I am going to read 20 classic, modern-classic or cult books in 2011.

All book-lovers have gaps in their reading — how could you possibly read everything? In recent years I’ve been fairly up-to-speed with newer books and Australian literature, but I’ll often find myself in conversation, saying “oh, I haven’t read such-and-such yet’”. People often assume I would have, given my “literary-minded” claims. I have to remind them I’m only 26.

I read Shakespeare in high school, plus gothic literature, Jane Austen and a few other things; through my undergrad and honours (in film and literature) I was introduced to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, JP Donleavy, Italo Calvino, Thomas Mann, DH Lawrence, EM Forster, Anton Chekhov, and many other writers of the modern and postmodern eras. Since then I’ve obviously discovered a lot on my own, but there is much ground left to cover. I’ve decided that this year I’ll dedicate approximately a quarter to a third of my reading (20 books) to classic, modern-classic or cult books.

I’ve already compiled a list — books I’m curious about, books I think will be fun to read, books I want to be able to talk about, books I can learn from. They are from all different eras and genres. I won’t publish the list in full but after reading each one I will write about it and let you know what the next one or two are that I’m going to tackle. That way you can read along with me, or come back and comment on previous posts. Many of you would have already read the books and can jump straight into the conversation (not just on here but through Twitter and the Facebook fan page).

The first classics I’m reading are The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood. I’ve never read either author. I became interested in Isherwood after seeing the film of A Single Man. My lovely Twitter followers led me in the direction of The Berlin Stories.

Have you set any reading goals for 2011? Will you be joining me in mine?