I wanted to read more contemporary novels, I wanted to read more 19th century novel, and I wanted to revisit some authors I had loved when I was Reading the 20th Century – and to read some of the authors who I hadn’t been able to fit in that time around.
And I wanted a project so that I could hunt for books, make lists, set myself targets.
My new 100 Years of Books project – a book a year from 1850 to 1949 – seemed to be the perfect solution, pulling my favourite literary years together, taking two years so that I could read older and newer books in between times.
But as I lined up books this did start to feel like a project of two haves, with little linking the first half century with the second, and I kept stubbling across books from the ‘wrong halves’ of each century.
I began to wonder if I should move my century back – ‘Reading the 19th Century’ suddenly became an intriguing possibility.
But I know that my reading mood will shift, that later books will start to call me again. Two centuries would be madness. Finding some books from any set period of years is easy, filling the period is rather more difficult.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep to my original project, but I am going to create two ‘shadow centuries’ 1800 to 1899 and 1900 to 1999, with the books from the 100 Years of Books and the books I read along the way from the years outside the project.
I’m setting no deadline, no targets; I just want to see.
Because reading the right books is more important than any reading project …..