The Art of War and the literary bucket list

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China. Image courtesy of kaconnors on Morguefile.

Sometime this week, people, I’m realizing a literary dream. (Drum roll and stately trumpet salute, please…) I will finally read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Why is this significant, you ask? It’s one of the books that I’ve always intended to read someday, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. The Art of War is a classic combat and military strategy book, written by a Chinese general, filled with advice about how to defeat your enemies. Military strategists have been using it for centuries.

Right now, the book sits patiently in my bookbag, waiting until I have time to read it. I’m looking forward to what Sun Tzu has to say. Maybe he’ll have some good advice about tactics I can use to defeat the traffic around here. (If you don’t believe the DC metro area is a traffic battleground, people, just visit the Beltway during the morning or evening rush hour.) And if I get stuck, hey, there’s always Cliffs Notes.

After I finish this book, I’ll be able to cross it off my literary bucket list. The list has grown pretty big over the years. For example, I plan to read Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit, John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. Plus, there’s William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford.

The literary bucket list got even bigger since I started blogging and got reading recommendations from other literature-loving bloggers. (See what you started, people???) I’ve created a list of those books, too. Thanks to another blogger, I found and read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book that’s about defeating your inner enemy (Resistance) so that you don’t pay attention to that internal voice inside you that holds you back from achieving your dreams. Then there’s Nicholas Sparks’ The Lucky One, Shobhan Bantwal’s The Sari Shop Widow and John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Oh, boy.

I don’t know when I’ll find time to read them all, but I’ll manage somehow. I figure if I read one book per weekend, I can do at least 50 books a year. (I’m leaving out two weekends because I’m going to need a couple of them to rest my eyes from all that reading.)

Readers: I’m curious. What books are on your literary bucket list?

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “The Art of War and the literary bucket list

  1. It is a good book. It didn’t help me win any battles or conquer any provinces. But you do feel like Grasshopper hearing words of wisdom from the Shaolin monk.

  2. Or if you get stuck in Chicago traffic, you can sit and read that book while waiting for the traffic to move and watch buildings emerge from the smog. A nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.

    But back to the subject, my bucket list is at least one book a week, all historical non-fiction and every other book a nautical subject hopefully. History is inexhaustible, but my library has only so many maritime-related books. Just to name a few of my to-reads: Curse of the Narrows/MacDonald, Simple Courage/Frank Delaney, Titanic Valour/Sheil, The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr/Brands, The White Cascade/Krist, and the Barbary Plague/Chase. My to-read list keeps growing thanks to Goodreads.

  3. Catherine Ahern

    I LOVE the idea of a Literary Bucket List. It sounds so much better than my TR (to-read) list. Regardless of the list’s title, though, mine includes Middlemarch, Les Miserables, Great Expectations, Everything Is Illuminated and probably tons more. It’s hard to cross them off when new suggestions come around so frequently! Congrats to you for getting to The Art of War.

  4. The Art of War sounds kind of intimidating–which is probably good for a Chinese general. I think my education must have been sorely lacking, because I was never required to read any “classics.” My kids have read more of those books than I have. So my bucket list includes things like To Kill A Mockingbird and Moby Dick. Someday…

  5. My daughter read The Art of War! I have been afraid to attempt it. Although any book with the words “art” and “war” in the title must have some interesting points.

  6. Jaclyn

    Congratulations on the Sun Tzu! I like your literary bucket list – and “Cannery Row” is an amazing book; you’ll love it. I also really loved “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.” My literary bucket list includes “Middlemarch” – that’s probably tops on there right now – and “Great Expectations,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “The Hobbit,” “The Brothers Karamazov” and everything by Umberto Eco. And so very much more. So many books, so little time!

    • I should probably add “Middlemarch” too. Great Expectations is fantastic. There’s a version of Great Expectations with Ioan Gruffudd of Titanic/Fantastic 4 playing Pip. Check it out sometime; you’ll like it.

  7. I think it would take me forever to come up with this literary bucket list. But browsing through your blog and feeling your excitement for reading, I have to ask – have you read Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader? 🙂 It’s about everything you love about reading and books.

  8. Love your blog!! Literary Bucket List? I have a monumental TBR pile just filled with genres of all types. Someday when things slow down, I will get to the “literary”…..sigh.

  9. gun street girl

    War and Peace and Ulysses, both of which I have started and then not been able to finish. Someday.

  10. Oh, hot bananas. I just wanted to read all of the Calvin and Hobbes comics.

  11. Barbara Backer-Gray

    Hi, I read all the books in your first bucket list, except for the last two. I read North and South by Gaskell. I liked it. I always felt I should read The Art of War, but you talked me out of it in one of your posts. My bucket list includes Sinclair’s The Jungle, Pilgrims’ Progress, The Canterbury Tales (I have a Master’s in English and didn’t have to read these!), more by Alan Gurganus (Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All is one of my favorite books), and I could go on.

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