Friday, January 1, 2021

Back to the Classics Challenge 2021

I am super pleased to participate for my eighth year in this challenge hosted by Karen at the blog Books and Chocolate.  Below is what I have tentatively chosen to read for the Back to the Classics challenge 2021 categories. 

1. A 19th century classic: any book first published from 1800 to 1899 – The answer is “Trollope”. Of the books I own, I can read either the both fairly shortish books Doctor Wortle’s School or Cousin Henry or the chunkster Orley Farm

2. A 20th century classic: any book first published from 1900 to 1971. Well, I must continue with the Alexandria Quartet, right? All are available on e-book from the library too, which makes it easy.  I’m crossing my fingers I will read all three of the remaining titles in 2021 but we’ll see; the next one is Balthazar

3. A classic by a woman author. I have another Monica Dickens novel, Mariana, published by Persephone that I need to read. I am also tempted to splurge and buy some more Dorothy Whipple titles from that publisher. Actually, I have a lot of female authors on my shelf that need reading: The Stone Angel by Margaret Lawrence, The Locust Have No King by Dawn Powell and any number of Barbara Pym titles... This and the 19th century category are the easiest for me to fill from stuff I already own.

4. A classic in translation, meaning any book first published in a language that is not your primary language. I might tag along in June with the Hunchback of Notre Dame read-along hosted by One Catholic Life. 

5. A classic by BIPOC author; that is, a non-white author. While I really would love to read The Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o which I have owned for over 10 years, that was only published in 2004. But I would also like to try some of his earlier works such as A Grain of Wheat which was published in 1967. Maybe if I read this, it will spur me on to finally pick up Wizard. 

6. A classic by a new-to-you author, i.e., an author whose work you have never read.  I would like to read The House of Ulloa by  Emilia Pardo Bazán which was recommended to me by blogger Sylvia at Sylvia Cachia. Or another option (and recommendation from Sylvia and many other bloggers ) is the Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy by Sigried Undset. 

7. New-to-you classic by a favorite author -- a new book by an author whose works you have already read. I might just get a little lazy here and read another Trollope. :D 

8. A classic about an animal, or with an animal in the title. Oh, how perfectly The Wizard of the Crow would fit here too! I am going to read Setting Free the Bears by John Irving which was first published in 1968. I used to love Irving and I might have actually read this at some point in my hazy past? I can’t be certain. I let you know if any of it seems familiar, though Irving does have a tendency to recycle certain things in his fiction - like bears and Austria and wrestling.  

9. A children's classic. I am definitely going to read The Wind in the Willows as recommended by Cleo at Classical Carousel. All I knew about this book previously was the ride at Disneyland, but Cleo’s cheerleading has made me super keen to dive in to this kid's classic. 

10. A humorous or satirical classic. I have a bind up of Jeeves and Wooster novels by P.G. Wodehouse that will fit this category perfectly. I've never read any Wodehouse; I've only seen the Fry and Laurie televised adaptations.

11. A travel or adventure classic (fiction or non-fiction). It can be a travelogue or a classic in which the main character travels or has an adventure. This is one of the tougher categories for me since it isn't something I naturally gravitate towards. I have a copy of She by L.Rider Hagger that would fit the bill. Or maybe I will read Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad

12. A classic play. I might go for an Oscar Wilde play here.  Or “A School for Scandal” by Sheridan. Definitely something comic. 

Thanks a million to Karen for hosting. I know it takes time and effort on her part to post the links and keep track, etc. I am so grateful to her for giving so many bloggers this opportunity yet again. :D

26 comments:

  1. You have some choices here that I've never heard of! I tend not to get beyond the bounds of the ordinary classics myself so I really appreciate it when others bring these lesser known ones to my attention.

    The Wind in the Willows is certainly a must if you've never read it before. And reading the Jeeves stories will be a delight! The adaptations were good, but I think the narrative format shows Wodehouse's genius the best. Enjoy!

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    1. It's all thanks to other bloggers that I am exposed to the ordinary classics. :D I only wish I'd started reading classics earlier in my life, but they used to intimidate me.

      Great to hear you second my choices of The Wind in the Willows and Wooster and Jeeves. I certainly look forward to the experience.

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  2. It's fun to plan out a year, I think, with a mix of books we already own and books we may want to acquire. I've made up my own tentative list for this challenge. Let's see where it takes us.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Deb Nance! It is absolutely the most fun to make these lists. I will pop over to your blog and see what you have made out, post haste!

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  3. LOVE that you won last year and always enjoy hearing about your classics reading adventures. I did not do well reading classics in 2020 and will try again in 2021. Happy New Year! Will be chatting (writing) you soon.

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    1. Happy New Year Care! I look forward to your next missive. :D Getting a balance between contemporary and classic books is tricky. They all call out our name. That's why I like this challenge so much. It keeps me on track.

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  4. Nice choices...there are several works/authors here I'm still meaning to get to.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Joseph. I'm looking forward to reading them all. :D

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  5. Glad to hear you haven't completely given up on the Alexandria Quartet...

    I'm thinking about The Wind In The Willows for children's. I have read it before but it is awfully fun.

    I've been curious about House of Ulloa myself. I thought Kristin Lavransdatter was great, but it is grim.

    We'll get you to read Wizard of the Crow yet! I liked the earlier one of his I read, not Grain of Wheat, though, but River Between.

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    1. Thanks for the comment reese. We'll see if reading the entire quartet doesn't help me appreciate the books on the whole a little bit more. At least they are short!

      I just ordered a copy of the House of Ulloa and Grain of Wheat, pretty much cementing my decisions there. I have an absolute beautiful hard cover copy of Wizard of the Crow. I really don't know what is keeping me from reading it.

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  6. I'm thinking I might have to sign for this challenge this year, too. I already have several books in mind that would fit at least some of the categories. And I didn't read hardly any classics last year, which was a little sad, so I really want to do better this year. :)

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    1. Thanks for the comment Lark. I hope you do sign up. Remember, the minimum is only 6 (to be entered in the give away). I would love to see what you pick. :D

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  7. Hi Ruthiella, So glad you are doing the Challenge and you have given me alot of new books and authors to consider. I read the first book in Sigried Undset's trilogy. She is a talented writer and she knows the medieval world. Persephone a great publishing house to find neglected 20th century women authors. Wodehouse good too although I would imagine some Jeeves' books are better than others since he wrote so many of them. Good luck with the Challenge and Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year to you Kathy! Absolutely, reading about other blogger's challenge choices introduces me too to all kinds of books and authors. For example, I really want to read The Levenworth Case now because of your review. :D

      I am really hoping that Wodehouse's humor jives with mine. I find the T.V. adaptation to be very funny.

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  8. I don't think you can go wrong with Trollope. Oh, and brave you! The Alexandria Quartet! I tried once but never again until I make it through all the older classics I want to read. Yay, it sounds like a whole bunch of us are going to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And oooooooh yes! I'm certain you will love The Wind in the Willows. Just make sure you take the time to travel into their world. Enjoy, Ruthiella, and happy new year!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Cleo. One can never go wrong with Trollope! LOL. I'm looking forward to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I just hope I can keep up. I did Deacon Nick's Les Miserable read along a couple of years ago and ended up having to read huge chunks at a time.

      I am really looking forward to meeting Mr. Toad et al, so thanks very much for your encouragement. I even splurged and bought a nice hardcover with illustrations. :D

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  9. So many readers are choosing Wind and the Willows for this challenge, and you can't go wrong. It's really enjoyable. I'll be reading Hunchback this year, too, as well as Twain's Innocence Abroad. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! I think I will really like The Wind and the Willows. Can't wait for my copy to arrive.

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  10. I always enjoy your classics reviews. This year's choices look interesting!

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    1. Thanks for the comment jenclair! I hope I manage all 12 this year. :)

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  11. Hi Ruthiella! So glad I double-checked your blog, as I'm definitely not getting notified when you post (I correctly guessed you'd be doing the Classics Challenge so popped over check!). I always enjoy your lists, which are super interesting and, whenever possible, full of our old friend Anthony T! I am speechless with admiration that you're forging ahead with the Alexandria Quartet and can't wait to hear whether the second novel alters your opinion of Durrell. Dawn Powell is one of those vaguely familiar to me writers about whom I know absolutely nothing, so that's another review I look forward to reading. In fact, you've lots of those on your list this year; I'm now so curious I'm going to check out The Wizard of the Crow and The House of Ulloa. I may have missed reading the serious stuff on your list but I have read lots of Jeeves and Bertie (I used to love Wodehouse) and Haggard's She, which I loved at the time, as I was really into that Victorian adventure/fantasy stuff (Did you ever read any of John Mortimer's very funny Rumpole of the Bailey? stories I believe he referred to his nagging wife as "She who must be obeyed")

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    1. I'm reading the Jeeves and Wooster now and it is really delightful. Good escapist reading particularly for this last week when the news was so awful and distressing. I purchased the Powell book about 20 years ago when reading an article about lost/under the radar mid-20th century authors. And then never read it! I hope the Haggard stuff is fun and not too off-puttingly racist/sexist. I think you are right about Rumpole of the Bailey. I've not read the stories but I remember my parents enjoying the Masterpiece Mystery series on PBS back in the day. So sorry to hear that the notifications are not working for you! So frustrating.

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  12. Oh -- forgot to say that I absolutely love your Trollope reference work (discussed in your last post). I may just treat myself to a copy as I have a birthday coming up . . . .

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    1. Its a lovely book and a must for any Trollope fanatic. :D

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  13. Lots of books on your list by authors new to me! Not new to me is The Wind in the Willows. When I was young, my dad would read me the same 4 books over and over, and this was one of them, so I grew up knowing Ratty and Mole and Badger very well. I read it on my own awhile back and fell in love all over again.

    Trollope is always a good bet.

    Balthazar, you say? Good for you working on completing the quartet. Not sure I will ever be in the mood to read it myself :)

    Good luck with the challenge!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jane! I will complete the quartet...it is a must. They are pretty short books, which helps.

      Agree, Trollope is always worth reading! And I am totally looking forward to The Wind in the Willows becoming one of my favorites too. :D

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