Sunday, January 5, 2020

Back to the Classics 2020: My List


Last year I had an epic fail with this challenge -- I read nearly all the books, but I just didn't get around to blogging about them -- and this is my own challenge. Well, it's a new year, and hopefully this new list will inspire me to keep blogging. Of course I should read books from my own shelves but I'm not limiting myself.

So without further ado, here is my list:

1. 19th Century Classic: The Real Charlotte by Edith Anna Somerville. I'd never heard of it but I found a copy at The Strand bookstore. I'm always on the lookout for Victorian authors, especially women.



2. 20th Century Classic: something by Nevil Shute. I read three of his novels last year and really liked them, especially A Town Like Alice (meant to count for last year's challenge!) On the Beach sounds depressing so maybe Pied Piper or Trustee From the Toolroom.



3. Classic by Woman Author: So Big by Edna Ferber. I only know that it's about Chicago and it won a Pulitzer Prize. It was on my list last year for this challenge also.



4. Classic in Translation: They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy. I'd never heard of this Hungarian author but I found a copy in the library stacks and it intrigued me. it looks a bit like Buddenbrooks. It's very long so I may switch it out for Zola who is my go-to author for this category. Or maybe Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz.


5. Classic by a POC Author: Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston. It's nonfiction, a recently rediscovered manuscript. In 1931 Hurston interviewed the only living survivor of the Clotilda, the very last ship which captured and transported slaves to America.



6. Classic Genre Fiction: A tough category. I'm not a huge fantasy/sci-fi reader but I do love a good mystery. I have some British Library Crime Classics still unread. I also love Georgette Heyer so a Regency romance might be fun. Maybe The Masqueraders. 


7. Classic with a Proper Name: One of Colette's Claudine novels. I bought an omnibus edition (and a hefty author biography) last year after seeing the eponymous biopic. Don't know if I'll make it through all of them but I could probably manage at least one. Or all three -- I could also count these toward other categories as well.



8. Classic with a Place in the Title: Imperial Palace by Arnold Bennett. I first discovered Bennett after reading The Old Wives' Tale, which is on the Modern Library Top 100 novels, though hardly anyone reads it anymore. I loved it and I really want to read something else by Bennett.



9. Classic with Nature in Title: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. I really enjoyed Buddenbrooks and I've heard this one is just as good.


This book is so obscure there are hardly any images for the English editions, but all her novels seem to be in print in Italian.
10. Classic about a Family: Father by Elizabeth von Arnim. I've loved nearly everything by her and I found a vintage copy at The Strand Bookstore in New York last year. Or maybe it's time to re-read Little Women, which I haven't read since I was a child.



11. Abandoned Classic: Will this be the year I finally get around to reading Les Miserables? I've started it several times and always gotten distracted. Or will I finally commit to One Hundred Years of Solitude? 


12. Adapted Classic: Lark Rise to Candleford. I've watched a couple of the TV episodes and I know it's much beloved, it sounds like exactly the type of show I'd love. I bought the book years ago and have never gotten around to reading it. 


Hopefully these are a good mix of genres, though more than half are really long! And more than half are from my own shelves, more than half by women authors. I'm excited to start reading! 

Bloggers, what do you think? Any must-reads, or any I should reconsider? I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else wants to read for the challenge!

23 comments:

  1. Wow. You have some heavy weight books, all worth it. I see vin Arnim and Hayers again, and have not read them before. So many books! Hahaha. Of course I would be elated if you choose OYS, but it's very personal decision. Love to see so many wishing to read The Magic Mountain.

    See you around!

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    1. I do want to read ALL the books mentioned, if I finish maybe I'll start another round for each category! Von Arnim is a delight and she wrote so many books, there were three or four I considered for the list.

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  2. What exciting choices!! I really want to read So Big and A Town Like Alice. (Also, I never complete the challenges / readalongs I host. NO SHAME.) :P

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    1. Nevil Shute is wonderful and very easy reading. I like to start out the list with something easy, it makes me feel like I've accomplished something if I can cross one off the list right away. I should probably alternate short and long reads.

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  3. Some very eclectic choices I've not even heard of. Les Mis is worth it, though it is easy to get distracted when Hugo spends chapters describing Paris' sewers. Good luck!

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    1. I read Moby-Dick a few years ago and there were definitely some chapters that I skimmed!

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  4. What a great list! Do blog them because I'm very curious about the ones I know nothing about: Somerville, Banffy, Bennett in particular.

    There's a lot of Magic Mountain going around this year. I loved it when I read it.

    Thanks for hosting again. Good luck!

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    1. Yes, I've seen it on several lists, I wonder why. I guess some books just start trending in the blogosphere.

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  5. I am so curious to hear about The Real Charlotte and They Were Counted. On many of other bloggers' lists this year there are one or two classics I’ve never heard of which I really find exciting. Discoverability is one of my favorite things about book blogs!

    With so many other bloggers reading The Magic Mountain…maybe I will too. I just need to get over myself. Normally long novels do not intimidate me at all and I find once I hit the 50% mark or so, the second half is a breeze to read.

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    1. I do love a good long novel but I am intimidated by Les Mis! I think the longest classic I've read was War and Peace, and it was for a Russian lit class in college (that was the entire reading for the whole class, just W&P). I know there have been readalongs that read a chapter a day but I don't know if that would work for me.

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  6. I also like to learn about new Victorian women authors so I am going to check out The Real Charlotte to see if its for me. Colette is an author I was going to pick for Classic in Translation. I just didn't know which book to choose since I've never read her but I have been hearing about her for pretty much all my life.

    I saw a few episodes of Lark Rise to Candleford and I was impressed particularly by the character of Dorcas Lane and Julia Sawhala's marvelous performance in that role.

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    1. I really liked the biopic, I saw it nearly a year ago and wanted to read her books right away -- naturally they're still sitting there unread. I think I'm a little intimidated because it's an omnibus edition more than 600 pages!

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  7. What a wonderful list! I'm so glad you've enjoyed your encounters with Shute - he's one of my favourites - and Pied Piper is a great story. I've had the Banffy on my to-read list for years but still haven't gotten around to it; I've heard only good things about it!

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    1. I read three last year and loved all of them: A Town Like Alice, The Breaking Wave, and The Far Country. I've already started Pied Piper and it's wonderful. There are elements that remind me of Alice. I'm sure I'll end up reading all his books eventually!

      I had never heard of Banffy until I was poking around at my new library. It's amazing what you find in the stacks if you just browse. I have so many on the TBR lists and on hold I probably miss out by not just browsing.

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  8. You've made some great choices, Karen! I'd like to read either The Magic Mountain or Buddenbrooks this year. Good idea to put Heyer into the genre category, too. After failing miserably last year, I'm working on my list for 2020.

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    1. I loved Buddenbrooks. I actually had two different translations, one in ebook and one print. If you can find it I'd recommend the 1993 translation by John E. Woods, I liked it much better. He also translated The Magic Mountain.

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    1. What I said was...I had not heard of most of these, except Les Mis, causing me to feel slightly inadequate. But hey! We're reading Magic Mountain!

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  10. What an amazing selection, Karen!

    Les Mis is amazing! If you have the time. Seriously, allow plenty of time for that one, which includes essays about the French Revolution in it. But... it's worth it!

    I wish you the best in your pursuit of classic literature in 2020. :)

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  11. I'm so glad you're doing the challenge again - thank you!

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  12. This is such a great list, Karen! I am particularly curious about So Big, The Real Charlotte, and the Claudine novels. :)

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  13. I love this list because it's showing me new books I never knew about! This classic challenge has really helped to grow my repertoire of classic reading and gives me more to look forward to.!

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