Every beginning of a new year gives new promises. These promises sometimes take the form of resolutions, “this year I will finally loose those last x number of pounds.” “I will complete my buckets list.” or “I will be a better person.” And so on and so forth. I love new beginnings because they give me a starting point, like a new week, but also an ending destination, like the end of a year.
Another weakness of mine, after all I only have one you know, is that I LOVE book lists, challenges, anything that gives me the opportunity to find reading material that will fit into that category. Why have reading lists and not just pick up a book and read it? Well, then I am generally more purposeful about the types of books I choose. I have hundreds of books to read on my shelf. It can be overwhelming at times. But if I have goal as to where to start, then I am more likely to choose some books that I have been meaning to read or I weed out books that may have been good reads but aren’t what I need to be focusing on right now.
” But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” Ecclesiastes 12:12
It all started with a blog post, Back to the Classics Challenge of 2018. I love classics. I love challenges! I love books! It was a match made in heaven. So here I begin. I am making slight adjustment to the rules for my own challenge. I do not intend to enter for the gift card because I have a lot of books started before this year but I do want to get them finished! I had a feeling I’m going to be starting from the beginning on a few. Do you want to know which books I chose? Because I have been asked this question a lot since my announcement of doing this challenge. So here you are folks! The winners are:
A 19th century classic: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
I do not know much about this. I know it is a controversial story about slavery and the morality that lies therein. Beyond that, not much. It was to my delight when I was reading some of the reviews and remarks on Goodreads that it was an adventure story. Another reader compared it to Ghandi; kind of the silent hero that stands for what he believes in without fighting. I am already engrossed in the story.
A 20th century classic – (any book published between 1900 and 1968.)To Kill a Mockingbird I have seen the movie (anyone else had a crush on Gregory Peck?) but I have never read the book. I remember the movie as through the eyes of the Lawyer and not the whole premise of the story that is portrayed the eyes of a girl coming of age. It’s been on my to-read pile and since we’ll be reading Go Set Forth A Watchman later on this year, in our local book club, I thought I would make it a priority to read her first published work.
A classic by a woman author. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Most of my chosen books are by women authors! Pure coincidence I assure you. But this one is a deliberate female choice. I love the sound of “Baroness”. There is something regal and classic about it. I enjoyed the TV series so much and I had begin this book a while ago, but never finished it. I decided this was the year to make it a priority. Full of humor and action. During the time of the French Revolution, an unknown hero is rescuing the persecuted citizens and leaving behind a signature– the scarlet pimpernel. Sir Blakeney is considered to be a wealthy Englishman that is not quite clever enough but considered the fool of the town. His wife is a French exile lady caught between loyalties. I quite know the story, so I am doing my best not to give anything away that the book has not revealed. Can’t wait to finish this one.
A classic in translation. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I have been reading snippets in the car and infrequent stops (namely ballet and Jiu Jitsu stops) and read bits and pieces. I was touched immediately by the rawness and youthfulness. So easy it is to draw lines between right and wrong, but what if you are learning for yourself those lines? German WW1 soldier, Paul Baumer, begins his adventure signing up for action. Defending country and answering the call for loyalty to country, he soon learns that there is little distinction between him and the enemy boys fighting for the same principles on the other end of the gun barrel. I love this book and I am only 1/4 of the way in at the beginning of this year. Can’t wait to finish this classic.
A children’s classic Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Brink. I am cheating a bit on this choice. I know I read it years and years ago, but when I gave it to my children and they were telling me the story, I couldn’t remember any of what was being told back to me. It has been compared to as the Little House Series for boys. 🙂 Looking forward to possibly doing this with my eldest son.
A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction: Lord Peter Whimsey Series by Dorothy Sayers. Again, another set of stories that I have seen the movie/ Tv Series too but have never read the complete series. I love the sly British humor to be found. I love the wit and intelligence of Dorothy Sayers other works, and I can’t wait to read her own words about this British aristocrat who loves to delve into a good mystery. I would compare Dorothy Sayers as to that of Agatha Christie.
A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction: Around the World in 80 Days By Jules Verne. I can’t think of a better traveling story then this classic. Unfortunately, while I do know of the author and recognize the title, I know nothing about the book. I assume that if one was to travel the world using the available means of travel in the 1870’s that we could expect a captivating narrative.
A classic with a single-word title. Persuasion by Jane Austen. I have read many of the Jane Austens, except this one. I just have never gotten to it! There are many single-word Classic titles out there but this was a perfect opportunity to read one of my favorite Austen works. Since it was Miss Austen’s last work, I can only imagine that it is her best writing?
A classic with a color in the title. The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of my husband’s favorite childhood book, I think it is time that I read this literature based on the War of the Roses time period. This will be more of a challenge simply because it takes place in the 15th century. Old English speech can make this a more difficult and slow read. I am also looking forward to this one because we have been memorizing several of R. L. Stevenson’s poems this year. It is a nice package complete with a red bow.
A classic by an author that’s new to you. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Yes, I know the plot line. I know what to expect. I have seen the movies. I have never read the actual book. And I haven’t read anything else by this author. I have several dear friends that really love and enjoy this book and so I am determined to set aside all I know about this book and read it with fresh eyes. I have more of a sensible nature like Elinor from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility than Marianne, who I am sure would have enjoyed the romance and drama of the Bronte’ sisters.
A classic that scares you. The Picture of Dorian Grey By Oscar Wilde. I did begin this as a read aloud but never finished. I have a habit of that don’t I? It was a difficult story to contemplate on. The whole outline of the story is that who we are on the inside is the true character of us regardless of what others see on the outside. SCARY! It is one that really shaped me as a child when I watched the black and white version of this with Angela Landsbury. I am determined that this is the year I complete the book. I really enjoy his The Importance of Being Ernest, so I am assuming that this is going to be another 4 to 5 star read in my book.
Re-read a favorite classic. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Ahhh Fanny you are my favorite character. I think she is quite the one often overlooked but some of the best lines of Austen has come from Mansfield Park. Her quietness of character always make me think of the scriptures of a godly woman. She was not one to be walked over when the line was crossed between right and wrong, but her heart to “live at peace with all men” just is one of the most beautiful qualities of Miss Price. I have long to be like this heroine. And I have wanted to re-read this story for some time. I believe the time has come.
So, there you have it folks. There is my choices for the Back to the Classics challenge. The funny thing is, this isn’t my only challenge! But this is the only one focused solely on the classic stories.
And that is how I am choosing my books. As previously mentioned, I have many books I have long to read. This just opens the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
Do you have any reading plans this year?