2017 Back to the Classics Challenge – this is based off the challenge found at Books and Chocolate. My family is pretending to do this for the second year 😉 and I thought I would post my choices and thoughts here to help me stay motivated.
1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – this is the 19th century classic. I am currently reading this with my new Classics Book Club of mamas that want to read the classics. I am on chapter 11 and will have this finished by the end of May. I really am enjoying this story too, and find it interesting that so many of DIckens’ characters are abused children and the scenes in the prison are some that he actually endured as a child of an impoverished family. I got teary-eyed a few times at the evil, unkind treatment of this boy and feel a greater appreciation for Mr. Dickens devotion to ending childhood slavery and awful treatment of the poor children.
2. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers – my 20th Century classic. I love her Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels, and this one is completely different than the others. In this one, the story takes place in an Advertising Agency and the characters and setting is so believable because Sayers was, in her day job, an advertising copy writer. I listened to a Close Reads Podcast about this one and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Sayers and her personal world so much.
3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – this is my classic by a woman author. This story was quite long and I found myself occasionally frustrated at the two main characters as the story unfolded. He falls in love with another woman and tells Fannie all about her. Turns out that the lady he loves chooses to have Fannie as her best friend and through it all, Fannie stays true to her love for him. There are lots of side stories as is usual in an Austen story, and it all turns out okay. Despite all the differences between the character and how I would have reacted (haha), I enjoyed this story as well. Not as much as some of her others, but still good.
4. The Iliad by Homer – this is my story in translation. I finally finished all 24 books (chapters) of this classic, and pretty much enjoyed every word. I think, though, that having read and studying Greek mythology and history helped prepare me for this story. The thing the really convinced me was a podcast called A Perpetual Feast, where 2 learned men discuss all things Homer and why it matters that read Homer. They have been so fun to listen to that it motivated me to want to know for myself. I really appreciate Homer’s ability to relate a story so full of war, and yet use so many similes that I didn’t feel unbalanced in my emotions. It is a story of unforgiving anger and how a person’s actions always have consequences for others as well as the actual person, whether intended or not. And usually, the consequences of anger are ugly.
5. The Odyssey by Homer – my classic published before 1800. I am starting The Odyssey today as the Trojan War story finishes in that book. I am looking forward to it. Again, I have been studying Homer through that podcast and other books, so I am anxious to start.
6. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare – this is my romance story. I took an intensive class on this play and absolutely fell in love with it. I also learned about the Elizabethan world and the Renaissance world at the same time. What is not to love about a strong woman who meets her match and is totally attracted and confused at the same time? About a strong man who sees past her current situation and sees what could be, and sets out to bring that to reality – all in love, not anger or abuse? This is a beautiful Johnny Lingo story about love, trust, and redemption.
7. Haven’t decided my Gothic story yet.
8. Henry V by William Shakespeare This is my classic with a number in the title and one of Shakespeare’s histories about English history. I am starting it this week as part of my Shakespeare in a Year challenge (which involves reading a Shakespeare play a week for a year, and at the end, you have read all of the Shakespearean canon. Very excited about this!)
9. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, This is my book about an animal. I had never read this and I loved it. Again, I read and listened to a Close Reads podcast about it. I recently learned in a fairy tale class that a Stag or Deer is an allegorical character depicting Christ and so the chapter where they are looking for the lost son of the otter has a deeper meaning to it. I also realized that if I can read certain books as allegories (Pinocchio being one of them) I can appreciate it on a whole different level, and that is one way I read The Wind and the Willows. But no matter how you read, it’s a dang fun adventure with them all!
10. Macbeth by William Shakespeare – this is set in Scotland and so it covers the classic set in a place you’d like to visit. I’d love to go to Scotland! And it is based on a true event, AND it’s Shakespeare. I enjoy it. The end. =) Seriously, I do enjoy Shakespeare. His character development is often profound and yet so relate-able on several levels. Macbeth allows his passion to overcome his reason, murders his friend, the king (egged on by his wife – you are not a real man if you can’t do it!) and the chaos that rules his life and Scotland until order is restored by Macbeth’s death, and Malcolm (the true son) is restored to the crown. Here is another Close Reads podcast about Macbeth.)
11. An award-winning classic – haven’t even looked for one yet. 😉
12. Crime and Punishment is my Russian novel pick. I think. It is shorter than the others that I looked at. Yes, I checked page numbers, I have lots of reading to do and want to feel like I have gotten something done! 😛
Okay – I told you that I joined the Ambleside Online forum…well, a couple of weeks ago, someone posted a link to a reading challenge from Karen at Books and Chocolate. (With a name like that, how could I resist the siren temptation to look at that post??? I’m glad that I did!) So here is the basic idea: she gives you a list of 12 categories and you choose what book you want to read in each category. There are a couple of guidelines to follow, and if you link to her blog and follow those guidelines, then she puts your name in a drawing for several prizes. Pretty cool!
I was talking to my sister about it and she got enthused so we decided to adapt it to our family, allowing children’s classic literature (because, as C.S.Lewis said “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the least.”) and letting the nieces and nephews that are interested participate. Disclaimer: I did use Karen’s categories, and if you want to participate in her challenge with her rules, please sign up at her blog so you can be eligible for her prizes.
Here are my selections for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge (the bold words are the category and the :
- A 19th Century Classic– any book published between 1800 and 1899 – A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- A 20th Century Classic– any book published between 1900 and 1966 – The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
- A classic by a woman author – Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter
- A classic in translation – The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas
- A classic by a non-white author – Indian Boyhood by Charles Eastman (he is of the Lakota Tribe)
- An adventure classic– can be fiction or non-fiction – Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
- A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic.Dystopian could include classics like Animal Farm and 1984. – The Once and Future King by T.H. White
- A classic detective novel.It must include a detective, amateur or professional – A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey (I really like her Daughter of Time book)
- A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.
- A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review. The Call of the Wild by Jack London. From what I read, Hitler banned this book because it promoted self-reliance and independence. If I have time, I will read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings…which fit under many categories. But they have been banned and even burned.
- Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). If it’s a book you loved, does it stand the test of time? If it’s a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around? Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I am trying to decide if I can handle Dickens the second time around. I like happy stories and in high school I thought this was terribly sad and kind of dark.
- A volume of classic short stories. This must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Hawthorne’s Short Stories by Nathanial Hawthorne. Again, this is an author I struggled with in high school. I found that I really, really like his Greek myth retellings (A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales), so I am going to see if a bit more experience and maturity help me to like him more.
It looks like fun and it gave me the final motivation to put together a list for myself. I keep looking at my overflowing bookcases wishing I had a better plan to read those lovely books…and I think this is a better way than starting with the alphabet and working my way through it. At least this way provides more variety of authors and thoughts, anyway! ;P