The Classics Challenge

I shall participate in the 2007 Classics Challenge.

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Read 5 classics in the month of January and February. I’ve been meaning to get on this anyway, so this’ll be fun. It’s great to look at the books everybody is choosing, too. I found about this challenge here, by the way.

I still have a couple other books going right now (still working on the From the Stacks challenge – almost done!!) – but the classics I will read will be (and some of these are re-reads – I haven’t read Frankenstein since … I have no idea when. I think I was 16 when I last read it – and I interpret classics my own way – if you look at everybody’s list – there are some constants, but also some surprises – so “classics” is what it means to you, I guess):

1. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
2. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
3. Villette, by Charlotte Bronte (which I’ve never read – check out Roo’s post about what this book means to her – I can’t wait to read it!)
4. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (I started to re-read this book recently and then got sidetracked. Let’s do it right this time, Sheila!! I love this book – but I haven’t read it since high school)
5. Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh (I read Christopher Hitchens’ essay on this book and it made me totally impatient to read it)

VERY excited.

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28 Responses to The Classics Challenge

  1. Allison says:

    Frankenstein is one of my all time favorite books. And every time I read it, I am astounded all over again that it was written by a 17-year-old girl!

  2. red says:

    Allison = do you remember a totally intense conversation we had about Frankenstein – right around the time we first became friends? We were at that little wine place near your old apartment – and I think our friendship was pretty new – and somehow we started talking about Frankenstein and you were just so passionate and interesting about it – your whole theory about it – had you written a paper on it or something?? I can’t remember what, but the conversation remains so vivid in my memory and it totally made me think that I HAD to go back and read that book.

    I can’t wait to talk about it with you!

  3. mejack says:

    I read Frankenstein in college for a feminist literature class. It was really quite amazing to study it in that context. It’s really funny how a lot of people don’t realize that it was written by a woman.

  4. red says:

    It is amazing to think about in that context – I love her imagination, and her youth. Also – that whole time in history, too … her mother??

    There’s a good (not great, but kind of good) novel about Mary Wollstonecraft – it’s called Vindication. I thought it was very interesting, and not badly written.

    Anyone read it?

  5. red says:

    It came out maybe 10 years ago.

  6. Jeff says:

    I don’t know how you do it. Having already failed the Winter Reading Challenge, I am suitably in awe.

  7. red says:

    Jeff – I still have two books on the From the Stacks left to read!! I am so not done with that one. I got sidetracked yet again with my Stalin/Kirov book – so now I’m behind. I’m liking the challenges though – cause in general these are books I want to read.

    I have never read War and Peace either – which is on my “must read someday” list but I figured I colud not include it on the Classics challenge list because no way could I finish that and all the other ones in a 2 month period. I’m a fast reader but I’m not that fast!!

  8. Jeff says:

    At least I feel like I have a good excuse for failing – after nearly six years in our “new” house, we finally had a set of built-in, custom designed bookshelves installed last week, allowing us to take the last 16 boxes of books out of storage. So with all that treasure, what’s the first thing I read? “The Silence of the Lambs.” Go figure.

  9. red says:

    I am drooling over the image in my head of your new bookshelves.

    And I so get it – when you take books out of storage it’s like you get reacquainted with what you actually OWN. I experienced that when I moved into this apartment in 2002, I think it was – This is the first time that me and all of my books have all been together. I’ve had SOME that have traveled about with me – but the majority were sitting in boxes in my parents attic. And I finally just brought them all down – and the shuffling of bookcases and trying to find room for them all has begun – but it is SO cool to have them all together.

    And I had the same thing when I unpacked those boxes of books – I hadn’t seen some of those books in years – so I reread Harriet the Spy immediately, and Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Old favorites – it was so cool.

  10. Jeff says:

    They are awesome. And the best part about it was that I was out of town last week at a conference and when I came back home, they were in and my wife had gone through all the boxes of books and put them up on the shelves. A very nice early Christmas present.

  11. red says:

    Oh how wonderful! Like it happened by magic. Or Santa’s elves or something.

    Someday I’ll get the custom-made bookshelves … I know just what I want in my head (and my dad has some good suggestions as well).

  12. Tommy says:

    I think I’m going to play along, too. The New Year’s Resolution was going to be less teevee more reading, anyway….

  13. red says:

    Tommy – cool! Let me know what books you choose, I’d love to hear.

    People are reading Alice in Wonderland, and Jules Verne – all this really cool shit.

  14. red says:

    Oh, and lots of Dashiell Hammett – a favorite of mine. It’s cool to see people putting him on their lists.

  15. Tommy says:

    You have a Tale of Two Cities on your list. It’s sitting on my bookshelf. I may do that one. There are a couple other Dickens that I found at the Goodwill that might get read.

    I dunno. I’m not with my bookshelves right now. I know there’s Faulkner up there that I haven’t read, but the way my attention span’s been lately, Faulkner may be a little too much like work….

    My other resolution’s going to be to Cut Back on Buying Books. I’ll try to read what I already own….

    I’ll post when I get back to the house and have a look….

  16. Tommy says:

    Hammett, huh? I do have the Maltese Falcon, and I’ve never read it. I think that one’s on the list, now.

  17. red says:

    Tommy –

    You know, I thought of putting Faulkner on my list too but to be honest – I need to just feel inspired to pick him up – you know? I can’t do it on command because I find him really hard (rewarding in the end, but HARD)

  18. Tommy says:

    Yeah. If I’m feeling it, Faulkner goes so easily. If I’m not, I gotta make myself pay attention.

    Sometimes I think making myself do it is good for me.

    This may not be one of those times.

  19. red says:

    I agree that sometimes making myself do something is good for me. That’s how I read Moby Dick – or, shall I say – RE-read it – and I’m just SO glad I did. It was the starting that was the hard thing, I had to force myself to just pick up the damn book – even though I had despised it mightily as a 16 year old … and it turned out to be one of my favorite books ever.

    But I definitely had to coerce myself into that one.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    I tried Villette many years ago and could not get past the first couple pages. I will be interested in hearing your take on it. Read Gulliver in college and loved it!

  21. booklogged says:

    Sheila. I’m so glad you’re in! Issuing this challenge has been fun for me because I’ve visited so many new blogs. Looking forward to reading your reviews.

  22. melissa says:

    I read both Vilette and Frankenstein years ago for a Feminist Literature class. I can’t wait to see your opinions!

  23. Nessie says:

    I love Swift’s book. Its AMAZING. I had put it for my GIFT challenge choice hosted by Carl

  24. Annie says:

    How cool! I’m going to be participating & am also reading A Tale of Two Cities, which has been on my nightstand for about 2 months now, along with the others on my list…

  25. red says:

    Annie – I meant to link to your post the other day about how you read on the subway. I seriously felt like I was reading one of my own journal entries – the whole trying to turn the page with the same hand that is holding the book!!!

    Also – Cat’s Eye is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period.

    I’m almost afraid to read it again. It was so powerful the first time.

  26. Is it too late to get in? I think this challenge is a great idea…it will force me to read more and stop watching the Islanders play hockey 3-4 nights a week.

  27. red says:

    chuck – I don’t think it even really officially begins until January – so sure – participate!

  28. OK..I’ve got my five. This challenge is going to be, well, a challenge.

    1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,
    by Douglas Adams (a personal classic!!)

    2. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

    and three I have always said I would read, but never did:

    3. The Dubliners, by James Joyce

    4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    5. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck