I had a huge reading slump in April/May of this year and consequently it was a bit of a struggle for me to finish this challenge hosted by Karen at the blog Books and Chocolate…but then that is why it is called a challenge, right? However, I was ultimately able to read 12 books for all 12 categories with less than a week to spare! And despite my readers’ block earlier this year, I really did have a ball reading for the challenge and look forward to participating in the 2016 one as well.
I shamelessly used this challenge to further my adventures in the Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope by reading Framley Parsonage for A 19th Century Classic, the fourth book in the series, which I adored, as I do most Trollope. Also at the top of my favorites list is One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes, which I read as my choice for a Classic Novella; this book was just exquisite. I also loved Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple, my option for A Forgotten Classic. Whipple writes in such a smooth way, it keeps me turning the pages. And I can’t forget Lucia’s Progress by E.F. Benson which I read as my Humorous or Satirical Classic. I adore the Mapp and Lucia series; the books often make me laugh out loud, which is rare.
The biggest surprise in the 2015 challenge for me was the play, Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde which I read for the category of A Classic Play. This was the one I was looking forward to the least and it turned out to be not only one of the easier reads, but also one of the most fun and entertaining of the 12!
I liked, but didn’t love Armadale by Wilkie Collins which I read for the category of Classic with a Person's Name in the Title, but I read this right in the middle of my slumpiest time, so had I been in a better headspace, I might have appreciated it more. I also liked but didn’t love American Notes by Charles Dickens which was the title I chose for a Non-Fiction Classic. I know that the trip chronicled by Dickens was specifically used in Martin Chuzzlewit, which is the first Dickens novel I read and one of my favorites. However, I think ultimately I prefer Dicken’s fiction.
I definitely think I would have appreciated Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess more as a child. This was my pick for the category of Classic Children's Book. It was a little hard to look past some of the book’s more dated aspects regarding race and class. As a kid, I would have seen only the Cinderella storyline.East Lynne was my choice for Classic by a Woman Author and while it didn’t live up to my expectations, I did enjoy it once I let it be what it was, which was very, very melodramatic!
My choice for a 20th Century Classic was Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara which I found hard going, but since it is also on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels in English of the 20th century, it was one that I had to cross of my list anyway.
Lastly, while I didn’t really enjoy either the Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliff which was my choice for a Very Long Classic Novel or Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse which I chose for my Classic in Translation, as much as I had hoped, I don’t regret reading either book. In particular I am glad to have read the Radcliff book if only because of its reference in Northanger Abbey. In fact, I probably should re-read Northanger Abbey to get the full effect now!
I am super pleased that a wopping nine of the books I read came from my shelves; for the other three, two were borrowed from the library and only one was purchased specifically for the challenge!