Classics reading challenge

Back in August (when I still had my old blog) I joined The Classics Club with a goal to read at least 50 classics in 5 years.

I had already decided I wanted to include more of the classics in my reading and was thrilled when I came across their blog.

The rules are simple:

  • – choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – e-mail the moderators of this blog (theclassicsclubblog@gmail.com) with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
  • – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!

This seemed simple enough and indeed it has been so far. I’ve been enjoying it so much that since I joined on August 23rd 2017, I have read 9 of the books on my list. I am committed to the 50 on my original list but being so far ahead of schedule got me thinking that even if I were to read only one per month over the next 5 years I could read 60. So that is what I am doing. I am updating my list so that it now includes 60 books.

Start date: August 23, 2017

End date: August 23, 2022

My list:

  1. Don Quixote -Miguel de Cervantes
  2. The Pilgrim’s Progress -John Bunyan
  3. Lady Susan -Jane Austen*
  4. Persuasion -Jane Austen*
  5. Northanger Abbey -Jane Austen*
  6. Oliver Twist -Charles Dickens
  7. Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bronte*
  8. Villette -Charlotte Bronte
  9. Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte
  10. Agnes Grey -Anne Bronte
  11. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall -Anne Bronte
  12. The Scarlett Letter -Nathaniel Hawthorne
  13. Moby Dick -Herman Melville (I have tried and failed with this one before)
  14. One Thousand and One Nights
  15. The Canterbury Tales -Geoffrey Chaucer
  16. Madame Bovary -Gustave Flaubert
  17. Crime and Punishment -Fyodor Dostoevesky*
  18. A Christmas Carol -Charles Dickens
  19. War and Peace -Leo Tolstoy*
  20. The Brothers Karamazov -Fyodor Dostoevesky
  21. The Portait of a Lady -Henry James
  22. MaryAnne -Daphne Du Maurier
  23. Passage to India -EM Forster
  24. A Study in Scarlet -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. Mythology -Edith Hamilton
  26. Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carrol
  27. The Odyssey -Homer
  28. The Hunchback of Notre Dame -Victor Hugo
  29. The Tale of Genji -Lady Muraski
  30. Paradise Lost -John Milton
  31. The Epic of Gilgamesh
  32. The Little Prince -Antoine Saint Exupery
  33. Gone With the Wind -Margaret Mitchell*
  34. Frankenstein -Mary Shelley
  35. Oedipus Rex -Sophocles
  36. Vanity Fair -William Makepeace Thackeray*
  37. Kokoro -Natsume Soseki
  38. Utopia -Sir Thomas More
  39. The Mysteries of Udolpho -Ann Radcliffe
  40. The Picture of Dorian Gray -Oscar Wilde
  41. My Cousin Rachel -Daphne Du Maurier
  42. The Jungle Book -Rudyard Kipling
  43. Macbeth -William Shakespeare
  44. Hamlet -William Shakespeare
  45. The Age of Innocence -Edith Wharton
  46. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Cranford- Elizabeth Gaskell
  48. Mrs Dalloway -Virginia Wolfe
  49. Wives and Daughters -Elizabeth Gaskell
  50. My Bondage and My Freedom -Frederick Douglass
  51. North and South -Elizabeth Gaskell
  52. Dracula -Bram Stoker*
  53. The Shuttle -Frances Hodgson Burnett
  54. A Little Princess -Francess Hodgson Burnett* (reading with my daughter Bella)
  55. Far From the Madding Crowd -Thomas Hardy
  56. The Divine Comedy -Dante Alighieri (plan on reading the three books separately)
  57. The Three Musketeers -Alexandre Dumas
  58. War of the Worlds -HG Wells
  59. The Diary of Anne Frank
  60. The Dumbhouse -John Burnside

An * denotes a reread

This list seems daunting when you look at it, but honestly, I am getting so much pleasure out of all the books I’ve been reading  (or at the very least, they have been thought provoking) and it is a 5 year goal so hopefully I can get to all of them.  And while I am committing to this list, I reserve the right to add to it as I find other titles that interest me.

So that’s it.  How does this challenge sound to you?

A January wrap up

Since my new blog was just launched, I was unable to do a wrap up of January so I thought I would quickly share what I read in January… two weeks late.

It was a pretty good month both in terms of the number of books and the quality of books that I read. I managed to complete 12 books and only one of them did I really dislike.

So without further ado, here are the books I read in January:

Started off pretty good and ended… just okay.

Not one of my favorite Agatha Christie books but it was number four in Project Poirot and I had to skip it a few months ago because I didn’t have a copy.

I loved this book. I love Russian folktales so this was right up my alley. Can’t wait to read the next one.

I really disliked this book. I thought it was pretty pompous and was looking for some useful tips besides “throw all your stuff away”

I really liked this. This book is basically the mother of “realism” in novels so it was interesting to read and though the story was pretty tragic, it had a lot of dry humor.

A re read of one of my least favorite books by one of my “comfort authors”

My husband bought this for my birthday last year and since then I have tried to start it 3 separate times and didn’t make it past the first chapter. So glad I pushed through this time because this was a fantastic book. If you can get past the rather slow first chapter, it is a great read… but LONG.

A light -read in one sitting- historical romance to cleanse my palette after the huge 672 page book I read before this. Cheesy but adorable. It was also the first book I read during the 24 in 48 Readathon.

So glad I finally read this. I’m not the biggest fan of short stories but these were great. Loved this book. This was also one of the books I read for the 24 in 48 Readathon.

This book is written in a much different style than the more popular Jane Austen novels but it is witty and very funny. The 3rd book I read during the 24 in 48 Readathon.

One of my favorite comfort books. I’m a sucker for gothic romance. This was the last book I read this month and a stress free way to close out the 24 in 48 Readathon. I come back to this book year after year.

So that’s it for what I read in January.  I’d like to do a more in depth review for a couple of these soon.  I’d love to hear if any of you have read any of these.

Til next time.

Project Poirot

Some time around September I was binge watching booktube and came across a new book tuber who had just started what she called Project Poirot. Even if you are not an avid Agatha Christie fan, you will probably have heard of her most famous detective- Hercule Poirot.  Now I happen to be one of those who love Agatha Christie and in the last 20 or so years since I discovered Agatha Christie (holy shit I’m getting old) I have read all of her Hercule Poirot books and most of the short stories at some point.  When I am in a reading slump I often pick up one of my favorite of these and it gets me right back in the reading mood.

What intrigued me about Project Poirot is that we are reading all 40 ish (there’s 40ish depending on whether you consider the play adaptations novels or not) IN ORDER over the course of a year.  Not only does this play into my borderline obsession with Hercule Poirot, it is also fascinating to see how her writing evolved over the course of her career and how Poirot himself evolved as a character.  Taking it a step further, one of the things I also find fascinating was to see how the quality of her writing changed before and after (what is largely considered to be her masterpiece) The Murder on the Orient Express.

The list of books that I’m going through is:

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  2. Murder on the Links
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (considered by some to be her masterpiece)
  4. The Big Four
  5. The Mystery of the Blue Train
  6. Peril at End House
  7. Lord Edgware Dies
  8. Murder in Mesopotamia
  9. Murder on the Orient Express
  10. Three Act Tragedy
  11. Death in the Clouds
  12. The ABC Murders
  13. Dumb Witness
  14. Cards on the Table
  15. Death on the Nile
  16. Appointment with Death
  17. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
  18. One Two Buckle My Shoe
  19. Sad Cypress
  20. Evil Under the Sun
  21. Five Little Pigs
  22. The Hollow
  23. Taken at the Flood
  24. Mrs Mcginty’s Dead
  25. After the Funeral
  26. Hickory Dickory Dock
  27. Dead Man’s Folly
  28. Cat Among the Pigeons
  29. The Clocks
  30. Third Girl
  31. Halloween Party
  32. Elephants Can Remember
  33. Curtain

I joined this challenge a little late and was a couple books behind and then I caught up but I am now behind again as I am missing the next book in succession and haven’t been able to find it at the libraries near me.  So I will be purchasing that book along with a couple of others.  This has been a really enjoyable challenge and I enjoy how Mara creates a video for each book she completes.

If there are any fellow Christie fans out there reading this, what do you think about this challenge?

You have too many books!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words, I’d have enough to buy a lot more books.

If you were to walk into my living room, you’d see that the place of pride is taken by my bookshelves. Besides a piece of artwork that hangs between my shelves (which has a place of honor because it was drawn by my great grandfather) there is nothing in I my home that I consider more beautiful.

I love to look at my shelves and I don’t understand people who can’t appreciate a stack of books. Unfortunately something I often hear instead of “wow how awesome” I hear “why do you have so many books” or “you have too many books”. I’ve heard it so often that I have found myself feeling ashamed when people ask what I did this weekend and all I did was go to the bookstore. But I’ve decided to remove that kind of negativity from my life. I don’t look in my friends’ closets and say “wow you have too many clothes” or “you buy too much makeup” so why the hell is it acceptable for people to judge me for what I choose to spend extra money on? So what if I choose to buy a nicer copy of The Hobbit instead of the latest fashion trend? And that is one of the reasons why I’ve decided to join this community and surround myself with people who feel the same way about books as I do.

I read that the Japanese have a word for book hoarding and it is ‘Tsundoku’ which translates to buying more books than one can read. And I think that’s freaking beautiful. Maybe I’ll get it tattooed somewhere.

Grover Learns To Read

Anyone with kids will know how once a child finds a favorite anything, whether it be a movie, a song, or a story, they will want to watch, listen and read to said item REPEATEDLY. Bella has quite the little collection of books but she seems to be favoring two lately. The one we will be discussing today is this copy of Grover Learns To Read that I found at the thrift store a few months ago.

A brief synopsis:

Grover loves books and his favorite thing in the world is when his mommy reads to him at night. His mom mentions that he will soon be learning to read on his own and when he is able to read words at school he is terrified because he knows that once he can read books his mommy will no longer read to him. So he tries to stop learning to read. One day, to stop a baby from crying he reads her a story without realizing he could and runs home to tell his mom his achievement. When Grover tells her how upset he is that she won’t read to him anymore she assures him that a mommy will never stop reading to her child but now he can read more books.

I’ll admit that I bought this book hoping Bella would like it because I loved the Grover books as a child. When I first bought it she was to young to sit through the whole thing and preferred books with a single word on the page but now she is bringing this book over to me constantly and sits through the whole story… usually twice in a row. She loves that there are pictures of books in the book and currently makes me read it to her several times each day.

So this one is a clear win for us and if you are looking for a book to read to a child that you won’t mind reading a couple times a day I cannot recommend this one enough.

My thoughts on Madame Bovary

I recently read Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and I had a few thoughts.

I found this copy at a thrift store and it was in very decent condition.

Anyway, a brief synopsis:

The book initially follows Charles Bovary, a country doctor in a small town in France. He marries a very unpleasant older lady of his mother’s choosing who is supposed to have been very well off financially. On a visit to a patient he meets the patient’s daughter Emma who is young, pretty, well educated, and a hopeless romantic (due to the novels she loves). Charles of course falls in love with her and in the meantime he discovers that his wife is not the rich woman she made herself out to be. When the wife dies he marries Emma. At this point in the book it shifts to Emma- the second Madame Bovary- as she learns that married life is not the luxurious and romantic life she imagined. The rest of the book follows her as she begins to live outside her means and makes one bad decision after another.

Initially when I read this book all I could think about was how annoying the characters are. Charles is boring and clueless while Emma is a train wreck. But on further reflection, (its been about two weeks since I finished) I realized that I was judging them all by today’s standards.

Looking at Charles, he is a very ordinary country doctor for the time period. He has a calm domestic life and feels no ambition to become a world renowned doctor. He’s perfectly content with his wife and his life and has no idea his marriage is in turmoil because Emma has never told him of her difficulties and it wouldn’t occur to a married man in those days that perhaps his wife wants something more out of life than running the home and raising a family. It is a bit frustrating as the modern reader to be able to see what is right under his nose but he hasn’t the slightest clue.

Emma is a lot more complex as a character. She is naive, emotional and ambitious for her husband. She is bored in her marriage and is full of rage for what she considers her husband’s lack of ambition. In a way she reminds me a little of Catherine from Northanger Abbey because she too has read novels that influence the way she sees the world. I think that the way Emma is dissatisfied with solely being a housewife to a middle class doctor is a very modern feeling and I can identify with that to some extent. What makes me want to scream is how she expects her husband to understand what she’s feeling without ever conveying it to him. Instead she goes behind his back to borrow money and buy expensive things and forms bad relationships to fill the need of hers to live like a romantic heroine in one of her novels.

Flaubert’s writing was very descriptive and I am the kind of reader who enjoys that so the book flowed well for me. I can see why this book was considered scandalous for the time period in which it was written. A well brought up genteel lady unhappy and behaving like a common hussy because she is bored with her marriage? Gasp.

All in all a very good read that I would recommend. I initially gave it 3.5 stars and amended it to 4 out of 5 stars.

If you’ve read this, tell me your thoughts!

My current bookish pet peeves

Today I’m going to discuss 5 of my biggest bookish pet peeves. So I did a similar post on my old blog but these always apply and I’m sure that all my fellow book lovers can relate to some of these. Certainly we all have more than 5 but these just happen to be getting on my nerves lately.

5. The industrial strength sticker

I always find it strange that the stickers I buy for scrap booking or for my kids’ sticker books always inevitably turn up at the corners. The ones I BUY FOR STICKING never stick but these bad boys… the ones I don’t want on my books have the adhesive strength of a god. And when you finally manage to peel them off, you are left with ugly lint attracting adhesive that resists any attempt to scrape it off. Just… why??

4. The Ripped Cover

I could blame this one on Bella but it’s actually not her fault… for once. My habit of keeping a book in my black hole of a purse resulted in this ripped cover. I could kick myself.

3. The Movie Cover

As someone who always reads the book before the movie, this one makes me crazy. I like to do the imagining on my own before Hollywood tells me what to think.

2. When the book’s place shrinks

As I’m sure everyone can relate- my books are packed more tightly than sardines. And nothing is more annoying than trying to put a book back only to find that the space it came from has vanished. Leaving you with a tiny sliver of space so that you have to put down the other books you’re holding to try and maneuver your book back onto the shelf. Reading is hard work.

1. And finally…That cramp you get in your hand

I’ve been reading a lot. I also happen to favor big floppy books. And right about now my palms are feeling so worked out that holding a pair of tongs in the kitchen makes me cringe. But hey, priorities right? Is it more important to read one more chapter or to cook dinner for my family? I’m glad you agree. I NEED to know what happened. THEY can skip a meal.

So there are my current top 5 bookish pet peeves of the moment. If you have made it this far thank you and please let me know what are some of your bookish pet peeves?

After many technical issues, a new book blog arises.

Hello and welcome to our page! Several months ago, I decided to upgrade my book blog and self host.  Unfortunately this turned out to be a major mistake for me and my blog.  Suddenly I was getting bombarded by spam emails and phone calls from bogus web designers.  Contacting the self hosting company I was offered an extra security feature along with a hefty price tag.  I debated for a short time during which a couple of my subscribers informed me that my blog link no longer worked.  Contacting the company again I was offered “support” for another added fee.  Discouraged, I gave up on my blog.  Months have gone by and I have been constantly thinking of creating a new blog.  In those few months I have seen my young daughter’s love of books continue to grow and I thought that documenting our love of books together would be a wonderful way to nurture her love of reading and keep track of my journey with books- particularly as I continue my way through my classics reading list (which never stopped during my hiatus) It is a little daunting to begin from scratch but we are reading more than ever and I am so excited to include my youngest little one in this journey through the written word!  We hope to make new friends along the way!

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