Just about one decade ago, I started showing my family and friends a twelve-page, multi-columned list of books I had decided to read over the next ten years. Some laughed. Some just stared. Everyone, including myself, thought it was weird. I still get the looks when I tell people. I told two colleagues yesterday that I was in year 9 of a ten-year reading plan, and they stood dumbfounded for a few seconds as they tried to decide whether they had heard me correctly. I guess when I share information unlike anything anyone ever imagined hearing, I should expect it to be a conversation stopper, not a conversation starter.
As strange as it is, and as much as I doubted whether I could really keep up with the plan (I just looked at my original list, and at the top of the page I wrote, “(2007-201?)” ), it’s ten years later, and I’m ready to start the last year of the plan right on schedule. I’ve bought most of the books I didn’t already have, checked all the page counts, counted the days and weeks, and devised a calendar for how the last year of this project will play out. You can see my calendar under the tab “2016 Calendar” near the top of this page.
In addition to my favorite regulars – Aristotle, Aquinas, Dickens, Durant, Boswell, Shakespeare, Trollope, Lewis, Chesterton, and others – I’m especially eager about Tennyson, Lucretius, and Waugh. I don’t know what to expect of Dedekind, but I saw his Theory of Numbers on more than one list of great books, including the list in How to Read a Book, by my Plan’s inspiration and guardian angel, Mortimer Adler. I predict that I’ll either love or hate Ulysses without any moderation. The cornerstone of the whole year is set in April: that month, I’ll finish Orlando Furioso, the title that prompted me twenty years ago to pursue the classical education I never got in school or university.
Ten years. George W. Bush was President when I started this adventure the classics. The first Heroes was on TV. There was no iPhone. I started my plan promptly on January 1, 2007, and I’ll finish on or before December 31, 2016. And then I start my next Ten-Year Plan. I’ve already drawn it up, and over the course of this coming year, I’ll purchase the books for year 1. I’ll start that new ten-year plan on January 1, 2017. And I believe I just might finish in 2026.