Friday, January 3, 2020

BACK TO THE CLASSICS CHALLENGE 2020

I am sure you are all now aware that Karen at Books and Chocolate has decided to host the challenge in 2020 *cue applause and noisemakers*.  It is the only on-line challenge I take seriously.  I find it a great aid in structuring my reading (and blogging) and checking off many titles that I otherwise would put off reading.  Below is my preliminary list of what I might read for the proposed 2020 categories, as ever with an eye on books I already own:

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899. 
- I think I will read Dombey & Son by Charles Dickens which was published in 1848.

2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1970. 
- I would like to give the four books in Laurence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet a go. They were published in the 50's and 60's. Four books might seem like a lot, but I don’t think each book is particularly long...something like in the 200 page range.  I will have to check the books out from the library BUT they are also on the Modern Library list so I need to read them anyway.

3. Classic by a Woman Author.
I think it might finally be time to read The Dud Avacado by Elaine Dundy. It gets compared to Breakfast at Tiffany’s often. Let’s see if I agree with that. 

4. Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a novel other than your native language. -  I was gifted a copy of Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) in German this fall but am not sure I have the fortitude to attack it this year, dictionary in hand. I might end up taking the easy route and read something in English from Balzac or Zola instead which I will probably end up reading from the library or downloading from Project Gutenberg.

5. Classic by a Person of Color. Any classic novel by a non-white author. - I really want to read Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. Another book I don’t own and will have to get from the library.

6. A Genre Classic. Any classic novel that falls into a genre category -- fantasy, science fiction, Western, romance, crime, horror, etc. – Sci-Fi is the genre, possibly Ubik by P.K. Dick or Bring on the Jubilee by Ward Moore will be the book.

7. Classic with a Person's Name in the Title. First name, last name or both. – I could read either Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser or Evelina by Frances Burney.

8. Classic with a Place in the Title. Any classic with the proper name of a place (real or ficitonal) - a country, region, city, town, village, street, building, etc.– Will this be the year I finally read something by Anne Bronte like The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall? I could also try Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier.

9. Classic with Nature in the Title. A classic with any element of nature in the title (not including animals).  -  The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens will fit nicely here. 

10. Classic About a Family. This classic should have multiple members of the same family as principal characters, either from the same generation or multiple different generations. - I have long wanted to try Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I would have to check it out from the library, however since I don’t own a copy.

11. Abandoned Classic. Choose a classic that you started and just never got around to finishing, whether you didn't like it at or just didn't get around to it. Now is the time to give it another try.- I started and never finished The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce years and years ago. I don’t even remember what happened to my copy of it.

12. Classic Adaptation. Any classic that's been adapted as a movie or TV series. If you like, you can watch the adaptation and include your thoughts in your book review. It's not required but it's always fun to compare – I have The Duke’s Children by Anthony Trollope left to read from the Palliser series and then I plan to watch the 1970s adaptation of all six of the Palliser novels. It is 8 discs and over 22 hours long...I will break out the popcorn and see if it is true to the books or not. If nothing else, it will be worth watching for the costumes.

Now I am off to see what everyone else has listed so far. I think I know most of you blogging friends because of this challenge.  Will you be participating in 2020 as well?

39 comments:

  1. What an interesting list! There are quite a few here that I've thought about over the years as "should read" this, but still have not attempted. Magic Mountain probably tops that list of "shoulds." As a teenager, my favorite DuMaurier was Frenchman's Creek, and I have to wonder what I'd think about it now. No desire to make another attempt at Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, but maybe you will change my mind.

    I look forward to your reviews!

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    1. Thanks for the comment jenclair! I doubt I will be able to sway you on Joyce. He isn't a favorite author of mine either! Thanks for the vote on Frenchman's Creek...it sounds like it would be a fun, gothic read.

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  2. Yay. The challenge is back. Love your list. Will follow your reviews. And read Ubik, it's weird and fun.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Silvia. OK, I will pick Ubik then! Fun and weird sound good and it has your vote. :D

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    2. Oh, my goodness, I hope it delivers for you. It did for me. (It has some eighties male sci-fi overtones, but the characters are not the forte of the book, they are clicheish, it's the scenario and plot what makes it an interesting, -if somewhat dated- minor classic.

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    3. Reese has given it the thumbs up too Silvia, so if I hate it, you won't be the only one to blame. LOL. The only other PKD I have read is The Man in the High Castle which was pretty good.

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  3. Ruthiella, I'm reading The Magic Mountain for my translation read, too. (Do it, do it!) We can compare notes. (I need the encouragement, too.)

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    1. Thank you for the comment Ruth! You are bringing me 'round on tackling the Mann title. But it is sooo very long. But it would be totally fun to compare notes. :D

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    2. Ladies, I don't know if I can fit it, but I surely should. Sigh.

      It's not a slow moving book. I remember having read it in not that long time, but I was a young woman with loooots of time to myself. LOL.

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    3. That's a good point Silvia! Sometimes short books take ages to read and long ones are zipped right through. I try the first chapter and see how I feel. :D

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  4. Lots of good choices on your list. I really liked both Sister Carrie and Evelina, though I'd have to give the edge to Sister Carrie. And I'm also a fan of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Happy reading all of these! :D

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    1. Thanks for the comment Lark! OK, one vote for Sister Carrie! It also has the edge because it is on the Modern Library list which I am working my way through. :D

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    2. I must comment more, lol. I started My Family and Other Animals, I was reading it to my family, but we dropped it. I was enjoying it a lot. I thought about picking it up again. I will see.

      I have ONLY read wives and daughters. Unlike, say, Middlemarch, I had to gobble it up. It moved fast. I'm still making my mind on The Magic Mountain. I see my classics friends, the read and non read, pop up every year at our lovely lists, and I need to come to terms with the fact that I can only read a few long books per year. And that's fine, hahaha.

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    3. Good to know that Wives and Daughters and be gobbled up! There are long books and there are long books, you know? I am still on the fence about The Magic Mountain. It doesn't feel like a book that can be gobbled...

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    4. I can't say. I read it very long ago. We will see what we manage to read this year!

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  5. Yay for Sister Carrie! I might join you for The Dud Avocado - but it would fit my abandoned. I got so bored...

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    1. Thanks for the comment Care! I could actually use it for my abandoned slot too. I did start it when I first acquired it years ago...I think I just got distracted at the time.

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  6. Fun list! I was just assembling mine, and I think it will have Giovanni's Room, too, though I was going to put it in for Name in the Title.

    Here's another vote for Ubik. Then you'll have to read Valis and Radio Free Albumeth and then the pink light will start beaming the secrets of the Divinity into your head. Well. But it is pretty impressive. And weird.

    The Magic Mountain in German. Wow! I liked it in translation, but it is challenging. (Easier than Finnegans Wake, though. Of course you, who have read Finnegans Wake, will find *everything* easier.)

    Enjoy! I'm glad Karen's decided to host again.

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    1. Thanks for the comment reese! A number of my choices could work in a variety of categories. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the Baldwin book.

      Ubik it is! Thanks for the vote. It does help me when I am wavering between two titles, for sure.

      "Easier that Finnegans Wake" isn't too encouraging! But I did like Buddenbrooks. :D

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  7. I attempted to start The Alexandria Quartet one year but didn't really get into it. I think I needed a buddy to push me along; it was definitely me and not the book. I've seen The Magic Mountain on a few lists. I enjoyed it but it's certainly long. I was thinking of reading Mann's Joseph and His Brothers this year but I've already booked myself for half the year! Good heavens, I can't believe that I haven't read Wives and Daughters yet when I've read almost every other Gaskell. For shame! 😉

    Wishing all the best with the challenge ... I'm sure it will have inspired you to read some great literature by the end of the year!!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Cleo! I started the first book in the The Alexandria Quartet many years ago and abandoned it. I don't know if it will be my cup of tea but I'll finish it some day if only because it is on the Modern Library list that I have vowed to complete. :D

      I've only read North and South by Gaskell so I have a lot of reading a head of my. Thank you for your best wishes!

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    2. Oh I looooove the Alexandria Quartet, also I've never finished it. But I've read Justine at least three times.

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  8. What a delicious list. I read Dombey and Son a few years ago and thought it quite good. I absolutely love Wives and Daughters, so I hope you get to it. One of my brothers absolutely loved the Alexandria Quartet and I've been meaning to read it for awhile, so I'll be sure to read your reviews. I remember liking Portrait of an Artist when I read it decades ago.

    Best wishes for a wonderful reading year!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Jane! I love it when you all encourage me to read specific titles. It really does help motivate me. I think I will love Wives and Daughters too. I think The Alexandria Quartet is one of those books where it is more about the language than the story, so I will keep that in mind when reading. Generally I prefer a strong plot over beautiful language, but we'll see. :D

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  9. For #8, I'm voting for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so we can compare. I"m also interested in The Alexandria Quartet. I won't be reading it this year, but it's somewhere on the TBR, and I haven't seen any reviews by the bloggers I follow. You could help me decide to move it up or not. Cheers!

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    1. Thanks for the comment Joseph and the vote for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! I may end up reading both of my proposed books in this case since du Maurier titles are typically pretty quick reads in my experience. I am really curious about Anne Bronte and want to satisfy that curiosity. :D

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  10. Hi Ruthiella, great list of books. The plot of Magic Mountain sounded interesting, life in a sanatorium for people with TB way up in the Alps, kind of a world u to itself. What would they talk about, philosophize about etc. But the length of the book is one factor and I read Death in Venice in college and had trouble getting through it. The Tenant of Wildfed Hall proves that Anne Bronte was a major talent and the book is quite modern in dealing with women's rights. The Brontes are an amazing group of sisters, all excellent writers and all in the same family.

    Hope you have a great year of reading ahead.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Kathy! Buddenbrooks was really readable, but I am worried for what ever reason that The Magic Mountain will be hard...maybe because I do imaging it will be a lot of patients philosophizing and less action?

      I had heard that Tenant of Wildfell Hall was quite forward thinking for its time. One more reason to read it!

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  11. Good list! I also have Tenant on my list for 19th century classic... but I have another Bronte sister book - Villette - as my classic with a place in the title.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Amy! Looks like there will be quite a few of use reading Tenant of Wildfell Hall which is really neat because then we all get to compare notes. :D

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  12. Congratulations Ruthiella for winning the 2019 Back to the Classics Award. Well deserved!

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  13. Greetings Ruthiella! This is my third attempt to comment (the gods of the internet must be upset!) so I'll keep it brief! Congrats on your well-deserved triumph in the 2019 Classics Challenge; can't wait to read your reviews of your very interesting 2020 choices!

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    1. I KNOW! I have tried over three times to leave a comment on your blog too with no success. I will have to offer some other supplication to the gods of the internet!

      Thanks for the comment and the congratulations. :D

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  14. You have to be careful with James Baldwin because his publication dates are sometimes not old enough for classics! Case in point, I just read If Beale Street Could Talk but it was published in 1974, so it wouldn't count for this challenge at least. Might I recommend Passing by Nella Larsen? Restless Books recently put out an edition of it that is lovely.

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    1. Thanks for the tip Jenny! That is an excellent point. I actually read Passing last year and I agree with your recommendation. It was a great book. I remember too you talked about it on your podcast, you liked it so much. I think if I read Baldwin, I will read Giovanni's Room which was published in 1956. WHEW! :D

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  15. I really liked The Tenant of Wildfell Hall & it surprises me that it’s not found on many classic’s lists. Dombey & Son was a good read except Dombey was a jerk for most of the book. I havent read any of the others although I’ve seen the BBC movie of Wives & Daughters a couple of times & keep meaning to read it.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Carol! Yes, it seems that Anne is still in the shadows of her more famous sisters even now!

      I am currently reading Dombey and Son and he is a pretty terrible person, agreed! As I read, I am trying to think why it isn't as popular or well known as his other books.

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