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:

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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!

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Back to the Classics Challenge for 2016 Wrap Up

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Back to the Classics Challenge 2016 – (My original post) √

Of the books I listed and expected to read for this challenge, I only read 3! So much for my predictions and selections. Unfortunately, the only translated classic I read was also the only 19th century classic that I read. I had the same problem with a re-read of a HS classic and a banned book classic, so I can only claim NINE classics completed for categories 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,10 & 12. I bailed about 1/2 in on the book for category 9 so not sure it counts but that’s ok because I still did nine… SO:

TWO ENTRIES!!!

 

  1.  A 19th Century Classic – Germinal by Zola
  2. A 20th Century ClassicThe Painted Veil by WS Maugham JAN
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author  – And Then There Were None AC
  4. X                               A Classic in Translation –  Germinal  (uh oh… )
  5. A Classic by a Non-white Author – Go Tell It On the Mountain
  6. An Adventure Classic – Beryl Markham’s West With the Night
  7. Fantasy, SciFi or Dystopian – Brave New World / Huxley
  8. √ A Classic Detective novel – Murder Must Advertise / Sayers
  9.  X  Title includes Name of a Place – Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  10.  Banned or Censored Classic – To Kill a Mockingbird/Harper Lee
  11. X             Reread a Classic from High SchoolTo Kill a Mockingbird?!
  12. Classic collection of Short Stories – O.Henry the Four Million and other stories

 

I’m done! I finally completed this challenge!!  YAY me.  Happy New Year.

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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.

The Four Million and other stories

Thoughts tfmaosbyoh by O.Henry, Airmont 1963 (orig 1906), 189 pages

BackToTheClassics2016

Challenge: Back to Classics – short story category
Genre: Short Stories
Type/Source: Paperback / discounted books store
 Why I read this now: For the challenge; took me months! eek

MOTIVATION for READING: Guess what! I live in the town where  O.Henry grew up. There’s a statue of him downtown; he’s Greensboro NC’s most famous citizen.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: All of these are very much “O.Henry” in style and theme. A twist at the end, down to earth people or down on their luck or just REAL, lots of clever witty banter and humor.

WHAT’s GOOD: See above.

What’s NOT so good: I really did need to take little sips of these stories and obviously could not just sit and power through. Probably just me. There do have that turn-of-the-century flavor.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Some funny, some sweet, and some quite sad. O.Henry loved people, I think.

RATING: Four slices of pie! Lemon meringue.

p.152 – “She was Aileen’s friend; and she was glad to see her rule hearts and wean the attention of men from smoking pot-pie and lemon meringue.”

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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.

West With the Night

Thoughts wwtnbybm by Beryl Markham, orig 1942 – rereleased in 1983, 294 pages

BackToTheClassics2016 Adventure Category

Challenge:  Latest Classics Club Spin Selection (But I’m late – it was due by Dec 1st)
Genre:  Adventure, Airplanes/Flying
Type/Source: Tradeback / Local Indie Bookstore
Why I read this now: Was late for the Spin but wanted to read it anyway.

MOTIVATION for READING: I can’t recall why exactly I put this on my Classics Club 50 but I was further enticed by the historical lit recently published by Paula McClain about Ms. Markham. I wanted to read the “true” version first. 

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WHAT’s it ABOUT: These are the stories of Ms. Markham; how she grew up in British East Africa now called Kenya, learned to train race horses, learned to fly airplanes, attempted to be the first to fly East to West from England to the US (managed to ‘safely’ crash in Canda), and and and… Nothing about her husbands and supposed multiple love affairs, darn it.

WHAT’s GOOD: What a way with words! I found it very easy to fall right into like relaxing into a gigantic bean bag to let the world fall away and allow me to be transported to another place and time.

What’s NOT so good:  The prose is beautiful yet she can seem detached and aloof; she barely reflects that she is a woman doing more typical man things. This was both refreshing and almost frustrating. Other things were more frustrating and interesting (racist/classist) view of how the English colonists viewed the Africans. She also seems to scorn the practice of elephant hunting but was a full participant in the profit of it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Not at all the dry and boring text I had imagined. It was lovely and tragic, poetic and appalling all at once. Certainly a remarkable woman.

RATING:  Five slices of pie, of which I noted no mention.

Has anyone read a biography of Beryl Markham? If I enjoy the McClain (and I sincerely hope I do since I did not care for The Paris Wife), I might continue indulging my fascination.

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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.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Thoughts tkambyhl by Harper Lee, Time Warner Books 1989 (orig 1960) 281 pages

Genre: Southern Lit, Classics
Type/Source: Hardback / My school’s English teacher’s shelf
 Why I read this now: for club…

MOTIVATION for READING:  I actually wasn’t that enthusiastic about reading this. Shame on me. I have always TRIED to have high standards about never whining about a book assigned for bookclub because that is the POINT of bookclubs — to read a book you may not be excited about or never heard of. Bookclub ‘entertainment’ is the discussion. And we all know that when everyone loves a book, discussion is boooooorrrrring. And if half love and half hate dislike, WOO-BOYHOWDY = fun discussion.

Ok, the point of this post is my mea culpa: I really loved reading TKAM.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Do I really need to tell you? Young daughter of the upstanding town attorney starts school and learns about injustice and navigating ‘growing up’ in a small town in the 30s with a father who defends a black man accused of a crime where he is accused by a white woman; the white citizens just can’t deal with the situation.

WHAT’s GOOD: Scout is just great. She’s a tough kid, annoyed by the gender expectations being thrust upon her and she’s trying to figure out the big bad world. I loved the neighbor across the street.

What’s NOT so good: We’ve come not far in too much time.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m looking forward to discussion.

Great QUOTES:  “Thus we came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies.”

“I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I new not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.”

“Dill was a villain’s villain: he could get into any character part assigned him, and appear tall if height was part of the devilry required.”

“For reasons unfathomable to the most experienced prophets in Maycombe Çounty, autumn turned to winter that year.”

“It’s not time to worry yet,”

“There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rock slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water.”

RATING: 5 slices of pie. Of DEWBERRY TARTS.

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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.

The Double Helix: Annotated and Illustrated

Thoughts dhbyjw by Dr. James Watson, Simon and Schuster 2012 (orig 1968), 368 pages [Edited by Alexander Gann and Jan Witkowski]

Challenge: Classics Club 50
Genre: Science History
Type/Source: Hardback / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: I love science.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: How Watson and Crick used models to figure out how DNA was structured.

WHAT’s GOOD: I did not expect the breezy style. It is very readable.

What’s NOT so good:  Well, you may or may not like Dr. Watson at the end but he does tell a fun story, even if bits are regrettable. He was young and determined. He shares more than just the science, but also other activities these youthful scientists were up to – where and what they ate (gooseberry pie has a mention!), the girls they tried to meet, the famous people they encountered and traveled to visit. He talks about his troubles with the sponsor for his time abroad and quite a bit about the personalities of everyone he works with.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am so glad to have read this. The big question:  did Rosalind Franklin get screwed out of the discovery and subsequent Nobel Prize. Question Mark. Let’s just say, it’s complicated and that I could say yes, but. It very much feels like facts happened and one’s viewpoint is X and the other is Y. This and that. Perspectives. And when you start to get snarky, it gets very ugly fast. Did circumstances make it difficult and thus makes it a helluva story? Oh yes.

She deserved more accolades and unfortunately she is getting it now and not in her lifetime. It is sad that she died so young. Was Watson a _____ (insert whatever nasty/relevant word you want here, but my answer is “he was a man”.)

And NOW:  I get to read more about Rosalind Franklin:

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RATING: Four slices of gooseberry pie. If you are going to read this, I suggest the annotated illustrated edition.

fourpie

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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

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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

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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
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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?

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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

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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).

 

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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.

 

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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.”

 

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