I managed to read all 12 books for the challenge by September, but (a) quite a few were short-ish (less than 300 pages), (b) 3 of the longest were by Trollope, Dickens and Whipple who are writers I love and so am able speed through their works, despite any heft and (c) I did some business travel this year, which is rare for me, which did allow me to get a lot of reading done in hotels and airports.
- The first book I read was for the category A Classic Detective Novel. The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey is the fourth book I have read from her. It was a good mystery (and refreshingly bloodless) but there was quite a bit of virulent class prejudice that was a bit hard to swallow.
- The next book was The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope which was for A Classic Which Includes The Name Of A Place In The Title. This is the fifth book in the Barsetshire Chronicles and I absolutely adored it.
- I went on to read The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle which ticked the box for An Adventure Classic. The book was a lot of fun, but its dated racism soured the experience for me a bit.
- The fourth title fit the category A 19th Century Classic, I went with my original pick which was The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get on with it at first, but I ended up really loving it.
- I then read Frankenstein by Mary Shelly to fill the spot for A Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Dystopian Classic. I have to say I was a bit let down by this book, but I think my expectations were impossibly high. I am keeping my copy and will re-read/re-evaluate it at some point.
- For the category A 20th Century Classic I read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This book almost put me into a slump. It is fantastic, but such an emotional journey, it wrecked me just a bit.
- Next up was A Separate Peace by John Knowles which I first read in high school and chose for the category Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). I quite enjoyed the re-visit and I think I appreciate the story much more now as an adult than as a teen.
- Then I read Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple for A Classic by a Woman Author. Since Whipple is one of my favorite authors, it is no surprise that I adored this title.
- Next up was Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov for the category A Classic Which Has Been Banned Or Censored. Like The Grapes of Wrath, this book broke me a little bit as well.
- I then read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe to fit A Classic by a Non-White Author. I really enjoyed this book for its insight and subtle complexity.
- My penultimate choice was Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, translated from the French by Irene Ash, which fit the bill for A Classic in Translation.
- Finally, for the category A Volume Of Classic Short Stories, I read The Dracula Book of Vampire Stories edited by Leslie Shepard, which was fun but I didn’t find too many of the stories to be that scary.
One of the best things about this challenge is how easy it is in terms of choice and options. Also, like last year, I was able to fill the majority of the categories with titles from my own shelves, which is always a nice feeling: Of the 12 books, two were from the library, seven I already owned and three I bought used for around a dollar each.