Classic!

classicsclubBoy, (why did I ever?) disappear from the blogosphere for a while, and you miss a few cool things, like the fact that there is a Classics Club that was created two years ago to inspire people to read and write about classic books. I found out about it over at BooksPlease, so thank you not only to the Classics Club but also to BooksPlease. I am, of course (I mean, talk about “no-brainer” even if you’ve come to despise that hideous term), joining the Classics Club, and I’ve created a page on this blog specifically for it, so if you’re curious to see what books I’m going to read, go here, please.

In the meantime, the Classics Club has also provided us with a fun meme, The 50 Question Survey. Back in the day, I was dubbed “The Queen o’ Memes”, so how could I possibly refuse participation? For a few of the questions, I had to adjust it a bit, because, of course, I’ve not yet begun to read the classics on my list, but by participating in the 50 Club Questions, I hope to give you an idea of some of the classics I’ve read before becoming a member of the club. Here you go:

50 Club Questions:

1. Share a link to your club list.

In case you missed it in the first paragraph, here it is again.

2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club?

Well, that’s easy, I joined on Nov. 21, 2014. Technically, I’ve read 2 1/2 as you’ll see from my list, because I’m rereading 2 1/2. Oh, and I’ve also, now that I see the next question, realized that I’ve read 40 pages of another.

3. What are you currently reading?

The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

4. Original Question: What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it? Adapted to: What classic have you read most recently and what did you think of it?

Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson. I thought it dragged in places, was a bit unoriginal, but I still liked it, for some reason I can’t quite pinpoint

5. What are you reading next? Why?

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, because I was going to read it last Christmas and never got around to it, and now it’s on my club list which means I’m more likely to get around to it this Christmas

6. Original: Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why? Adapted: Best classic you’ve read in the last 2 years and why?

Time and Again by Jack Finney (which was a reread), because there’s time travel and mystery and romance all rolled into one book, and I like the ending

7. Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, because I just know it’ll make me laugh

8. Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?

I haven’t yet, but my guess is I’ll eventually end up avoiding The Forsyte Saga by Galsworthy just because it’ll be a huge time commitment (which is why Le Miserable didn’t make the list, even though I want to read it)

9. First classic you ever read?

This probably means from my club list, but I’m going to name one of the first classics I ever read in my life, which was probably Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf. If it wasn’t, it should have been.

10. Toughest classic you ever read?

Again, in my lifetime, probably parts of the Bible. For instance, I love The Book of Job, but the first time I read it, with no guidance from anyone, it was tough because it seemed so unfair. The Book of Numbers is just plain tedious.

11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?

So many in my lifetime, but the first one ever to make me cry, impressing thirteen-year-old me (who was busy babysitting at the time, and was lounging on the couch, eating Oreo cookies once the kids were in bed) greatly, was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

12. Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?

In my lifetime, I’m not sure. Which is longer War and Peace or Don Quixote? Longest on my list is the aforementioned Forsyte Saga

13. Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your list?

Again, in my lifetime, my guess is The Bible. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare is, of course, the oldest one left on my list.

14. Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?

Ross Macdonald: A Biography by Tom Nolan, which was fascinating and was where I first discovered that Macdonald and Eudora Welty had been such good friends

15. Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, because people who haven’t read it have no idea how very sad it is. It’s scary, yes (not in a supernatural, Hollywood way, but, rather, in a humans-playing-god way), but it’s much sadder than it is scary

16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?

I love the Penguin Classics hard cover edition of Jane Austen’s Emma that my friend Marcy gave me.

17. Favorite movie adaptation of a classic?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca

18. Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.

It’s a tie between Time and Again by Jack Finney and What Makes Sammy Run? by Bud Schulberg

19. Least favorite classic? Why?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I’ve tried to read it three times, every time hoping I’d finally get it, because I know quite a few people whose reading tastes I respect who love it

20. Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.

From my club list: Sherwood Anderson, Carson McCullers, James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Stanley Milgram

21. Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, because I’m sure I’m going to be able to relate to misfits living in a small town. I certainly did when I read Main Street by Sinclair Lewis a number of years ago

22. Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving?

Yes, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I was way too young to appreciate it the first time I read it, in high school (relying heavily on the Cliff Notes and still not getting it). A few years later, having studied behavioral science and seen the movie, I thought it was brilliant (and still do).

23. Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?

Tom Ripley of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Can anyone who’s read that book get him out of his/her head?

24. Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?

Well, certainly not Tom Ripley, since he empathizes with no one but himself, and I empathize even with inanimate objects. Which classic character does that? Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, maybe?

25. Which character do you most wish you could be like?

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, so frank and honest and far ahead of her time

26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, of course.

27. If a sudden announcement were made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” of a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?

I’d probably avoid it in favor of the original. If the author and editor chose not to include what amounts to a sequel, there must be a reason. Having said that, if there were some undiscovered sequel found to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, well, I’d love to know what happened to Scout when she grew up.

28. Favorite children’s classic?

The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster. A fantasy with word play? What’s not to love? I still remember the magic feeling of reading it for the first time, so magical that unlike many of my other childhood favorites, I didn’t read it over and over again. Just one or two more times. I’ve read it three times as an adult, because it holds up beautifully. In fact, maybe it’s time for a reread soon.

29. Who recommended your first classic?

No one recommended the first classic on my list (well, except, you know, in a general sense from all those I know who adore Shakespeare). The classic I’m currently reading wasn’t exactly recommended by anyone, but it was mentioned in Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest book Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth, and what she said about it piqued my interest.

30. Who’s advice do you always take when it comes to literature?

My siblings’ advice, my husband’s advice, and my friend Gary’s advice.

31. Favorite memory with a classic?

When I was thirteen years old (definitely not your typical age for being read stories before bed), I lay in my parents’ bed with my mother every night until we were done and read over her shoulder while she read aloud to me a wonderfully illustrated edition of Little Women and Good Wives. I also have great memories of my father, when I was a younger age, reading me stories from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and reading me Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.

32. Classic author you’ve read the most books by?

Hmmm, probably William Shakespeare.

33. Classic author who has the most works on your club list?

None. I didn’t repeat any authors.

34. Classic author you own the most books by?

Probably Charles Dickens (due to inheriting books from my grandmother, not because I’ve read a lot of Dickens)

35. Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? 

I really toyed with Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, which I started on vacation last year and LOVED but came home to a life that was too busy to make the time and space for something that really requires attention and thought, so I put it down. I’d like to get back to it, but I need about three weeks of vacation to do so, and that ain’t happening any time soon. If my life circumstances change, though, I will edit my list and add it.

36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. 🙂 Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?

Carson Mccullers. I can maybe do that with her novels, since I’m starting with her first.

37. How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?

2 1/2, and I have one that’s a bit of a question mark (Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. The year my family lived in England, when I was fifteen, I read everything I could get my hands on by her, but I don’t know which titles those were, so it might be a reread). I’m most lookig forward to rereading the first half of  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and reading the second half for the first time. I loved it while I was reading it and have heard so many good things about it.

38. Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?

It isn’t that I couldn’t. It’s just that, for some reason (probably because it was another book begun while on a vacation), I didn’t, and then, again, for some reason, the idea of doing so became so daunting that I just gave up. I’d like to revisit it one day, because it wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy it: Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.

39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?

That describes, roughly, 85% of all classics I’ve read. I mean, who expects to love reading something one feels one must read? One of the most surprising was the Bible, though, which I initially read in its entirety, because, since so much of the literature that’s come since is based on stories from it, I decided I couldn’t consider myself literate without having read the whole thing. I never expected to love it (not all of it, of course, as mentioned previously, but taken as a whole), nor did I expect my husband, who read it through the same year I did, to decide to go to seminary, but I did, and he did.

40. Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?

1. Being a part of this club

2. Reading some books that have been in my TBR tome longer than I care to admit

3. Feeding my brain

4. Writing about great stuff

5. Hearing what others have to say about the stuff I review

41. Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

Soldier’s Pay by William Falukner, because it’s been over 20 years since I’ve read any Faulkner and, of course, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

42. Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

Wow, I haven’t decided yet. Probably, though, The Name of the Rose. Unless I decide to read both 20th-century Italian literature titles in my first year, I really think I ought to start with the first one.

43. Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?

Don’t know yet, but I imagine it will be the satisfaction that comes from reading books I’ve been meaning to read for years, along with discovering new bloggers and hearing what others have to say about the books I read.

44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?

I’ll answer this question next year.

45. Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber?

Ditto answer to 44.

46. If  you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience. If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?

I’ve been tempted to do this at times, but I’m pretty sure (unless my memory fails me. Always a possibility at my age, as well as for someone who’s been wandering around the lit blog world for 8+ years), I’ve never done it. If any longtime blog friends remember that I did, please remind me.

47. If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?

I’d love to read Plato’s Republic with others, because I’ve never read it; have always felt an affinity for, and, thus, have been fond of Plato; and feel I’d need a little hand-holding from others who might be more philosophically knowledgable than I

48. How long have you been reading classic literature?

All my life.

49. Share up to five posts you’ve written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn’t love, lists, etc.

These are posts I’ve written on the blog I keep for the library where I work:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

11/22/63 by Stephen King

And here’s one classic: 1984 by George Orwell

One to grow on, because I mentioned it in this post: The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster

50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!) 

Question: Which classic did you read on your honeymoon/do you think you might consider reading on your honeymoon?

Answer: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Long, yes, but such love! Such passion! Perfect reading on a Hawaiian beach during daylight hours, and who knows what might happen when the sun sets?

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