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Classic Literature Challenge

Another book challenge:

Although I’ve been an avid reader almost all my life, this is one area where I’ve been a bit negligent. I managed to avoid most of the reading I was supposed to do in high school (thanks to Cliff’s Notes), and now there are a lot of books I feel I “should” have read, but I haven’t. So, I would like to read more of them.

I like to make my goals quantifiable when possible (so I know when I’ve completed one) . . . so, I’m going to challenge myself to read 12 classic novels (one per month this year, unless I get speedy and read them more quickly).

I’m planning to start with “Phantom of the Opera,” which I checked out from the library earlier this afternoon.

ETA: A LIST (or the start of one, anyway)! :)

Phantom of the Opera
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Scarlett Pimpernell
Northanger Abbey
Jane Eyre
Oliver Twist
Portrait of a Lady
Around the World in 80 Days


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
Re: my one suggestion...
Is that the one with Mr. Rochester? Yes, I think it is . . .

I have a confession to make! I had been wanting to read this one, because I want to read "The Eyre Affair," and felt like it would probably make more sense if I'd read "Jane Eyre" first. But then, a few months ago, I got lazy, and got the film version (with Marlon Brando, IIRC) from the library. *hides face in hands* That is totally CHEATING, isn't it? (I did it with "Memoirs of a Geisha," too, and "Pay it Forward." Bad Wendy. Bad. BAD!). *giggles*

Maybe I should actually take the time to read the book, huh? I was a bit nervous, since I'd always sort of lumped this one in with "Wuthering Heights" (which I read and did not enjoy). I'll give it a try, though, since you liked it!

Thanks for the suggestion!
Jan. 9th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
I keep meaning to find and read a copy of The Scarlett Pimpernell...not entirely sure why...
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
Heh. That title has always kind of disturbed me. When I was a kid, I thought they were talking about bread (pumpernickel) . . . but now I've got the idea in my head that it's really some sort of a big mole or birthmark? Or did I just imagine that? I think I like the idea of the bread better! :D

(As you can tell, that's another of the "unread classics" on my list). :D
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think I've always felt a bit that the title doesn't seem to _fit_ with a swashbuckling, sword swinging intrigue adventure...
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
Is that really what it's about? Swashbuckling?

Because the title puts me in mind of some fat foppish kinda guy in a bad wig, wearing a dark red velvet suit (late 18th century), with black shoes with silver buckles, white tights, and a big hairy mole on his face. SO not swashbuckling.

I might have to add that one to my list. Now I'm intriqued. And, like you, I've heard (and obviously not understood) a lot of references to the book over the years. *adds book to classics list*
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Hmnh. And I might even be intriGued.

Jan. 9th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
heh, have you SEEN how badly I type?

Oh, I meant to say, my other problem is I tend to side with the smelly peasants, which has always put me off reading it...
Jan. 9th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
Did you know that there are two kinds of people in the world...those who carefully proofread before hitting SEND and those who
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:48 am (UTC)
Well, having not read it , I THINK that is what it is about...

My understanding was that the Scarlett Pimprenell was sneaking French aristocrats out of France before the smelly peasants could chop their heads off, so I assume there were buckles being swashed...so time of the French Revoution...So definitely an era of bad wigs...

Wiki suggests the novel is seen as "a precursor to the spy fiction and the superhero genres." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scarlet_Pimpernel) Which kinda makes me want to read it more...

Jan. 9th, 2007 05:37 am (UTC)
and the main reason I want to read it is that it is one of those things I know a little bit about, but only through references in other things, and comedy parodies...
Jan. 9th, 2007 02:28 am (UTC)
I've got Henry James's Portrait of a Lady in my TBR Challenge list, if you have a mind towards trying that one. I figure classics tend to go better if you can share 'em with others...
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
What's it about? In general, I mean. I've heard the title, but there is absolutely no spark of recognition in my head about the subject matter. But yeah, I'll read along with you if you start it at a time when I'm not slammed.

Also, I'll definitely let you know when I start reading "Read Mars," so we can read together if it happens at a time when you're not slammed. :D

I'm doing all right on the TBR thing, btw. I started one of the books on my list this evening. (One of the thin ones, just to make sure I get January out of the way, since I'm getting a tiny bit of a late start). Whee!
Jan. 9th, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)
Umm...quite honestly, I'm not too sure. I just know it's been on my "classics to read" list for a while. I skimmed the cover blurb and it looks your standard Austin-esque plot about class and relationships, but the main character is an american in England. Might be an ex-pat hook for you there? It's quite a sizeable tome, as most classics are, but it's supossed to be one of the greats.

btw - cute typo on "read mars" ;) Challenge or no, let me know when you start that, and I'll get back into it myself.

I think I've narrowed down my choices for reading this month, but I'm holding my thinnest book in reserve if I get in a pinch :) I'm wading through a (luckily low-pressure) backlog of promised books right now - heavy stuff like Under the Banner of Heaven. They're good reads, but slooooooow. I'm hoping to be able to toss my January TBR into the mix sometime next week. whew!
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that you liked Jane Eyre better than WH. I completely agree with what you said - I just didn't like any of the characters! Which was kind of surprising to me. I'd always had in my head that it was some sort of fantastic love story - Cathy and Heathcliff, and she returns from the grave blah blah blah. But ACK! They were both such losers, I could hardly stand it!

And funny you should mention ALW and "Phantom," since they're both the reason I've chosen this book. I've been a fan of the ALW production for years, and a while back we bought the video of the film version (which I liked the first time I saw it, but didn't like the singing, since I was so used to the recording that I'd listened to for years; but over time, the film has really grown on me, and now I ADORE Gerard Butler as the Phantom - OMG SO SEXY - and I don't know her name, but the woman who plays Christine Daae is spectacular, too. Although it's weird to see that actress in "Poseidon," as now she's just Christine to me). Well . . . that was a long tangent . . . where was I? Oh yes.

So, I'd been a fan of the musical for a long time, but in watching the new film, I've noticed that there are some things about the plot that bother me. Some things that don't quite add up, and times when characters do things that just seem a bit inexplicable to me. (Well, mostly that Christine wants to be with stupid boring Raoul, when she could live in that crazy underground palace with the multi-talented and oh-so-sexy phantom. But okay, I admit that I might be in the minority about this opinion). But since we've been watching the film a lot lately - Connor really loves it - I've been curious as to just what happens in the book. So, I checked it out. Plus, I've had "Phantom" on my "to read" list for a while now, but I'd like to read the original before reading the fanfic, if you know what I mean.

I'll check out the read-along forum, although chances are I'm not quite organized enough to participate very often. :D
Jan. 9th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
I ended up reading quite a few classics simply because of Masterpiece Theatre; I became interested in seeing how the video version differed from the originals. :) I adore Jane Austen (if you like books of that era, read Georgette Heyer...she was the Master), can't stand Hemingway, like Thomas Hardy (though they are dark)...oh I could go on. *L*
Jan. 9th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Me too! I used to watch Masterpiece Theatre when I was a kid, and that made me interested in classic literature, to the extent that when I was a teenager I read far more real literature than I read now. I could have done without the pretentious Alistair Cooke and his pipe, though, although he was made worthwhile by the Sesame Street bit Monsterpiece Theatre, with Alistair Cookie Monster. But I digress.

Masterpiece Theatre inspired me to read Tom Brown's Schooldays and Pere Goriot, among others.

Also agree w/ you about Austen and Hemingway.
Jan. 11th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
I watched loads of "Masterpiece Theatre," too, but I don't remember too many that were based on classic literature. Well, I guess "The Pallisers" was? I wouldn't call "Poldark" classic literature (although it was my fave MT presentation. At least I think it was MT. I adored Alistair Cooke, though.

I actually have read a lot of Austen, and one of the few classic I did read in school was by Hemingway and it traumatized me so much I've avoided him every since. :D
Jan. 11th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
I, too, love Austen. I've read four or five of her books, IIRC. I will check out Heyer.

Also WORD about Hemingway. I read "The Sun Also Rises" in high school (the only book I actually remember READING for a HS English class), and it traumatized me. I thought it was awful and annoying and I hated the characters and it put me off Hemingway . . . well . . . forever, maybe. I suppose I might try something else of his eventually, but it's not high on my priority list after that awful bullfighting madness I read.
Jan. 12th, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
I can't stand the way Hemingway demeans women; I know he fell in love during the war w/ an older nurse and she eventually turned him down...seems it affected him in such a way that he took out his pain and anger in his writing. And drinking. And multiple wives.
Jan. 12th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
You know, it's interesing that I never thought of it like this before. I was young when I read this book - 16, I think - and I didn't yet have a frame of reference to identify it as him demeaning Brett. I just thought she was lame. :D But now, looking back, yes, I can see exactly what you mean.

It didn't take me long to get that frame of reference, though. For sure, by the time I read "Witches of Eastwick" a few years later (when I was maybe 20) it was clear to me that Updike is a misogynist. (Something which became even clearer when I later read a bit more of his work). *sigh*
Jan. 9th, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)
Good luck with all of that -- it's feast or famine, isn't it?

Perhaps I'll stop whining that I always have to spend time in the office during the Christmas holiday, and have to jump back in on the second of January.
Jan. 9th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
Agree on Jane Eyre; very good and much easier to read than Wuthering. What else in on the "classics" list...I don't see a link anywhere to the actual selection of books.
Jan. 11th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
I didn't actually come up with a list yet . . . maybe I should start one? This challenge I was just going to read stuff that strikes my fancy, but perhaps I will start making a list of the ones I think I want to read. :)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
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