Wednesday 31 October 2012

An Old Dog Barks Backwards and 3 Dogs on a Bushwalk

 Happy Halloween everybody.  Halloween is such an American holiday that the Australians haven't quite figured it out.  So I will just issue the greeting here and hope you've had a good day doing something fun.

First published 1973
Being the last day of October I am finished with my October challenge (here).  I actually did better with it than I thought I might.  I read the King Penguin but didn't get the photos or review posted up. I will save it for another day.  I also wrote most of the Uncle Remus review but haven't posted it up, again, another time. I don't like to rush Uncle Remus because it has always been a favourite book of mine.

The other goal was to make up some books for 2013 reading based on the non fiction book called You've Got To Read This Book.  All I can say about that is this book is not a list of books with summaries. It is a series of essays from various writers stating what they have read and what they think the people of the world should also read.
I decided after having a good look at it that instead of choosing their books for my Classics Challenge (here) starting in 2013 that instead I would pick my own titles.

The two goals I did finish up with today were taking a nature walk with the dogs and my camera and I also finished a book with an author whose last name begins with the letter N.

The author with the letter N is Ogden Nash.  The book is The Old Dog Barks Backwards. Ogden Nash is another author I enjoy reading who is light hearted, very clever and I would put him on the same shelf with James Thurber, another favourite and O. Henry who I mentioned yesterday.
Ogden Nash- American writer

Ogden Nash (Frederic Ogden Nash), according to Wikipedia, was an American writer born in 1902 and died from a bacterial infection from a 'misprepared' cole slaw in 1971 which aggravated his Crohn's disease.

He lived most of his life in Baltimore although he was originally born in Georgia. He descended from General Francis Nash who gave his name to the city of Nashville, Tennessee. (Quite a bit of trivia happening here).

His style is generally described as "pun like rhymes with words often misspelled for comic effect." He loved baseball, with the Baltimore Orioles being his favoured team and he wrote of social issues based on newspaper headlines and other current afffairs. He did not approve of employers who treated their employees badly. He was once known to say, "People who stand up on the their jobs make less money than those who sit down."

The book, The Old Dog Barks Backwards is a great deal of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The publisher describes him as a "social observer of the sharpest insight, whose humour, sanity and cheerful cynicism appealed to countless numbers of people of all ages."

The Dog Barks Backwards is a posthumous collection of 77 Nash verses, many of which have been published in magazines but none of which has ever appeared in book form.

It is easy to see what a well read man Mr. Nash was while reading this book as he mentions quite a few literary figures in the verses within the book.

I thought I would share one I particular enjoyed about the writer Balzac because it is very clever and quite funny.


Robert Binks- Illustrator
"Myself when young was prone to conform to youthful mores:
Consequently, my acquaintance with Balzac was limited to his opus best adapted to youthful tastes, "Droll Stories."
Yet even then I understood that as a novelist he was undoubtedly major,
And I vowed that to read his complete works would be my project when I should matriculate at some Sunset Haven as a retiree and Golden Ager.
Because, to be truly cultured,  a person should read the complete works of at least one major man of letters, or so they say,
And I decided that on my literary menu Balzac should be the specialite.

I planned to devote each weekend from Vendredi through Samedi to "The Human Comedy";
I looked forward with a wild surmise
To meeting "Cousin Bette" and "Cousin Pons," to say nothing of "The Girl with the Golden Eyes";
Also, if only to discover what its title denotes, 
"The House of the Cat Who Pelotes."

I should then have absorbed all Balzac, there could be no more.
But now I suddenly find that besides  Honore'de there was another Balzac: Seigneur Jean Louis Guez (gaz) de, 1597 (?) - 1654,
And that praise for his prose was once on every literate lip,
Chiefly because he wrote "The Barbon"and "The Aristippe."

That's too many Balzacs for one gray head; I shall turn instead to the plays of Sir William Davenant,
And should you ask me if I have read anything by either Balzac other than "Droll Stories,"well, I

Regarding his attitude to social concerns one of the humorous poems he wrote is quite short and sweet and I would venture to say continues to be quite relevant in current times.

(Headline from The New York Times)
He often chose news headlines and then wrote comic verses about them

"Besides pollution and erosion
We now must face a goose explosion.
A glut of geese can play the devil
With national life on every level,
Especially in politics,
Where geese and government intermix.
This solemn thought I introduce:
The higher the level, the bigger the goose."


Last but not least, after reading such a delightful, comic book I decided to enjoy the 19 degrees we have here today (celsius) and took the dogs for a run up the back to the fire trails. All of us felt like some fresh air.

No need to say anything else but enjoy the photos. 

The fire trail goes up towards Mt. Wellington.
Two of them weren't keen about getting their feet wet,
but one splashed through the water as though he was
born to it.
The beautiful shadings of the gum tree.

The muddy fire track and a very functional tree trunk.


Tuesday 30 October 2012

Great American Short Stories: The Gift of the Magi

photo from Wikpedia
Gift of the Magi published in 1906
I think every student in the United States must read O. Henry's short story the Gift of the Magi at one time or another.  It seems to be the prime example of explaining irony to students and I must say I never forgot it. I also never revisited it again.

So as part of my October challenge (here) to discuss a short story I pulled a book off the shelves called Great American Short Stories: From Hawthorne to Hemingway.

It has a myriad of stories in it authored by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Henry James, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Wilkins Freeman, O. Henry, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Jack London, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

All of them are brilliant authors and I have had this book in a TBR pile for a very long time. Yesterday I pulled it off the shelf and saw the two stories listed by O. Henry.

O. Henry has been a favourite American author of mine since I was a teenager. He has very quirky stories with even quirkier, not always ironic endings. He took up writing seriously in 1898 when imprisoned for three years for embezzlement whilst working in a bank.
I have always enjoyed his writing and the substance of his stories.
If you haven't read a story by him (his real name is William Sydney Porter) I hope you find one and see what you think.

The Gift of the Magi is a story of a newly  married couple, Della and Jim Dillingham Young who are very much in love but quite poor.   It is the day before Christmas and both want very much to give a gift to their partner but can't afford it.

However the couple do have two cherished possessions. One is Della's very long hair, silky, brown and waist length and Jim has the pocket watch that both his grandfather and father passed on to him and they cherish it.

In desperation Della decides to sell her hair to attain money for a gift for Jim. She receives $20.00 for her hair and rushes into the shops happily finding a beautiful fob and chain for Jim's watch. After work Jim also rushes to the shops and finds the perfect gift for Della.

When he returns on Christmas Eve he is amazed to see Della with a very short bobbed haircut with curls she has created with a curling iron.  Della is very happy as she hands him his gift and he unwraps the beautiful watch fob and chain.  However he says to Della that he sold his watch in order to raise the funds needed to buy her a gift which is a beautiful set of tortoiseshell combs for her hair.

In the end, they embrace, full of love and simply decide to put the gifts away to enjoy when once again he has a watch and she has long hair.

"Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
Ïsn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch.  I want to see how it looks on it."
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the  money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on. "

O. Henry
O. Henry wrote; "The magi, as you know, were wise men - wonderfully wise men- who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. "

 I enjoyed rereading this story again after so many years and was happy to rediscover some wonderful memories from the time spent at a young age hearing this story for the first time.  Ironically I wasn't ever the top student in my classes but I did enjoy much about school. I just seemed to have an overpowering social life that interfered with studies.  I look forward to rereading some of the other stories in this lovely book. 

Sunday 28 October 2012

Examined Nature and Found Many Penguins

Nothing like starting the day in the sun.
Today is an absolutely spectacular sunny day in Tasmania. Woke up this morning to sun streaming through the windows and my pets loving it.
Fed them, fed myself and hopped onto my Beo scooter and headed for Kingston for the "monster" book sale advertised in the newspaper. Beautiful ride to Kingston which is about 20 minutes south but unfortunately I didn't find even one Penguin.

Hopped back onto the bike and headed back through Hobart, across the Tasman bridge to the Willows Tavern to catch up with the Ulysses club which is a bike club for 'growing old disgracefully" persons.

The Bothwell-Kempton area. Beautiful isn't it. 
As the group was split between going away camping this week-end and staying behind to ride on Sunday we had a fairly small group, maybe a dozen bikes. We headed into the Derwent Valley to Hamilton for the first stop of the day at the bakery for morning tea.  The food is good but it is pricey. I only had a drink as I didn't need food yet.

Then we took the route east towards Bothwell where the few left stopped to sit outdoors in the sun in front of another bakery and I headed south towards Hobart as I wanted to stop off at a small country second hand book shop I have been meaning to get to for ages.

This little shop has been in existence for a little over 20 years and is a small building in the man's yard. It has lovely old books in it and when I asked if he had any old Penguins his reply was, "Heaps".
Kempton Bookshop with treasures inside

He was right, there were heaps and I bought heaps.  He is a charming book seller who doesn't tend to hoard his books by putting such high prices onto them that noone will ever remove them from his possession. The books are carefully selected and laid out in a manner which are easy to find. It is a charming little shop where I listened to the sound of his typewriter as I was able to take as much time as I needed to examine all of the Penguins.
He had one good sized shelf just for Penguins and there were many more scattered throughout the shop that I will have a closer look at the next time I am up that way.
The Penguin Shelf

Not only are the books reasonably priced but he gave me a decent sized discount as well for buying so many.  I  had a really good day.  A long bike ride in the sun and a pile of old Penguins at the end of it.

On the way home I took my time through the lovely countryside that is Tasmania and enjoyed 'nature' stopping to study a goshawk and an echidna.  One of my goals on my October challenge (here) was to be aware of nature and I was surrounded by it today.

A goshawk

Koko loves it when I dump my "new"Penguin books
on the floor to sort them. Notice the map of Tasmania on
Koko's  face. The white above his eyes is Bass Strait.
Next time one of you drives down the midlands of Tasmania be sure to stop into this old book shop in Kempton. It is one block back off the main road through the town and there is a sign. Or ask anyone as everyone in the town would know its location.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Ethan Frome - My Review

Our November book group read is Ethan Frome. I had not read anything by Edith Wharton but have always heard what a great writer she was.  Ms. Wharton was born in the middle of the American Civil War in 1962 in New York City.  When researching Ms. Wharton on-line one of the things that came across quite clearly was the impact her mother had on her life and her writing. Her mother evidently, always preached that lying was a sin yet whenever she told the truth she was severely punished.

It is stated that this impacted on her throughout her life and into her writing. Ms. Wharton had a marriage of convenience to a man 12 years her senior and was reportedly very unhappy. She had a three year relationship with another man she termed , "The love of her life" though was quite  disappointed by him as well.  As a lady of leisure most of her life she didn't have a very happy relationship with the world.

I enjoyed the book Ethan Frome.  Wikipedia states that Ms. Wharton always described this book more as a fable or a tale rather than a novel.  

The story takes place in a fictional town called Starkfield in New England.  A narrator who we never learn much about tells the story based on a stay he has with the family when stranded by a snowstorm. 
The book goes from a first person narration to a third person and then back to first person again at the end.
As I read this book I felt as though I was in Ethan's pocket as everything seemed very real to me. Ethan could have been a real person and this, his biography as far as I was concerned.  

He lives with his wife Zeena and eventually Mattie who is Zeena's younger cousin comes to stay. Zeena is a complete hypochondriac, whining and complaining about everything in her life. She does such an excellent job of this I found as a reader, I walked around as heavily as she did.  She is an extremely depressive character and does absolutely nothing to make anything better in her life.

Ethan does not seem to have the skills or forbearance to deal with her and he is as downtrodden as she is. I was always asking myself, Why is he so weak? and Why doesn't he make a move?  He is so completely  mired down in his wife's poor health he cannot see Zeena surviving if he leaves to make a new life for himself. He is very trapped in this marriage simply because he feels there is no other way out.

Of course it is inevitable that Ethan will become very attracted, falling in love with Mattie and at every turn he is thwarted from acting upon his thoughts and emotions. 

The reader isn't certain until  later on if Mattie reciprocates these feelings but as the book progresses it all becomes very clear.

The story is quite circular with an incredibly ironic ending that I thought was perfect. It is difficult to say anything without spoiling the story and to know the ending before reading this book would completely ruin it.

I realised I had heard a couple of chapters read on the ABC radio and forgotten it as I did not hear the entire book. So when the sledding scene arrived I knew exactly what was going to happen. It was a bit of a foot stomping moment but I still didn't know the final ending of this book so was not overly disappointed.

The locale of this book can only be described as incredibly depressing and bleak and as the reader is drawn very  much into the misery of the entire situation one wonders if there will be any escape. Is there?  You will just need to read it to find out.  I really enjoyed this story.

This review is part of my goals for October challenge (here) .

Saturday 20 October 2012

Cygnets and Penguins and a bit of a Catch Up

Well, the month of October seems to be speeding by and today I had to look at my October challenge (here) of items to complete. Not sure if I'll get the 15 books finished but I'm having a great time finding new Penguins and reading the books I do have on hand.

I have finished another five goals this past week so am happy with that and definitely on track. A couple of others are half done.
Letter D:
Dog's Day at the Beach - Spring is here and time to take the dogs to the beach -  Unfortunately we couldn't go to the beach because one of my dogs, Molly, injured her eye when she ran into a stick amongst a pile of branches we had pruned. So no sand in her eye allowed. However they were allowed at the big cricket/soccer oval at Cornelian Bay and they love that ground as much as the beach.  They played frisbee, ran in high speed figure 8 loops and rolled in things they thought smelled bad. Probably possum or rabbit poo. But they sure had fun and we had a great time watching them. Tongues were hanging out all around.

Next goal was letter F:
Fuller's Book Shop Event: There are many things on in October. Be sure to attend one or two.

Her latest book.
I booked myself into two events but unfortunately was quite ill for the first one so I missed it. But I did manage to get to the second one which was an evening with the Australian author Lily Brett. Lily Brett is an amazing author who was raised in Australia but moved to New York City 22 years ago.  She was born to Jewish German parents and during WWII both of her parents survived the Nazi death camps, however the rest of her family of aunts, uncles and cousins were not so fortunate and perished.
Ms. Brett sang deep praises of her husband whom she has been with for many years, talked about how she writes the books and the ideas for her books as well as telling the audience how much the war years and death camp experiences of her parents affected her during her youth and young adulthood.  She was humorous, refreshingly articulate and really down to earth. Everyone there enjoyed her company and all lined up afterwards to have her latest book signed.  My other half is reading it now but I plan to get going on it as soon as I can.  
Some of her previous books

We skirted the rain as we came over the rise into
Penguin hunter Scarabeo
in the background. Close to 40,000 kms
hunting for these elusive books.

The next challenge on the list was to ride the Penguin Hunter Scooter down to Cygnet as I heard there was a shop down there that had Penguins on the bookshelves at the back.
Today was a lovely sunny day though quite windy and rain due later a couple of us headed out about lunchtime for the trip south. Cygnet is a lovely small town about an hour's drive south. We took the coast road which was clear of traffic and has beautiful views of farmland and the Tasman Sea.

The shop I had heard about had one vintage Penguin but I had it already so the penguin hunting wasn't very good. However I did meet the lovely owner who said she'd ring me if any vintage Penguins come in and her
prices were good. 

We then left Cygnet for Huonville which is about 20 minutes north of Cygnet on the way back to Hobart. There is a large second hand bookshop there and the place is like a tip.  Books stacked up in every manner, very little room to walk around and as more books come in they are simply piled higher and higher on the very crowded shelf.  I went to the area of the shop where I know the Penguins to be and happily came across several I didn't have.  I also noticed the prices were a few dollars less per book this visit. 
Book sellers are finally starting to learn that people will not pay a lot of  money for old beat up Penguins. 

And as for the next two goals, Letter T: Tend to garden and plant some veggies and V for vote in the USA presidential election.
As my ballot wings its way across the Pacific to the state of Florida where I am still a registered voter although I am also a citizen in Australia (so I can try to get my choice in office in both countries), the lettuce, silverbeet and some strawberries are growing as I type.

I won't linger any longer as this post has been a bit long and if you're still at the end, thanks.  It is good to tick things off the list. So until next time...... stay warm in the northern hemisphere and continue to enjoy the ride to summer in the south. 

Thursday 18 October 2012

Max Beerbohm's Illustrated Zuleika the pictures.

Earlier this month I reviewed Max Beerbohm's singular novel of Zuleika Dobson (here). I was at the Tasmanian State Library the other day and found an edition of The Illustrated Zuleika Dobson which is the version of the book Mr. Beerbohm illustrated with his caricatures. The pictures are absolutely charming.

Max Beerbohm was known for his caricatures, essays and short stories and he only wrote one novel in his life. I enjoyed these illustrations so much I thought I would share them here for a bit of fun. Enjoy.

The Duke

Zuleika's grandfather
collects her at the train station.
A night out.

2 black owls appear for a night before the death of a Duke do all the young men of Oxford also
drown for Zuleika

The Duke throws himself into the river
for Zuleika ....

Zuleika with her maid Milisande. Now all the Oxford men
are gone whatever will she do now she bemoans.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Across Lapland - A Vintage Penguin Travel & Adventure

The cerise Penguin cover indicates the book is a Travel & Adventure story. They are a great coloured cover and the stories are non fiction generally based on some pretty amazing feats people have achieved.

Vintage Penguin No. 226, published 1939
Across Lapland is written by English woman Olive Murray Chapman. Although it was originally published in 1932, Penguin published it in 1939.

Ms. Chapman, an English woman decided she wanted to take a reindeer across Lapland in the Arctic. The places she covered went from Narvick in Norway, to Kiruna in Sweden and across to Kautokeino, Karasiok to Alta, Bossekop and finishing at Hammerfest in Finmark (the name at the time).

Her plan was to cross this area in the winter/spring by herself with a team of reindeer and one guide. The time was the winter/spring of 1931.

According to the description by Penguin, the "object of her journey was to study the life of the primitive nomad Lapps, and to obtain a pictorial record of the people and their customs. She travelled with a still camera as well as a  moving picture camera and upon her return the pictures were shown before the Royal Geographic Society, which at the time would have been quite an honour especially for a woman.
The reindeer and sledges coming in at night with supplies
before the journey begins.
The book contains several of her black and white photos.
Amidst many discouraging remarks from everyone who heard of her proposed quest, she was successful and   completed a very remarkable journey in some incredibly daunting winter weather as well as shoddy accommodation.
I enjoyed this story. I am a great travel reader and the more arduous the journey the more I am attracted to the story. Explorers in this time period were not filmed for television nor did they travel with support crews and photographers that helped them with the creature comforts of home. (Think Charley & Ewan).
A night's accommodation after a snow storm.

I often gravitate to books about travellers, especially women who do remarkable trips walking, bicycling, motorbiking around the world in remote and dangerous places.  I like to travel as much as the next person but some of the trips I read about I am far happier to live vicariously through the pages of an old book. The Penguin books were great to curl up with on a rainy day to enjoy the adventure.

I found a great deal of the book enjoyable but got a bit bored when she would write endlessly about a costume someone wore and I cringed at times when she would barge into a wedding with her Woolworth necklaces to accost the bride, throwing her gift over their head in the midst of a procession.
Inside the night's accommodation on the trail.
Can be shared with several others. Bunk slats built into
the wall.

Although her journey was brave, I found her quite irritating at times. I don't know if it was the way she wrote her story, her expectations of the people around her or just the way she seemed to assume that everyone was delighted to see this English woman come into their remote lifestyle.   She struggled with some of the food, mainly lightly cooked to raw reindeer meat boiled in water. She seemed to eat a lot of boiled eggs and drink heaps of tea. Although she often had coffee offered to her she said it tasted kind of funny and preferred her tea.

Her trip to the journey's beginning aboard some of the ships she had to take were adventure enough for me and sounded far harsher at times than the actual journey across the arctic in her fur wraps and galloping reindeer.
Women marry a man with 1000 reindeer for wealth if they can.

I guess my own philosophy is if you're in somebody else's culture and they offer you their food and drink you oblige as part of respecting what you are being given especially when people have so little. Most of the time she would oblige but sometimes I did think, "Don't be so damn fussy. Put it in your mouth and swallow". "

She was quite sensitive to photographing her subjects although it was not unusual when visiting a new village that she might hide behind a shed of some sort or in a doorway to get photos without being seen.

I often had pictures in my mind of her running from tree to tree like the Loony Tunes do in cartoons, only to peer around one, snap the photo before darting off to the next tree.
Preparing for the day's journey.

There also seems to be a writing style at that period for travel writers that much of their writing is as though they are writing for a text. Very dry observations are recorded about food, clothing, customs and behaviours.  I wanted to know more about the people, how they reacted (besides, "she was very shy") and how she communicated with them. Maybe more of a point of view of how they felt about someone coming into their domain recording them as though they were lab rats.

Perhaps I am being too harsh but often I could not warm to her as I often do to other very early travellers. I did learn a great deal about early Lapland from this trip and I admired her respect for the people and animals.
She didn't seem to address her planning for this trip much and considering she was in weather of more than 50 degrees below zero F, I am surprised she fared as well as she did. Her guides were wonderful and she would have definitely perished had it not been for them.
Trading at the twice yearly Bossekop market

The scenery was stunning and very well described. I could see the snowy tundra, forests and hear the wolf calls as though I was there. I could feel her fear at times whilst bounding through the storms of snow making visibility non existent.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in wilderness travelling but it would be fun to have a good old laugh at some of her antics with someone who has read it, in front of a fireplace, with a hot cup of tea.

Once again the cerise Penguin does not disappoint.

From pg. 27: I was allotted a berth in a tiny cabin for three, with two other women, natives of Bossekop, one of whom already looked very ill. The port-hole was securely shut, the heating full on, and the close, unventilated air impregnated with a nauseating odour, which I found later proceeded from the bundles of goats'carcases on the deck above. ...........  I determined to make it (the night) a short one, so after supper, consisting of eggs, salt bacon, dried fish, sardines and coffee, which I had with the captain and some of the merchants, I wrapped myself up as warmly as possible, and in spite of the cold, went for a stroll on deck, putting off the evil moment when I should be forced to return to the cabin with its depressed-looking occupants."

I particularly enjoyed the stories of the Lapps when they would "joik".

From pg. 75: "It was my first experience of this strange and ancient form of song, which is peculiar to the Lapps, and, although consisting of only four or five monotonous notes, can on occasions be very melodious. The words are usually composed on the spur of the moment and express the emotions of the singer, or tell of what he sees. A Lapp will often sing in praise of his reindeer and dogs, or of the warmth of the sun. At other times he will compose a song about his friends, and I was told an amusing story of a Lapp who had composed what sounded a very fine joik in honour of the Lensmann of his district. On the words being translated into Norwegian, they proved to be all about that gentleman's bald head!"

The descriptions of the scenery were always  my favourite part.

From pg. 115:  "The hours passed slowly by, and we met no one all day, until towards evening I saw some Lapps with reindeer and pulkas driving towards us. They proved to be a man and woman with a baby who, on reaching us, stopped for a chat with Johan (guide), while I delighted in the picture they  made. In the foreground were the group of reindeer and the Lapp mother who, in her furs and scarlet cap and shawl, was bending forward to rock her baby in its little skin cradle which was strapped into the front of her pulka, while Johan and the father smoking their pipes, stood quietly by talking, and throwing long blue shadows over the snow. In the background, and on either side of the great ice-bound lake over which we were travelling, were low ranges of hills whose snow covered slopes were tinged rose and purple from the setting sun, while the pale turquoise sky was streaked in the west with crimson and gold. The preceding long and weary hours were all forgotten as I drank in the glory of the scene before me, lost in wonder at the indescribable peace and beauty of it all." 
The Journey
(Click to enlarge map.)

This book applies to the Century of Books challenge 1932 (here)

Monday 15 October 2012

The Classics Club Challenge: 50 Classics in 5 years

I have been following the Classics Club blog for awhile now and really enjoying reading the reviews of the various posts of the classic books as well as looking at the lists people have chosen to read.

As there are many books I really want to read I have decided to jump in and see how I go because it is a great way to stay focused and also see what others think of the same books. The dates of this challenge will be from 1 January, 2013 to 1 January, 2018. Although I may start this a bit earlier as we are very close to the new year, 2013 and my enthusiasm now is high.

It really is an on-line book group that I think will offer great opportunities to chat to people who are interested in more traditional (and sometimes not quite traditional) books that have been recognised as good reads over the years.

I have spent quite a bit of time devising my list of 50 and although this is the list I hope to stick to there could be the odd change within it.

Many of the books listed are from my Vintage Penguin book collection currently on my shelves TBR. Many choices are American classics as having moved to Australia so long ago I have gotten away from American literature and love it so much so am going back to revisit it. Many books are English as growing up in America we didn't read a lot of English classics in school so would like to remedy that. There are a sprinkling of other nationalities of authors as well so overall I think this list will be a great starting point.

So without further adieu these are the 50 books I have chosen.

Click on the links to see review.

1.  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (American)
2.  Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (American)
3.  A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute (Australian)
4.  Middlemarch by George Elliot (English) (our summer book group read) Finished
5.  Moby Dick by Herman Melville (American)

6.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (American)
7.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (American)
8.  Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (English)
9.  Madame Bovary by Flaubert Gustave (French)
10. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (English)

11. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (English)
12. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (English)
13. Little Dorritt by Charles Dickens (English)
14. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (English)
15. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (American)

16. Old Curiosity Shoppe by Charles Dickens (English)
17. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (African-American)
18. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (American)
19. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (American)
20. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (American)

21. The Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison (American)
22. Native Son by Richard Wright (African-American)
23. My Antonia by Willa Cather (American)
24. Beloved by Toni Morrison (African-American)
25. Hiroshima by John Hersey (American)

26. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (American)
27. Gone To Earth by Mary Webb (English)
28. Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell (American)
29. I Can Jump Puddles by Alan Marshall (Australian)
30. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (American)

31. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (American)
32. Turn of the Screw by Henry James (American born-became British)
33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (American)
34. If Beale St. Could Talk by James Baldwin (African-American)
35. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters by John Steinbeck (American)

36. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (American)
37. Claudine & Annie by Collette (French)
38. The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck (American)
39. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner (Australian)
40. The Harp in the South by Ruth Park (Australian)

41. Letters of Rachel Henning by Rachel Henning (English born-moved to Australia)
42. Confessions of a Beachcomber by E. J. Banfield (born England-moved to Australia)
43. Farewell To Arms- Ernest Hemingway
44. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Columbia, S America)
45. The Plague by Albert Camus (French)

46. The Trial by Franz Kafka (German Jewish - Lived in Prague)
47. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Nigerian)
48. Woman in a Lampshade by Elizabeth Jolley (born in Englan- moved to Australia)
49. Germinal by Zola (French)
50. Narrative of Life of Frederich Douglas by Frederich Douglas (African-American)