I stumbled across Robert Bruce’s blog, 101books.net, approximately a year ago. His goal: To read and blog about all 100 books in TIME Magazine’s Top 100 list since 1923, the year TIME began. So that the literary gods wouldn’t smite him, he added Ulysses, which failed to make the list simply because it was released in 1922 (and not because most people have no idea what’s happening in it).
When I found the blog, I became an instant fan and spent most of a weekend catching up from the first post to the most recent, at the time. Two years into the project and he’s about halfway through the list. I appreciate his dedication to such a massive project, his lack of pretention in blogging on these important books, and the trivia he provides about each work.
He is currently working on a book of his own, but has written millions of words for other people, most notably Dave Ramsey, whom he works for as a full-time web writer. His words have also appeared in Chicken Soup For The Soul, Relevant Magazine, and In Touch Magazine, in addition to guest posts on the blogs of Michael Hyatt, Jane Friedman, Jon Acuff, and Jeff Goins.
This prolific reader shares his recent reading, his influences, and his guilty pleasure in reading.
What are you reading right now? Why?
“I’m reading An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. It’s a beast of a novel, about 900 pages, but it’s proving to be a moving story about a kid who grew up poor, the son of a street preacher. The novel follows his story as he grows up into an adult and becomes somewhat successful, but then makes a series of bad decisions that ruin his life.
The novel was published in the 1920s and is one of the 100 ALL-TIME novels selected by TIME Magazine a few years ago. An American Tragedy is the 44th novel I’ve read from the list and wrote about on my blog, 101 Books. “
What was the last astounding book you read?
“I just finished Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and it simply blew me away. Achebe has a very simple style of writing that masks a lot of complexity underneath. It’s an eye-opening look at the tense interaction between an indigenous tribe in Nigeria and European missionaries.”
What is your genre of choice? Has it always been the same?
“My reading preferences have changed a lot. I read a lot of fiction up through college, where I majored in English and took quite a few literature classes. After that, I burned out a little on fiction and read a lot of nonfiction stuff: Jon Krakauer, Dave Eggers, some of John Feinstein’s sports-focused stuff, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller and so on. But these days, I’m back to reading fiction, and I will be for the next few years while I finish this list.”
What is your guilty pleasure?
“I’m a fan of nonfiction about chefs and cooking. Michael Ruhlman wrote a book called The Making of a Chef about the year he spent in culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America. Excellent, well-written book. And Heat is an awesome book about a journalist who went to work at Babbo—Mario Batali’s flagship restaurant in New York City. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at one of the best restaurants in America. I’m just a junkie for any food-related writing.”
What writer or book has most inspired your own writing?
“I appreciate the research and depth in Jon Krakauer’s writing. I’m a big fan of Donald Miller’s simple, honest style. He’s great at incorporating humor into serious subjects. In the fiction world, I love the ‘less is more’ approach. Hemingway is a personal favorite.”
“If you say you don’t have time to read, you’re wrong. It’s all about priorities. If you truly want to read, you’ll make time for it. Feel free to read through the Time list with me at my blog, 101 Books.”
Keep up with Robert at 101 Books.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @RobertBruce76.
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