Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Classics Club - Exploring the Classics

For awhile now I have contemplated joining the Classics Club, going back and forth about whether or not I want to make the commitment to read 50+ classic novels in 5 years. I periodically make a list of possible classics I would like to read, consider joining, and then talk myself out of it. It averages out to 10 books a year.  Is it really a commitment I want to make? Truth is, I need to focus on my backlog of review books. Still, the idea of getting back to reading the classics has been tempting me for quite a while now.  After talking it over with both Eustacia (Inside the Mind of a Bibliophile) and Debbie (Friday Friends), both of whom expressed their encouragement and support, I am going to take the plunge.

From the Classics Club FAQ page
Is this just another challenge? I don’t want to limit myself to a strict fifty titles, or plan ahead five years. There is so much to read. The idea is to create living lists. It’s assumed these lists will adapt to our exposure to literature. The point isn’t to challenge people to read by a strict list — but to create for ourselves a habit and a curiosity about literature. The idea is to grow together — to learn from one another and literature. It’s great if our lists reflect that growth throughout the event — changing and adapting as we become exposed to more literature, insight and feedback. So absolutely — switch up the titles on your list after you post it, at any time during the duration of your challenge.

When I mentioned on Twitter that I worried about violating my "no challenges for 2017" rule, Marcelle of Lesser-Known Gems kindly pointed out that "the Classics Club is not a literary challenge. It's a life style choice." Semantics maybe. But I'll take it. Besides, there are plenty more books not on my "official" list that qualify as classics I want to read, which makes this more of a perpetual project than a time limited one (even though the club requires we give a deadline up front). Joining the Classics Club fits into where I plan to go with my reading anyway. A good mix of the old and the new.

As I began putting together my list, I realized how many classic children's novels are out there I want to read, and what about classic speculative fiction in general, perhaps looking into some of the books or authors that helped shape the various sub-genres in that category over the years? And I just love crime fiction. I could probably read Agatha Christie novels for the next five years and nothing else (It's very tempting, actually)! Too often genre fiction is snubbed, seen as beneath "true" literature. I couldn't disagree with that assessment more. While some books may age more gracefully than others with the changing of times, genre books have helped shape culture and society over the years, not to mention future books within-and outside--their given genre as well. The definition of what constitutes a classic is quite broad for the purposes of the club, fortunately, and well it should be given the amount of literature out there, our diverse cultures and world, not to mention what we are exposed to.

With each title added, I felt my growing excitement. I admit I left off some of the more hefty and ambitious novels I would like to tackle at some point. I didn't want to intimidate myself right out of the gate. It doesn't mean I won't get to novels like Bleak House by Charles Dickens or The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien someday. Just not likely right away. I am looking forward to exploring more of the classics and being a part of the Classics Club. My goal is to read at least 50 classics by February 1, 2022.

1. Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks
2. Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove

Children's Novels
3. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
4. Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
5. Matilda by Roald Dahl
6. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
7. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Crime Fiction
11. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
12. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
13. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
14. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
15. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
16. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
17. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
18. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
19. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by PD James
20. Beast in View by Margaret Millar

Speculative Fiction (Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror)
21. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
22. Foundation (#1) by Isaac Asimov
23. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (my review)
24. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
25. Kindred by Octavia Butler
26. Neuromancer by William Gibson
27. Dune by Frank Herbert
28. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
29. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
30. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
31. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
32. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
33. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
34. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

35. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
36. Love and Freindship and Other Youthful Writings by Jane Austen 
37. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
38. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 
39. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
40. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck 
41. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
42. Silence by Shusaku Endo
43. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy by John le Carre
44. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
45. Arabella by Georgette Heyer
46. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
47. The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes
48. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
49. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
50. Les Mis√©rables by Victor Hugo

Have you read any of these? What did you think? 
Are there any classics you have been wanting to read, but haven't yet gotten to?

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  1. This is a very impressive list. I see that you have listed The First book Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. O suspect that when you have finished it, you may one to move ahead and read the first three books consecutively.

    Happy Reading in 2017!

    1. Thank you, Brian. My husband said the same thing about the Foundation Trilogy. Hopefully I will like it enough to want to continue!

  2. Yay, you decided to go ahead! Looking forward to see the reviews of the books you've read. I've read 12 of the books on your list, and I really, really loved Silence by Shusaku Endo! Have you seen the movie of it? It's a pretty faithful adaption of the book.

    1. Eustacia - Yes, after a lot of back and forth I decided to take the leap and do it. :-) Thank you for all your help as I tried to make up my mind. I believe you are the reason Silence was on my Christmas list this past holiday and why I want to read it now. :-) Thank you! I haven't yet seen the movie, but I would like to.

  3. I think this is a worthy goal and also think that you've got some winners on this list. I read MATILDA to my daughter years ago. The Christie books are, of course, wonderful. And REBECCA - read it and then watch the Hitchcock movie. And SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. Enjoy!!

    1. Thank you, Kay. I am feeling optimistic that I can do it. I could swear I read Matilda at some point many years ago, but honestly am not 100% sure. I've enjoyed Christie's books and am looking forward to revisiting her work. This will be my first time for Rebecca and Sense and Sensibility. I am eager to read both.

  4. I've read several of these and enjoyed them, and there several more that have been on my list for a (long) time! Good luck with this challenge. :)

    1. Thanks, Jenclair! I have been wanting to read many of these for quite a while and this gives me yet another excuse to do so. :-)

  5. Woohoo, welcome to the club--or, the lifestyle! It will be fun. :)

    1. Thank you, Jean! I'm looking forward to getting started. You all make it look like so much fun. :-)

  6. Great list! I've read several of these, but certainly not all. I like that you included mystery and science fiction/fantasy books, too. Looks like you'll have lots of happy reading ahead of you. :)

    1. Lark - Thank you! I wanted to recognize some of my favorite genres, and am eager to read all the books on my list.

  7. I just recently read The Little White Horse for the first time. I really enjoyed it. I've been an avid reader for well over 40 years and can't believe I'd never heard of this book. Thanks for sharing your list. It's giving me ideas of books I'd either like to read again, or ones I've never read before!

    1. Linda - It was the movie based on The Little White Horse that made me want to read the book--I hadn't even known it existed until this fall! I am eager to read it.

  8. This is an impressive challenge or lifestyle :) I am not a classics reader. I have tried and just have a hard time enjoying most classic literature. I do hope that you enjoy all of these!

    1. Carole - Thank you! I do not read a lot of classics, but I have enjoyed many of the ones I have read. It really depends on the book, I think.

  9. You can do it! I have been tempted to join in but given that I've been trying to complete a classics reading challenge for the past couple of years and can't make it past one book, I don't know. I really want to read more classics though. I hope you have a wonderful time with your project!

    1. Iliana - Thank you! I sure hope so. I'll make a good effort of it at least. :-) I'm in the mood for them right now, so we'll see if the fire I'm sitting on lasts.

  10. Yay for joining! I'm so behind in this challenge but looking at your list makes me want to revisit mine. You got this :)

    1. Thanks, Stacy! I am excited, especially since I made a point of making the list one full of books that I'm especially excited to read. There are plenty of others I want to read, but first I need to get past that intimidation factor. I figure I'll work my way into those. :-)

  11. That is some list! I've actually read a few, too :) I feel confident that you'll get them read in that time frame :)

    1. Donna - Thank you! I'm feeling pretty confident right now too. We'll see how I feel at the end of the year or maybe next year. :-)


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