Welcome, class.

How many of you have seen this bookmark?  Raise your hands.

The Bookmark of a Lifetime

It features a list of 50 books everyone should read before they die.  To see the list a little more clearly, you can go here, or click on the link at the top of the page labeled The List.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I look at this list, I feel challenged.  So consider this the official declaration of my commitment—I’m going to read all 50 books!

I know I’m not the first to commit to this, nor the first to actually do it.  But after several Internet searches, I’ve realized that there is little online proof that anyone has done it.  Do some searches yourself…you’ll find only brief comments, questionably complete checklists, and vague evidence of people having read all 50.  Where’s the article reminiscing on the experience?  Where’s the blog maintaining updates after each book has been read?  Where’s the hard evidence?

If you’re a perceptive student, you can probably tell where this is going.  I’m not only going to read all 50 books—I’ll be submitting weekly updates on the experience as well.  I want to detail the experience for the world.

Now, I can already hear you class clowns groaning in the back.  Let me be perfectly honest with you—if literature is something you couldn’t be mildly interested in, this probably isn’t the blog for you.  No worries.  This isn’t high school.  You can stand up and walk right out of this classroom, if you feel so inclined.  But you’ll be missing out on something very important.

There’s a reason this list isn’t called “50 Books That You Should Maybe Read, But It’s Alright If You Don’t, Because They Aren’t Really All That Important, So Don’t Even Worry About It.”

These are 50 books to read BEFORE YOU DIE.

Imagine reaching the end of your life without reading these!  Shouldn’t you at least find out why each one is so important?  Shouldn’t you find out why each book is so admired, to have been chosen for such an esteemed list of literary masterpieces?

That’s what I’m offering you.  Through my witty remarks, literary enthusiasm, and warm class-blog environment, I’m sharing with you the chance to skip a few steps—the chance to understand why you should read each book before you die, without actually needing to read all of them.  And while I absolutely encourage you to read these books yourself, I’d prefer you do it once I’m finished writing about each one on this blog.  I’m sure you can restrain yourself.

Also, to be clear, I’m not going to summarize these books for you.  If you need a shabby summary, visit the EncyclopeWiki page or check out RecapNotes, or whatever it’s called.  Those sites may be able prepare you for the test, but I’m here to prepare you for LIFE.  Instead of a book summary, I’m writing about the reason these books should be read at all, which I think is far more important.

And your homework?  Yes, of course you have homework.  Your job is to come to class every Wednesday and read the update.  Comment if you like.  Make suggestions.  Glean the inspiration you need to read all 50 yourself, or at least the few that interest you.  Find out why you should finish each one before your untimely fate.

Last, but undeniably not least, I’ll be starting with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  I haven’t chosen a particular reading order, but this timeless classic seems like a good place to start.

See you next week!

Prof. Jeffrey