The 2017 Attempt to Complete The Back to the Classics Challenge

Back to the Classics 2017 – click the button below for our host Karen’s rules for the Challenge:

3button2017

The categories for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge: My choices in RED but if this goes like last year, I won’t read any of my original selections! eeek.

1.  A 19th century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899. Probably a Trolloppe. or a Hardy.

2.  A 20th century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Rabbit, Run

3.  A classic by a woman author. Cold Comfort Farm or Orlando

4.  A classic in translation. The Three Muskateers or Love in a Fallen City

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category. Candide!!

6.  A romance classic. Jude the Obscure?

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. Jane Eyre.

8.  A classic with a number in the title. One Fine Day 

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title. The Bird’s Nest

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. Love in a Cold Climate (whatever/whereever – will likely be English…)

11. An award-winning classic. ??? Will look at the Pulitzer list. Perhaps The Voice at the Back Door by Elizabeth Spencer. Uh, NOPE. Is listed on that page but I didn’t realize the award was NOT given that year. So maybe The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, 1965.

12. A Russian classic. Memories by Teffi, as suggested by Ruthiella. Or Dead Souls by Gogol?

Happy Challenge-Reading!

pieratingsml

 

Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The World According to Garp

Thoughts twatgbyji by John Irving, Random House Audio 2006 (orig 1978), with epilogue read by author dated 1998

Narration by Michael Prichard, 20 hours 26 minutes

Challenge:  Classics Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: Finally, its time had come.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have wanted to read this for a long time. Funny, I can’t really remember why I didn’t read it right away when my occasionally demanding father forbade me to read this book. This book in particular. No other books were included nor was a reason given that I recall. And by ‘occasionally demanding’, I mean that he didn’t often tell me what to “do/not do” but when he did, it always seemed random and interesting in comparison to other similar things he didn’t tell me I couldn’t do.

The funny thing to me, is that I don’t think this book was ever on my radar as a teen or young adult (Odd? I would have been 13 when this book was published and 17 when the movie came out — which I also have yet to see). In fact, for a long time, I thought this book was written by John Updike. So, you see, I really didn’t think it was a book for me anyway and rather than rushing to read it to find out why I wasn’t supposed to like any other normal teenager, I filed it away in my head. Wrongly, but still it sat there waiting for me. In fact, it was Dewey, I think, who corrected or suggested that I was probably not referring to John Updike as an author likely to be the degenerate influence I had presumed. I have never read Updike either. Should I?

I was a kid who seriously believed that lightening bolts would strike if I was deliberately disobedient. I believed in that far longer than I ever believed in Santa Claus, if I ever did.

All this to say that it took me a long time out of respect for my father’s wishes, I suppose, for me to ever decide I should read John Irving. I have read A Prayer for Owen Meany thanks to a readalong – loved it. And thanks to Owen Meany, I eventually came around to knowing I would someday read and love Garp. And boy did I! I did. (Now I want to reread Owen. Sigh…)

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  OK, back to Garp… This book is about an interesting woman wanting to live life on her terms. It’s about her son, Garp. It’s about Garp growing up wanting to be a writer. He gets married, has children. He tries to protect his family from the all that could happen in a scary life in the scary world. (Maybe that is what my father was trying to do.) It’s about family, life and death, and dealing with death.

WHAT’s GOOD: The imagination. The deadpan humor. The absurdity. It feels to me like Irving is a master at making the absurd totally believable. When I see that quote of Neil Gaiman: “Things need not have happened to be true.“ — I tend to think of Irving. And WOW people! this is a timely book. A reminder that feminism is just getting started and still has a long way to go. A reminder that in some things, we were ahead of the times AND that we have slipped in our understandings. Feminism, transsexuals, rape culture, politics, open-mindedness, what is “family”? Garp was an authentic passionate talented guy who loved fiercely.

Books like this remind me that there were no “good ol’ days”; that humans can be vile, have always been vile, will continue to be vile; and yet still, humans can be kind.

What’s NOT so good:  That even though I never saw the movie (yet – maybe even tonight, most likely this weekend), I still kept seeing John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon. Not all the time, but often enough to hear his voice and see his face, with lipstick and rouge. That really isn’t a criticism and I probably shouldn’t mention it…

No pie was mentioned that was noticed.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Beware the undertoad.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Brighton Rock

classicsclub1

Thoughts brbygg by Graham Greene, Blackstone Audiobook 2011 (orig 1938), 9 hours 48 minutes.

Narrated by Richard Brown.

BackToTheClassics2016

BAILED. I just found myself avoiding it. And when I did have it on – usually while driving –  I didn’t pay a bleep of attention to it.

Guess not the right time for this and I suspect the right time won’t come around in my lifetime. Sorry Mr. Greene – will have to try something else you’ve written; hope that’s OK.

The narration was only so-so for me.

No Rating. DNF.

IMG_1668 BristolHorse IMG_1665 IMG_1672

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Amsterdam

Thoughts amsterdambyim by Ian McEwan, Anchor 1999 (orig 1998), 193 pages

My “Pick” Review on Litsy offered THREE points:

  1. I love how Ian McEwan strings words together. I fall into his books like fluffy pillows and fleece blankets by a fire.
  2. The women in this book  are minor characters yet they seem to hold all the power. (I still need to think about this. Still thinking… a few days later.)
  3. The descriptions of the music were captivating.

What the Washington Post said:

A sharp contemporary morality tale, cleverly disguised as a comic novel, Amsterdam is “as sheerly enjoyable a book as one is likely to pick up this year.”

What’s it ABOUTWARNING! I am going to tell a lot more about the plot than I usually do. I always feel like I’m spoilering so read on at your own risk. Two friends, ex-lovers of an extraordinary woman named Molly, meet up at her funeral. Clive is a composer who is not ‘attached’ and Vernon is a newspaper editor; they eventually make a pact that in the event IF one ever becomes seriously ill and incapacitated, the other agrees to assist in facilitating a dignified end-of-life situation, something they don’t believe their friend Molly was accorded. Clive is busy and stressed with writing a grand symphony for the year 2000 and Vernon is desperately trying to save his newspaper – circulation is falling and they need a scoop. Well, Clive arrives at a cross-roads literally while hiking to free his mind up for inspiration and Vernon is given his juicy tabloid fodder opportunity — photos of a high-level politician who was also a lover of Molly. HOWEVER, things happen, plots are plotted, disagreements are both blown out of proportion or thoughtlessly disregarded depending on the viewpoint and it all becomes a major clusterfuck for almost everyone involved.

What’s good?  No one could complain that nothing happens in this book. For a slim book, it has a ton of pivotal bit characters and interesting events. I love IMcE’s writing. I just will follow wherever his sentences lead me.

What’s NOT so good: Well, it was almost too neatly wrapped up and not really all that convincing even as I keep contemplating what happened! How could all these momentous things happen and yet not one really gets the importance? And all the conniving and clever and circumstantial happenings seem oh so convenient. Seriously, some of these steps could have slipped this way or that and a whole ‘nother story would have had to have been chased down. I might need to go back and reread – I don’t think I recall the WHYs. Why did Clive decide to ___ and also Vernon decide to carry out ____?! Were they that cruel? Yep, almost a bit TOO convenient. I am starting not to buy it as I keep going over and over it…

And then the cover art of Brona‘s copy has me thinking about something else all over again!

I loved the sidestepping move by Rose Garmony. YOWZA, was she interesting.

So, even if a bit bumpy and I question the plot, I enjoyed every minute of it. Let’s write some fanfiction to further delve into Molly and Rose, could we?

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie (the pastry) mentioned but PIE CHARTS were found. I might suggest an almond torte as a pie alternative here. Almond torte sounds Dutch, no?fourpie

BIG thank you to JoAnn and Athira for allowing me to crash their readalong #damalong.

IMG_1697IMG_1716IMG_1812IMG_1690IMG_1679

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Classics Club Spin #14

And the SPIN NUMBER IS…  numone
classicsclub1

Here are my 20 books in anticipation of the soon to be announced CLASSICS SPIN:

On Monday, the powers that run the Club will pick a number. I will read the book that falls at that number in this list:

1. West with the Night – Beryl

2. A Handful of Dust – Waugh

3. The World According to Garp – Irving!

4. The Ox-Bow Incident

5. Jude the Obscure – Hardy (have in house, hardback)

6. Candide – Voltaire

7. Stoner – John Wms

8. The Double Helix – Watson (currently in the house, from library)

9. The King Must Die – Mary Renault

10. One Fine Day – MPD

11. Charlotte Sometimes – Penelope Farmer

12. The Hunter – Parker

13. Cold Comfort Farm – Gibbons

14. Love in a Fallen City – Chang

15. Love in a Cold Climate – Mitford

16. The Dud Avocado – Dundy

17. Twelve Years a Slave – Northup

18. Gravity’s Rainbow – Pynchon

19. Orlando – Woolf (currently in my Audible tbl, and eBook!)

20. The Bird’s Nest – Shirley Jackson

Are you playing?

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

 

Germinal

GerminalButton2

Thoughts gbyezby Émile Zola, eKindle Penguin Classics 2004 (orig 1885), 596 pages

Translation by Roger Pearson (and Notes and Introduction¹).

Audiobook gabnbylp Naxos Audio 2015, 19 hours 55 minutes, narrated by Leighton Pugh. (No translation information provided.)

BackToTheClassics2016

Lots of good stuff on Twitter, see hashtag #GerminalAlong. Good times talking about horrible times in the mining regions of France in the 1860s.

I found three pie mentions:
p.89 “Just you wait, you dirty little scamp. I’ll teach you to make mud-pies indeed!”

p.127 “… so to he had come to recognize them, the way one recognizes amorous magpies disporting in the pear trees in the garden.”²

p.171 “…You know it’s all pie in the sky³…”

I also consider these a cousin of pie – it’s a pastry filled with goodness, so it counts.

volauvent<– a vol-au-vent.

Zola amazes me. I’ve read Thérèse Raquin and was blown away by the grit and darkness, the skill in the story-telling, the audacity to write it in the first place. [My review of that here.] It doesn’t do much to inspire a love for much of humanity – he skewers everyone; but it is a reminder that literature is art. Germinal solidifies my understanding of the ‘naturalism literary movement’. Oh I wish I had majored in literature in college. Maybe I’ll go back when I retire.

Germinal couldn’t sound more boring and yet it is so alive! He makes history touchable / “feel-able” / real and I see why he is and was held in high regard. Skip it if you aren’t in the least bit curious, definitely read it if you want to experience history in all its grittiness and be transported to another place and time. Zola manages to capture so many motivations and is incisive yet gentle with all. Brilliant.

Rating:  Five slices of pie.

BIG SHOUT OUT to all my readalongers!  Especially Top Host Melissa (here’s her review).

 

pieratingsml

1 – I didn’t read the Notes and I read the Intro after, as recommended.

2 – Unverified internet research has told me that the word magpie came before ‘pie’ and may have influenced what we call these pastries. See here.

³ – I found a Slate magazine article explaining the phrase ‘pie in the sky’: … coined by a champion of the American proletariat. “Pie in the sky” comes from an early 20th-century folk song written by labor activist Joe Hill, aka Joe Hillstrom, a legendary member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

 

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Save

Murder Must Advertise

Thoughts mmabyds by Dorothy Sayers, Harper & Brothers 1933, 344 pages

Challenge: Classics Club 50
Genre: Murder Mystery
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now:  I think because it felt like a good companion read to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Maybe.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I think I’ll share the official blurb from goodreads. Oh – do know if you don’t already, the book cover above links to goodreads.com…

When advertising executive Victor Dean dies from a fall down the stairs at Pym’s Publicity, Lord Peter Wimsey is asked to investigate. It seems that, before he died, Dean had begun a letter to Mr. Pym suggesting some very unethical dealings at the posh London ad agency. Wimsey goes undercover and discovers that Dean was part of the fast crowd at Pym’s, a group taken to partying and doing drugs. Wimsey and his brother-in-law, Chief-Inspector Parker, rush to discover who is running London’s cocaine trade and how Pym’s fits into the picture–all before Wimsey’s cover is blown.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The energy, the cleverness, the humor. The dashing always amiable and capable Lord Wimsey. The setting of London and the descriptions of what life was like after World War I but before the Great Depression. It’s quite daring and had much to reflect on for how times are now as well as consideration of what is different in law enforcement these days compared to then. But who knew ‘drugs’ were so ‘bad’ then – if felt very modern.

p.78 “Everybody is picking up the body and exclaiming over it, when in walks our friend, innocently, from the lav. It’s as simple as pie.”

What’s NOT so good: I do think this wasn’t the best book FOR ME to be introduced to Lord Wimsey – I knew nothing other than he is beloved. I wish I had more background to his ‘story’ and that is my fault because I generally eschew ‘knowing too much’. I also have trouble relating to the ‘charm’ if you will of the class system in England as humor. (I have trouble with PG Wodehouse, too – just don’t think his madcap hilarity is all that funny.)

FINAL THOUGHTS:  It was a fun read and I thought I knew whodunit but didn’t really, it was almost like the big reveal was a slow realization that you doubt than wonder why – it was all spelled out, really. I guess that means that I thought it fell flat at the end but really, I did enjoy my time with this book and could be talked into having a bit of a crush on Wimsey – he is a charmer.

RATING: Three slices of  GOOSEBERRY pie.

Another “simple as pie” and a humble pie; quite a few lobster mentions, too.

p.84 “She thinks I’m the world’s eighth wonder. Absolutely the lobster’s dress-shirt.”

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Brave New World

Thoughts bnwbyah by Aldous Huxley, Blackstone Audio 2009 (orig 1932), 8 hours 5 minutes

Narrated by Michael York.

Challenge: Classics Club
Genre: Science Fiction – Dystopia
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible 2for1 Sale

MOTIVATION for READING: I needed a Classics Sci Fi and I can’t remember if I read it in High School.

A future where ‘they’ manufacture humans in baby factories and assign who will be the grunt workers and who will be the higher-up workers. The people in charge have doped everyone up with Soma, encouraging their consumerism and distractions of pleasant  activities, never pursuing ‘passions’. All art and drama and good books are things of the past.

I can’t say I enjoyed this story but I get why it is important as satire and commentary on society; a few issues we are still grappling with today.

Oh Good Ford! I thought it tedious, to be honest. It did have its moments. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it.

RATING: Three slices of pie. I didn’t make note if pie was mentioned.

Thanks to one of the commenters on this post, I hereby link to an insightful post by Elaine’s Philosophy Thoughts comparing the prophecies of Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984.

I also appreciate Teresa’s review at Shelf Love. “The best dystopian novels include just enough that is familiar to make readers shudder in recognition.”

More reviews at Fyrefly‘s Book Blog Search for Brave New World.

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

 

Whatever

Thoughts webymhtph Whatever by Michel Houellebecq / translated by Paul Hammond, Serpent’s Tail / Profile Books Ltd 2011 (orig 1994), 155 pages

Challenge: 1001+ Books to Read Before You Die
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback / Library 14-day Loan (oops – I started this on the 15th day… So I will owe a bit in late fees.)
 Why I read this now: It called to me when I glanced at the NEW BOOKS shelf at the library. Back in May 2008, I signed up for a challenge to read 1% of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die and I listed this book solely based on the title. It called to me, but I never got to it. So, of course, when I see this at the library while casually glancing at a shelf – I wasn’t even looking for anything specific! – I had to bring it home with me. And it is short. I’m into the shorties lately…

From Tony Litt’s Introduction:

Houellebecq’s first book was on HP Lovecraft.

Houellebecq hates office workers as does ‘the novel’.

The tone of Whatever is ‘beastly tired’.

The original title of Whatever was An Extension of the Domain of the Struggle.

“If you’re in search of page-turning plot-twistiness, fuck off.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT (with spoilers since I doubt anyone I know will ever read this book and/or just might because I spoil the heck out of it): Told in the first person, our protagonist is a computer programmer. Single and lonely. And bitter. He is assigned to train clients on a computer application and has to or gets to travel to other towns in France to do so. A coworker assists in the delivery of the  training. He experiences a mild heart attack. He is only 30 years old. He writes animal stories to amuse himself. He tries to convince the coworker to kill a beautiful young lady who turns him down at a club. The coworker ends up dying in a car crash. Our protag has a nervous breakdown and/or is admitted to a mental hospital. He gets released. The end. Not really. Let’s say it ends ambiguously.

WHAT’s GOOD: At times it is actually funny. Bitter insight to the absurdity of corporate work and the people who ‘work in offices’.  Other times, the reader winces at the misogyny and violent tendencies.

The theme could be summed up as “Life sucks and then you die.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: I guess I have to laugh and agree with these two review quotes:

From the Independent:  “Funny, terrifying and nauseating.”

From the Guardian: “the book slips down easily like a bad oyster.”

RATING:  Three slices of pie; I found mention of apple tart.

“His wife absolutely insisted I taste the apple tart her husband didn’t have the strength to swallow. I accepted; it was delicious.”

For something a little lighter maybe, enjoy this French song (and click here for the words in English):

Houellebecq’s most recent novel submission “is both a devastating satire and a profound meditation on isolation, faith and love. It is a startling new work by one of the most provocative and prescient novelists of today.” So says the goodreads blurb. (Cover links to that site.)

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mansfield Park

Thoughts mpbyja Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Naxos Audio 2007 (orig 1814), 16 hours 49 minutes

Narrated by the incomparable professional Juliet Stevenson.

FOR CLASSICS CLUB SPIN!!

  “I fancy Miss Price has been more used to deserve praise than to hear it.”

This is the most fun book full of love-to-loath characters! Had a grand time with Jane and her character descriptions of the “too good” (Fanny Price) and deliciously bad (Auntie Mrs. Norris). I even started to admire Lady Bertram at one point. Of course, Edmund was only slightly less annoying than Fanny and the Crawfords!  OH YES!  Miss Mary and her darling flirtatious conniving brother Henry!!!  Such fun. Could NOT understand how Edmund put up with Mary… She was so insulting and it would go right over his head; he thought her heavenly and sweet. (She certainly was neither.)

Jane Austen’s ability to be cool and snide is beyond compare.

Rating: fourpie

READ for CITY category for the What’s In a Name Challenge. My SECOND entry. Mansfield is a town in Massachusetts.

READ for CLASSICS CLUB 50 and VERY LONG category of the Classics Challenge.

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.