So obviously time got away from me during the holidays and all the posts I had planned (including another free printable calendar for 2018) floated away into the ether, never to be heard from again. The most important post, though, is this one and it is about books.
The lesson here is that books are the most important thing. 🧐
I don’t know that I’m going to call 2017 a success in terms of my reading goals. I started the year with the intention of reading a book in all of the categories for the Back to the Classics Challenge and I did that….but not the books I had originally planned. Admittedly, my plan to tackle a few longer tomes was probably more hopeful than it was realistic and I think deep down I knew this at the time. But I was going to do it! I was going to immerse myself in epic novels written a long time ago by brilliant thinkers and come out on the other end victorious and enlightened! Yes! Except you need time to do things like that and time is not something I have a whole lot of these days. So I started paying more attention to page counts than epicness. Such is life.
You can see the initial list here with the books I ended up substituting to the right. Admittedly, I did feel a little like I was cheating by reading children’s books for two of the categories (though A Wrinkle in Time was purely for me….I don’t think B is ready for that one just yet), but C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I wholeheartedly agree.
- 19th-century classic:
Middlemarch by George EliotA Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (review here)
- 20th-century classic:
Light in August by William FaulknerMiss. Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (review here)
- Classic by a woman author: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (review here)
- Classic in translation: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (I ended up reading just the first book – The Wreath) (review here)
- Classic published before 1800:
Don Quixote by Miguel De CervantesGulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (review here)
- Romance classic: Persuasion by Jane Austen (review here)
- Gothic/horror classic: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (review here)
- Classic with a number in the title:
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel HawthorneOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (review here)
- Classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title:
Moby Dick by Herman MelvilleCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White (review here)
- Classic set in a place you’d like to visit: Room with a View by E.M. Forster (review here)
- Award-winning classic:
The Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (review here)
- Russian classic:
The Brothers Karamazov By Fyodor DostoevskyOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (review here)
My other goal was to read 44 books in all this year. Not a lofty goal at all, but when you have very little free time, 44 does seem like kind of a daunting number (especially when taking into consideration the previously mentioned epic novels). I did meet this goal, but again, it felt a little like cheating as I included all of the chapter books I read out loud with B. Cindy Rollins said somewhere that these count, but I chose 44 specifically because that’s how many (mostly non-children’s books) I read last year. If I take away the chapter books I read with B, I’m down to only 28 books this year which is a little disappointing. I’m trying to give myself some grace in this as it’s mostly due to the fact that I don’t lay with C until she goes to sleep at night anymore, so no more audiobooks for me. Either way, though, reading was done and I should just be happy with that….right? 🙂
As this was my first time doing the Back to the Classics Challenge, I learned a few things that I’m going to implement going forth, mainly that I really, really don’t have time (or mental energy) to tackle 1000+-page books. The idea of tucking into Middlemarch or Kristin Lavransdatter or Don Quixote (or all three) is lovely, but actually put into practice it’s just not….well….practical. Not right now anyway. So I’m going to cut myself some slack here and choose shorter novels. My initial choices for the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge are here:
- 19th-century classic: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte or Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
- 20th-century classic: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck or The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
- Classic by a woman author: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Classic in translation: The Wife by Sigrid Undset
- Children’s classic: The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry (I’ve never read this 😲)
- Classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (I wanted to read this before I see the movie – I’m a David Suchet Poirot fan all the way so I’m skeptical about Kenneth Branagh
‘s mustachestepping into the role) or The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction: Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
- Classic with a single-word title: Emma by Jane Austen or Orlando by Virginia Woolf
- Classic with a color in the title: White Fang by Jack London
- Classic by an author who is new to you: maybe Trollope? need help!*
- Classic that scares you: The Tain translated by Thomas Kinsella
- Re-read a favorite classic: The Small Rain by Madeleine L’Engle (this is one of my favorite books of all time, though I haven’t read it in about 17 years – I hope it’s still a favorite after I re-read it)
I’m assuming this list is going to change as it has already done so while I’ve been editing this post. Part of it may also be determined by what I find in the used books area of the library, which is always surprising to me (mint-condition hardcover of Charlotte’s Web for $.50? yes, please!). I had actually been researching Orlando for the single-word title option and happened to find it for sale at the library the next day so that felt like a sign.
*I need help in the author-who-is-new-to-you category. I was first thinking Anthony Trollope as I had only heard of him the first time last year when I watched Dr. Thorne, but I feel like I have provincial, 18th/19th-century England covered in many other categories, so I’m not sure I want yet another one there. Anyone have any favorite classic (pre-1968) book recommendations for me?
For my overall reading goal, I’m scaling it back this year instead of adding more. I want to read 3 books per month, ideally a classic, modern fiction, and some kind of non-fiction option each month. Of course I’ll also be reading things with B, but I’m going to try not to count those as I’d like for this to be for me. I don’t think 36 books in an entire year is over-reaching and it’s a number I feel good about. So 36 it is!
There are a few that I really want to tackle this year including A Piece of the World, The Weight of Ink, and The Hate U Give and I’m sure others will spring up along the way. (I’m always open to recommendations as well!)
Books are truly amazing little things. This list makes me happy. 🙂