Shadow Centuries

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.

100 Years of Books

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 …..

6 responses

  1. I agree absolutely with your last line! and I was tempted by a 19th century, as well. As always, I look forward to seeing which books you choose.

  2. When you first talked about your century once removed :), I started making lists to see if I thought I could join in. I filled up the early 20th century very easily, but really had trouble with the second half of the 19th. I had a list right away, but nowhere near as complete as the next 50 years were. The benefit of a project like this for me would be expanding my reading and exposure to new authors, so I’m thinking (not very studiously, I’ll admit) of trying this by decades (e.g., 2 or 3 books for each decade, rather than one for each year). Is that wimpy? But now, I’d want to do shadow decades because I’m so awfully fond of Jane A. Oh, dear.

  3. You’re so right about reading the right books at the right time. (That’s why I sometimes hesitate to sign up for more reading challenges…I like to feel free to read whatever I want when I want.) But your project sounds lovely. I like the idea of reading through a century…and I can’t wait for updates on your progress through time. 🙂 Good luck!!

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