Sunday, November 27, 2011

Classics Challenge 2012

I've been seeing a lot of challenges for 2012 on the blogosphere lately, and I can't resist joining at least one.  I have sooo many classics on the TBR shelf, but this challenge hosted by November's Autumn is only seven books, and I'm pretty sure I can manage that number, if not more.  This time around  I'm going to go strictly by the books I have unread on my own shelves.

The list is pretty loose right now; I have multiple unread books by some of my favorite authors on the TBR shelves, so if I end up switching titles, I'm okay with that.  Anything I read will be progress on the TBR shelf.  Here's what I have so far:

1.  Nana or L'Assommoir (The Drinking Den) by Emile Zola -- my latest favorite classic author.  I've read three of his books so far this year and I loved them all.   I still have about five of his books unread now, and there are a few more in good translations available at my library. I also have copies of  The Ladies' Paradise, and The Masterpiece, plus more  Zola on my Christmas wish list.  If I receive any more, they'll be eligible also.

2.  At least one book by Anthony Trollope.  I have NINE unread works by Trollope on my TBR shelves, more than any other single author -- definitely more by page number, since he wrote some real doorstoppers.  This includes a copy of Dr. Thorne which I borrowed from my mother a year ago!   I'd love to continue with the Barchester Chronicles but Pallisers series is also intriguing.  I'm on the library's waiting list for an audiobook of Can You Forgive Her?, so that's a strong possibility.

3.  East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  This must be the fourth year in a row I've sworn I would read this book.  Somehow I just never get to it.  I've loved most everything I've read by Steinbeck so why do I keep putting it off?

4.  The Song of the Lark or any other book by Willa Cather.  I bought about four more of her books during the Borders clearance, plus I have two other on the shelves, so I need to read at least one of those.  I've owned Song of the Lark since about 2007, so I should really read it; naturally, it's the longest one unread.

6.  The Diary of a Nobody by George and Wheedon Grossmith.  I've heard this is hilarious, and I've owned it since 2006.  Plus it's really short especially compared to most of the other classics I have unread.

5.  Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham.  This is the only reread I'm planning at the moment. It was one of the first classics I ever read for sheer pleasure and loved it.   It was my pick for the 2012 reading list of my real-life classics reading group.  It's been more than 20 years so I hope it stands up to how I remember it.

7.  Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens.  2012 is the 200th anniversary of his birth, so I want to read at least one new Dickens.  I've read ten of his novels so far, and Our Mutual Friend is supposed to be one of his best.

8.  Kipps by H. G. Wells.  Since I'm including one reread, I've also added an extra bonus book -- I've had this book on my shelves since 2005, shortly after I began my journey back to the classics.  It came highly recommended by an author at a book fair, and after buying my own copy, I haven't touched it other than moving it to two different houses.  If I actually finish this book I'll be very pleased with myself.

Thanks to Katrina at Pining for the West for posting about this challenge!  I'm looking forward to it.


  1. Intriguing set of books--except for East of Eden, I haven't read anything you're setting out to read, though I love Willa Cather and have a Dickens on my own list. I'll have to check out Emile Zola since you like him so much.

    BTW, I'm thinking of instituting my own little challenge to read more of my big box o' Penquin classics. I think I'm putting We Have Always Lived in the Castle at the top of the list, again based on your praise of it.

  2. Great set of books! I am planning on getting through a number of Dickens titles this year in celebration. :)

    East of Eden isn't on my list, but everyone says I will love it. I will wait for your thoughts anxiously. :)

  3. What a great list of books. I've loved The Song of the Lark ever since I found it in my university library one summer.

    I have a Dickens and a Trollope on my list, and I wanted a Zola but I ran out of space.

  4. Great list so far! I loved my one encounter with Zola (Germinal) but still haven't read of his other works. I just started reading Trollope this year and can't wait to read more. And The Song of the Lark is wonderful.

    I've been thinking about what challenges to join for 2012 and this one is starting to call out to me!

  5. I've seen several posts about this challenge, and yours was the tipping point for me - so I've signed up as well.

  6. I loved The Diary of a Nobody, the only others I've read are the Trollopes. I think the Barchester ones are my favourites but I've only read two of the Palliser series so far. Thanks for the mention!

  7. JaneGS -- There several left from my Big Box of Penguins, but most of them are reallly long -- Moby Dick is about 600 pages, and I think the Portable Dorothy Parker is something best read in bits and pieces. I still haven't read The Jungle or Lady Chatterley but I have so many other books I still want to read!

    The Shirley Jackson is really good -- also really short, which makes it extra appealing.

    Allie -- I do want to read at least one new Dickens too. A lot of people love Pickwick Papers and it's the first, so I should read that one too if I get a chance. If I have time I'll reread Great Expectations as well.

    Fleur -- I think I have about six books by Willa Cather unread! I bought an illustrated old edition of Shadows on the Rock so that one's also intriguing.

    Captive Reader -- that's the second good comment about Song of the Lark so that's promising. I'm really looking forward to it, and to more Zola.

    LIsa May -- I look forward to your posts. I hope I can get to all the classics I still want to read!

    Katrina -- Diary of a Nobody looks very silly, which might be just the thing after Zola and Steinbeck.

  8. People have picked such wonderfully diverse books to read for this challenge. It will be fun reading about all of these classics in the coming year!

  9. They sound like some great choices. I would love to read East of Eden. I have so many classics sitting on my shelf, but I have some serious baby brain at the moment and no matter how many classics I start I don't seem to be able to finish them. I am hoping that once baby is out that will all change :-)

  10. The Diary of a Nobody is wonderful! Just seeing it on your post makes me want to grab my copy and put the kettle on.

  11. Diary of a nobody is fantastic and much underrated - it's definitely my soapbox book!

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  13. great list! I have my classics book club list to read from for the coming year... We're reading BLEAK HOUSE for January. I know you love that one, so I'm really looking forward to it. I'll probably start it before then, though, so can't count it for the challenge. In fact, I don't think I can bring myself to join any challenges! They just feel like "pressure" to me.

  14. I've joined this challenge too, but I'm also having my own, separate mini-Dickens challenge as well.

    We've just read East of Eden for bookclub, definitely recommend it, review to appear shortly (I've not read any other Steinbeck novels)

  15. I'm glad you joined this! I'm intrigued by your French selection. :-)

  16. OF COURSE you would sign up for some kind of classics challenge. Slam dunk for you, I would think. :P

  17. I've heard a lot more of Zola this past year, I must look into his writing. I'm planing on reading the first book of the Barchester Chronicles. It's been so long since I've read any Steinbeck, looking forward to your thoughts on East of Eden, haven't read it yet.

    Thank you for joining the challenge, Karen! :)

  18. I really like your list. I have been scared of reading The Diary of a Nobody because my friend tried and failed miserably!
    Of Human Bondage was a wonderful journey. It had me living in France and Germany and London... It made me forget everything.
    I have wanted to read Zola for quite some time now...

    Enjoy reading :)


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