Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Revised on a Saturday

Spurred on by reading Ms. Blossom’s recent post in which she discussed swapping books in and out of her 2007 classics challenge, I was encouraged leapt at the chance to do the same. My thirteen adult classics was a ridiculously impossible list of many 500+ page books that I must have compiled after drinking a couple of martinis or something. I’m only two months into the list and already realize I’m never, ever going to be able to meet this challenge, especially if I plan to read anything else this year. I’ve taken a look at the children’s classics I chose as well, but that list still seems reasonable at this point and will stay the same. Meanwhile, the changes I’m making in the adult list are bolded (keeping in mind that I still wanted a multicultural sampling of titles).

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, because this book practically meets criteria #2 all on its own: Trinidadian author of Hindu parents writing about an Indian living in a newly-independent African nation.

I’m replacing The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky with The Captain’s Daughter and Other Stories by Alexander Pushkin, because the introduction tells me “Russian literature is truly said to begin with [Pushkin].” How can I read Dostoevsky when I haven’t yet read anything by the first true Russian literaturist?

Bread and Wine by Ignacio Silano, because it’s extraordinarily pathetic how little I know about Italy and Italian literature. Of course, reading this book is just going to highlight my ignorance even more, but perhaps I’ll learn something along the way.

I’m replacing The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal with The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (which is actually a longer book, but it doesn’t matter, since I’ve been cutting so efficiently with other titles), because I realized I didn’t have any American authors on this list, while I had two French, Danny said to read it, and we have a copy of it, but don’t have a copy of East of Eden, which both Danny and Froshty said to read.

I’m replacing A Dream of Red Mansions by Cao Xueqin with Excerpts from Three Classical Chinese Novels, because A Dream of Red Mansions seems to be best reserved for a year in which one only plans to read about three classics, and I will still get a taste for Chinese literature without having to read a three-volume-long novel.

Faust by Johann Wolfgang won Goethe, because not having read this is like not having read The Bible when it comes to reading and trying to discuss so much literature that’s been written since.

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I absolutely love One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera (one of the few books I’ve read more than twice in my life), but I’ve never read anything else by Garcia Marquez.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, because (as I’ve mentioned somewhere before), I’ve been meaning to read Le Miserables forever, but always find it too daunting. Thought I’d start with this shorter work and see if it inspires me further to tackle Le Miserables.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, because I so love If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, and it’s high time I read this one.

I’m replacing The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis with Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound and Other Plays. Why not start with an ancient Greek writer rather than with Kazantzakis, and why not try drama rather than a novel? It has nothing to do with the fact that all four plays together only add up to a book that’s 159 pages long.

I’m replacing Lorna Doone by Richard D. Blackmoore with A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, because Jordan said I should read it, and I’ll probably end up reading Lorna Doone as well, but it might drag on into 2008.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, because doesn’t everyone read this in high school? I must have been absent that week or something…

I’m replacing Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child with M.F.K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me, still about French cooking and food, but maybe a little more fun and less time-consuming to read.

There, I’ve just decreased my reading challenge by about 3000 pages and am breathing normally again.


Rebecca H. said...

I will need to make a concession to reality at some point and change my list too. I took on a lot, and I also might find myself not so excited about some of the books as I once was. We'll see ...

Heather said...

Both lists put my lists to shame!! You've got some really interesting books on your list...I'm off to copy down most of it!!