Tag Archives: The Classics Club

Taking The Classics Club for Another Spin (8/99)

The Classics Club

As someone who considers herself an avid reader, I readily admit that my familiarity with classic literature is lacking. It just is.  There are classic novels that I feel I really should have read by now and authors who I haven’t read at all.

Mind you, I am firmly in the camp that life is too short and that reading should be enjoyable. If it feels like a chore or homework, I’m not about to waste my valuable reading time.

Still, the classics beckon.

Slightly over a year ago, I decided to jump into a popular online reading challenge called The Classics Club, created in March 2012 to “unite those of us who like to blog about classic literature, as well as to inspire people to make the classics an integral part of life.” The idea is to make a list of at least 50 classics you’d like to read and — within five years — read and blog about them.  My complete list can be found here.

Every so often, the organizers do a “spin” where you list on your blog 20 classics from your list that are still unread. The organizers select a random number; whatever book corresponds to that number is the book you need to read by a certain date.

I’ve participated in two previous spins (#9 and #11), but without much success.  (Actually, I haven’t had much success in the past year with this project; I’ve abandoned two classics and finished one.)

For Spin #13, I decided to choose books from my list that I actually own because the selection would also count for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks:

  1. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Half of a Yellow Sun
  2. Atwood, Margaret: The Blind Assassin
  3. Dickens, Charles: Tale of Two Cities
  4. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: Herland
  5. Ibsen, Henrik: A Doll’s House
  6. Irving, Washington: The Complete Tales
  7. Jackson, Shirley: Just An Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories
  8. Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible
  9. McCarthy, Cormac: The Road
  10. McCarthy, Mary: The Group
  11. McCullers, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  12. Morrison, Toni: Paradise
  13. Henry, O. : Collected Stories
  14. O’Connor, Flannery: Wise Blood
  15. Plath, Sylvia: Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts
  16. Robinson, Marilynne: Housekeeping
  17. Salinger, J.D.: Nine Stories
  18. Wharton, Edith: Summer
  19. Woolf, Virginia: Orlando
  20. Woolf, Virginia: Three Guineas

And the lucky number is … 15!

Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams

Of Sylvia Plath’s work, I’ve only read The Bell Jar. I’m intrigued with this collection of 13 short stories, essays, prose and excerpts of journal entries.

99 Days of Summer Blogging

This is Post #8 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging Project. 

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welcoming 2016 with the first book of the year

Happy New Year! I hope that your New Year’s celebrations were enjoyable ones and that this first day of 2016 is going well.

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at home; I made gluten-free lasagna for dinner, read some poetry and essay collections (Spot the Terrorist by Lori Jakiela; Looking for The Gulf Motel by Richard Blanco, and Remains of Passion by Sarah Einstein) to reach my goal of reading 52 books in 2015. We watched the now-insufferable Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, made it to midnight, and tumbled into bed shortly thereafter.

My head was pounding when I woke up this morning; this would be understandable if I’d had wine with dinner, but I didn’t because all we have in the house is red wine. Ironically, that’s usually a surefire migraine trigger for me.  I wound up going back to bed for a few hours and now, with the assistance of my friend Maxalt and some chamomile tea, am feeling much more like myself.

Which is good, because I had big plans for today.

First Book 2016

I’m thrilled that Sheila from Book Journey is hosting her annual First Book of the Year event. I love this event because I’ve always given a considerable amount of thought to which book will be the first that I read in any given year. I place a great deal of importance on selecting the book that I do, because I feel that the first book can set the tone for a year, whether it is to inspire change or growth or … whatever.

A Room of One's Own

For 2016, I chose A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf as my First Book of the Year. It’s one that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time now, it is my selection for The Classics Club’s current spin as well as The Classic Club’s Women’s Classic Literature Event, and since I own this one, it allows me to Read at Least One of My Own Damn Books. (I say it every year, but reading my own damn books is going to be a focus area for me this year. Really.)

I’m excited about this one.  I’ll let you know if it lives up to my expectations.

(The year and the book.)

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The Classics Club: Spin #11

The Classics Club

The Classics Club is back with Spin #11!  Since joining the Club this past April, my progress and participation has been rather sad.  I’ve managed to cross two books off my list — The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (which was a DNF) and The Picture of Dorien Gray by Oscar Wilde, which I enjoyed.

For Spin #11, here’s my list of 20 books still remaining on my list that I’d like to get to:

  1. Alcott, Louisa May: Little Men (Kindle)
  2. Allison, Dorothy: Bastard Out of Carolina
  3. Baldwin, James: Giovanni’s Room
  4. Calvino, Italo: If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler
  5. Dickens, Charles: The Cricket on the Hearth
  6. Fitzgerald, Zelda: Save Me the Waltz
  7. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: Herland
  8. Irving, John: A Prayer for Owen Meany (Kindle)
  9. Jackson, Shirley: Just An Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories
  10. Kundera, Milan: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  11. McCullers, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  12. Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita
  13. Henry, O. : Collected Stories
  14. O’Connor, Flannery: A Good Man is Hard to Find
  15. O’Connor, Flannery: Everything That Rises Must Converge
  16. Plath, Sylvia: Ariel
  17. Smith, Betty: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  18. Wilde, Oscar: The Importance of Being Earnest
  19. Woolf, Virginia: A Room of One’s Own
  20. Woolf, Virginia: The Waves

UPDATE: And the magic number announced this morning is … 19!  Which means I get to read A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf before February 1, 2016.  Yay!  Maybe I’ll make this my first book of the year.

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currently … a little christmas, now

Trimming the Tree - Reading Elf

Things are getting back to normal after our family’s scare on Thanksgiving.  We’ve had some time to reflect on everything and how close it seemed to having our lives changed forever. I’d like to think I already was appreciative, grateful, thankful, etc. without a medical emergency as a wake-up call and that I wasn’t taking anything or anyone for granted, but this has magnified that. Needless to say, It has been an emotional week (on quite a few fronts, actually).

We decided to put the Christmas tree up yesterday because, as one of my favorite holiday songs goes, we definitely needed a little Christmas in the aftermath of the past week. Every single ornament has some personal, sentimental significance. There isn’t one ordinary ornament on the tree. If I had to choose a favorite, it’s the reading elf that’s pictured above.  I’ve had it forever; it was given to me when I was a young child. We don’t do outdoor lights or much decorating besides the tree.

Reading … 
Thirteen Ways of LookingYou all know how much I love Colum McCann.  I love everything he has written and I think he’s a brilliant author. I’m reading Thirteen Ways of Looking for a review and I am just completely in awe of this man. The title novella is probably one of the best pieces of shorter fiction I’ve ever read.

Listening …
Speaking of short fiction, my current audiobook is The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, which I thought was on my list for The Classics Club, but it isn’t.  The only Hemingway I’ve ever read is The Old Man and the Sea, which was back in high school or something and left me unimpressed (like many people).  I was in the mood for short stories on audio when I picked this up at the library.   Some are better than others.  Of those I’ve read so far, the ones I thought were particularly well-done are “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “Capitol of the World,” and “Up in Michigan.”

Sheila from Book Journey is planning to host her third annual First Book of the Year event on January 1.  Like Sheila, I always give a lot of thought to the first book I read in any given year. I like it to be something that, in whatever way, sets the tone for the months to come — whether that happens to be related to a goal, something to provide inspiration, or whatever.

ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbuttonI like having my first book of the year be one that I already own, because that gives me a personal sense of accomplishment that at least ONE book from my shelves will be read in any given year. And as luck would have it, there’s a “reading effort” that will help me with this.  Andi from Estella’s Revenge is hosting #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, billed as a “you do you,” choose-your-own-adventure. No rules or requirements except reading your own damn books. So, I’m in … although I don’t know what my personal guidelines will be yet. I may just make it up as I go, with the objective being to read as many from my stash as possible.

If you’re participating in The Classics Club, it’s time to spin! This involves listing “your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list — in a separate post. Tomorrow the organizers will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by February 1, 2016. More details are here.

Since I never finished (or even started) my designated book for the last spin I joined, I’m highly tempted to reuse my same list for this go-around.  But it’s worth a revision, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings!

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sunday salon: currently

The Sunday Salon

Currently: In my usual weekend spot on the deck with a Mason jar of water, the Sunday paper and my current read (Belief Is It’s Own Kind of Truth, Maybe by my friend, Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela). Nothing on the agenda today except reading, preparing a few blog posts for the week ahead, finishing a book review, getting caught up on the two online courses I’m taking, and potentially watching Steelers football on TV tonight.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a gorgeous summer’s day. (Well, aside from being at the beach, that is, but that’s not where we’re at.)

Reading: I was between books earlier this week, not quite sure what I was in the mood for next, and decided to try something unusual for me – finishing an entire issue of The New Yorker. To my surprise, I actually did. I tend to read the magazine piecemeal: an article here, a short story there, and pretty soon I have piles of them around the house with those insert cards bookmarking my spot.

The New Yorker - July 6 and 13 “Five Hostages,” an article in the July 6 and 13 issue, deserves a mention because it was so compelling and heartbreaking. Those families … I simply cannot imagine the anguish they went through, and to not be able to tell anyone that their child was a hostage in Syria while they personally were negotiating with ISIS. The focus of the piece (which I had to read over several days and in brief intervals because it was so emotionally intense) is how the abandonment they felt led them to join forces with each other and David Bradley, the owner of the media company that owns The Atlantic. He took an active, personal interest in bringing the hostages home, as Lawrence Wright has written in this incredible piece of journalism.

Incidentally, if you haven’t listened to the July 21 interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick on WNYC’s podcast “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin,” it is well worth the 48 minutes. Very insightful and entertaining, as most of the episodes on this podcast are. (This one is quickly becoming one of my favorites.)

Oh, and if you are a listener of “Here’s the Thing,” what the hell was that interview with Paul Simon earlier this week? Holy shit. I’ve never heard an interview where the subject sounded so miserable. Seriously, Paul Simon came across as a total ass, and I say that as a fan of his – although slightly less of one now. Uncomfortable to listen to doesn’t describe that.

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

As mentioned, on Friday I started reading Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela’s new memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe. She had me from her first sentence: “When my real mother dies, I go looking for another one.”  Belief is described as part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, and what it means to make authentic connections. So far, 43 pages into this, it delivers.

Listening To: In the car, my listening is still primarily podcasts, which I can’t get enough of. I’m also listening to the audio book of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which is so incredibly good. I have this on my Kindle and I can’t believe I’ve never read this one, but that’s what The Classics Club is for. (This is one of my selections, mainly because it has been on my TBR forever.)

Counting: Speaking of TBRs, have you guys done that quiz/calculator thing that’s making the rounds on Facebook about how long it will take you to read your entire TBR pile?  My results are depressing as hell. With 1,870 books on my “want-to-read” Goodreads list (yes, really) the TBR calculator informs me that reading all 1,870 books will take me 26 years and 8 months and I’ll finish on March 29, 2042 when I am 73 years old.

It lies: I’ll only be 72 on that date, with 73 looming a few days later. But, hey, what’s a year when it is going to take me 26 of them to read all the books I want – without adding a single thing to said want-to-read list?

Learning: Because a coworker mentioned how much she is enjoying MOOCs (massive online open courses), I decided to see what they are all about. Needless to say, I’m completely hooked on them, too. I told my mom that I was registered for a total of five online courses between now and throughout the fall, and she asked how I possibly found the time for five classes.  (She knows the answer to that: I’m the world’s worst when it comes to cleaning my house, as I have no interest in that crap.)

Anyway, I’ll be spending some time today trying to wrap up what I can of Weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6 of “Literature and the Country House,” my first course and one that is being offered through the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK. When I announced to The Facebook that I was doing this, more than a few thought I was actually spending six weeks in England taking this course in person. I wish. Instead, I’m on my deck in Pittsburgh dusting off the English part of my English/Communications degree while reading poetry and excerpts from “Hamlet” and other classics. I’m more than a little behind, but that’s the beauty of MOOCs. Besides being free, they tend to move at one’s own pace.

My second course, “Childhood in the Digital Age,” started this past Monday with The Open University. That’s a bit shorter (only four weeks) and seems like it will be easier to keep up with. This one has some connections with my job, in a sense, so there are practical and personal reasons for participating in this.

Watching: Probably the Steelers vs. Vikings game tonight because … Steelers football, baby! Whoooo!

Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

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dustin’ off that english degree, joining the classics club

The Classics Club

While catching up on blog reading today, I noticed several posts where people mentioned joining The Classics Club and referencing The Classics Club Spin #9 as being a good time to join the aforementioned club.

So of course I had to check out what this was all about.

I’ve known about The Classics Club since it started in March 2012 (how can that be three years ago already?) and truth be told, I’ve often wished I’d joined back when it was initiated and several times since. So, why not now?

Yes. Why not now?

Well, since this sort of thing constitutes my idea of fun, consider me in.

To participate, all one needs to do is post a list of at least 50 classics that you plan to read within the next five years, which I’ve done below. What I love about The Classics Club is that short stories, novellas, and poetry can be included – and re-reads are allowed, too. And it is somewhat flexible. I don’t do well with challenges or reading games where one needs to adhere to a list that’s set in stone until the end of time since preferences change and have no qualms about declaring a book DNF.

I’m trying very hard to make a dent in the books I have on my shelves and on my Kindle, so as with many of the challenges I join, those will be considered “priority reads.”

So. Without further ado, here’s my list of books for The Classics Club that I plan to read by April 6, 2020. At its current total of 111 books, this averages out to 22 books per year if I did all of these, which would be nearly half of all my annual reading. I’m under no delusions that this is going to happen. Consider this a work in progress of sorts, my Classics Club Master List as compiled from The Big Book List on The Classic Club blogvarious Goodreads lists, and a perusal of my own shelves (real and virtual). The classics I most want to read and hope to sooner rather than later.

Note: Those listed in bold are my 20 selections for The Classics Club Spin #9, all books currently sitting on my shelves waiting to be read.

  1. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Half of a Yellow Sun
  2. Alcott, Louisa May: Little Men (Kindle)
  3. Allende, Isabel: The House of the Spirits
  4. Allison, Dorothy: Bastard Out of Carolina
  5. Anderson, Sherwood: Winesburg, Ohio
  6. Angelou, Maya: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  7. Atwood, Margaret: The Blind Assassin 
  8. Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice (Kindle)
  9. Austen, Jane: Sense and Sensibility
  10. Baldwin, James: Giovanni’s Room
  11. Baldwin, James: Go Tell it on the Mountain
  12. Bronte, Charlotte: Villette
  13. Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights
  14. Calvino, Italo: If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler
  15. Cather, Willa: My Antonia
  16. Chopin, Kate: The Awakening
  17. Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White (Kindle)
  18. Dickens, Charles: Bleak House (Kindle)
  19. Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations 
  20. Dickens, Charles: Tale of Two Cities 
  21. Dickens, Charles: The Cricket on the Hearth
  22. Dickens, Charles: The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  23. Dickens, Charles: The Pickwick Papers (Kindle)
  24. Eliot, George: Adam Bede (Kindle)
  25. Eliot, George: Middlemarch
  26. Eliot, T.S.: The Complete Poems
  27. Emerson, Ralph Waldo: Self-Reliance and Other Essays
  28. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: Flappers and Philosophers
  29. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: Tales of the Jazz Age
  30. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: Tender is the Night
  31. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Beautiful and Damned
  32. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby
  33. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Love of the Last Tycoon
  34. Fitzgerald, Zelda: Save Me the Waltz
  35. Flaubert, Gustav: Madame Bovary
  36. Foer, Jonathan Safran: Everything is Illuminated
  37. Foer, Jonathan Safran: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Kindle)
  38. Forster, E.M. Howard’s End (Kindle)
  39. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: Herland
  40. Giovanni, Nikki: The Selected Poems 1968-1995
  41. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: Selected Stories
  42. Hemingway, Ernest: The Complete Short Stories (added 12/2015)
  43. Ibsen, Henrik: A Doll’s House
  44. Irving, John: A Prayer for Owen Meany (Kindle)
  45. Irving, Washington: The Complete Tales
  46. Jackson, Shirley: Just An Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories
  47. Keats, John: Poems
  48. Keller, Helen: The Story of My Life
  49. Keyes, Daniel: Flowers for Algernon
  50. Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible
  51. Kundera, Milan: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  52. Lawrence, D.H.: Collected Short Stories
  53. Lawrence, D.H.: Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  54. Lawrence, D.H.: Sons and Lovers
  55. Lawrence, D.H.: Women in Love
  56. Mansfield, Katherine: The Garden Party & Other Stories
  57. Mansfield, Katherine: Selected Stories
  58. McCarthy, Cormac: The Road
  59. McCarthy, Mary: The Group
  60. McCullers, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  61. Millay, Edna St. Vincent: Collected Poems
  62. Miller, Arthur: Death of a Salesman
  63. Mitchell, David: Cloud Atlas
  64. Morrison, Toni: A Mercy
  65. Morrison, Toni: Home
  66. Morrison, Toni: Jazz
  67. Morrison, Toni: Love
  68. Morrison, Toni: Paradise
  69. Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon
  70. Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita
  71. Henry, O. : Collected Stories
  72. O’Connor, Flannery: A Good Man is Hard to Find
  73. O’Connor, Flannery: Everything that Rises must Converge
  74. O’Connor, Flannery: Wise Blood
  75. Plath, Sylvia: Ariel
  76. Plath, Sylvia: The Colossus and Other Poems
  77. Plath, Sylvia: Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts
  78. Plath, Sylvia: The Journals of Sylvia Plath
  79. Poe, Edgar Allan: Collected Stories and Poems
  80. Poe, Edgar, Allan: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (DNF)
  81. Poe, Edgar Allan: The Raven and Other Writings
  82. Pound, Ezra: Personae: The Shorter Poems
  83. Proulx, Annie: The Shipping News
  84. Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea
  85. Robinson, Marilynne: Housekeeping
  86. Salinger, J.D.: Nine Stories (TBR)
  87. Salinger, J.D: Franny and Zooey
  88. Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  89. Shakespeare, William: Much Ado About Nothing
  90. Shakespeare, William: The Taming of the Shrew
  91. Shakespeare, William: The Tempest
  92. Silko, Leslie Marmon: Ceremony
  93. Smith, Betty: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  94. Wharton, Edith: Summer
  95. Wharton, Edith: The Age of Innocence
  96. Wilde, Oscar: The Importance of Being Earnest
  97. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Kindle)  (Completed 8/27/2015) 
  98. Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
  99. Woolf, Virginia: A Haunted House: The Complete Shorter Fiction
  100. Woolf, Virginia: A Room of One’s Own
  101. Woolf, Virginia: Between the Acts
  102. Woolf, Virginia: Flush
  103. Woolf, Virginia: Jacob’s Room (Kindle)
  104. Woolf, Virginia: Melymbrosia
  105. Woolf, Virginia: Night and Day
  106. Woolf, Virginia: Orlando
  107. Woolf, Virginia: The Common Reader 1st Series
  108. Woolf, Virginia: The Common Reader 2nd Series
  109. Woolf, Virginia: The Voyage Out
  110. Woolf, Virginia: The Waves
  111. Woolf, Virginia: Three Guineas
  112. Yeats, William Butler: Collected Poems


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