Perhaps this is a crazy undertaking for me as a blogger, since it would be a little crazy for you as a reader to attempt what it will imply: reading a book a week for the year. I don’t know what’s wrong with me—or with other people, for that matter—that lists and attempts like this would appeal to us. I love beginning things like it (like Keri Smith books and New Years’ resolutions and baking my way through a season of The Great British Baking Show) and also like to gawk at others who attempt them (Julie and Julia). I am going to stick to shorter books (no War and Peace, Roots, or Arabian Nights here), because I just can’t expect you to read many large books in a week. (Some authors, like Zadie Smith, Haruki Murakami, and the Bronte sisters, and some books, like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Anna Karenina, were just too long to include here.) You have a life, amiright? But some books read fast, so you might find those here.
I am not afraid of middle grades or young adult books, so they are included (especially since they often make a quick read). I tried to include literature from across a spectrum, but I found a few areas to be lacking. Therefore, I included a few titles I have not read myself. I also did this occasionally when I love the author but I hadn’t read a length-appropriate title. I starred the books I haven’t read. Otherwise, click on the title to read my review. I would recommend doing this each time, because sometimes I explain some needed information about a book or I tell you how to have the best reading experience with it. There are a few books that don’t have reviews. Oof. And I gave you a few books that are first in a series. You can do with that what you will. The point is to expose you to an under-300 page (except, incidentally, the first one so you better get crackin’), quality book from across the reading spectrum (genre, space, and time, literary to popular), each week. (The place I really unrepresented is East Asia, but I am still doing my own exploring into this literature. The youth are overrepresented because I am a home school mom. I included a couple titles to swap for middle grades lit, if you want.) Still, I think this would be fun for someone who even slightly resembles my interests.
Note: My next blog will be a plan for reading a book a month and doing a book club. If that’s more your speed, just hang on a sec.
Another note: I will be giving you a list of supplemental books, as well. Reading for fun is fun, but you’ll also need a journal, planner, and some self-help/inspirational reading to do “on the side.” This will be at the bottom of the post. In case you’re a writer, I’ll also give you some trade reading to do. I did not include non-fiction.
One Last Note: These are dated for 2021, turning over to a new book on Fridays. You could easily apply them to any other year.
- January 1: Life of Pi, Yann Martel
- January 8: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Paul Zindel
- January 15: The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
- January 22: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
- January 29: Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, Laurie Colwin
- February 5: The Wheel on the School, Meindert DeJong (swap: Kokoro, Natsume Soseki *)
- February 12: Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
- February 19: Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis
- February 26: Smile, Sisters, and Ghosts, Raina Telgemeier
- March 5: The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
- March 12: The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini *
- March 19: On Writing, Stephen King
- March 26: The Princess Bride, William Goldman
- April 2: Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
- April 9: Best Remembered Poems, Martin Gardner
- April 16: The House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne
- April 23: Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee *
- April 30: The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, Gwendolyn Brooks *
- May 7: Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
- May 14: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
- May 21: King Lear, William Shakespeare
- May 28: Wonder, R. J. Palacio
- June 4: The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver *
- June 11: A Manual for Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin *
- June 18: Pipi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
- June 25: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
- July 2: Ruby Redfort Look Into My Eyes, Lauren Child (Swap: Columbine, Dave Cullen)
- July 9: Big Fish, Daniel Wallace
- July 16: Matilda, Roald Dahl
- July 23: Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri *
- July 30: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- August 6: How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell
- August 13: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
- August 20: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard
- August 27: A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel
- September 3: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- September 10: Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- September 17: The Giver, Lois Lowry
- September 24: The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy *
- October 1: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- October 8: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larsson *
- October 15: Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbit
- October 22: Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
- October 29: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling
- November 5: The Once and Future King, T. H. White
- November 12: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, Jean Lee Latham (Swap: Palace Walk, Naguib Mahfouz *)
- November 19: The Things Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *
- November 26: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie *
- December 3: The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
- December 10: The Bone People, Keri Hulme *
- December 17: A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
- December 24: When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
So, here’s an idea of the “other” books you’ll need this year:
- A planner: try Kokuyo Jibun Techo 2021, Little More Daily Organizer, or Moleskin Classic 12 Month
- A journal: I love the Decomposition Notebooks (I like grid or blank pages). My daughter prefers a bullet journal, like Leuchtturm or Dotted Grid Notebook.
- Something to keep your creative juices flowing—you might need a few of these. Here is a long list of my “next”s: The Keri Smith Deluxe Boxed Set, or other Keri Smith books, Finish This Book, The Imaginary Mind of ___, How to Be an Explorer of the World, The Wander Society, or Live Out Loud; I Wrote a Book About You, Clarke and Edge; Q&A A Day, Potter Gift; Piccadilly’s Complete the Story or Write the Story; Peter Pauper Press’s The Book of Me; Chronicle Books’ One Line a Day; What I Wore Today, Gemma Correll; 642 Things to Draw or 642 Things to Write About, Po Bronson.
- Whatever self-help or inspirational book speaks to your current situation. I am beginning with Anxious for Nothing¸ by Max Lucado and am also looking at Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen and Overwhelmed by Brigid Shulte. At the end of the year, I’d like to try Honest Advent, by Scott Erickson.
- Non-fiction book ideas: In Cold Blood, Truman Capote; A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf; Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich; Bury My Heart at Wonnded Knee, Dee Brown; Black Boy¸ Richard Wright; Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee.
- Cookbooks ideas: Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi; The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters; and Pie, Ken Heidrich. Among my favorites are Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and anything Burt Greene.
Writing Books to Read This Year: (Whatever your trade (and/or hobbies) may be, you’ll want to do a little reading in that area. I’m a writer and I will probably purchase a book on embroidery. I also love to throw in books on philosophy. Here’s a writing book for every couple months, plus a couple subscriptions.)
- Poets & Writers subscription
- Writer’s Digest subscription
- Subscription to the literary journal of your choice. I don’t have one, really.
- Bird by Bird, Ann Lamott
- Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
- On Writing Well, William Zinsser
- The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
- Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
- Pity the Reader¸ Kurt Vonegut, etc.
For more ideas of what to read this year, from fiction to cookbooks to more writing books, see the Best Books lists HERE.