Q&A: Robert Bruce, 101 Books

Robert Bruce is a full-time writer who lives in Nashville and works for Dave Ramsey, a personal finance guru with a nationally syndicated radio show. I met Robert (virtually) several years ago while we were both blogging about golf. In 2010, Robert, “a former English major who loves to read,” launched 101 Books. The blog took off and has thousands of avid readers and followers. This Q&A is excerpted from 101 Books, with Robert’s permission.

Q: What’s the point of 101 Books?

ROBERT BRUCE: Other than reading through 101 books, all on Time Magazine’s list of ALL-TIME novels published since 1923? I like to read. I like lists. I like big projects. I like blogging. Why not? When I started the blog, I thought I’d simply write a “review” of each book, with a related post here and there, maybe once a week. But the blog slowly morphed into a 5-day-a-week deal, and I’m loving it.

Q: If the Time Magazine list is 100 Books, why is the name of your blog 101 Books?

ROBERT BRUCE: I explain this a little more in my first post, but basically the list only includes books published since 1923, which was the year Time Magazine started. Ulysses just missed the cut because it was published in 1922. Since it’s widely regarded as the greatest novel in the history of the history, I decided to include it.

Q: How do you have time to read that many books?

ROBERT BRUCE: Great question. I don’t necessarily have time, but I make time. I read during my lunch break, for about 30 minutes, and I read at night after my wife and kid have gone to bed, for about an hour. Reading and running are my two hobbies right now. I think everyone needs a little breather, a little downtime, to re-engergize the batteries. Reading is one of the ways I do that.

Q. In what order are you reading the books?

ROBERT BRUCE: No particular order. It’s a list but it’s not an ordered list.

Q: So how do you select which book you’re going to read next?

ROBERT BRUCE: I read them in groups of five with no super-organized plan, to be honest. Sometimes I let the blog readers vote on it. I’ve done that several times, actually. I try and space out the really long 600+ page novels, so I’m not left reading a bunch of weighty novels at the end.

Q: Are you only reading the novels you haven’t read before?

ROBERT BRUCE: Nope. I’m re-reading the ones I’ve already read, too. Sadly, I had only read 12 of the 101 books before I started.

Q: When do you expect to finish the list?

ROBERT BRUCE: Well, I started in August 2010. I’ll be happy if I can finish all of them sometime in 2015.

(Robert is currently reading his 63rd book, The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth.)

Q: Will the blog continue once you’ve finished the list?

ROBERT BRUCE: I honestly don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll continue it in another form or start a new blog with a new concept. I’ve thought about trying to beat the 100 greatest video games of all time, but I don’t know what my wife would think about that.

Q: What’s your favorite/least favorite book you’ve read so far?

ROBERT BRUCE: Check out my rankings. Through the first 62 books, my favorite is The Great Gatsby and my least favorite is A Dance to the Music of Time.

Q: Traditional book or e-reader?

ROBERT BRUCE: Paper all the way.

Q: Do you like milk?

ROBERT BRUCE: Yes.

Q: What’s the capital of Delaware?

ROBERT BRUCE: Dover.

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