Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Professor by Charlotte Bronte; and some photos of Brussels


A couple of weeks ago I was looking for an audio book to listen to while walking the dog (I have Overdrive accounts with FOUR libraries so I can always find something good!). One of the libraries had an audio of The Professor, Charlotte Bronte's first novel. I'd hadn't been particularly interested because I wasn't thrilled with Villette, but I saw that the narrator was the brilliant Frederick Davidson (who brilliantly narrated Les Miserables and many other books) so I gave it a try -- and as it's set mostly in Brussels, I can count it for my Belgian read for the European Reading Challenge!

Posthumously published in 1857, The Professor was written before Jane Eyre and submitted and rejected by several publishers. It was published after her death with permission of her husband, and is based on experiences she had studying in Brussels in 1942. 

I had assumed that the eponymous Professor would be an old man, but in fact he is a young man named William Crimsworth. The book begins with him writing a letter to an old school friend, but that framing device is quickly abandoned and the story is then simply told in the first person. I guess it's basically a Bildungsroman, a story of a young person's coming of age. 

Crimsworth, an orphan, is about 20 when the story begins. His late mother was from a wealthy family, but was disowned when she fell in love with -- gasp! -- a tradesman, who is also dead. After his mother died, one of his relatives basically blackmails his uncle (his mother's brother) into paying for William's education at Eton. The same uncle then offers him a living if he'll agree to enter the church, and to marry one of his cousins. William declines. 


Obviously William then needs a job, and looks up his much older brother Edward, who took over their late father's mill. Before their father's death, the mill had failed and was sold, but Edward stayed in the business by marrying the new mill owner's daughter, and eventually took over. William writes to his brother and asks for a job, and Edward agrees, only since William has broken ties with their mother's family forever. William then travels North to a nameless town and takes a job as a clerk to his rather begrudging brother, who tells him upfront not to expect any special treatment. He only gives William the job because William can read French and German. William seems to be an upstanding citizen and model employee, which seems to infuriate Edward who is extremely jealous of William's education. 

A chance encounter with one of Edward's business associates, Hunsden, tips Edward into a rage and William quits. Hunsden then suggests William try his luck on the continent, and gives William a letter of introduction to someone in Brussels, who helps him find a job teaching English at a boy's school.

Eventually, William also takes on a part-time job teaching at an adjoining girls' school, where he develops a crush on the headmistress, Mademoiselle Reuter. She toys with his affections and eventually develops feelings for another one of the teachers, Mademoiselle Henri, who teaches lace-making but also begins to attend William's English classes. 

The Professor isn't a very long book for a Victorian, about 300 page depending on the edition. It's really a book in which not much happens, and it definitely feels like a first novel, or one that's unfinished. (I finished it about a week ago and already had to look up on Project Gutenberg to find out what happened in the end. Bronte seems to take a lot of time describing people's looks and their characters, but there isn't a whole lot of plot. Still, it's interesting to read one of her early works, and Frederick Davidson was a wonderful narrator, as always. I don't know if I'd recommend it if you're not a big fan of Victorians. 

And now for a few photos! When I lived in Germany, we were only a few hours' drive from Belgium, and made several trips to visit, mostly for weekends. It's a highly underrated country -- the scenery is pretty and the food is excellent. I visited Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels and Ghent on separate visits. They're all different and I loved them all. We went for a weekend in the fall of 2018, and had a lovely time. It's often overcast so it looks dreary in some of the photos, but it was great for a weekend.

The first thing we did was visit the Atomium, left from the 1958 World's Fair. So mid-century! 


Right next to the Atomium is Mini Europe, and of course we bought a combined ticket. Lots of iconic European buildings, on a much smaller scale. Here's mini Pisa with the Atomium in the background. You can see mini Venice on the right.




Mini Houses of Parliment, complete with a fake Thames.


Love the detail of the mini Brexit protest! 


Of course we had to sample the local cuisine. Look at all those amazing waffles. 

Our hotel was a short walk to the Grand Place, the central Plaza of Brussels. 
Lots of beautiful architecture (and chocolate shops).





Walking past the square I spotted this amazing trompe l'oeil tribute to the iconic Tintin: 






I just loved the architecture in Brussels. 


It just blows my mind that this business was established 500 years before I was born.



Brussels also has some wonderful art museums. 
First we went to the Magritte Museum, lots of amazing surreal paintings.





Not surreal, just beautiful. 



Then we went to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. I discovered that I absolutely love the works of Pieter Brueghel. Here's The Fall of the Rebel Angels from 1562. I can only imagine what the reaction to this must have been. 




Seriously, what's going on here?  


Lots of great Dutch and Flemish masters! 



I loved this anthropomorphic head of a woman. There's a matching painting with a man. No artist attributed, but it reminds me very much of the vegetable paintings by Arcimboldo.



Lots of beautiful later paintings as well. I always love finding new artwork I'd never heard of. 
This is Moonlit Sky by Adrien-Joseph Heymans, c. 1907.



Brussels also has beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. My last stop was the Horta Museum, a beautifully preserved Art Nouveau house designed by architecht Victor Horta (circa 1898). It's the two buildings on the right with the matching grillwork around the windows, to the right of the striped building. They only let in a few people at a time, even pre-COVID. Luckily the line wasn't long. 


They don't allow photography inside but you can see images of the interior here


I really like Belgium and would happily visit again. For next year's challenge I'm hoping to read something by an actual Belgian writer, possibly Georges Simenon who wrote the Maigret mysteries. I would love recommendations if anyone is a fan. 

I'm counting this as my Belgian read for the European Reading Challenge.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

European Reading Challenge 2021


One of my favorite challenges is back -- the European Reading Challenge! Hosted by Rose City Reader, the challenge is to read books set in different European countries, or by European authors. I'm signing up for the Five Star or Deluxe Entourage, which is five different books. I'm on track to finish at least ten for the 2020 challenge (maybe even twelve!) so five should be no problem. I love this challenge because I'm always looking for new books in translation and this always inspire me to find new authors. 

Here are some of my possible reads and authors for the challenge, listed by country:

  1. Austria: The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy; Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig; or his complete short stories
  2. Belgium: Amelie Nothomb or Georges Simenon
  3. Bosnia: The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric
  4. France: Renoir, My FatherThe Bright Side of Life by Emile Zola; The Complete Claudine
  5. Germany: Fraulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther by Elizabeth von Arnim
  6. Greece: Three Summers by Margarita Liberaki
  7. Hungary: They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy; The Door by Magda Szabo
  8. Iceland: Haldor Laxness
  9. Ireland: The Real Charlotte by Edith Somerville. Some of Trollope's early novels are also set in Ireland, so they would work.
  10. Italy: The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa or A Favourite of the Goods/A Compass Error by Sybille Bedford 
  11. Netherlands: Amsterdam Stories by Nescio 
  12. Norway: a play by Ibsen
  13. Poland: The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schultz
  14. Romania: The Land of Green Plums by Herta Muller
  15. Russia: Dostoevsky, Gogol, Teffi, or Vassily Grossman
  16. UK: Angela Thirkell, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope
  17. Ukraine: The Mirador by Elisabeth Gille
  18. [Yugoslavia]: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West (I realize Yugoslavia is now seven different countries; at the time it was published in 1941, it was still united. I'll have to read it first before I choose one country for the challenge).

Sadly, not too many from my own TBR shelves, but quite a few from my NYRB Classics to-read list. Some of them could also cross over into other challenges -- besides this one and the Back to the Classics Challenge, I'm also signing up for a World War II Reading Challenge and another Chunkster Challenge. I'm also looking for more books from Scandinavia and the Baltics if anyone has suggestions. 

Are you signing up for the European Reading Challenge? What are you reading? 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Final Week for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020

 

There are just seven days left of 2020 -- but still time to submit your entries to the Back to the Classics Challenge! All you need are six blog posts, plus a short final wrap-up with links to qualify for the drawing. As of today, only 19 people have posted wrap-ups for the drawing including myself (and I'm not entered into the drawing) so odds are pretty good! The deadline is 11:59 p.m., Pacific Standard Time, on December 31, 2020. If you've finished six or more books, write a quick wrap-up with links to your reviews and add it to the Linky here. (You can also link back to your original list -- as long as I can find your reviews, that's fine).

If you haven't signed up for this years' drawing, why not try again next year with the Back to the Classics Challenge 2021? The sign-up is here and open until March 31, 2021. 

Best of luck and I'm wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season with lots of reading! 

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Dancing Bear by Frances Faviell; and a trip to Berlin

 

I love the Furrowed Middlebrow reprints and though I prefer print books when I can get them, I've been tempted more and more often by the instant access to e-books. The entire Furrowed Middlebrow catalog are available on Kindle and some of them are included with Kindle Unlimited. There's a promotion right now, 99 cents a month for two months, so I couldn't pass it up and downloaded two books by Frances Faviell, The Dancing Bear and Chelsea Concerto. Not realizing that these were nonfiction, and sequential,  I started with The Dancing Bear, Faviell's memoir of her life in Berlin just after the end of World War II. (A Chelsea Concerto is her memoir of living in London during the Blitz, and I actually should have started there).

The book begins shortly after Faviell, an artist, and her little son John join her husband in the British sector. The book begins with a chance meeting with a German woman, Frau Maria Altmann, who is struggling with a cart of goods at a busy intersection. Faviell is in her car but stops to help, and seeing the Union Jack, the local police stop traffic and passersby assist the woman, who is waiting for her son Fritz. Frau Altmann refuses the offer of a ride, since it is forbidden, but Faviell insists after Frau Altmann faints on the street. 

This marks the beginning of a close friendship between the author and a struggling German family during the difficult first years of the British occupation and the reconstruction of Berlin in a divided Germany. Frau and Herr Altmann are trying their best to hang on to their pre-war life, though they have hardly any food or fuel in a terrible winter. Their oldest son Kurt was sent to fight in Russia and hasn't been heard from in years, though they refuse to admit his death; oldest daughter Ursula is supporting the family working as a black-marketer; frail Lilli is a dancer with the ballet; and the youngest, Fritz, is rebellious and sulky. 

Faviell does what she can to help the family (along with her faithful and tender-hearted driver, nicknamed Stampie), but there are so many needy people and sick children, she is sometimes overwhelmed. But it's clear she made a huge difference in the lives of the Altmanns and others. 

. . . these women clung, in spite of all the horrors they had undergone, to the conventional -- or was it that they thought their only safety lay in the resumption of the conventional pattern of life? 

I liked this book but parts of it were hard to read, especially with the cold snap we had last week -- I couldn't help imagining a frigid winter with no heat and little to eat, poor shoes -- it must have been a terrible time. I suppose it wasn't the best timing to read it now, but sometimes I find that books about the war make me grateful for what I have.  

I was lucky enough to visit Berlin for a long weekend in 2018. It was actually my second trip there -- back in the 1980s, I spent a few weeks in Europe with my sister and we stayed with a German friend of hers in West Berlin when it was still divided. We were even able to cross the border into East Berlin for a day, which was rather eerie and a little scary. It's incredible how much it has changed since then. We had a wonderful time on the last trip and I wish I could have seen more. We managed to pack a lot into three days. 


The famous Checkpoint Charlie.
I actually crossed into East Berlin at this very spot back in 1985. 

Leftover reminder of the DDR


The iconic Berlin TV Tower from 1969. 
Sadly we didn't have enough time to go up and admire the view.


Berlin Cathedral


View from below of the spiral staircase at the Berggruen Museum.
I think we visited four museums in one day, five altogether that weekend.


The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe


The Brandenburg Gate


A preserved section of the Berlin Wall, complete with graffiti, (obviously the Western side). 


I love finding decorative manhole covers. This one is like a tourist's guide.


I loved Berlin and wish I'd had more time there, it has so much history and culture. 

Parts of Faviell's book were a tough read, but I found it fascinating and hope to read more of her books soon. Next up for me will be A Chelsea Concerto, about her life in London during the war, then some of her fiction set in Germany. I'm signing up for a World War II reading challenge for next year so I'll definitely be reading some of them.

I'm counting this as my German book for the European Reading Challenge

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Back to the Classics 2020: Final Wrap-Up


I've finished! After abandoning my own challenge last year, I persisted and successfully completed all twelve categories in 2020. Some were from my original list, some were not. Here's what I read, with links to my reviews:

Only 7/12 from my own shelves this year, the rest were library or free e-books.


1. 19th Century Classic: Man and Wife by Wilkie Collins. Completed 2/16/20.

2. 20th Century Classic: Pied Piper by Nevil Shute. Completed 1/10/20.

3. Classic by a Woman: So Big by Edna Ferber. Completed 1/12/20.

4. Classic in Translation: Temptation by Janos Szekely. Completed 6/5/20.

5. Classic by a POC Author: The Street by Ann Petry. Completed 12/5/20.

6. Genre Classic: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. Completed 1/27/20.

7. Name in the Title: The Sin of Abbe Mouret by Emile Zola. Completed 4/14/20.

8. Place in the Title: Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater. Completed 4/28/20.

9. Nature in the Title: In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim. Completed 4/16/20.

10. Classic About a Family: Father by Elizabeth von Arnim. Completed 2/27/20.

11. Abandoned Classic: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Completed 4/5/20.

12. Adapted Classic: Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson. Completed 5/14/20.

Seven of them were from my own shelves (pictured above), which is pretty good, though I'm aiming higher next year -- for next year's Back to the Classics Challenge, I'm going to try and read at least ten out of the twelve categories from my own unread books. 

I chose really well this year -- I really enjoyed nearly all of my challenge selections, not a dud in the bunch. Of the twelve, I think my absolute favorites were Temptation, Pied Piper, and Father. I also thought The Street was brilliant. My least favorites were probably The Sin of Abbe Mouret, just because of the misogyny, and Les Miserables, because let's be honest, it really could have used some editing. 

So there's more than two weeks left to complete the challenge -- you only need six books! And if you don't have time this year, why not sign up for next year's challenge? 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Street by Ann Petry



Streets like the one she lived on were no accident. They were the North's lynch mobs, she thought bitterly; the method used to keep Negroes in their place. And she began thinking of Pop unable to get a job; of Jim slowly disintegrating because he, too, couldn't get a job, and of the subsequent wreck of their marriage; of Bub left to his own devices after school. From the time she was born, she had been hemmed into an ever-narrowing space, until now she was very nearly walled in and the wall had been built up brick by brick by eager white hands.

I have often referred to books as Fascinating Trainwrecks -- about people who make one bad decision after another, rushing headlong towards disaster. They are often horrible people, yet so well written that I cannot stop reading (think Anna Karenina, and most of Zola). 

And then we have characters like Lutie Johnson in The Street by Ann Petry. Lutie, a young Black woman in the 1940s, works hard, scrapes, and saves, and does everything she's been taught to do to get ahead in life -- and she just can't catch a break. 

Set in Harlem during WWII, The Street is the story of Lutie Johnson, a young single mother living just trying to make a living for herself and her eight-year-old son, Bub. Bub's father left Lutie after months of her living in Connecticut, working as a cleaner for a rich white family. She only saw Bub and her husband once a month, if that, and sent them all her wages. The separation, and her husband's inability to find a job, was the death toll for their marriage, and Lutie needs to find a new place to live since she can't keep living with her father and his girlfriend, who are a bad influence on young Bub. 

This cover is sooo 1970s.  

The story begins with Lutie examing a dark fifth-floor walkup apartment that she can afford -- with a creepy landlord named Jones. Right away I knew he was trouble, he made me SO uncomfortable. I'd actually started reading this in the summer but Jones gave me such a bad feeling I stopped for several months. I'm glad I got the courage to keep reading about Lutie, because her story is so compelling. 

We learn the back story of her marriage and separation, and how she manages to land a civil service job. But Lutie is desperate to move to a better apartment, in a better neighborhood, away from Jones and some of the other sketchy residents of the building, like the Mrs. Hedges, the Madam on the first floor who watches everyone coming and going, and keeps offering to introduce Lutie to men who would appreciate her friendship, so to speak.

Things finally seem to be looking up for Lutie when she starts singing to herself one night in a crowded bar, where she's gone for a much-needed break and a beer. A good-looking but slightly sketchy-looking man named Boots asks her to audition to sing with his band. Lutie thinks this could be her break, but naturally, things don't work out as she hopes -- the conclusion takes a pretty shocking twist. 

The Street is Lutie's story, but it also interweaves the back stories of Boots, Mrs. Hedges, Jones, and some of the other characters. It's a tragic tale that really couldn't have turned out any other way, and it's not very optimistic for anyone who isn't white. It was published almost eighty years ago, but it feels very contemporary in the writing style, and it's a fast, absorbing read. 

 A 1954 edition

This book had been on my periphery for a few years, but I'd never really heard that much about it or about Ann Petry. It became a bestseller, and The Street was the first book by a Black woman to sell more than a million copies. Nevertheless, there are less than 8,000 ratings for it on Goodreads -- compared to more than 250,000 for Their Eyes Were Watching God and 150,000 for Invisible Man. I don't know why this doesn't get the attention it deserves. Parts of the story must have been shocking when it was published in 1946, but Bigger Thomas in Native Son is worse, an actual trainwreck. Lutie does everything she can to pull herself out of a bad situation, and it still all goes wrong. It was so frustrating to read how she could not catch a break and had so little say in her own situation, by society and by individual people working against her.  

The trouble was with her. She had built up a fantastic structure made from the soft, nebulous cloudy stuff of dreams. There hadn't been a solid, practical brick in it, not even a foundation. She had built it up of air and vapor and moved right in. So of course it had collapsed. It had never existed anywhere but in her own mind. 

The Street is a masterful tale of the unfairness of life for women of color in the mid-century. And for many women just like Lutie, things haven't gotten much better. 

I'm counting this as my BIPOC classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Back to the Classics 2021: My List

My list of possible reads for this year's challenge. Once again, mostly taken from my own TBR shelves -- how many of them will I actually read this year? 

13 possible reads from my shelves -- some of them overlap, hopefully I'll read them all. (Ha!)


1. 19th Century Classic: The Doctor's Wife by Mary Elizabeth Braddon -- I do love Victorian sensation novels! 

2. 20th Century Classic: A Wreath for the Enemy by Pamela Frankau. Bought at The Strand Bookstore last year. 

3. Classic by a Woman Author: The Portable Dorothy Parker. Received as part of my prize from a Penguin book giveaway back in 2011. Also my Classics Club Spin pick so I have to read it by January 30. 

4. Classic in Translation: Renoir, My Father by Jean Renoir. I bought it at the Frick Museum gift shop in 2013. Or maybe I'll put in the effort to finally read Crime and Punishment!

5. Classic by a BIPOC Author: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Or something by Zora Neale Hurston.

6. Classic by a New-to-Me Author:  I've hardly read any Victorians this year so I'd like to read one for this category. I still have The Clever Woman of the Family by Charlotte Mary Yonge and Marcella by Mrs. Humphrey Ward -- are they obscure because they're terrible or are they forgotten gems?  I could also try again to read The Real Charlotte which I plan to read for the European Reading Challenge

7. New Classic by a Favorite Author: The Bright Side of Life by Emile Zola. I'll probably read Zola in April for Fanda's Zoladdiction challenge, or for Paris in July -- maybe both! I still have about five unread novels in the Rougon-Macquart series and the final novel Doctor Pascal has finally been reprinted in a new translation.

8. Animal Classic: Either Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge or A Pelican at Blandings by P. G. Wodehouse. I bought a bunch of P. G. Wodehouse years ago when Borders went out of business, and I still have two left unread. 

9. Children's Classic: Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery. I bought a lovely early edition last summer during my trip to Second Story Books.

10. Classic Humor or Satire: Something by P. G. Wodehouse. His books always make me laugh, and lately I've been reading my way through the Blandings Castle series. I could read Galahad at Blandings for this category and Penguin at Blandings for the Animal classic.

11. Travel or Adventure Classic: The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim. I think this is the fifth time I've put it on a reading challenge list! 

12. Classic Play: She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith. It was on the schedule for one of the DC theaters in 2020 but has been postponed until whenever -- hopefully it'll be rescheduled when the theaters finally reopen! Or I might try to read some Shakespeare, I haven't read any since college. 

So -- ten from my own shelves, which is a good ratio, and more than half are by women. I'm really looking forward to a new list in the New Year! 

What do you think, bloggers? Have you read any of the books or authors from this list? Which should I read first -- or avoid altogether? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Back to the Classics Challenge 2021

It's back! For the eighth year, I'm hosting the Back to the Classics Challenge, a year-long challenge in which participants are encouraged to finally read the classics they've always meant to read -- or just recently discovered. At the end of the year, one lucky winner will receive a prize $30 (US) in books from the bookstore of their choice. The rules and prize are the same as last year, only the categories have changed. This year, I've tried to come up with some fun categories -- I think we could all use as many fun and relaxing reads as possible!

If you're new to the challenge, here's how it works:
  • Complete six categories, and you'll get one entry in the drawing; 
  • Complete nine categories, and you'll get two entries in the drawing; 
  • Complete all twelve categories, and you'll get three entries in the drawing

Without further ado, here are the categories for 2021: 

1. A 19th century classic: any book first published from 1800 to 1899

2. A 20th century classic: any book first published from 1900 to 1971. All books must have been published at least 50 years ago; the only exceptions are books which were written by 1971 and posthumously published.

3. A classic by a woman author.

4. A classic in translation, meaning any book first published in a language that is not your primary language. You may read it in translation or in its original language, if you prefer. 

5. A classic by BIPOC author; that is, a non-white author.

6. A classic by a new-to-you author, i.e., an author whose work you have never read.

7. New-to-you classic by a favorite author -- a new book by an author whose works you have already read. 

8. A classic about an animal, or with an animal in the title. The animal can be real or metaphorical. (i.e., To Kill a Mockingbird).

9. A children's classic. 

10. A humorous or satirical classic.

11. A travel or adventure classic (fiction or non-fiction). It can be a travelogue or a classic in which the main character travels or has an adventure. 

12. A classic play. Plays will only count in this category.

So -- I hope everyone likes the categories, I tried to make them fun and as light as possible for next year. And of course, you do NOT have to read 12 books to qualify for the drawing! The rest of the rules also remain the same.

THE RULES: 
  • All books must have been written at least 50 years ago to qualify; therefore, books must have been published no later than 1971 for this challenge. The only exceptions to this rule are books which published posthumously but written before 1971. Recent translations of classic novels are acceptable. 
  • All books must be read during read from January 1 through December 31, 2021. Books started before January 1 do not qualify. All reviews must be linked to this challenge by 11:59 p.m. on January 1, 2022. I will post links the first week of January for each category, which will be featured on a sidebar of this blog for convenience through the entire year. (The link for the final wrap-up will be posted towards the end of the year, to avoid confusion). 
  • The deadline to sign up for the challenge is March 31, 2021. After that, I'll close the link and you'll have to wait until next year's challenge. Please include a link to your actual sign-up post, not your blog URL/home page. Make sure you sign up in the   below, not the comments section. If I do not see your name in the sign-ups, you are not eligible. If you've made a mistake with your link, just add a new one and let me know in the comments. It's no trouble for me to delete an incorrect link. 
  • Books may NOT cross over within this challenge -- that is, you may not count the same book multiple times within this challenge. You MUST read a different book for each category in this challenge, or it doesn't count. 
  • Participants must post a wrap-up and link it to the challenge, and it must include links to all the books they've read for this challenge, specifying which books for each challengeIf I cannot confirm which books you've read for each challenge, I will not enter your name into the drawing. It is fine to rearrange books for the challenge, since many books can fit multiple categories -- just let me know in the final wrap-up! 
  • The wrap-up post MUST include contact information so that I can contact the winner privately before announcing the winner on this blog. If your blog doesn't have a link, or if you have a Goodreads account, let me know in the comments of wrap-up post. If I cannot contact you, I cannot award you the prize!
  • The winner will be announced on this blog the first week of January, 2021. All qualifying participants will receive one or more entries, depending upon the number of categories they complete as stated above. One winner will be randomly selected from all qualifying entries. I will contact the winner privately and award the prize before posting on the blog. 
  • The winner will receive a gift certificate in the amount of $30 (US) from Amazon.com (US) OR $30 in books from The Book Depository. Winners must live in a country that receives shipment from one of these online retailers. To check if your country receives deliveries from The Book Depository, click here

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: 


Can I read e-books and audiobooks for the challenge! 
Absolutely! E-books and audiobooks are real books and are therefore acceptable.

Can I count this book toward another challenge? 
Yes, definitely! As long as it's for another blogger's challenge, that's fine. You just can't count one book for two categories in this challenge. 

Can I read more than one book by the same author! 
Of course -- as many as you like by the same author, but again, only one category per book. 

Can I read more than one book for each category? 
Well, yes and no. Many books can fit more than one category, so for example if you wanted to read only books by women authors, or books in translation, that would work, as long as they fit the criteria for that category, i.e., 20th century or humor/satire. But if you want three entries in the final drawing, you have to have one book for each category, not just repeat categories. Of course, you are NOT required to completed all 12 to qualify -- you just get less entries. 

Are children's books okay? 
Children's classics are acceptable, but no more than three total for the challenge! And please, no picture books.

What about short stories and poetry? 
Single short stories and short poetry collections do not count, but you may use full-length narrative poems (like The Odyssey) and short story collections such as The Canterbury Tales, as long as you read the entire book.

Can I change the books from my original list on my sign-up post? What if a book counts for two different categories -- can I change it later? Yes! And you do NOT have to list all the books you intend to read in your sign-up post, but it's really fun if you do! You may certainly rearrange or change the books for this challenge, as long as you indicate it on your final wrap-up post. 

Do I need to read the books in order? 
Not at all! Books may be read in any order. 

What if I don't have a blog? 
If you do NOT have a blog and wish to enter, you need to link to individual reviews on a publicly accessible site like Goodreads. You can specify which categories in the comments section of the link to the Final Wrap-Up Post, or within each review. Do not simply link to your Goodreads account.

Is there a hashtag for social media?
Yes! If you'd like to talk about the Back to the Classics Challenge on Twitter, Instagram, or other Social Media, the hashtag is #BacktotheClassics2021

So what are you waiting for? Sign up in the Linky below! I'll be posting my tentative list of reads for the 2021 challenge in the next few days. I can't wait to see what everyone else will be reading!