Monday, January 15, 2018

Back to the Classics 2018

It's back!  Karen at Books and Chocolate is hosting the Back to the Classics Challenge for2018.  Like most if not all of the participants, I think making up the list is half the fun of the challenge. So here are some I might choose to satisfy this year’s categories:

 1.  A 19TH CENTURY CLASSIC - any book published between 1800 and 1899.  This is the easiest category for me to fill.  I will for sure read both a Trollop (The Eustace Diamonds and/or The Way We Live Now)  and a Dickens title (next on my list is The Old Curiosity Shop) in 2018.

2.  A 20TH CENTURY CLASSIC - any book published between 1900 and 1968. As in previous years, I will try to pick a book here that fits with the Modern Library 100 Best of List; probably it will be Winesberg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson which was published in 1919.

3.  A CLASSIC BY A WOMAN AUTHOR – I have a lot of unread Barbara Pym on my shelves. A few other options among the books I already own are Passing by Nella Larson,  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston or Evelina by Frances Burney.

4.  A CLASSIC IN TRANSLATION.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language.  My native language is English. Now I could of course choose Les Miserables for this category and maybe I will, but I would also like to read a translation from the French of Guy de Maupassant’s Bel Ami.   

5. A CHILDREN'S CLASSIC.  I may try The Jungle Books again by Rudyard Kipling.  They didn’t grab me the last time I tried them for this challenge but maybe the second time will be the charm?

6.  A CLASSIC CRIME STORY, FICTION OR NON-FICTION.  Another very easy read for me to fulfil; I can binge read Agatha Christie titles like nobody’s business and I love a good classic whodunit.   I also have a handful of Josephine Tey titles on my shelf to read and may try The Man in the Queue since Jane also has this one lined up for 2018.

7. A CLASSIC TRAVEL OR JOURNEY NARRATIVE, FICTION OR NON-FICTION. I will try Orient Express by Graham Greene, first published in 1933.

8. A CLASSIC WITH A SINGLE-WORD TITLE. Both Passing by Nella Larson or Evelina by Frances Burney would work here as well.

9. A CLASSIC WITH A COLOR IN THE TITLE. I think I might read The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorn or maybe The Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane.

10. A CLASSIC BY AN AUTHOR THAT'S NEW TO YOU.  Any of my women authors noted above with the exception of Barbara Pym would fit this category.

11. A CLASSIC THAT SCARES YOULight in August by William Faulkner. Apparently this is one of his more accessible titles.

12. RE-READ A FAVORITE CLASSIC.  Too many to list.  I will say that if possible I will listen on audio rather than read with my eyes.  I am a bit weird about audio books but for re-reads they work really well for me. 

So that is my preliminary list.  All of the specific titles listed above are BOOKS THAT I ALREADY OWN! It has been a goal of mine in recent years to acquire less and read more of what I already have at home. I am comfortable with unread books on my shelves, but at the moment I have "too be read" piles obscuring the spines of other books which does bug me. I want those piles to be wrangled into something more manageable over the next few years.   

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


What, I am posting twice in one week? UNHEARD OF. But the Tournament of Books 2018 Shortlist was announced today! If you are curious about the Tournament and how it functions, here is the TOB link, As you can see in the list I have made below of the 18 shortlisted titles, I have already read 11, which is a personal best.   I think have a good chance at managing to read the remaining 7 titles in time for the judging on March 7, 2018, which I have never achieved before. We'll see 😀.

   No.          Title                                        Author                                    Available?
The Animators
Kayla Rae Whitaker
The Book of Joan
Lidia Yuknavitch
Dear Cyborgs
Eugene Lim

The End of Eddy
Édouard Louis
Exit West
Mohsin Hamid
Fever Dream
Samanta Schweblin
Goodbye, Vitamin
Rachel Khong
Emily Ruskovich
The Idiot
Elif Batuman
Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders
Lucky Boy
Shanthi Sekaran
Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan
Min Jin Lee
Savage Theories
Pola Oloixarac

Sing, Unburied, Sing
Jesmyn Ward
So Much Blue
Percival Everett

Stephen Florida
Gabe Habash
White Tears
Hari Kunzru

While the Back to the Classics Challenge helps me read those older books I have always been meaning to get to, the Tournament of Books helps me keep abreast of current releases and as well as some way off the radar books. 

Of those yet unread, I am most looking forward to getting to Pachinko, a multi-generational saga about Koreans in Japan and The Book of Joan, an apocalyptic re-telling of the Joan of Arc story.  

Of those I have already read, my favorite is hands down, The Idiot. But I would say this book is one of those books where you either get its humor or you don't; like A Confederacy of Dunces (which I hated, BTW). 

What about you dear readers?  Have you read any of these or do you want to read any of them?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along

Happy New Year all!

I thought I would throw my hat in to the ring and participate in the 2018 Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along hosted by Deacon Nick at One Catholic Life.  I have never read this chunkster and this seems like an interesting way to tackle it since there are exactly 356 chapters in the unabridged version of the novel. I found out about this challenge on Lory's blog Emerald City Book Review. I know I will not be posting about each chapter per day, but maybe I will chart my progress on the blog as I complete each of the five major sections.
I just downloaded the Norman Denny translation from the library to my e-reader (just an aside...I am also currently reading Lonesome Dove, a book I do own in hardback and boy howdy, e-readers really are a fantastic way to access such huge books.  I was skeptical at first but have become a convert!). I am crossing my fingers that I will not have to actually purchase the book since my library has multiple copies, although I will have to probably switch between the e-book and the print edition along the way. 
I am vaguely familiar with the story but have never seen a film or the musical adaptation of the book. 

I am 99.9% sure I will be able to read this book in 2018. My only qualm is if I will be able to limit myself to the chapter a day or will I feel compelled to read ahead?