Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Year of Classic Literature

After talking with my friend, Sam, about her love for Far From the Madding Crowd, I resolved to pick it up from the library so I could chat with her about it later. She said she was surprised this one didn't take off and Pride and Prejudice did. That really intrigued me. 

I didn't start reading it right away as I also got a book from the library that "internet people" have been loving. It's a new release and it reminds me of Kate Morton's books (which I love) but it also seems a little flat. There is a time and place for books for pleasure and then books to learn. What I've been learning a lot lately is our brains naturally want us to do the easy thing. It avoids the hard, challenging work. I started noticing that I do this with the books I read. I've been neglecting classics or putting them off and instead gone for the quick, enthralling reads. Again, a time and place for those for sure. I think I will always revert back to those when I need a breather. But I love learning and I've had a great desire to learn how to read these classics but that requires doing the hard work. And I know not all the classics are hard work but I love when the writing challenges me a little more. 

This year I got caught up in the numbers on my Goodreads reading challenge. I did have my  blog reading challenge and in some ways I stretched myself and other ways I didn't. I pretty much have the challenge completed and I'm not sure if that's a sign that it was a real goal or not. ;) Don't we need to fail at these kind of things once in a while? 

Ever since I started putting books on my IG book account, I notice that I follow people who read the new and upcoming "thriller" reads. Not many people post about the classics. And I've read some of these books they highly recommend and in a lot of cases, I haven't jumped on the hype. I think this means that I want more when it comes to my reading. I want to be more intentional about it. 

It's so invigorating to read a classic and find worthwhile gems and it provides a reading experience that will stay with you. 

I found this post (and subsequently read so many of her other posts), that it inspired me to pick up more classics as well. 

Okay, the hard and fun part is what to read and how much I should read. This will be for next year's goal. I'm deciding between once a month or once every six weeks (because that's how long I get a book from the library if I renew it). I'm still trying to figure out if there should be a theme to this. 

And do I do some of them abridged or not? Which ones should I tackle on audio?

I'm also trying to figure out if I should slow my way into the classics by reading books where I'm familiar with the story like Little Dorrit and Mansfield Park? 

And do I intentionally pick books that I think I might hate like Wuthering Heights?

Here is the book list with definite add-ons later...

Far From the Madding Crowd
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Count of Monte Cristo
Anna Karenina
The Remains of the Day
Huck Finn
Tom Sawyer
War and Peace
The Great Gatsby
Les Miserables
Crime and Punishment
Angle of Repose
The Scarlett Letter
The Age of Innocence 
Little Dorrit
Great Expectations
East of Eden
Lord of the Rings
The Color Purple
Brideshead Revisted
Brave New World
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wuthering Heights
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey
The Secret Garden
The Woman in White
The Wind in the Willows
The House of Mirth
My Antonia
The Handsmaid Tale
The Portrait of a Lady
Watership Down
Jamaica Inn
Lonesome Dove
The Hobbit
Bleak House
Oliver Twist
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

What would you add to the list? Are there any you see that I absolutely HAVE to read? Or are them some that I should completely avoid? I would love to know! 

I'm going to try to narrow down my picks by the end of the year so I can make a good headway on them come January. I'm pretty excited about it!


  1. Far From the Madding Crowd is lovely, but Tess of the d'Urbervilles is my my favorite Hardy novel (though not quite as happy as Madding). I'm excited to follow your journey here, and see which classics you pick. You've got a great list here (I'm assuming these are all books you haven't read before, and so how did you get out of high school without reading The Great Gatsby?). I haven't read every book on this list (I counted 30 I've read), and of the ones I've read I can't say all of them are super enjoyable reads, but I can say they are all interesting/worthy/thought-provoking in some way (yes, even Wuthering Heights).

    1. Wow, 30, that's amazing. I'm not sure how I missed on The Great Gatsby...maybe they read it in AP English (which I didn't take, cough, cough). And I'll probably eventually get to Wuthering Heights because there seems to be a big divide where people love it or hate it and I'm interested to see what I decide by the end of the book.

  2. What a thoughtful experiment!I am excited for you! I really appreciated Oliver Twist. It was hard in the middle to get through but the end rewarded my efforts. (Dickens is like that!) Watership Down was surprisingly fascinating, too! I remember gary really liking east of eden. And Les Miserables is a must but I can't imagine finishing it in 6 weeks or a month! Uncle Tom's Cabin was so moving/spiritual ...I wanted to read it again but still haven't.

    1. Good to know about Oliver Twist! That wasn't high on my list of choices but it might be now. And I've heard mixed reviews about East of Eden but I want to give Steinbeck a try. And Watership Down seems so interesting. Hope to read it soon. And again, I'm going to choose one or two massive reads for the year. :) And I actually have Uncle Tom's Cabin from the library right now (trying to read it for my reading challenge this year) so I'll let you know how I like it!

  3. Also, I agree on your analysis...our brains want easy. And some books are like TV for the brain. (And admittedly i really like those!) Good for you for seeking out more!

  4. I would add A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Tale of Two Cities to your list. I'm trying to add more classics and harder brain food into my usual fare as well. :) I'm looking forward to seeing what you choose!

    1. I read Tale of Two Cities this year and loved it! And I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn a couple of years ago but I need to re-read it again soon. Thanks for the suggestions!