugees
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
The Luminaries
The Nix
The Pale King
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Station Eleven

message 3: by Lizzy (new)

Lizzy | 742 comments One of my all time favorites is Orphan Masters Son... hope you choose to read this one.

message 4: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 704 comments I just finished Gravity's Rainbow. It was the most difficult book I've ever read. Every line means something and it requires an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from literature to math to science to WWII if you really want to get it. I'd start with The Crying of Lot 49 if you want to dip your toes into Pynchon. Are you a Murakami fan? I love him. Kafka is a good place to start. 1Q84 might be a bit much if you haven't read hIs stuff before.

message 5: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments I loved The Thornbirds, Clan of the Cave Bear, The Sparrow and American Pastoral but not Ahab’s Wife. It took me a year to read it! The first part was great but the second part bored me to tears! I almost didn’t finish it. I hope your experience is better! The Sparrow is rather disturbing- just a heads up. It’s certainly thought-provoking, though! I’m planning to read the sequel.

message 6: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments Yay!! I’m loving so much of your list - each time I see another one, I think I need to start making a 100 before 100 list. There are just so many books I still want to read!

message 7: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Lizzy, The Orphan Master's Son is a definite. Glad to hear how much you loved it!

Tammy, thank you for the heads up about Pynchon and Murakami. I haven't read either of them and I will follow your advice. I almost read 1Q84 for the intimidating prompt but decided on something else. I will start with Kafka on the Shore and see how that goes.

Pam, I'm glad you had a good experience with most of those! I read Clan when I was in middle school and it's one of the books that hooked me on reading but I now I remember nothing about it so I'm really excited to revisit it. Thanks for the warning about Ahab's Wife as well. That's been on my bookshelf for ages so I figure I may as well get to it. I'm all for disturbing and thought provoking so I'm excited about The Sparrow!

Jody, thanks and I know! I was going to do a mini list for the pre-1970 version but it's so difficult to narrow it down. Now I'm thinking for that one, I will do a 55 before 55?!

message 8: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 8316 comments Mod
I have read so many of those and I'm so excited about that (I never see lists like this with books I've actually read haha). It's probably because you include 2000s and 2010s and I rarely read books older than that.

84 Charring Cross is so short, and I didn't really like it (unpopular opinion). I guess if I'm going epistolary, I like Guernsey way more. But! If you want books you can accomplish easily, it's a good one. I read it in about an hour.

Ok I haven't actually read any of these. But I do have a few of the same books on my list!

Midnight in the Garden is one of my favorites of the year -- the characters have been sticking with me and I keep thinking about them! Also, I read American Pastoral in college, and of the very dismal books that I had to read for that Modern Fiction class, I actually enjoyed this one. I can't speak to Practical Magic (and I have liked some of Alice Hoffman's stuff, particularly The Museum of Extraordinary Things) but I HATED Rules of Magic (the prequel to Practical Magic), so if it's anything like that one... that could be one you would consider eliminating.

In that Modern Fiction class I took, The Road was my least favorite. I just don't really like Cormac McCarthy's style. However, The Thirteenth Tale is a HUGE yes for me! One of my favorites ever!

I'm tackling 1Q84 for my "book that intimidates you" this year, and it is so intimidating that I've had it from the library for two months now and haven't cracked it. I definitely second The Orphan Master's Son. My IRL book club read it 5 years ago and we still talk about it! I was distinctly underwhelmed by Exit West. It was... ok. And it made a *bold statement about refugees* but the actually book was just not that entertaining or enlightening to me. The Night Circus is one of my few 5 star books of the year.

Not sure how much that will all help you, but I enjoyed writing it bahah. I have a lot of books on your 2010 list on my 2018 TBR, so I'm interested to see what you think about them!

message 9: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments Rachel - I try to not make negative comments about books since I don’t like to discourage readers from books they might love. I am notorious for not finishing long books (Mammoth Hunters for example) that are good. I just lose interest if I put it down for too long. That might have been the case w Ahab’s Wife, which I read years ago. It felt like 2 books to me. Once I finished the first part I didn’t care about the second. But, I hope you enjoy it! Which book are you starting with??

message 10: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Emily, this is all very helpful, thanks! I loved The Museum of Extraordinary Things which is why I wanted to read more of Hoffman. The rest of your comments will be a big help as I finalize my list!

Pam, I didn't take that as discouragement at all! I find that expectations play a large role in how much I enjoy a book so feedback like this is super helpful and may cause me to like it more than I would have otherwise.

I plan to review and finalize my list tonight so thanks again to everyone who chimed in and if anyone else has feedback, please share!

message 11: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Oh and since I picked up an old copy for $1 this week, I'm going to start with Interpreter of Maladies when I finish my current book.

I was planning to read it anyway for the award winning short story prompt. Is it cheating to use for both challenges?!

message 12: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 704 comments I checked out your "read" list and saw that you like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You should be A-Okay on any Murakami of your choosing. Start with Kafka...then maybe give The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle a try. It is so weird and so awesome. IQ84 is actually a really good book too, but really long. I think I noticed that you'd read Child of God and liked it, so I think you will like The Road. Blood Meridian is HARD but worth it (in my opinion). I love Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Roberto Bolano, Kazuo Ishiguro, Philip many good books on your list. The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor (published in '71 is fantastic). Disgrace by JM Coetzee, is a beaut for 1990's section if you boot any of the others out.

message 13: by Jody (last edited Jul 13, 2018 11:26AM) (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments I've read both Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore by Murakami - I enjoyed them both, but I especially loved the first (though as far as I know it's a departure from his usual style). Kafka had a really strong David Lynch vibe, so if you love Twin Peaks, I think you'll love that one!

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders was a bit of a slog for me, but very interesting (and terrifying). The Color Purple I absolutely adored. Celie is one of my favourite characters ever - I ended up feeling so fiercely protective of her! It took me a couple of chapters to get used to the language in it, but once I got used to that, it was great (it's kinda dialect-y, if that makes sense). Gilead was, hands down, the dullest book I have ever read. I hope you enjoy it more than I did (which won't be difficult 😂).

message 14: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments If you want to start off really easy with Murakami, I suggestThe Strange Library The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami . It's such an unusual format and has fabulous pictures! I am not a big fan of his yet. I read 2 books that were ok but I didn't love them. I haven't read the ones mentioned, though

message 15: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Thanks Tammy, I will check out the others you mentioned. I was debating between Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood (and I will check out The Strange Library) but with that Lynch comment from Jody, I am definitely leaning towards Kafka.

The Color Purple will absolutely be on the final list. I liked the movie and loved the Broadway show so I'm excited to read the source.

message 16: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 8316 comments Mod
It is 100% NOT cheating to use for both challenges. I will absolutely be doing that as well haha!

I know you probably aren't looking to add to your list, but I really enjoyed White Noise by Don DeLillo.. it was my favorite out of my Modern Fiction class. Would fit in the 1980s.

message 17: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Thanks Emily, I know some people are very strict about their challenges so I'm glad to know I'm not alone in overlapping. Also, I added White Noise, it sounds great!

Ok, this was more difficult than I thought but I finally have a finished list though I did include a few alternates for each decade, just in case.

message 18: by dalex (last edited Jul 15, 2018 06:53PM) (new)

dalex (912dalex) | 2095 comments O my goodness you have so many excellent books on your list! You are going to have so much fun with your challenge.

I always think of The Thorn Birds in connection with Evergreen because I read both books over and over and over for like two years when I was a teenager. Are they really that amazing? I don't know...but my 15-year-old self sure thought so.

message 19: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Thanks dalex, I'm really excited about this challenge!

message 20: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments So I finally created my list of pre-1970s books for this challenge (see message 2 above).

I only want one book per author and am still deciding between two for a few authors so please chime in if you have a preference of one of those or on the list in general.

I finished Interpreter of Maladies for the original challenge and really enjoyed it. I'm now reading The Night Circus which I am absolutely loving!

message 21: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments Lots of good ones! Enjoy! I will be reading some of the same books. 😀

message 22: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Thanks Pam! I'll be keeping an eye on yours for your thoughts.

Most of these have been on my TBR forever and some I started and for whatever reason it wasn't the right time in my life so I'm excited to finally tackle them.

message 23: by Laura, Celestial Sphere Mod (new)

Laura | 3783 comments Mod
Ahhh man... I may have found yet another challenge. I'm doing "Read Your Age" which just involves reading one book a year for every year since your birth. But another challenge can never hurt :)

message 24: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments Laura wrote: "Ahhh man... I may have found yet another challenge. I'm doing "Read Your Age" which just involves reading one book a year for every year since your birth. But another challenge can never hurt :)"

There's always room for one more challenge...!

message 25: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 943 comments I was just updating this with my most recent read (Rebecca how have I not read this until now?!) and wanted to thank Jody again for starting the trend that inspired this challenge. Of the 8 books I've read so far all but one have been 4 or 5 star reads.

message 26: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments Totally my pleasure! I was so happy to see other people like the idea enough to do it too!

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