Sunday, November 20, 2011

The 2012 Classics Challenge

Yes, yes, I know. I haven't even finished posting on the books I read for the R.I.P. Challenge, although I have finished reading them and will be getting posts up on the last three soon. Oh, and yes, I did just get chosen to be on Central Pennsylvania's One Book One Community committee, which means reading something like 40 or 50 books, but you know, winter is on its way, and for some reason, when winter hits, I like to turn to the classics. Maybe it's because I have fond childhood memories of reading Louisa May Alcott during Christmas breaks, but I love to curl up with mugs of tea or hot cocoa and a book that has stood the test of time, especially if it's a book that was actually bound and printed over 75 years ago and looks as if many, many have enjoyed it over the years.

How could I possibly not join A Classic's Challenge, created by Katherine Cox of November's Autumn? If nothing else, you've got to love that button you see here and that I get to put on my sidebar (if I can remember how to do that. If you don't see it there, someone in the know, please tell me how to do that in Blogger). What's really great about this challenge, though, is that it doesn't necessarily involve writing individual posts on each book (although I'm free to do so if I like). Instead, on the 4th of every month, I'm going to be responding to a prompt as it pertains to the book I'm reading (or have just read). That's a great idea, and I'm very interested to see how it goes. I'd never gone blog hopping until I joined the R.I.P. group read of Fragile Things, and I discovered that I really enjoyed it. It's more fun than bar hopping, for an introvert like me, and there are no hangovers to fear.

And now, without further ado: here is the list of seven books I will be reading in 2012. We are to read seven, three of which can be rereads. I've listed them alphabetically by author (I'm such a librarian).

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (a reread). When reading classics in the winter, one must read Austen. I have a suitably old, old copy of it to read, although I'd be tempted to buy one of those new Penguin hardcover editions like the copy of Emma Zoƫ's Mom gave me for Christmas last year. I can't justify doing that, though, in this house overflowing with books, especially when I have my grandmother's copy (in two volumes, nonetheless).

The Arabian Nights by Husain Haddawy (based on the text of the fourteenth-century Syrian Manuscript edited by Muhsin Mahdi). I actually have a three volume set of the tales, but I thought I'd start with this single-volume first. I've been wanting to read these tales for a long time (obviously, since I have acquired both a single-volume and a three-volume set), but recently reading Neil Gaiman's "Inventing Aladdin" has moved them from the "want-to-read-one-day" category to a "must-read-soon" category.

Heaven to Betsy and Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace. This is actually two books in one, but I'm counting it as one, because each one is relatively short, and they're both in this one volume that I got on sale at Borders before it went out of business. I never read the Betsy-Tacy books when I was a kid, but I read an article about Maud Hart Lovelace not long ago that got me interested. In these two books, Betsy has gotten to high school. If I like them, I'll go backwards and read about her childhood years.

The Company She Keeps by Mary McCarthy. I got this one at a library book sale ages ago. I read The Group when I was in my twenties, loved it, and have been meaning to read something else by her ever since. This will keep me from waiting another twenty years to do so.

1984 by George Orwell (a reread?). Maybe I will discover once and for all whether or not I actually read this one in college. Then again, maybe I won't. Anyway, I've become more and more interested in it as of late, given the "Big Brother-like" world we seem to live in today, and, really, I just think it's something I ought to have read.

The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles. Believe it or not, I've never actually read the whole thing, only Oedipus Rex, so, it will sort of be a reread but not really, and since 1984 may not be a reread, I figure I'm still well within my limit of three. A friend of mine has been reading Greek tragedies lately and has gotten me interested in doing so.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. Litlove wrote about this one some time ago, made it sound great, and I figure it's probably one of Stein's most accessible works, so I thought I'd start with it and see if I want to explore her further.

I reserve the right to swap out any of these titles with something else that comes along and interests me more, but right now, this is my plan. Join the challenge, if you'd like, or just enjoy it vicariously through all the other participants.


Carrie#K said...

Sounds like a good list to start out with!

Rebecca H. said...

I'm staying far away from challenges these days, but your list looks good. I really like The Company She Keeps and would like to read the Gertrude Stein. Reading (or in my case rereading) the Betsy-Tacy books would be fun too.

Stefanie said...

Great list for the challenge! And congrats being selected for the One Book Committee. Very cool!

Susan said...

What an eclectic list of classics, Emily! Very cool. I am considering joining the classics challenge too. It looks very interesting and I really need to read more classics every year. I think I read Heavens to Betsy when I was a child (at least I remember this title!) and P&P is on my favourites list that I reread every few years. I'm due to read Persuasion next, I just bought the Annotated Persuasion to give a bit extra depth to the background history. I have two Elizabeth Gaskell books I've been meaning to read, so it looks like I already have half a list ready! lol

I'm curious if you will like 1984 - I still haven't read it, and the Gertrude Stein.

Elizabeth said...


What great choices.....I need to get more classics in my reading stack. I have read a few here, but not enough.

I just found this challenge but am not going to join in.

It is wonderful seeing everyone's answer, though.

Silver's Reviews

Emily Barton said...

Elizabeth, thank you. I ended up having to abandon the challenge, but I still plan to read all the books I chose.