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Thinking of creating a reading bucket list? Most readers seem to have a list of “someday reads”–books they want to read before they die. Here is my lifetime reading list, and thoughts on why a reading bucket list is valuable.
I read a lot, and for the most part I read for fun and escape. I try not to feel pressure to read books just because I feel like I “should” read them, and you’ll almost never find me rushing out to buy the latest bestseller.
Unless something about a story has really captured my attention, I content myself with the many, many older books that I haven’t gotten to. Because there is only so much time.
Thinking about the number of books I’m likely to read over the rest of my life actually makes me kind of sad. As a voracious reader (~50 books a year) over age 35, I probably have about 2,400 books left to read. Unless I can up my reading game, neglect my children, and become a “super reader” and read 80 books a year—then I’m looking at more like 3,800. (Hit that link to see how many books you’re likely to read before you die.)
Maybe it’s just me, but that feels like a depressingly small number. There are SO many already written that I want to read! There are SO many more good books to come!
Somewhere in all of this, though, is the nagging feeling that there are certain books that I definitely want to read. Someday. Before I die, anyway. Because there are gaps in my reading that shouldn’t be there, especially if I’m blogging about books and considering myself “well-read.”
And so, I’ve been slowly putting together my book bucket list. With my ominous “final number” in mind, I’m trying to keep this list to around 50. Fifty books to work into my other reading. These are books that I actually do want to read, but I often find myself putting them off in favor of something more exciting.
Some are classics—a few I can’t believe I haven’t read. Some are just books I know I want to read. I’m not bothering with books that don’t interest me in the least. I don’t really want to read War and Peace, Infinite Jest, or Ulysses, so I’m not going to. There are very few non-fiction books here, but I threw in a few that are sitting on my shelf.
This list may evolve, and I’ll periodically update my progress. I’m not going to read straight through this list; more likely I’ll pull one of these out every few books. I also like to use a reading journal to track my progress and add or remove books from my reading bucket list.
(Want to make your own reading bucket list? There’s a template in my Book List Library! Sign up to get access.)
Reading Bucket List (in no particular order)
- Middlemarch – George Eliot
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
- The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner
- Kristin Lavransdatter – Sigrid Undset
- I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
- The Great Gatsby (I can’t BELIEVE I’ve never read this) – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond
- Harry Potter series (with my daughter; we’ve read the first) – J.K. Rowling
- Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
- Tess of the D’urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
- Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
- The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
- 11/22/63 – Stephen King
- The Awakening – Kate Chopin
- Swing Time – Zadie Smith
- Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
- Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
- Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
- Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
- Persuasion – Jane Austen
- Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
- Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
- Boy, Snow, Bird – Helen Oyeyemi
- Everyone Brave is Forgiven – Chris Cleave
- Centennial – James Michener
- In This House of Brede – Rumor Godden
- And Ladies of the Club – Helen Hooven Santmyer
- The Crimson Petal and the White – Michele Faber
- And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini
- The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
- The Winds of War – Herman Wouk
- As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
- Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
- The Hours – Michael Cunningham
- A Separate Peace – John Knowles
- Roots – Alex Haley
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
- Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Hunger – Roxane Gay
- Truth & Beauty – Ann Patchett
- The Swerve: How the World Became Modern – Stephen Greenblatt
- The Shell Seekers – Rosamunde Pilcher
- Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
- Kindred – Octavia Butler
What books are on your bucket list? Any must-reads that I should consider? Or any listed here that aren’t worth the time?