The Classics Spin

classicsclubThe Classics Club is motivating us once again to, well, read the classics! We are doing THE CLASSICS SPIN!

This means is I pick 20 books from classics list. On Monday the club will pick a number between 1 and 20 and whatever book on my list that corresponds with that number, I read NOW!

So, here we go!

  1. Emma by Jane Austen
  2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  3. The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  4. The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins
  5. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  6. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  8. Miss Marjoriebanks by Mrs Oliphant
  9. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  10. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  11. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  12. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  13. Far from the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  14. O Pioneers by Willa Cather
  15. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  16. Aurora Floyd by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  17. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  18. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  19. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
  20. Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

I can’t wait to hear the number. I’m hoping for the Wilkie though. I’m due some Wilkie.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The more I try to think about what I want to say about this novel, the more one thought becomes crystal clear. Everyone in this book is completely crazy.


I mean, every one. Except maybe Morrel. That’s. It.

I read this when I went through my I-love-France-and-French-literature-and-Imma-gonna-read-it-all phase in my teens. I’m completely certain at this point that I read some sort of extremely abridged version, because all I remember is that I loved it and I read it extremely fast. This time, it took me over 2 months. And it was painful. I mean, really;


It got to the point where I was just, ugh.


Get to the revenge business already. Thank God, Dumas got some of that hot air out and got down to it. Were there editors in France at this time? Because there should have been.

Alas, another favorite is no longer a favorite. I didn’t hate it. I just wish it had been about 600 or 700 pages shorter. It would have been such a better book with quite a lot cut out. *sigh* At least I still have my beloved Three Musketeers. It hasn’t been that long since I reread it, so I know I still love it. Now, I’m curious about Victor Hugo. Will I love him as much as I did back then, if I reread some of his work? I’m almost afraid to try….

December Classics Challenge Question

What is your favorite memory of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Have you ever read it? If not, will you? Why should others read it rather than relying on the film adaptions?


I have never read A Christmas Carol all the way through.


You see, I have this hate/hate relationship with Charles Dickens. He hates me. I hate him. Or, okay, yeah, it’s mostly hate from my side because OBVIOUSLY he’s never met me, nor will he ever, since he’s dead and all, but I like to think that if we ever were to meet, he would hate me. Because I hate him.

Honestly, I strongly believe that I just haven’t found MY Charles Dickens book yet. We’re going to remedy that this coming year; it’s on my goal list. For now, however, he remains my literary nemesis.

Of course, I KNOW the story of A Christmas Carol. I’m not sure you can live in the modern world and not be exposed to it. I’ve seen The Muppet Christmas Carol. I watched Scrooged just a couple of days ago. I’ve seen Mickey’s Christmas Carol a TON of times, as it’s one of my kids favorites. I have seen the travesty that features Jim Carrey *cringe*. And I’m sure a dozen others that failed to register with me. I have a feeling that my familiarity with the story is what leads me to be unable to actually read the book. I know the story too well. There are no surprises. It’s too wrapped up in the fabric of my Christmas holidays. While I KNOW I should read the original (it’s the only version that remains unchanged, duh), I’m afraid it’s to firmly ingrained in my mind to be something “new.” And more often than not with classics, I need it to be “new” (as in, I’ve never read it and I’m not particularly familiar with the story) for me to read it. I’m weird. I know this.

November Classic Club Question

This month’s the Classics Club asks the following question:
What classic piece of literature most intimidates you, and why? And has your view changed at all since you joined our club? 
Well THIS is an easy question. And I’ve already seen similar answers on other blogs! Why, it’s this!
but also
Ulysses and Proust seem most obvious. And, despite enjoying the bit of the Iliad and the Odyssey that I read in high school and in my college Mythology class, they still scare the heck out of me. And Wuthering Heights just gives me the heebie jeebies. I feel depressed just thinking about it.
I haven’t read as many challenging (for me) classics as I would like this year, so now, I’m actually leaning toward confronting one of these behemoths next year. Maybe on Estella?

Classics Club: September

Here’s the question this month:

Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?

Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to pick one book from The Big Review List? That list is already miles long (can you imagine how long it will be in 5 years time?)! Then, I have to narrow it down to, do I pick a book I want to read or do I pick a book I want everyone else to read? Do I pick from a blogger I know, or a blogger I don’t know? Decisions, decisions.

In the end, I picked a book by an author I have wanted to like, but have always struggled with and I picked a blogger I’m unfamiliar with. Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Reviewed by Jean at Howling Frog Books. Oh Charles. We have such a love hate/relationship, don’t we? Honestly, I’ve begun to think of Dickens as my literary nemesis. Ridiculous. I know. I mean, I KNOW Dickens isn’t out to GET me. It just feels like he is. Who will win? Time will only tell. So far, I’m still a Wilkie girl.

So, anyhoo. Jean’s review. She has me intrigued with this one paragraph:

Esther observes the effects of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a legal case that has dragged on for years.  It blights the lives of everyone involved.   Meanwhile there are some secrets about Esther’s own past that come to light.  Everything is quite a tangle of suspicions, maneuvers, and forlorn hopes, and it’s all quite interesting, though the legal critiques can get overlong.

I like secrets from the past that come to light. Everything else sounds like typical Dickens. Suspicions. Maneuvers. Forlorn hopes.  Classic. Might have to skim the legal critiques though. Blah.
Will I read it? I’ve narrowed down my next attempt at Dickens to this one and Hard Times. We’ll see, sometime later this year!

The Classics Club August Meme

This month’s meme asks a truly difficult question.

What is your favorite classic book? Why?

Okay, asking what classic book is like asking me what’s my favorite flavor of chocolate. How on EARTH do I pick? I could say so many:

Gone with the Wind
The Great Gatsby
The Old Man and the Sea (yes Andi, I KNOW.)
The Three Musketeers
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Les MiserablesThe Count of Monte Cristo (I went through a very hot and heavy French author phase around age 14)
The Scarlet Letter
Huckleberry Finn
The Woman in White
The Moonstone
The Secret Garden
Pride and Prejudice
Little Women
The Faery Queene (I’m not kidding!)
Jane Eyre

Oh my gosh, I’m giving myself an itch to reread all of these!

If I HAVE to pick a favorite (go on, twist my arm), at this very moment, I would have to go with… um… well. Let’s see. I guess I will pick… aw, geez. I’m sorry to hem and haw, but I just can’t seem to make myself pick. Okay. I’m just going to rip it out, like a bandaid…

And this is mainly because I want Andi (and the REST of you, if you haven’t read it yet) to read it.

Why? I think it’s the sort of book every book lover should read at least once. Francie Nolan is one of the best characters ever written. And, for me, it’s a comfort read. It’s the story of the coming of age of a confirmed book worm, set in 1940s New York. It’s about the struggle to grow up in less than ideal circumstances. It’s about loving someone who doesn’t deserve it. It’s about loving someone a little less, who deserves it more. It’s about struggling to raise yourself up and become something better than you are. It’s about love. And family. And music. And words. And faith.

It’s one of the best books ever.

The Robber Bridgegroom by Eudora Welty

Oh Eudora, you rascally old broad. You were rewriting fairytales before it was cool, weren’t you. You savvy trendsetter!

I don’t know where to start. Do I tell you about the genius that was Eudora Welty? Do I explain to you the unfamiliar fairytale, The Robber Bridegroom? Or do I just drive right into telling you about this book and hope I intrigue you enough that you will go look up Welty and the fairytale on your own?

Decisions, decisions….

Okay, I figure at this point, you are well acquainted with my tendency to ramble, so I’m going to try to briefly (that made me giggle a bit) touch on Welty and the fairytale, then dive into the book. Is that okay? If not, skim folks.

So, Eudora Welty. Queen of Southern Literature, in my oh so humble opinion, was a downright brilliant author. And what I find the most fascinating about her, is how long she lived. She was born in 1909 and she died in 2001. I kid you not. Think of all the things she saw. She won the Pulitzer (for The Optimists Daughter). She lectured at Harvard. She sat on the New York Times Book Review. Received a Guggenheim Fellowship. And I’m pretty sure you cannot get out of school in the South without reading something written by her. For me, it was her short story A Worn Path and excerpts from her novel Delta Wedding. I don’t remember much about Delta Wedding, probably because we didn’t read the whole thing, but her story A Worn Path stays with me to this day. In reading about her, I’ve found she loved fairytales. A woman after my own heart! Why it took so long, somehow, despite always meaning to read more of her work, it took me 12 years out of college to finally read her again, I’ll never know. Let’s just say I was stupid. Let’s just ask the question, what took me so damn. long? I won’t take me that long again.

The Robber Bridegroom (the fairytale) has several incarnations. I’m going to give you a shortened Grimm version. There was this miller, once upon a time, who had a daughter. When she comes of age, of course he wants to get her married. At least he wants to get her a respectable husband. Wants to. He just doesn’t try very hard. The first man who pops up is by all appearances very rich and finding no fault with him (there is no mention as to how hard he tried, I’m betting not very hard) the father promises his daughter to him. Time passes, and the daughter never visits her intended (do you blame her??). You see, she didn’t like the look of him, didn’t trust him, and the very thought of him, “she felt within her heart a sense of horror.”

Take about gut instinct.

Her intended calls her out on it and she replies that she doesn’t know where he lives. He tells her it is in the dark woods and she returns basically with the reply that there is no way on God’s green Earth that she’s going out there. Undeterred, he tells her to come on Sunday, he’s already invited guests and he will leave a trail of ashes for her to find her way. Ashes. Invokes a wee be of unease, yes? She goes, leaving a trail for herself of peas and lentils and finds her way to his house. His empty house. Empty except for a black bird that tells her “Turn back, turn back, you young bride. You are in a murderer’s house.” Have I got your attention now?

Up to this point, Eudora follows the story mostly. She changes the father, his story is much more, well, more and the groom has a name and an occupation. He’s a handsome scoundrel. The daughter is an idiot, in my opinion, because she acts like a complete airhead. And she has a wicked stepmother now! After she finds the house, things change. In the fairytale, she finds an old woman who hides her from the men who would murder and eat her (yes, eat her) and helps her escape. In Eudora’s story, she does something completely different.

No, I’m not going to tell you what. Although, if you look at the cover verrrry closely, you may get an idea.

In the fairytale, the old woman and the young bride escape and expose the bridegroom at the wedding. He and all his cohorts are put to death for their crimes. In the book, well, again, it’s very different. Again, not going to tell you how. You have to read it people.

And read it you should. I love love love Welty’s way with words. The way she takes the South, the Deep South, and mythologizes just sends me to the moon with love for this book. She takes this fairytale and mixes it with the South and creates something new, something slightly crazy, something slightly manic, something completely fascinating. The only thing I didn’t like was the attitude towards blacks and Indians, which, knowing the time period the story is set… well, I know it’s the way it was, but it doesn’t make it easier. At least I know Phoenix from A Worn Path is out there in Welty’s canon. If you haven’t tried Welty’s work, what are you waiting on? I’m definitely going to be reading more, very soon.

I bought this from Barnes & Noble as an ebook. If I was you, I would avoid this ebook at all costs. It looks like a 3rd grader typed it.

This counts for the Classics Club challenge and also my personal challenge of reading more classics in July.