May 24, 2012

Conquering the Classics

Since today is the "May I tell you something about someone?" day for Blog Me MAYbe, let me tell you a little story:
Once upon a time there was a girl who liked to read, especially Young Adult Fiction. Sure, she'd read a fair number of books from the Adult market and even some Classics, but in this latter area she'd come to find herself wanting. It's not that she didn't like the Classics, the girl just preferred lighter reading. Consequently, her "Classics I Really Should Get Around to Reading" list had become quite long. Embarrassingly so if she was being honest with herself. To remedy this problem she came up with an idea, and Conquering the Classics From A to Z was born. Twenty-six Classics. Not too shabby.
Big (obvious) confession: I'm that girl, and the list of Classics that I've read is appallingly short.

I love reading YA, but I feel like I need to broaden my horizons a little bit. I've always been acquainted with the Classics and even read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë of my own accord at a fairly young age. Since then I've tackled books like Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, but I know there are piles of others that I should really get to.

I noticed recently on the So Obsessed With blog a challenge called The Classics Club, which I proceeded to check out. This club was "created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books."* What a fantastic idea! I'd sign up in a heartbeat except that I'm not prepared to commit 100% to the terms of the challenge (50+ Classics over the next 5 years and blogging about each and every one of them). So I decided to start a personal challenge inspired by this club, with or without anybody joining me. By that, I mean that this is for myself, but you're welcome to join me.

On my Conquering the Classics page to the right (which you can also reach by clicking on the picture to the left), I will be posting a list of the Classics I intend to get to—one book per author based on the first letter of his/her surname.^ Huh? Example: A for a Jane Austen novel. Get it? I'm not putting a timeline on it, but I'm hoping that I will finish these twenty-six Classics over the next couple of years. Some will be more challenging than others, and some will make me fall asleep or rip my hair out. And I'm okay with that. At least I'm making the effort, right?

I will also try to post my thoughts on most of them, and I'm not afraid in the slightest to tell you what I really think—these authors are no longer around to have their feelings hurt. And there's no chance that we'll ever cross paths if I ever get published. I'm mostly kidding. Mostly.

Like I said, if you find that you're in the same boat as I am on this whole Classics thing, feel free to take part. You can use my A to Z list, or you can come up with your own. It's entirely up to you. I honestly believe that it will be both fun and enlightening. And it certainly can't hurt! ♥


* From The Classics Club blog.
^ I'm having difficulty with some letters, so if you have suggestions I'd be happy to hear them. If I don't come up with anything for a particular letter, I'll just slip in another Classic I want to read.

20 comments:

  1. I should totally do this with you! I haven't read near as many classics as I should. Hmmm. I'll have to look into this once school's out. To Kill a Mockingbird is on my summer list, along with some Kurt Vonnegut. What a great idea!

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    1. I've been meaning to slip in some Classics to my TBR pile, but have so far been a bit of procrastinator. I figure this is a great way to bite the bullet. :)

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  2. An excellent idea! And what a great list you've come up with already, Jaime. If it's any comfort (and considering my degrees are in Theology, not English Lit., I'm not sure it really is much comfort), the only book on your list I've read is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. However, since it is one of the greatest novels ever written, I don't feel too badly about that. :)

    I might join you on your quest--or at least use your list for reading suggestions as I try to catch up on the Classics. I wish you ever success on your endeavour. May you learn much, and have lots of fun! :)

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    1. I honestly wonder sometimes what they made us read in school. The Sears catalogue? I know we read a lot of Shakespeare and a lot of Canadian authors, but I really feel like some of the major Classics were missed. Seriously, how did we miss out on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD?! I figure that it's high time I tried to remedy that at least a little bit. :)

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  3. Love this idea! I'm trying to think of some for your missing letters:

    (I) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote or Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    (U) Ulysses by James Joyce
    (X) Great eXpectations by Charles Dickens (is this cheating???)
    (Z) Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

    Happy reading!

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    1. Thanks for the help! I'll definitely be adding some of these to the list. :)

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  4. Ooh I'd love to do this. Definitely pick up an Austen - my fave twos by her are Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (I mean the main character is a book lover, how can you not go wrong?) :) Good luck with the challenge, Jaime!

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    1. I've read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and I know all of the other Austen stories from seeing the movies. That should probably have pushed me to read them, but I think sometimes it's hard to pick up a story that you already know how everything goes. Not sure why I wouldn't with Austen, though. She's so witty. :)

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  5. I think I might jump on this bandwagon! There are quite a few classics on your list I've been meaning to tackle (The Great Gatsby, for starters!), and I think this'll be fantastic motivation. What an awesome idea, Jaime... Thanks for letting those of us who are interested join in on the fun!

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    1. I should probably have mentioned in this post that people are welcome to come up with their own A to Z list. Whoops! I figure THE GREAT GATSBY is a great one to get to before the new movie comes out this year. :) It's just high time I pushed myself to read more Classics.

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  6. What an awesome idea! I'm definitely all in favor of it. I highly recommend Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and anything by Emile Zola, if you haven't read those. Have fun!

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    1. I have Emile Zola down for my 'Z' book, but I'm not sure which of his to read. Any suggestions?

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  7. I will join you in trying to finally get to some classics! There are some modern/new classics on my list, too--like THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING. Hey, that's a "u" book!

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    1. Maybe by the end of the summer we'll have some classics under our belt. Who knows? I've also been meaning to read Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" for some time now. You've read that one, right?

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  8. I've read 8 from your list, and of those 8, I really liked four, LOVED three, and couldn't figure out/didn't like one. I won't tell you which one I didn't like, but I LOVE:

    To Kill A Mockingbird
    Wuthering Heights
    The Great Gatsby

    I reread these constantly. SO GOOD. You've got a great list here! I need to add some of the other 18 to my TBR! It's about time I pulled my nose out of YA books occasionally....but man, will it hurt! :)

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    1. Well, I'd say 7 out of 8 likes/loves isn't bad! That makes me more excited to dive into these books. :) I'm starting on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD today in fact.

      I agree with you on pulling away from YA now and then. I have a whole TBR shelf of YA books calling my name, and yet I feel like I really should branch out a little.

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  9. I love this idea. I'm totally "that girl" too and totally down for this challenge! Maybe I'll set a mini goal of one a month till they're done. Thanks for thinking of this!!

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    1. I know there are a bunch of us who have been meaning to slip in some classics now and then, and I figured that maybe if I hopped on that others might join. I'm starting with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which I'm so embarrassed to admit I haven't read. I have very high expectations. :)

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  10. This makes me so happy! And I'm so glad that I got to contribute to the inspiration :) I'm really excited for you, and all the classics you've got ahead of you. I've read 9 on your list, and loved most of them. I can't wait to see what you think of The Great Gatsby, North and South, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, and Age of Innocence. I really LOVE all of those!

    I love that you fully expect to hate Wuthering Heights. I've read it, and I didn't really like it. I don't understand why everyone says it's so romantic. The people are horrible to each other!

    Also, I'm not sure how much Austen you've read, but Mansfield Park is my least favorite of all her novels. Compared to her other books, it was so dry (& kinda boring). If you've read everything else by her, it's worth reading to see how different it is from her other novels. But if you haven't read her other novels, I HIGHLY recommend Persuasion or Emma. They're some of my favorite books EVER!

    I'm really looking forward to see your thoughts on the classics you read, and I can't wait to compare thoughts on some of the books. You've got a few on your list that are on my Classics Club list :)

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  11. Most of what I've read over my life has come from the classic world literature canon. i hardly ever touch anything written in my lifetime unless it's non-fiction. The older writing styles just speak to me more. I still haven't read some of the classics, like Pride and Prejudice (since the ending was ruined for me by some stupid show my little brother used to watch, Wishbone). A couple I hated and found hugely overrated, like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I also love classics from outside the English-speaking world, Russian, German, and Italian literature in particular.

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