Skip to content

Classics Challenge ’09

March 27, 2009

classicschallengeOh, I love the classics!! It’s been a lifelong love affair, but since I’ve been blogging, they don’t get nearly enough of my attention. So I’m joining up for the second round of Trish’s Classics Challenge. There are four levels, and I’m going with the feast, which requires me to read six classics by the end of October.

Here’s my (ridiculously large) pool, complete with notes (because annotated lists are just so much better):

  • Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger: I lived his Nine Stories, and I want to spend more time with the glass family.
  • The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald: the whole twenties flapper thing reels me in, and I very much enjoyed The Great Gatsby.
  • Wharton

  • Armadale by Wilkie Collins: Collins is one of my new true loves (I’ve read three of his books and adored them all), so he has to be on the list!
  • Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope: Trollope is another new love. I’ve read The Warden, so this is the next in that ‘series’.
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: since seeing the recent movie adaptation, I’ve been so curious what the book’s like.
  • The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Stephen Mitchell: I loved Mitchell’s treatment of Gilgamesh, and India simply fascinates me.
  • The Arabian Nights trans. Husain Haddawy: my library didn’t carry this edition, but thanks to winning a drawing for the Dewey Decimal Challenge, I received it from amazon! It’s a gorgeous edition, just calling my name.
  • The Good Earth by Pearl Buck: funny story…last year, I got about two-thirds of the way through this listening to it, and then I had to return it to the library and forgot about it. It’d be nice to actually finish the thing!
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton: for the longest time I thought this book was set in China. So when I found out it’s actually set in South Africa, I immediately developed a guilt complex which makes me think I should read it.
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: Hesse scares me, but I was going for a geographical spread and didn’t have a German author. An internet quiz I took years ago told me that I was Siddhartha, and ever since then I’ve been curious about it!
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence: since reading one of Lawrence’s ‘short’ stories (I think it was forty pages long!), I’ve been wanting to try out a novel.
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: I didn’t really read adventure books as a kid, so I’m curious to see what they’re about!
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte: based on reading Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne is by far my favourite sister. So I’d like to give another book of hers a try!
  • The complete romances of Chretien de Troyes, trans. by David Staines: I read about this on some blog…I have no clue where now (help me out if it was you!). I’m fascinated by the Middle Ages, and I’ve never read any direct Arthur stories, so this would be one of those challenging-in-a-good-way books.
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin: this is one of those books that appears on every ‘best of’ list I’ve seen, and yet I’ve never read anything by Baldwin!
  • Orient Express by Graham Greene: in high school, I looooved Greene, but it’s been a few years since I picked up one of his books. So I might as well get reacquainted with him via his first novel.
  • Something by Collette, Maupassant, and/or Zola: I haven’t decided which title yet, but I want some French writers in their! I’ve enjoyed Collette before, and I love Maupassant’s short stories. I’ve never read any Zola, which seems a shame.
33 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2009 6:23 am

    Very great list! I look forward to your thoughts on whatever you do read!

  2. March 27, 2009 6:23 am

    You are quite ambitious with this one. Good luck!

  3. March 27, 2009 6:41 am

    It is hard to go back and reread when we have such big TBR piles! But those books are so good. Good luck!

  4. adevotedreader permalink
    March 27, 2009 6:56 am

    It’s a shame there’s never enough time to read all the great books you want to! I’ve been eying the new Arabian Nights translation, and would highly recommend Barchester Towers.

    Re Zola, I read and loved The Ladies’ Paradise so would suggest that.

  5. March 27, 2009 8:23 am

    Franny and Zooey is seven kinds of amazing. I think you’re going to love it.

    And Siddhartha… wow. I’ve been meaning to read more Hesse ever since I read it in the winter of 2007.

  6. March 27, 2009 10:49 am

    There will always be a list of classics that I need to read. I’ve only even read two off of your list here — Armadale and Treasure Island. I don’t even make lists of classics I need to read because it would be one of those 1001 lists!

  7. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 27, 2009 11:14 am

    That’s quite a list. Sadly, I have not read of any of them, so I look forward to your reviews.

  8. Jenny permalink
    March 27, 2009 11:43 am

    Brideshead Revisited is on my small personal list of world’s greatest prose, so if you read that you are really in for a treat. And while I wasn’t the one who recommended Chretien de Troyes to you, you can’t do better! Arthurian romances FTW!

  9. March 27, 2009 2:23 pm

    That’s quite a list! Brideshead Revisited is one of my favorites. I was fortunate to travel to Oxford, England shortly after I read it. You’ll want to head over there to see the scenery, I’m sure. :)

  10. March 27, 2009 3:03 pm

    I read the Good Earth about halfway through too then returned it to the library :(. Must finish it someday!

  11. March 27, 2009 3:19 pm

    This sounds like a fun challenge–I always want to read more classics–I’ve not done a very good job this year, however. I loved Armadale–I think it’s my favorite Wilkie Collins book (but they’ve all been good that I’ve read so far). I also want to read DH Lawrence sometime this year. Enjoy your books!

  12. March 27, 2009 6:28 pm

    Zola: Germinal or L’Assomoir were my favorites. I felt like my mind and eyes had been opened in a new way when I read these in college. I haven’t read Zola in years, though I have many of his books packed away; I consider them among my treasures.

  13. March 27, 2009 6:35 pm

    Holy cow! That list is long and impressive. Have fun!! I chose the 4 book route!! All Austen.

  14. March 27, 2009 7:55 pm

    Oh, this is tempting…so very, very tempting.

  15. musingsfromthesofa permalink
    March 28, 2009 5:18 am

    Nice challenge and good list. I enjoyed Ladies Paradise by Zola, but also Therese Raquin, which was an exploration of passion, crime and guilt. Brideshead was Waugh’s least favourite of his own books, and one can see why in a way. Barchester Towers is wonderful. Much marvellous reading ahead of you!

  16. March 28, 2009 7:24 am

    wow! that’s quite a list. I haven’t picked all my books yet, only one so far. To my shame I haven’t read any dickens yet, so I thought it was time I rectified that. And I need to read some Trollope too. Fun list, Eva.

    David Staines is Canadian! He is a professor in English at my university (where i graduated from)!! University of Ottawa. I’ll check for you and see if it is a university publication. I’ll let you know :-D

  17. March 28, 2009 7:29 am

    I found it on Amazon! however, it looks like it’s not widely available (place an order and they’ll send it when they get it.)

  18. March 28, 2009 8:22 am

    Thanks for this–I’m joining the classics challenge, too! I love Agnes Grey, Trollope, the Hussain Hadawy translation of the Arabian Nights, Cry, the Beloved Country–your whole list is fab :)

  19. March 28, 2009 10:32 am

    Wonderful list- I have not read Brideshead Revisited and look forward to it.

  20. fleurfisher permalink
    March 28, 2009 1:39 pm

    What a fabulous list! Armadale and No Name are my favourite Wilkie Collins and I am eyeing the works of Zola too. And it may have been me who mentioned Chretien de Troyes – here in this Library Loot post. I haven’t started reading yet, because I have only something else from a similar period.

  21. March 28, 2009 2:40 pm

    Well well well, that is quite the list! When people ask me for suggestions I should kindly push them in your direction! :) Can’t wait to see what you finally settle on…and then wait patiently for you to read the rest so I can see what you thought. Thanks for joining us, Eva!

  22. March 28, 2009 2:57 pm

    What a great list! You sure have taken on lots of challenges!

  23. March 28, 2009 3:09 pm

    this is my kind of challenge!

  24. March 28, 2009 5:56 pm

    What a great list! There are so many books on your list that I want to read. The only one I have read is The Arabian Nights, but I have no idea which edition/version it was.

  25. March 29, 2009 1:05 am

    I want to read some more Zola. I read Nana…she reminded me of a combination of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

    There’s some Trollope in my new library, but I can’t remember which one…it was a Chunkster, though.

  26. March 29, 2009 7:54 am

    Oh, oh! You are going to love these!! I’ve read many of the ones on your list. “The Good Earth” being my faorite. I liked it so much I actually made a pilgrimage to Pearl S. Bucks house when I was closeish to the area. (OK a state away, but compared to the other side of the country it was close!)

    Treasure Island was also quite good, much better than the muppet edition I always associate with it. And of course everyone has to read the complete “Arabian Nights” at some point.

    Wonderful, wonderful choices! I look forward to hearing what you think. Please drop by my blog and let me know when you finish reading one so I can hear what you think!

  27. March 29, 2009 11:20 am

    How long is this challenge? Well you go, girl. I read Lady’s Chatterley’s Lover in college. It became the benchmark for all things erotic for me. If a writer can’t create the intensity, sensuality, the eroticism literary, I’m bored. Needless to say I don’t read romances.

  28. March 30, 2009 9:36 am

    I loved reading your list of possibles…you’re the queen of annotating, my dear! Seriously…I so love the stories of why.

    I wish I was better at reading classics. I’ve honestly loved many of the ones I have actually read, so why I tend to push them aside for other reading choices I can’t quite explain.

    I did join Trish’s challenge again this year…and I really hope to do much better this time around.

  29. March 30, 2009 2:17 pm

    Sounds like a zealous list! Great job. I will be looking forward to your reviews!

  30. March 31, 2009 6:13 pm

    I didn’t realize that some of these are now considered classics. I picked 19th century stuff for this challenge but it’s not my favourite reading at all. I’d choose differently if I could read some of these. You should read Franny and Zooey, I loved it. And if you can find it try his Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters too, it follows the same characters. Unless you get a Franny and Zooey edition with that included, of course. And you must not miss Cry, the Beloved Country, Go Tell It On the Mountain, or Zola’s Germinal. The Good Earth is the other I would recommend, and if you finish it, there are actually three volumes but only the first volume is well known. Most people are surprised by this but she wrote it as three volumes. The second and third are Sons and A House Divided, they continue the family story. I’ve read Hesse too and Siddhartha is very different from his other works-I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
    I envy you, these books are some of my favourites and I wish I were discovering them for the first time. I’m stuck plodding along in with stogy old Wuthering Heights. lol Have fun.

  31. April 1, 2009 8:27 am

    Bagavaad Gita is an interesting choice on there as a “classic”. It’s one thing to just sit down and read the words; but to understand it requires a lot more time investment. It’s more like reading the bible in that this is a holy text and not a “story.”

    If I might recommend Yogananda Paramahansa has a translation with commentary that explains what it all means. I have family members who have spent decades studying various religions to come out of Asia and they all have recommended it to me.

  32. April 6, 2009 11:30 pm

    Rebecca, thanks!

    BermudaOnion, I don’t plan on reading all of them! ;)

    Rhapsody, I know-before book blogging, I reread all of the time. *sigh* Still trying to figure out a good balance. :)

    A Devoted Reader, thanks for the Zola suggestion!

    Memory, I’m glad to hear Siddhartha is wow. And I can’t wait to read Franny and Zooey. :D

    Kristen, lol: I’d love someone to publish ‘1,000’ Awesome Classics. Don’t think it’ll happen though!

    Jenny, awesome!

    Nancy, I’ve only been to Oxford once, and I was too young to have read Brideshead. I remember it being gorgeous though. :D

    Mee, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    Danielle, you always feed my Collins addiction. ;) I remember al of your posts on Armadale!

    Margaret, thanks for the Zola recs.

    Staci, you can’t go wrong with Austen. :D

    Softdrink, you know you want to…you know you want to… ;)

    Musings, that’s two votes for Ladies Paradise!

    Susan, I’m not a big Dickens fan…except for A Tale of Two Cities. Thanks for finding the book for me! I’m hoping I can ILL it. ;)

    Gentle Reader, thanks for all of the enthusiasm-you have me even more excited!

    Maggie, the movie made me very curious.

    Fleur, it probably was you with the Chretien de Troyes. :D I loved No Name so much!

    Trish, thanks for hosting! :)

    Gavin, I have lots of spare time. ;)

    Jessica, you should join in!

    Alyce, I’m one of those OCD people about translations, lol.

    Bybee, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? Together? I’m not sure I could handle that.

    Uninvoked, thanks for the enthusiasm!

    Susan, lol-I’m not reading them ALL. I’ve heard great things about Lwrence.

    Debi, thank you. :) I think it’s weird that I’ve never been intimdated by the classics-I think it’s because I read them with my mom when I was in elementary school, so they always seem like old childhood friends.

    Michelle, thanks!

    Sandra, I’m a big fan of the 19th century, but I didn’t worry about a strict classics definition. You can always change your list!

    Christina, I knew that it was a religious text, but I suppose I was excited by the idea of myths (I’m a fan of comparative mythology). You make a good point-I’ll definitely look into a companion volume to accompany me. :)


  1. Classics Challenge (with a twist) « Couch trip

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: