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52 Pick Up: A Year of Reading Bestsellers -- Part I

12/31/2012 07:48 pm ET | Updated Mar 02, 2013

I have a confession to make: I am not a popular reader. What do I mean by that? I mean, quite simply, that I am rarely reading what everyone else is. I frequently look at best-sellers lists and find that not only have I not read any of the books on it, I haven't even heard of most of them. And that's not because I'm reading Proust or Aristotle (though I did read the latter in college; Proust eludes me). In all other aspects of my life, I am very much of my time. I've seen every episode of Girls, Homeland and The Wire. I watch a lot of movies. I know who most of the performers are at the Grammy's.

I tweet.

So why is my book reading so out of synch? I honestly have no idea, but this year, I read several best-sellers that I thoroughly enjoyed: The Night Circus, Defending Jacob, Gone Girl. And from this, an idea was born: What if I spent a whole year only reading best-sellers? What if I was always reading what was the most popular at that exact moment? Would I be constantly reading things I hated or would I mostly be reading gems?

See, I have this theory I apply to music. If a song makes it into the top 40, there's a reason. It's not just collective bad taste. If you're honest with yourself, I think you'll agree that these songs usually have something catchy and infections about them. There the songs you catch yourself singing when you're unawares. That you know all the lyrics to though you don't know how. Maybe they're not going to change your life, musically speaking, but they're worth knowing. And sometimes they're brilliant, too. Sometimes there's a nexus between great leaps forward and popularity.

And also: I read the Harry Potter books because everyone was talking about them. Ditto The Hunger Games series. I love those books, and have read them more than once. (And yes, I read the Twilight books, too, but, honestly, I want those hours of my life back. Don't even ask about Fifty Shades of Grey.)

Anywho, no theory is perfect. But I think I'll do it anyway. At least I'm going to try. Fifty-two weeks, 52 best-sellers. I'll use the New York Times best-seller list, and read the book that sits atop the combined e-book and print list. If I've read that book, I'll go to the hardcover list and so on. I'm a bit nervous, to be honest, because I don't usually like letting other people choose what I read. But Gone Girl is sitting at the top of list this week, a book that I am, coincidentally, re-reading. This seems like a good sign.

So here I go. Check back next week for my review, and take the journey with me, if you like. Hopefully we'll discover some great reads, together.

Happy New Year, and happy reading.

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