The Kaizen Reading Challenge

 

My self-imposed challenge is to read each of the below 225 books, and write an essay about each on this blog before my 35th birthday.

That’s 45 books per year, and an average of 3.75 books per month. Considering the volume, and “hefty prose” of some of these, it’s going to be a challenge. Also, I suspect I may end up reading a few extra books that are not on this list and therefore not a part of the challenge. 

About the Selection Process of the Books

I brainstormed considerably about what should go on this list. I wondered if I should focus solely on classics, solely on fiction, and decided not to. I want this challenge to be a broader experience, and that means including non-fiction too.

After searching through many lists of “must-read” books, I selected Guardian’s 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read list. I picked out more than half of the 225 books from this list. But even this list did not cover everything I wanted to cover, so I added the rest, which included some books I always wanted to read (such as Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey), some books that I believe are necessary for us Generation Yers (such as Education of Millionaires and The Tipping Point), and some more memoires (such as Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci and Diaries of Franz Kafka).

I’ve read some of the books from this list before, but I decided to include a few anyway, because they deserve a re-read, and also because I have not written an essay about them.

This is my definitive list.
[Not in chronological order of reading]

  1. Possession – A. S. Byatt
  2. The Map of Love – Ahdaf Soueif
  3. A Week at the Airport – Alain De Botton [Essay]
  4. The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
  5. The Outsider – Albert Camus
  6. Crome Yellow – Aldous Huxley
  7. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  8. Berlin Alexanderplatz – Alfred Doblin
  9. Selected Poems – Alfred Tennyson [Essay]
  10. The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
  11. Samarkand – Amin Maalouf
  12. The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  13. Delta of Venus – Anais Nin
  14. Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte
  15. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
  16. The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler
  17. An American Childhood – Annie Dillard
  18. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  19. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry [Essay]
  20. Ethics – Aristotle
  21. The Old Wives’ Tale – Arnold Bennett
  22. Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller
  23. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy [Essay]
  24. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
  25. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
  26. For the New Intellectual – Ayn Rand
  27. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
  28. A Way of Being Free – Ben Okri [Essay] [Essay 2] [Essay 3]
  29. Sybil or the Two Nations – Benjamin Disraeli
  30. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin
  31. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
  32. Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe – Bill Bryson
  33. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
  34. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  35. Vilette – Charlotte Bronte
  36. A Man of the People – Chinua Achebe
  37. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  38. Selected Poems – Christina Rosetti
  39. Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
  40. Mr. Norris Changes Train – Christopher Isherwood
  41. Sons and Lovers – D. H. Lawrence
  42. Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
  43. The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
  44. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  45. Galileo’s Daughter – Dava Sobel
  46. Remembering Babylon – David Malouf
  47. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
  48. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  49. Becoming a Writer – Dorothea Brande
  50. Howards End – E. M. Forster
  51. Night – Elie Wiesel
  52. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  53. At Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – Elizabeth Smart
  54. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  55. A Movable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
  56. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
  57. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  58. Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh
  59. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  60. Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  61. The Beautiful and the Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  62. Evelina – Fanny Burney
  63. The Essays of Francis Bacon – Francis Bacon
  64. Dune – Frank L. Herbert
  65. The Castle – Franz Kafka
  66. The Trial – Franz Kafka
  67. Diaries – Franz Kafka
  68. Beyond Good and Evil – Friedrich Nietzsche
  69. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  70. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  71. The Man Who Was Thursday – G. K. Chesterton
  72. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquéz
  73. Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
  74. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  75. Diary of a Nobody – George Grossmith
  76. Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell
  77. Travels with My Aunt – Graham Greene
  78. Darwin’s Radio – Greg Bear
  79. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  80. Under Heaven – Guy Gavriel Kay
  81. The Island of Dr. Moreau – H. G. Wells
  82. The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi
  83. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  84. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
  85. Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
  86. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
  87. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
  88. Joseph Andrews – Henry Fielding
  89. Tom Jones – Henry Fielding
  90. Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  91. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  92. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
  93. The Odyssey – Homer
  94. The Illiad – Homer
  95. Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
  96. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
  97. Island Beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende
  98. If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller – Italo Calvino
  99. The Good Companions – J. B. Priestley
  100. Time and the Conways – J. B. Priestley
  101. Empire of the Sun – J. G. Ballard
  102. The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
  103. The Lord of the  Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
  104. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
  105. The Lecturer’s Tale – James Hynes
  106. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
  107. Dubliners – James Joyce
  108. Ulysses – James Joyce
  109. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
  110. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  111. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  112. Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
  113. Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
  114. The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
  115. The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang Goethe
  116. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
  117. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
  118. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  119. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John Le Carre
  120. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  121. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  122. The Woman Who Got Away – John Updike
  123. The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad
  124. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  125. The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
  126. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  127. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  128. The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  129. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  130. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  131. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  132. The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci – Leonardo da Vinci
  133. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  134. The Story of My Experiments with Truth – M. K. Gandhi
  135. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
  136. Remembrance of Things Past Volume 1 – Marcel Proust
  137. Remembrance of Things Past Volume 2 – Marcel Proust
  138. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  139. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  140. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  141. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain
  142. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
  143. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  144. Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary E. Braddon
  145. The Gormenghast Trilogy – Mervyn Peake
  146. The Education of Millionaires – Michael Ellsberg [Essay]
  147. Mother London – Michael Moorcock
  148. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  149. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
  150. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  151. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
  152. Untouchable – Mulk Raj Anand
  153. Writing down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg [Essay]
  154. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  155. The Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
  156. The Prince – Niccoló Machiavelli
  157. Dead Souls – Nikolai Gogol
  158. New Horizons in the Study of Language – Noam Chomsky
  159. Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon
  160. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  161. In the Country of Last Things – Paul Auster
  162. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  163. The Blue Flower – Penelope Fitzgerald
  164. Piccadilly Jim – P. G. Wodehouse
  165. The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
  166. The Republic – Plato
  167. The Painter of Signs – R. K. Narayan
  168. The Home and the World – Rabindranath Tagore
  169. Essays: First Series – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  170. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  171. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
  172. Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
  173. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein
  174. Selected Poems – Robert Burns
  175. Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
  176. A Fine Balance – Rohinton MIstry
  177. A Music and Silence – Rose Tremain
  178. The Unbearable Bassington – Saki
  179. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  180. The Way of All Flesh – Samuel Butler
  181. The Diaries of Samuel Pepys – Samuel Pepys
  182. The Einstein Intersection – Samuel R. Delaney
  183. Fireflies – Shiva Naipul
  184. Leonardo da Vinci: A Psychosexual Study of an Infantile Reminiscence – Sigmund Freud
  185. Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
  186. The Journal of Sir Walter Scott – Sir Walter Scott
  187. The Red and the Black – Stendhal
  188. The Language Instinct – Steven Pinker
  189. The Art of War – Sun Tzu [Essay]
  190. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  191. The Once and Future King – T. H. White
  192. Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  193. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  194. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  195. Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann
  196. Death in Venice – Thomas Mann
  197. The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
  198. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  199. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
  200. A House for Mr. Biswas – V. S. Naipul
  201. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  202. The Aeneid – Virgil
  203. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf  [Essay]
  204. Jacob’s Room – Virginia Woolf 
  205. Monday or Tuesday – Virginia Woolf
  206. To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  207. Orlando – Virginia Woolf
  208. Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf
  209. Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov
  210. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov [Essay]
  211. Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
  212. Cakes and Ale Or the Skeleton in the Cupboard – W. Somerset Maugham
  213. Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
  214. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
  215. The Professor’s House – Willa Cather
  216. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
  217. Neuromancer – William Gibson
  218. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  219. English Literature: Its History and its Significance for the Life of the English Speaking World – William J. Long
  220. A World Lit Only by Fire – William Manchester
  221. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
  222. Sophie’s Choice – William Styron
  223. The Gathering Storm – Winston Churchill
  224. Their Finest Hour – Winston Churchill
  225. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

 

P.S. The books get crossed off this list, when the essay is published on the blog.

 

 

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