As Hallowe’en approaches I tend to look back on my reading record to see how well I’ve done throughout the year. Although I am heading nicely towards my target of 60 books, I was not pleased to discover that I had grossly deviated from my other book challenges, especially the most important one: 1001 Book Challenge.

It’s not an easy list to conquer, as anyone who is currently undertaking it will know. The sheer number of books aside, it is probably the only list that well and truly makes you ‘feel’ your mortality. Especially if you have (like me) gauged their yearly reading speed. Mine stands at approximately 50 books a year, placing me in the ‘slow reader’ category compared to some readers who manage well over 100 books a year!

One good thing about gargantuan challenges like the 1001 Book List is that many people are attempting it. It’s tough but it’s highly popular and if you can find a good online reading group (I’m a member of the goodreads one) there is plenty of camaraderie to be had along the way. And you’ll soon discover that most people are there to discover truly good books that deserve their time and effort. There is no pressure to actually COMPLETE the list. In reality, it would take a lifetime of reading. So the challenge is viewed as one that allows you to read a lifetime of ‘quality’ titles that have been tried and tested by critics.

Joining a group also means you’ll meet many people who have varying reading habits, some quite surprising. Some people begin to read the books in list order, finding a sort of rhythm as they tick off the books one by one. Some like me, tend to pick and choose haphazardly whereas others read books in ‘author’ order, e.g. reading all titles that happen to be in the list by Dickens, then go onto another author and so on. If you can’t be bothered to choose a book from the list yourself (and there are plenty of lists floating around in all formats) or you rather can’t bear to look at that heart-stopping list for fear of fainting then there is always the monthly readalongs that let you know which books are being read by the whole group. This is best by those who like to enter into heated debates. I like a good discussion every once in a while, but it’s rare that I choose to do a readalong, mainly because as soon as I commit something is bound to come up and stop me from joining in!

Now this year has been very up and down for me reading wise and with all good intentions I have not had the chance to make the best use of my time. I also believe that because I have 3 different 1001 lists (2006, 2008 and 2010), I have put myself off a bit. Just a tad. So I sort of gave up on it. But I won’t let that happen for 2012. Oh no, I’ve decided to make a shortlist of 1001 books that I have been DYING to get my hands on. My list is a mish-mash of titles taken from all three versions which makes things a bit more manageable.

Here’s what my proposed 1001 Book Challenge for the coming year looks like:

Pre 1700’s
*Don Quixote (Own)
*Oroonoko (Own)
*Tale of Genji
*Aesop’s Fable

*Rasselas (Own)
*120 Days of Sodom
*Caleb Williams
*Wilhelm Maisters Apprenticeship

*La Bete Humaine
*Against Nature
*The Moonstone (Own)
*Crime and Punishment (Own)
*Woman in White (Own)
*The Red and the Black
*The Brothers Karamazov
*Tale of Two Cities (Own)

*Locus Solus
*The Great Gatsby (Own)
*The the Lighthouse (Own)
*Lady Chatterley’s Lover
*Les Enfants Terribles
*Tender is the Night (Own)
*The Little Prince
*Zorba the Greek
*Love in a Cold Climate
*Go Tell it to the Mountain
*Casino Royale
*Bonjour Tristesse
*The Mandarins
*The Talented Mr. Ripley
*Pale Fire
*Heartbreak Tango
*The House of Spirits (Own)
*If not now, When?
*The Black Dahlia
*Buddha of Suburbia (Own)
*The Virgin Suicides
*A Suitable Boy
*The Poisonwood Bible

*Kafka on the Shore
*Suite Francaise
*Elegance of the Hedgehog
*The Children’s Book
*On Beauty
*After the Quake

There are a total of 58 books, which means it is well within my means to conquer such a list. Obviously I hope to read more than that, as each year I try to stretch myself beyond the 50 mark. This year I’m trying for 60 books, of which I have read 47 so far. I know it’s a bit early to be making New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m really determined to take a big chunk out of that 1001 list. There are so many important books on there that I just have to make the knowledge of them ‘mine’! But considering that the list is updated every two years, I won’t be making much of a dent in it really.

So, enough of my list mania, what about yours? How do you handle your Book challenges? Is there a particular order, pattern to how you pick your next read? I don’t care how wacky it is, I would love to know.