Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Peacock Spring by Rumer Godden (with bonus giveaway)

Cover of the 1975 edition, of which I now have 2 copies

As I read a lot of middlebrow fiction, Rumer Godden is a writer that's been on my reading radar forever. Last year I was browsing on the cart outside Alabaster Books in New York, a tiny used and rare bookstore that is often overshadowed by the much more famous Strand Bookstore on the opposite side of the block. I found a 1976 copy of Peacock Spring and paid the bargain price of $1. 

Then last weekend I was killing time in another used bookstore in Pittsburgh (touristy post to follow soon) while waiting for a rideshare. Lo and behold, I found another copy of Peacock Spring and started reading it as I waited. I felt guilty about spending so much time there so I felt compelled to buy the second copy (only $7) and read it that night and on the plane home the following day. That didn't work out exactly as planned but I did finish the book this week and HOO BOY.

Cover of the 2004 paperback edition.
A new copy can be yours via Amazon $632. Or $695. I did not omit the decimal point.  
(Or a good used copy for 16 cents.)

Set mainly in post-Independence India, this is the story of Una Gwithiam, the teenaged daughter of Sir Edward Gwithiam, a diplomat newly appointed to a post in Delhi. Una and her younger half-sister are at boarding school in the UK when the headmistress tells her that she and her sister Halcyon (nicknamed Hal) are to leave their school and join their father in India, for reasons unexplained. Hal is thrilled but Una, more studious, is not, especially after she meets her new governess, Alix Lamont, a half-caste Eurasian who seems under-qualified. Una had had hopes of entering Oxford or Cambridge but now it seems those are dashed. Miss Lamont seems more interested in taking them sightseeing and socializing, and Una is forced to attempt higher mathematics on her own. This leads to a meeting with Ravi, an attractive young gardener who promises to secretly help her study. Meanwhile, Una and Hal aren't getting along with their governess Miss Lamont who seems to have secrets of her own. 

Rumer Godden was born in the UK but grew up in what is now Bangladesh (then colonial India), and moved back and forth before and after both world wars, so she knew India really well. The descriptions of India and of colonial life are really interesting, the highlights of the book for me. The book began rather slowly and it took awhile for me to get into, but by the second half I sped through it to find out what would happen -- which was sort of predictable, if somewhat problematic. And I don't mean problematic because of racism or classicism, which are definitely addressed pretty well, but problematic because of the age difference between Una and Ravi. Una is only 15 when the book takes place and though they never specifically Ravi's age, he's at least seven or eight years older than her which is pretty icky. There are definitely some consent issues in this book which made me absolutely cringe and want to throw the book across the room. 

Cover of the 2013 edition. These do not cost $632.

I did, however, complete the book and I was not surprised at how it ended up. Overall it's interesting and I loved the descriptions of India, a country I've always wanted to visit, but it's definitely problematic. It was first published in 1975 but I'm not sure of the exact year in which it's set. There was a PBS Masterpiece adaptation in 1995 which set the story in 1959, but I don't remember it being specifically mentioned in the book, not that it really matters. 

And I discovered the adaptation is streaming on Amazon Prime! I couldn't find any stills but here's an image from the website. Might have to check it out soon. 

That's a very young Hattie Morahan as Una, in her first TV role. 
I know her best as Elinor Dashwood in the 2008 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility

And now that I have two copies of the 1975 hardcover, I have an extra to share. (The $1 copy, not a $632). If anyone is interested in a free copy of this book, drop a comment below. If I have more than one person interested in the next week, I'll draw a name at random. Make sure you leave contact info so I can get a good mailing address! 

This is my second novel completed for the TBR Pile Challenge.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

European Reading Challenge 2022


Time for another European Reading Challenge signup! As always, my goal is as many books as possible from my own shelves. The list is always tricky for me since the vast majority of the books on my TBR shelves are British, and I never seem to make any progress on my own bookshelves. Some of these overlap with books from other challenges. 

Anyway, I'm signing up for the Five-Star (Deluxe Entourage) level. I have at least a dozen books from my own shelves I want to complete this year for the challenge: 


  • Austria: Night Falls on the City by Sarah Gainham
  • France: Renoir, My Father by Jean Renoir
  • Germany: Kasebier Takes Berlin by Gabriela Tergit
  • Ireland: Castle Richmond by Anthony Trollope
  • Italy: The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
  • Malta: The Sun in Scorpio by Margery Sharp
  • Monaco: The Gods Arrive by Edith Wharton
  • Netherlands: Amsterdam Stories by Nescio
  • Romania: They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy
  • Russia: Subtly Worded by Teffi
  • Sweden: Osebol by Marit Kapla
  • UK: The Half-Crown House by Helen Ashton

Is anyone else signing up for the European Reading Challenge? What are you reading? 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute

I am very behind with my reading already this year -- normally by this time I've read at least four or five books, if not more. I really needed a fast read to get me inspired, so I turned to one of my most reliable authors, Nevil Shute. I think this is the eighth book by Shute that I've read, and I've mostly enjoyed all of them. They might not be considered great literature, but he is a great storyteller, and normally I can hardly put his books down.

Published in 1947, The Chequer Board is the interweaving story of four WWII soldiers who are linked together after surviving a plane crash. They're all assigned to the same hospital ward and the most seriously injured, John Turner, suffers a very serious head wound, and his eyes are bandaged. While convalescing, the other three, previously unknown to Turner or each other, all read or talk to him, to help him recover. Several years after the war, Turner begins to have side effects from the head wound, and upon consultation, learns that shell fragments have been left behind in his brain, which are inoperable, and he has about a year left to live. 

Two of the three in the ward were also crash survivors, and the third was a Black American GI. One of the crash survivors was one of the pilots, who was very racist and snobbish to the Black American. The other three -- Turner, the American, Dave Lesaurier, and a third crash survivor -- are under guard together because they're awaiting court-martial, accused of various crimes. Turner has always wondered about the other three men in the ward with him, and decides to use the time left to try and track them down and see what happened to them. 

So, the story goes back in forth in time between the wartime experiences of the three men, and Turner's search for the them, which takes him all around England as far as Penzance, and all the way to Burma. (Another book about Cornwall! The universe is obviously telling me to go there).

This pulp paperback cover is . .  . something

There's a lot about race relations and prejudices in this book, both with the racist pilot, Morgan -- who ends up living in Burma, to the chagrin of his mother (the reader can see where he got his prejudices) and also with the Black GI, Dave Lesurier. It was very interesting to me to see how Shute was trying to explore racism and race relations in the UK at the time, and I honestly can't imagine an American writer of that era attempting the same. Those two stories were my favorites in the book, though there are quite a few racial slurs repeated, including the N word, which is so infuriating. The story is trying really hard to make the point that white people need to get over it and look past color, but Shute kept throwing the word in, which was pretty frustrating. There's also some sexism which made me roll my eyes.

Overall though, the message about getting along is pretty strong, and there are some great characters and development. In particular I liked learning how the residents of a small town in Cornwall supported a group of Black GIs. I know racism is still a big issue in the UK but it was nice to see someone in the 1940s pointing out how the Black GIs were treated better in England than they were at home. 

I also really enjoyed reading about Burma, which I briefly visited years ago on a trip to Thailand. That section of the book was very reminiscent of A Town Called Alice, one of Shute's best-known books, though that one is set in Malaysia. There are at least seven or eight more books by Shute I still haven't read, and I look forward to reading them all.

This is my first book for the TBR Pile Challenge.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Death of an Airman by Christopher St. John Sprigg

 

My first book of the year! I'm so behind, can't believe it's taken me two whole weeks to finish a book. (At this rate, I'll never finish my annual reading goal of 100 books). I thought it would be fun to start the year with a mystery. I bought a stack of British Library Crime Classics on a trip to London a few years ago, and this one was a the the checkout -- I think if you bought three, you got one free, so I threw it on the pile. I cannot resist the covers, I love their vintage travel poster style. (I'm sure there's a name for it but I have no idea. If anyone is aware, please let me know).

Originally published in 1934, the story is pretty self-explanatory -- at a British airfield, a small private plane crashes, instantly killing the pilot. Or does it? One of the witnesses, an aviation student who also happens to be an Australian Bishop, realizes after the burial that there had been something odd: while waiting for the local doctor who was delayed, the body hadn't achieved rigor mortis, suggesting that the pilot hadn't actually died at impact, but much later. Further investigation reveals a gunshot wound -- clearly, a case of foul play. The investigation is taken over by a local policeman then heads up the chain to Scotland Yard as he starts digging deeper and reveals an international conspiracy. 

It sounded like an intriguing read, though I know nothing about aviation, nor do I have any desire to ever go up in a tiny plane. Sometimes readers don't need to have specific knowledge about a themed mystery -- until I started reading Dick Francis mysteries, I knew nothing about horse racing, but I never had any trouble following the stories. In this case, there was a lot of technical jargon which mostly went over my head. Plus, I feel like the story kind of meandered all over the place. I realize that it's in the nature of mysteries --  investigations always have leads that don't pan out and detectives have to keep exploring -- but it felt like it wasn't as tightly focused as some of my favorite classic mystery writers like Agatha Christie. I read all her books years ago and maybe she's just spoiled me for any other writer? Plus, this book was pretty sexist: 

"An intelligent girl," said Creighton. "I don't know why one is surprised when a good-looking woman has brains." Mmmkay. I get that it was written about 90 years ago but yikes. 

It was a slow read for me because I just wasn't that interested in any of the characters. It's less than 300 pages and it still took me about 10 days to read this book. It did pick up in the last fifty pages but not one of my favorite classic mysteries. I'm finding the British Library Crime Classics a bit disappointing. Maybe there's a reason most of these were out of print? I've think I've read four or five so far and none of them have been very exciting. I have a couple left unread on my TBR shelves and I hope they're better, otherwise I'm going to give up on this series.

I'm counting this as my Mystery/Dective/Crime Classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge. One down, eleven to go!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Challenge Link-Up Post: Wild Card Classic


Please link your reviews for the Wild Card Classic here. This is only for the Wild Card category. This book is your free choice -- any classic, any genre, any length, as long as it's at least 50 years old! 

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section. If you like, you can include the name of your blog and or/the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Portrait of a Lady)."

Challenge Link-Up: Classic Set in a Place You'd Like to Visit


Please link your reviews for your Classic Set in a Place You'd Like to Visit 
here.  This is only for the Classic Set in a Place You'd Like to Visit category. It can be real or fictional, and it can be a place you've been before and would like to revisit. If you like, include the place (if it isn't obvious) and why you'd like to visit in your review -- I'm sure readers would like to know!


If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Jane Eyre - Yorkshire). "

Challenge Link-Up Post: Classic That's Been on Your TBR List the Longest


Please link your reviews for your Classic That's Been On Your TBR List the Longest
here. This is only for the Classic That's Been On Your TBR List category. It can be from the list of your own TBR shelves, or from any other list or pile of classics you want to read. And like all the books in this challenge, if you hate it, don't feel compelled to finish it -- cross it off your list and pick the next one! 

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Crime and Punishment). "

Challenge Link-Up Post: Nonfiction Classic


Please link your reviews for your
 Nonfiction Classic here.  This is only for the Nonfiction Classic category.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that's considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author. 

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (West With the Night)." 

Challenge Link-Up Post: Pre-1800 Classic


Please link your reviews for your Pre-1800 Classic here. This is only for the Classic Pre-1800 Classic category.  All books in this category must have been published before the year 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable for this category. If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section. If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Moll Flanders)." 

Challenge Link-Up Post: Classic Short Stories


Please link your reviews for your Classic Short Stories here.  This is only for the Classic Short Stories category.  It should be ONE complete volume, at least eight stories. The stories can be written by a single author, or it can be an anthology of stories by different authors, but it should be one complete volume, cover to cover. Children's stories are acceptable in this category.

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (The Canterbury Tales). " 

Challenge Link-Up Post: Mystery/Detective/Crime Classic


Please link your reviews for your Mystery/Detective/ Crime Classic (fiction or non-fiction) here.  This is only for the Classic Crime category.  This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. 

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (The Moonstone)." 

Challenge Link-Up Post: Classic by a BIPOC Author


Please link your reviews for your
 Classic By a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color) Author here.  This is only for the Classic By a BIPOC Author category.  These should all be classic books that were written by an author who is not white; i.e., Black, Native American, Asian, Latin American, etc. The classic can be written in your native language or in translation.  

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Their Eyes Were Watching God)."

Challenge Link-Up Post: Classic in Translation


Please link your reviews for your Classic in Translation here.  This is only for the Classic in Translation category.  These should all be classics that were originally written in a language other than your primary language; that is, if you are a native English speaker, it should be a classic written in another language other than English.  If you are not a native English speaker, it could be in English (or any other language, other than your primary language). If you want to read the book in its original language, that's fine too!

If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Les Miserables)."

Challenge Link-Up Post: Classic by a Woman Author

Please link your reviews for your Classic by a Woman Author here.  This is only for the Classic by a Woman Author category.  If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section. If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Pride and Prejudice)."

Challenge Link-Up Post: 20th Century Classic


Please link your reviews for your 20th Century Classic here. This is only for the 20th Century Classic category. All books in this category must have been published between 1900 and 1972 (except posthumous publications) in order to qualify. If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet to post your review, please leave a mini-review/thoughts in the comments below. If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of your book in the link below, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (A Room With a View)."

Challenge Link-Up Post: 19th Century Classic


Please link your reviews for your 19th Century Classic here.  This is only for the 19th Century Classic category.  All books in this category must have been published from 1800 to 1899.   If you do not have a blog, or somewhere public on the internet where you post book reviews, please write your mini-review/thoughts in the comments section.  If you like, you can include the name of your blog and/or the title of the book in your link, like this: "Karen K. @ Books and Chocolate (Great Expectations)."

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

TBR Pile Challenge 2022


This might be the challenge that actually gets me blogging regularly again! I'm always trying to read books off my one shelves (only 33 in 2021 -- not great!) so learning that Adam is reviving his TBR Pile Challenge definitely piqued my interest. Basically the idea is to pick 12 books off your shelves that you've owned for at least a year, and read them (you are allowed two alternates). You then post about them on your blog, and at the end of the year, anyone who finishes is eligible for a drawing. The prize is a $50 gift card for . . . more books! I have attempted this challenge several years and actually won the prize a few years ago! 

Here is my tentative pile for the challenge, a mix of books I've owned forever (more than ten years for some of them!) and some I acquired more recently, though none less than a year ago:


This is the pile in list format, alphabetically by author. Alternates are listed at the end.

Completed: 7/12

1. The New York Trilogy (1987) by Paul Auster. One of the last books unread from my Big Box of Penguins. Completed 3/3/22.

2. The Loved and Envied (1941) by Enid Bagnold. One of many unread Virago Modern Classics.

3. They Were Counted (1934) by Miklos Banffy. A big fat book in translation,  just the sort of book I love. 

4. Three Daughters of Madame Liang (1969) by Pearl S. Buck. A find from the basement bookstore at the Central Library in San Antonio. 

5. Last Year When I Was Young (1974) by Monica Dickens. Rescued from the annual library sale, back when I worked at the San Antonio Public Library, probably around 2012. Completed 3/12/22.

6. My American (1939) by Stella Gibbons. One of the Vintage Classics reprints bought when I visited London in 2017.

7. The Peacock Spring (1975) by Rumer Godden. Bought off the $2 cart outside Alabaster Books in New York. Completed 1/29/22.

8. The World My Wilderness (1950) by Rose Macauley. Found on the donation cart at the Ramstein AFB library. I recognized the green Virago spine and snapped it up. Completed 5/24/22.

9.  Titanic: First Accounts (2012) by Tim Maltin. Bought for its beautiful cover after I started buying Penguin Deluxe Classics. 

10. Bethel Merriday (1940) by Sinclair Lewis. Found with a pile of vintage books in an antique mall in Ellicott City, Maryland, the cutest little town in America.

11. The Chequer Board (1947) by Nevil Shute. Also bought at John King Books in 2018, after I discovered Nevil Shute. Completed 1/18/22.

12. The Mountain Lion (1947) by Jean Stafford. Another library sale find, an NYRB Classic. Completed 3/20/22.

Alternates:

A Wreath for the Enemy (1952) by Pamela Frankau

A Pin To See the Peepshow (1934) by F. Tennyson Jesse. Completed 6/13/22.

So, bloggers, have your read any of these? Which are must-reads, and which should I donate back to the library? And who else is signing up for the TBR Pile Challenge?

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Back to the Classics 2022: My List

Time to make up my own list for this challenge! As ever, I'm trying to read books from my own shelves. Here's my tentative pile: 

1. 19th Century Classic: Castle Richmond by Anthony Trollope. I'm in an online Trollope group and this is the next group read. 

2. 20th Century Classic: The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Newly reprinted by Persephone Books! I received a copy for Christmas and I've just started it.

3. Woman Author: Mr. Skeffington by Elizabeth von Arnim. I have owned this book for ten years, bought at a vintage bookstore in Fredericksburg, Texas. So it's moved with me three times.

4. Translation: Kasebier Takes Berlin by Gabriele Tergit. A newish acquisition, bought at The Strand Bookstore in NYC.

5. BIPOC: Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. I think this has been on my BTCC list every year for the past five years!

6. Mystery/Detective/Crime Classic: Death of an Airman by Christopher St. John Sprigg. A British Library Crime Classic, I think I bought it at Foyle's on my first trip to London just for the cover. 

7. Classic Short Story Collection: The Matador of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett. Pretty sure I bought this at Half-Price Books back in Texas. It's a wee little paperback edition, and it's short, so it shouldn't take too long. 

8. Pre-1800 Classic: Henry VI. I joined an online Shakespeare reading group, and this winter they're reading all three parts. Or maybe Richard III which they're reading in the spring.

9. Nonfiction: The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. I loved his short stories so much I want to read everything he's ever written, so I was happy to find this memoir in translation.

10. Longest on your TBR: Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens. I've read all his novels so far, and this is a collection of his earliest writings. 

11. Set in a Place You'd Like to Visit: The Feast by Margaret Kennedy (Cornwall). There's a beautiful reprint that was recently published -- another one of my Christmas gifts!

12. Wild Card: Jenny Wren by E. H. Young. A Virago Modern Classic that I've been meaning to read forever. Also found at the Half-Price Books, probably the Austin location.

Basically, mix of old and new acquisitions, about half written by women, and a couple in translation. And all from my own shelves except the Shakespeare! Readers, what do you think? Which should I read first -- and are there any I should dump immediately? I'm a little worried about the Dickens and the Shakespeare, I haven't read any the histories yet. And have you made up your own lists yet? I'm ready to start this challenge!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Back to the Classics 2022: Challenge Sign-Up


It's back! For the ninth 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. 

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 2022: 

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 1972. All books must have been published at least 50 years ago; the only exceptions are books which were written by 1972 and posthumously published.

3. A classic by a woman author.

4. A classic in translation.  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. Any book published by a non-white author.

6.
 Mystery/Detective/Crime classic. It can be fiction or non-fiction (true crime). Examples include Murder on the Orient Express, Crime and Punishment, In Cold Blood.

7. A classic short story collection. Any single volume that contains at least six short stories. The book can have a single author or can be an anthology of multiple authors. 

8. Pre-1800 classic. Anything written before 1800. Plays and epic poems, such as the Odyssey, are acceptable in this category. 

9. A nonfiction classic. Travel, memoirs, and biographies are great choices for this category.

10. Classic that's been on your TBR list the longest. Find the classic book that's been hanging around unread the longest, and finally cross it off your list!  

11. Classic set in a place you'd like to visit. Can be real or imaginary -- Paris, Tokyo, the moon, Middle Earth, etc. It can be someplace you've never been, or someplace you'd like to visit again.

12. Wild card classic. Any classic book you like, any category, as long as it's at least 50 years old! 

So -- I hope everyone likes the categories! Remember, 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 1972 for this challenge. The only exceptions to this rule are books which published posthumously but written before 1972. Recent translations of classic novels are acceptable. 
  • All books must be read during read from January 1 through December 31, 2022. Books started before January 1 do not qualify. All reviews must be linked to this challenge by 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2023. 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 April 1, 2022. 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 Linky 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 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.

Do plays count? 
For this year's challenge, plays will only count in the Pre-1800 Classic category. 

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. 

Can I use my vlog? 
No. At the end of the year I have to tabulate all the entries, and I simply do not have enough time to watch videos. At this time, it has to be something in writing that is publicly accessible.

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 #BacktotheClassics2022

So what are you waiting for? Sign up in the Linky below! I'll be posting my tentative list of reads for the 2022 challenge in the next few days. I can't wait to see what everyone else will be reading!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Back to the Classics 2021: The Winner!



And the winner is. . . . 



Flicker won a $30 gift card so she can get even more books to read in 2022! Many thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated in this challenge -- more than 150 people signed up, and 32 people completed the challenge. 

We're all winners because we got to share the joy of books and each one of us crossed some classic books off our to-read lists!. I hope everyone enjoyed all the new books and authors they discovered. Also, I hope all everyone will sign up for the 2022 Back to the Classics Challenge. I'll post the sign-up tomorrow. I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading! 

Later this month I'll add the link-up posts so you can add your reviews and see what everyone else is reading. Thanks again to everyone for participating. I hope everyone is having a good new year with lots of wonderful books to read. 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Back to the Classics 2022?

Portrait of Madame Francois Baron by Jacques Louis David, 1769


So. It's probably pretty obvious that my blogging has really dropped off the past few months. To be honest, it feels like homework. I'm still reading but haven't been really inspired to write anything for ages. However, it's REALLY hard for me to let go of anything, so I may give it one more shot. So my question is (if anyone is still reading this blog): Would anyone be interested in another Back to the Classics Challenge for 2022? I realize that it's already January and most bloggers have already posted their challenges. If you're interested, let me know in the comments below. 

And if anyone is wondering -- yes, I will still award a prize for the 2021 Back to the Classics Challenge! I've just finished tabulating the final entries and have contacted the winner privately. Check your inbox to see if you've won! I will announce the winner publicly as soon as I hear back from them. 

So -- please leave a comment if if I should continue! Thanks!