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Wales gets on the map

Time to get that cuppa brewing and those Hot Cross buns buttered. After a lifetime of tasting various versions of these buns I feel qualified to vote the ones my dad makes as by far the best. Even though he gave up his baking business more than 20 years ago he keeps his hand in every Easter with a bunch of these buns for selected customers only (ie family and friends). Forget about those variations they now offer in supermarket – chocolate flavoured for goodness sake – they are no substitute for the real thing. Sorry you can’t taste them for yourselves but I’m planning to scoff the lot…..

Suitably sustained I’m in good shape to do a catch up on what’s been happening in the Booker Talk world of late.

Wales on the Map

I admire bloggers like Lisa at ANZLitLovers and Sue at Whispering Gums who are advocates for the literature from their country. Reading their blogs made me realise last year how poor a job I did as an ambassador for my own native land of Wales. I’ve been slowly rectifying that on the blog (you can see some of the results on the Authors from Wales page). The Book on the Map series run by Cleopatra at CleopatraLovesBooks has given me an opportunity put Wales into the spotlight via an interview with the author Thorne Moore who lives in Pembrokeshire and whose book A Time of Silence I discovered late last year. If you have a moment in between all that bun-eating, do take a look at the interview on Cleo’s site and the superb photos.

2017 Goals Update

Goal settingLet’s start with the good news here. My first goal was to cut back on buying/acquiring anything new so I could enjoy the ones I already own. At the start of the year I had 314 unread books in my personal library. Just over three months into the year and the tally has broken the 300 mark – just (at 298). It would have been even lower but the fact I gained a few donations from my sister (two of which have duly been returned unread) and I won two giveaways. It hasn’t been as onerous as I expected though I won’t guarantee not to slip a little in the next few weeks. The one thing I know I’ll have to watch is that I don’t over-compensate for the enforced deprivation by buying a stack of new stuff in the second half of the year.

How about the second goal which is to get a bit more creative with images I use on this blog? swallows-of-kabulThis got off to a slow start. I worked my way through a manual on how to use the Photoshop software program but it was hard going. I had bought a scaled down version because I know the full one is way too sophisticated for my needs but even then the vast array of tools was just confusing. I produced a few montages – like this one of the Swallows of Kabul but they weren’t any great shakes and each one seemed to take forever to produce.  Then last week I did what I should have done months ago – turned to my resident Photoshop expert (otherwise known as Booker Talk husband) who uses the full blown version for his graphic design work.  I’d stupidly assumed the two versions wouldn’t be similar to any great degree. But after just one hour he figured out what I needed to do and away I went.

My first attempt – His His-Bloody-ProjectBloody Project – turned out pretty well I thought though I had to go knocking on his door for help more than once.
The second one – The Daughter of Time – was all my own work. Now I’m not claiming these are brilliant but they are a lot more visually appealing than the standard book cover image I’ve used for the last few years. Maybe not quite a giant leap for mankind but this certainly counts as progress.

Project Update 

This week I finished reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy which represent a significant milestone in my Booker Prize project. It means I now have just 10 titles remaining to read. What’s been the best titles I’ve read so far? You might have seen a recent joint post I did with fellow blogger Joslyn of Chronic Bibliophilia on this point. We challenged ourselves to identify our top three Booker winning titles. Here are my top three. I’ve also ranked all the others in order and in due course will reveal my least favourite titles. Of course these choices might change by the time I get to the end of the project – certainly my enjoyment of The God of Small Things has pushed that up to the top of the list.

Progress on the Classics Club has been just as slow this year as it was in 2016. I’ve read only one title on my Classics Club list so far this year but it was a good one – Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope. But hey these are classics and most of them have been around for a hundred years or so; I reckon they can wait a few more years until I get to them.

And that’s it for today everyone. Back to working my way through the rather large collection of chocolate my mum seemed to think it was essential I had this Easter Sunday. Hope you all enjoy your day….

2016 best laid plans go awry

The story of my 2016

Around this time last year I went on record with this statement about my goals for 2016.

2016 is going to be all about completion. ….

I plan to make it a year where I finish at least one of these projects: the Booker prize, Classics Club project and my World of Literature Project.

I deliberately avoided making definitive reading plans knowing how useless I proved to be in past years in sticking to them. Instead I opted for something more general thinking it would give me more flexibility and increase the chances of success.

Guess how I did on this goal?

You got it in one. It was a complete fail. Not a near miss or even a creditable effort. Not only didn’t I finish one of those three projects I barely made any inroads into the Classics Club list, reading just one ‘classic’ in the entire year (Mrs Dalloway) which leaves me with 22 still to read to achieve the goal of 50 classics by August 2017. It’s unlikely to happen….

I fared slightly better with my intention of reading more books by authors outside the western canon – 4 new countries were ‘visited’ in 2016 which takes my total to 35. Not a stellar performance but at least its going in the right direction.

Star billing goes to the Booker Prize project however where I managed to read a further 7 of the winning titles. Just 15 more to go now …

So why didn’t I achieve any part of this plan?

Either:

a) I was too ambitious  or

b) I spread my efforts too broadly and would have done better being more focused or

c) I picked the wrong goals or

d) I am really bad at sticking to plans and get easily distracted.

Judging by some articles I’ve read recently about how to be effective at setting and achieving goals the issue was really a combination of b) and d).  I got distracted by the long and short lists for the 2016 Booker prize so instead of reading previous winners I became too engrossed in who might win next. I also got carried away with Net Galley.  Some lessons here that are influencing my 2017 goals. What are they you wonder? I shall leave you in suspense for a few more days….

 

Adultery in Islington: Nina Bawden’s The Ice House #Virago

the-ice-houseWhen asked in an interview for The Independent newspaper how she would describe her novel The Ice House was about, Nina Bawden answered:

Asked what The Ice House is ‘about’, I would probably say ‘adultery in Islington’. But that would be to speak dismissively, protectively, as a parent in a superstitious culture might cover a child’s face and call it plain and stupid. In fact, it is a novel about love and friendship; in particular, the friendship between two women who have been close since a dreadful episode in childhood when one of them was viciously beaten by her father.

Friendship is the theme that runs through the four sections of this novel. It begins in around 1951 with two fifteen year old girls Daisy Brown and Ruth Perkins who live in London. Their different backgrounds and characters make them rather unusual friends. Daisy lives within the warm embrace of a loving modestly well-off family who take a relaxed, open attitude to their domestic situation.   Ruth Perkin comes from a wealthy family who live in a turreted house hidden behind large gates complete with a disused ice house in one of the corners of the grounds. She’s a quiet child who says little about her family and her father’s rather strict form of upbringing. She explains this by his years spent as a prisoner of war in Japan. No-one else that Daisy knows has ever been invited to the Perkin’s house before so an unexpected invitation to tea gives her a thrill. it will give her a chance maybe to discover information about Ruth’s family that Ruth has never shared with her friend.

The real explanation for Ruth’s reticence becomes abundantly clear soon after Daisy enters the Perkin household and encounters her father Captain Perkins. Daisy is a bit of a flirt but even she is surprised at the forwardness of the Captain’s comments

“Captain Perkin said, ‘I daresay you have lots of boyfriends, Daisy,’ and she was conscious that her last year’s summer dress was too tight across the chest. … ‘I hope your mother knows what she is doing,’ Captain Perkin said. ‘I am careful with Ruth. But I have seen a bit of the world, you understand. I know what men are, with ripe young girls.’ He spluttered as he laughed, as if his mouth was full of juice. And, with a gloating emphasis, ‘I know what girls are, come to that!’ His eyes were on her breasts.”

The experience of that afternoon, though never spoken about between the two girls, cements their relationship, Thirty years later, they live on the same street in the Islington district of London, they are still friends though married and with families of their own. They live nearby, keep in regular touch. When Luke, Daisy’s husband, is killed in a road accident which may be a suicide, secrets are revealed that shock Ruth. Instead of a the loving marriage she thought her friend had she finds Daisy  launches into a series of diatribes against her husband and reveals she’d been bored with her marriage.

The development comes at a time when Ruth is also experiencing some difficulties with her own marriage. Her husband Joe becomes more distant having taken his friend’s death very hard and Ruth fears what he is keeping hidden from her. Eventually he comes clean and discloses there has been someone else in his life for some time.

The two friends move onto a different phase of their lives in which they contemplate life without a partner or with only a semblance of a relationship. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way over the next few years as the different personalities of the friends shape their responses. And Ruth’s previous experience as a child plays a significant part in her own ability to deal with life.

I wanted to enjoy this rather more than I did. I didn’t warm to either character and found the rather tedious at times. I just wanted the book to be over. It’s the third title I’ve read by Nina Bawden. The first A Little Love, a Little Learning was wonderful, the second The Solitary Child left me cold – you can see my reactions here . My most recent experience hasn’t left me with a feeling Bawden isn’t for me but I need to chose the next one more carefully it seems.

Footnotes

Author: The Ice House by Nina Bawden

Published: 1993 by Virago Modern Classics

Length: 236 pages

My copy: Bought from a charity shop in Oxford. Read as part of AllVirago/All August month in 2016. Also counts towards my Classics Club challenge and the #20booksofsummer challenge for 2016

 

Adam Bede: the spark of George Eliot’s creative genius

Adam BedeWhat distinguishes a truly great classic for me is that no-matter how many times I read it, I can still discover something fresh within its pages. It’s why I love George Eliot’s Middlemarch so much and why I never tire of going back to it.  This is a novel stuffed with big ideas, from Darwin’s natural selection to advances in medical sciences, from the Great Reform Act to industrialisation; all organised within a central metaphor of “the web” of society. Yet it’s also a very human novel; one that deals with ambition and the loneliness of failure whether in love or  theological research or the desire to bring great benefit to mankind.

To read it is to see Eliot’s creative imagination as its most mature. But you can see in Adam Bede, the novel she wrote some 14 years earlier, (it was in fact her first full length novel) her first steps towards the themes and approaches that will become prevalent in Middlemarch.

I first read Adam Bede more than 30 years ago. What I remember mostly is how sorry I felt for poor gullible Hetty Sorrel, a milkmaid who dreamed of love and a life beyond the drudgery of the cowshed and dairy only to be abandoned by the dastardly squire’s son.  Reading it now however it’s evident that in focusing so much on the doomed love triangle between Hetty, the carpenter Adam Bede and Captain Arthur Donnithorne, I overlooked many of the key themes of the novel. In particular I failed to notice how Eliot in this book – just as in Middlemarch – considers the idea of vocation and how individuals can achieve a sense of fulfilment through work.

A commitment to working hard is one of the chief differences between the ‘good’ characters in Adam Bede and those whose behaviour we are lead to despise.  Most of the ‘admirable’ characters are hard-working peasants who labour on farms, in mills, or in shops, like Mr and Mrs Poyser who are renowned for the way they manage their farm on the Donnithorne estate  or like the millworker Dinah who selflessly visits the sick and the sick at heart to give succour wherever she can. In contrast Captain Donnithorne, the handsome heir to a substantial estate, dreams of doing good things when he comes into his inheritance but actually does little other than ride and visit his prospective tenants. It’s not until he goes off to join the militia that he seems to find fulfilment.

If there was ever any doubt that this is a novel about work, the first chapter of the novel gives us the key to Eliot’s intention. It’s set in a place of work – a carpenter’s shop – where, as they bend over their workbenches, discuss the idea of duty. The work ethic runs particularly deep through the veins of the foreman Adam Bede. When his co-workers stop work instantly they her the church clock mark the end of their day. Adam alone continues working, chastising them for their lack of dedication “as if they took no pleasure i’ their work and was afraid o’ doing a stroke too much … just as if he’d never but a bit of pride and delight in ‘s work.”  (Chap 1).  Though the other carpenters tease him, what Adam shows is his belief in the intrinsic value of work and of a job well done. It’s a lesson he repeats just a few chapters later. Arriving home to find his father has gone off drinking instead of finishing a coffin promised for the following morning, Adam rejects bed and supper in order to get the job done.

What signifies how long it takes me? Isn’t the coffin promised? Can they bury the man without a coffin? I’d work my right hand off sooner than deceive people with lies i’ that way. It makes me mad to think on’t. (Chap 12)

Adam’s dedication flows partly from a sense of responsibility and because he knows he needs a secure financial base before he can marry Hetty. His industrious manner enables him eventually to rise from being a mere employee to own his own business. But he also sees a higher order value in work, one that is connected to the long term improvement of human lives:  “It’s all I’ve got to think of now—to do my work well and make the world a bit better place for them as can enjoy it.” (Chap 48).

Adam’s attitude to work is similar in many ways to the estate manager Caleb Garth in Middlemarch. He too regards his work of managing other people’s land as a mark of honour.

It’s a fine thing to come to a man when he’s seen into the nature of business: to have the chance of getting a bit of the country into good fettle … and putting men into the right way with their farming and getting a bit of cgood contributing and solid building work done – that those who are living and those who come after will be the better for … I hold it the most honourable work that is … it’s a great gift of God (Book 4, Chap 40)

What both Adam and Caleb represent is the honesty and integrity of work and a belief in its ability to be a force for good. Where many other nineteenth century novels show work as a physical activity (often making a social point about its exploitative nature) what Eliot seems to do in these two novels feels rather different. Instead of portraying work itself, she shows the idea of work as a vocation, in order to underline her belief that all individuals need to think beyond themselves. Endeavours that fulfil the intellectual, spiritual and emotional needs of the individual are important – but what is even more critical is that in doing so they contribute to the general and long term improvement of other human lives.

 

 

I’ve started so I’ll finish

Janus

Janus: The Roman god of beginnings and transitions

I can’t prevaricate any longer. The cobwebs are starting to settle on the brain already and if I leave it much longer I will never remember my top books from 2015.

The outstanding book of the year was almost, but not quite,  the last one I read – Michael Ondaatje’s 1992 Booker Prize-winning novel The English Patient. It’s a beautifully written story of four damaged characters who end up in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War 2.  I enjoyed reading his most recent novel The Cat’s Table a few years ago but The English Patient was in a totally different league. Now I want to dig out the film version again ..

Other favourites from the year were: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton which has to be the most gloriously produced book I’ve experienced for many years. The cover design showing a miniature of the house that features in the book, was so delightful I went in search for some info on the illustrator and came across a fascinating little video about how a design company made the house. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac was my first experience of this author but will certainly not be my last.  Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton was as moving on a re-read as it was decades ago when I opened the pages for the first time.  Three discoveries came in the form of The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw and from the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar and The Redemption of Galen Pike, a tremendous short story collection by Carys Davies. I don’t usually care for short stories but Davies’ book knocks spots off all other collections I’ve read.

Were there any duds? Well yes, a few. Three were so bad I couldn’t finish them: In the Light of What we Know by Zia Haider Rahman; Between  Tides by V.Y. Mudimbe and The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.

That’s 2015 done.

What’s on the horizon for 2016?

Despite all the reading challenges I’ve seen in the last few weeks (I’ve been keeping a list here and it’s upwards of 30) I’m trying really really really hard to resist temptation. I like the idea of them but the reality is that I’m really hopeless at sticking with them. The minute I feel I have to follow a list, my interest in the books drops off markedly. Even if  the title was one that excited me when I bought it, the minute it gets written on a list starts to make it feel too much like a chore or a ‘to do’ list for work. Hence why I managed just 8 out of the 12 books on the TBR Challenge I joined last year.  I was all ready to join a Reading Shakespeare challenge but I’ve changed my mind.

I prefer the idea of reading projects rather than challenges. They somehow sound more relaxed and I can go entirely at my own pace. I have three on the go at the moment which are steadily making progress. I’m just over the half way mark with my Classics Club project, have read 27 of the 46 Booker-prize winners and novels from 30 countries around the world as part of my World of Literature Project.

2016 is going to be all about completion.

I plan to make it a year where I finish at least one of these (the Booker prize). I may even get close to finishing the Classics Club but I won’t make that a goal because I want space to be flexible, to go with the flow of whatever takes my fancy. I also want time to dip into a few short projects – Ali’s #Woolfalong reading project is perfect since I already have 4 Woolf titles in the bookshelves. Later in the year there’ll be a Reading Ireland month and a Spanish literature month which are already tickling my fancy. The beauty of these projects is that they’re short and free of pressure to read a particular number of books or to make lists in advance.

Here’s to a year of unconstrained delight……

 

Snapshot November 2015

It certainly didn’t seem like the first day of November today. Roses are still in bloom in the garden and there are still some blossoms on the fuschia bush. The reading on the car temperature gauge said 15C which is extraordinary for this time of the year in the UK. If you ignored the colour of the trees, the skyline today had more of an impression of June. I overheard someone say that Indian summers are often the herald of harsh winters. Hope that prediction proves to be inaccurate since I hate cold weather.  Enough of this, what am I up to on this fine day?

Reading

the little red chairsI just managed to finish  my Classics Club spin by the deadline of October 31, reading the final few pages yesterday afternoon. It was the second time I’ve read Adam Bede by George Eliot and the re-read was even more enjoyable than the first experience. I also finished Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs which is her first novel for 10 years. It begins in a small community in Ireland when a stranger arrives and sets up in business as a faith healer. the village is enthralled, until they discover he is a notorious war criminal on the run from justice. But for one local woman the stranger’s attraction has devastating consequences.  I’ll be doing a review for the next issue of Shiny New Books so will hold back from commenting on it here except to say that O’Brien’s novel has a very contemporary feel because it gives a voice to   immigrants and refugees from violence.

Having finished these two novels, for my next read I’ll either turn to Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover which is due for publication on Nov 5  or I’ll pick up the threads once again of The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. This is part of my Booker project but I’ve been reluctant to start reading it until now because I’ve not had a great experience with Murdoch in the past. The Sea, The Sea however has been a pleasant surprise.

Listening

I’ve had an old favourite on the car audio system for the past week, The Warden by Anthony Trollope. Its the first book in his Chronicles of Barchester series and although it’s familiar, its still highly enjoyable. I’m planning on progressing to book two, Barchester Towers,  in preparation for reading the third book in the series Doctor Thorne.

Watching

Tonight there is a treat in store with Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellan in a TV adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s play The Dresser, which tells the story of the relationship between “Sir” – the manager and star of a grubby, third-rate touring theatre – and his personal assistant. The play was a huge success when it was staged first in 1980 and went on to become an equally successful film staring Tom Courtney as the dresser and Albert Finney as “Sir” .  With actors of the calibre of Hopkins and McKellan I’m sure this is going to be a performance to savour.

The week of lost good intentions

sundaysalonI had planned to achieve so much this week. Finish the book I landed with in the last Classics Club Spin (Mansfield Park); read The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson from my TBR shelf; catch up on the blogs I follow but hadn’t been able to view while on holiday and write a whole lot of reviews so I could make inroads into my backlog.

Time I thought was on my side – I had a transatlantic flight which would give me some dedicated reading time and a few hours  to write some posts. Then at the end of the working day I could delve into some other blogs.

Hmm. Well that all went swimmingly didn’t it? Nope.

I did finish Mansfield Park but it took me longer than expected. I also started The Devil in the Marshalsea and enjoyed the start so much I decided it was perfect for my flight home. So put it to one side and started reading a bargain Kindle version of Dead Simple, the first in the Inspector Roy Grace series by Peter May instead. On the journey home I read exactly 30 pages of the Marshalsea book before sleep   took over.

As for the reviews. Ha. What reviews? I didn’t write even one during the week. Typing on an iPad is not a great experience, it’s even harder when you’re squashed into an economy seat behind a passenger whose seat reclined the nano second the seat belt light went out after take off and stayed that way for nigh on eight hours and next to a passenger whose elbow kept poking  into my side as he typed on his laptop. During the week I was so bushed after early starts (and jet lag) that I couldn’t summon up a single creative cell in my brain.

Nor did I make much headway in reading all the bloggers whose reviews and bookish updates I enjoy. Consequently my blog reader is full to the brim again.

All of which has made me even more resolved to just stop planning ahead. I’m no good at it and its ridiculous to be for ever castigating myself for failing to do something. So this is farewell reading plans, goodbye to blogging schedules. And welcome to the new unplanned, unscheduled, unfettered new me.

Home again

Rain and grey clouds were not quite the welcome home I was hoping for yesterday. After three weeks of blue sky and warmth, it was a shock to the system to arrive in Southampton in drizzle and winds. Tomorrow will be an even greater shock though when I have to go back to work. Goodbye lazy breakfasts and even lazier days reading in the sunshine; hello household chores, emails and teleconferences.

helicopterStill, we have some wonderful memories of our week in Zambia, walking through the falls, seeing the sun set over the Zambezi river and taking an old steam train across to Zimbabwe. Pride of place however goes to an exhilarating helicopter ride right over Victoria Falls and then swooping over the rim and down into a gorge to follow the twists of the river. Since I was the smallest passenger I got the premium seat right up front next to the pilot. Simply breathtaking!

Library on Queen Mary 2

The library on Queen Mary 2 – more than 9,000 titles available

After that excitement we got a chance to catch our breath with the two weeks it took us to cruise up the coast of Africa back to the UK. We’d never been on a cruise before but everyone told us the Queen Mary 2 is one of the best afloat. I loved the art deco theme throughout all the public rooms and the formal nights where tuxedos and cocktail gowns were required.

 

View from library of Queen Mary 2

View from the library of Queen Mary 2

In between listening to classic recitals and lectures I found plenty of time to just laze on the deck, watch the ocean go by and catch up on some reading. I tried to synchronise the books with some of the countries we visited or sailed past:

  • Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (South Africa)
  • We Need New Names by No Violet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)
  • Fiela’s Child by Dalene Matthee (South Africa)
  • The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain (France)
  • The Fortune of the Rougons by Emile Zola (France)
  • Read all About It by Paul Cudahy (England)
  • The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (England)

I also finished Life of Pi by Yan Martel that I was half way through when we left for our trip and am part way through Mansfield Park (not one of my favourite Austens but I decided to give it another go).

Pretty impressive eh?

The cost of internet access meant I couldn’t post very often – I did manage to do a review of The Old Curiousity Shop and posted a few general pieces:

 

Kafka’s views on reading

Oliver Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield

Choosing an author to represent England

Books from Indonesia

I’ll get around to posting my reviews eventually and will also do my best to catch up on all the blog sites I follow.

 

Classics Club Spin Revolves Again

classicsclub3The Classics Club Spin is beginning again and I almost missed it but am hoping that, since the team that runs this is five hours ahead of me, I can just squeak in at the last minute. It’s a good way of pushing me to make progress on my list without having the pressure of a challenge. Last time around I ended up with Henry James and Washington Square/Daisy Miller which I wasn’t looking forward to but appreciated in the end. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed I get something good this time around.

The rules for Spin Number 9 are the same as before:

  • Pick twenty unread books from your list. Here’s my classics club list
  • Number them from one to twenty
  • A number will be drawn
  • That’s the book to read by 15th May

I’m going to mix things up a little by adding my own rule: My 20 books have to be from my TBR pile (i.e., I already have them in my possession). That way I get to clear some space in my bookshelf … or floorspace.

So here is my list. Many of them are re-reads – books I read when I was much much younger and feel I didn’t fully appreciate or understand at the time. These are marked **

  1. Vicar of Wakefield – Oliver Goldsmith 1766
  2. Mansfield Park  – Jane Austen 1814**
  3. Old Goriot – Honore Balzac 1835
  4. Can You Forgive Her – Anthony Trollope 1864**
  5. The Way we Live Now – Anthony Trollope 1875
  6. Dr Thorne – Anthony Trollope 1858
  7. Adam Bede – George Eliot 1859**
  8. The Fortune of the Rougons – Emile Zola 1871
  9. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy 1873-77
  10. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot 1876 **
  11. A Parisian Affair and other stories – Maupassant 1880
  12. The Diary of a Nobody – George Grossmith 1888
  13. The Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf 1915
  14. Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton 1920
  15. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf 1925 **
  16. Frost in May – Antonia White 1933
  17. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck 1939
  18. The Pursuit Of Love – Nancy Mitford 1945
  19. Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton 1948
  20. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1985

Which one do you think I would enjoy the most?

The symbol ** means I have read them previously

Update: I fixed my terrible spelling of the Balzac title thanks to an eagle eyed reader

Classics Club Spin #7

classicsclub3The Classics Club is giving all participants another nudge to read some of the books we have on our lists. I’m still making my way through the book I got through the last spin (Canterbury Tales) but since the challenge for spin number 7 doesn’t have to be completed until October, I figure I have plenty of time to complete the task.

The rules are:

  • by next Monday, August 11, list any twenty books left to read from our Classics Club list. They could be five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)
  • The Classics Club hosts will announce a number from 1 through 20.
  • The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on our Spin List, by October 1.

I’m not playing exactly by the rules since I don’t see the point of having any books on my list that I am dreading – that would be like being forced to swallow medicine rather than chocolate.  ISince my list is in order of publication date, I simply took the first five, the last five and ten from the middle.

Admittedly, there are some here that I might not be thrilled at the prospect of reading but I wouldn’t dread them if they came up. I don’t really understand the point of listing a book  that you’re dreading reading – the Classics Club is meant to be fun, not the equivalent of taking medicine.

Here’s my list:

  1. Candide – Voltaire 1759
  2. Vicar of Wakefield – Oliver Goldsmith 1766
  3. Evelina – Frances Burney 1778
  4. Mansfield Park  – Jane Austen 1814
  5. Old Gariot – Honore Balzac 1835
  6. Washington Square/Daisy Miller – Henry James 1880
  7. The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner 1883
  8. The Diary of a Nobody – George Grossmith 1888
  9. The Invisible Man – H G Wells 1897
  10. The Riddle of the Sands – Erskine Childers 1903
  11. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad 1904
  12. The Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf 1915
  13. Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton 1920
  14. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf 1925
  15. The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf 1927
  16. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  17. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson 1962
  18. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov 1967
  19. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1985
  20. Half a Yellow Sun- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2006
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