Finding My Great American Read

When I was in junior high, I went through what I now consider to be an obligatory phase for female readers: Nicholas Sparks books. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the romance genre or Nicholas Sparks, but I think there is merit to my assertion that his books have a place–that is somewhat limited–in our reading lives. And that is junior high, when we are first exploring love, imagining what love means and what we want our loves to be, all alongside dating our first boyfriends and experiencing our first heartbreaks.

I only bring this up because when I saw (and later read–the order is only significant in that this is precisely how my Nicholas Sparks phase commenced) A Walk to Remember, I was enchanted by Jamie’s dedication to reading all the titles on her selected “great literature” reading lists. I loved reading, I wanted to be well-read, I wanted to methodically explore literature like Jamie, too!

I never actually found a reading list to complete, although in college I did create an equivalency by committing to the Goodreads Reading Challenge each year. Then, when I started following some book bloggers, I read Lucy Pearson’s decision to read all of the books on the BBC’s Big Read list. Last year PBS decided to bring the Big Read to the United States and rebranded it as The Great American Read. Since I’ve spent the bulk of my first five years as an American Literature teacher, I’ve taken it upon myself to also establish the goal of reading all titles on the list by my thirtieth birthday. This gives me five years to read all 100 books… only 20 books a year, which will still allow me some freedom in book selection while still working to my annual Goodreads Reading Challenge totals!

You can follow my progress to completing this goal here.

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