New Year's Day: When making resolutions, remember ambitious reader Clifton Fadiman
Clifton Fadiman released 'The Lifetime Reading Plan,' his rankings of the world's greatest books, in 1960.
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I resolve to finish “More Scenes from the Rural Life,” the most recent collection of Verlyn Klinkenborg’s marvelous musings on country living from The New York Times. I will read “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell because his books about the workings of human psychology never fail to surprise me. I will read “Magical Journey,” Katrina Kenison’s new memoir, because her earlier one, “The Gift of An Ordinary Day,” was so good. I will read “Sightlines,” a new collection of essays from naturalist Kathleen Jamie, because there’s so much music in her prose. I will read “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning,” the late poet Laurie Lee’s memoir, because his writing always stretches my idea of what English can do. I will read “Fauna and Family” by the endlessly funny animal enthusiast Gerald Durrell because I want to laugh more in 2014. I will read “Flush,” Virginia Woolf’s biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, because full-length accounts of the lives of cocker spaniels don’t come along that often.Skip to next paragraph
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This is the year I will finally finish “Following the Water,” a nature book by David M. Carroll that keeps getting buried under the snowdrift of literature in my house. I will read “The Letters of Flannery O’Connor” because friends have been bragging about it for ages. I will read Stanley Fish’s “How to Write A Sentence” because every passionate reader should try to be a better writer, too. I will read “Tell About Night Flowers,” a collection of Eudora Welty’s gardening letters, because Welty is my writing hero.
Will I finish reading all of these books in 2014, or even half of them?
But New Year’s Day is a time to dream big. Clifton Fadiman, were he still around, would tell us that this is so.
Danny Heitman, a columnist for The Advocate newspaper in Louisiana, is the author of “A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House.”