A “bucket list” is a list of things we want to do before we “kick the bucket.” The expression, “kick the bucket,” is a bold and humorous euphemism for dying. It sounds so much better than books to read “before I die” which isn’t very literary, whereas “kicking the bucket” sounds almost defiant, almost optimistic. So how do we choose which books to read before we die?
Take a number
Whilst our demise is not a goal, having a number of books to read as a goal is a way of positively challenging ourselves at any age. It’s a great way to encourage children to read, especially with a short list like three books a month to begin with. Having a list also makes you a good role model for children and grandkids. The number depends on how much time you have available – not left to live, but spare time for reading. One person set a target of 2 500 books. Others calculate how many years there are between their current age and 100. Then they calculate how many months that is and commit to one book per month or one book per week. It might be an idea to set annual target. It really doesn’t matter as long as the goal is achievable.
Your bucket book list doesn’t have to drain your retirement fund. Most of us have books we bought on impulse with the idea of reading them one day, so do it now. Some of us have been given books as gifts that we have politely shelved, thinking “that’s not my cup of tea.” If possible, contact the giver and ask them to remind you of why they recommended the book to you. If you like and respect the giver, give their gift a go. On your shelves there are probably books that you would love to read again. There is no rule about the bucket book list that says the books have to be new. Another money saving idea, if you belong to a book club or have friends who read, is to ask members and friends to share their lists and stock of books with you. Bucket list reading can become a “team” sport.
Optional extra rules
There are no rules unless you want some. A forty page, trashy ebook and its sequel doesn’t really count, but can. Have fun, but preserve some dignity. Here are some guidelines for what to include:
ClassicsYou can skip “War and Peace” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained,” but there should be a classic in the way of a Dickens, a James, a Shakespeare or a Conrad. There should also be a post-modern classic like to “Kill a Mockingbird”, or “Fountainhead.”
Non-Fiction can be a biography, an auto-biography, a true crime investigation, a Dummy’s Guide to Psychology or the history of a place or a country. Reading is always as much about learning as it is about edification, regardless of age. The ultra- keen may want to take on philosophy and the likes of Plato and Homer.
Take a detour from your comfort zone. If you are an avid romance reader try a science fiction story. Spy and crime fans could try a book of poems.
Read because ..
Read because you want to. Never feel obligated to read or finish a book. It should never feel like a chore or homework. The worst that can happen is that you don’t finish reading a book, but nobody needs to know. It’s a secret you can take to your grave when you finally kick the bucket.