Eleven Classics in 2011: February Check-in

Eleven Classics in 2011 @ Mommablogsalot.com

Another month has come and gone, so I’m checking in with the progress of my little self-imposed reading challenge. Can you believe it’s almost March already?

I am disappointed to report that I didn’t read any classics this month. Review books simply overwhelmed me, along with my book club pick for the month, there was no time. So as much as I’d like to get back to reading Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen after I finish my current read, I’ve decided to commit myself to reading a classic next, probably in a couple of days. The question is – what classic to read next? I honestly cannot make up my mind.

Why not put it to vote?

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Here are the classics that I read in January for anyone interested, it was a glorious month of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery!

Have you read any classics this month?

Eleven Classics in 2011: January Check-in

Eleven Classics in 2011 @ Mommablogsalot.com

One month in 2011 is coming to a close and as promised, I’m checking in with the progress of my little self-imposed reading challenge.

This month I was also participating in the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge which Carrie @ Reading To Know hosts annually every January. This was an excellent opportunity for me to read some more of the classic Anne of Green Gables novels, which I only just discovered this past fall. This month I managed to read:

  1. Anne of Avonlea (kindle) by L.M. Montgomery Finished January 17, 2010 – I still can’t believe I waited so long to read this series which is such a well known classic. I really loved this second book in Montgomery’s Anne series. I am by now smitten with her descriptive prose and loved all of the stories of Anne’s two years spent teaching in Avonlea. I liked all of the various love stories that Anne becomes privy to and how they all sort of shape her knowledge of what love really looks like and what it doesn’t look like and the entire theme of preconceptions that runs throughout the book. – full review
  2. Anne of the Island (kindle) by L.M. Montgomery Finished January 23, 2010 – This book was so deliciously addictive, it deals with Anne’s years at Redmond as a college girl and I really loved that timeless look at college life and readjusting to life at home in between – very true to life and told in a very classic Anne kind of way. And of course anybody who loves the Love Story of Anne, will love book 3 I think as it finally really comes to a head in this book – with lots of heart ache and twists and turns of course. – full review

When planning this post, I debated back and forth on whether to count this as one classic book or two (or none, since I technically read the first book last year) and this inevitably also lead to the question, “What exactly defines “classic literature”? I turned to google and then Wikipedia where I found, of course, several takes on the subject. According to wiki, in the 1980’s, Italo Calvino said in his essay “Why Read the Classics?” that:

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say” … “Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.”

Constructing a universal definition of what constitutes a Classic Book seems to him to be an impossibility, since, as Calvino says, “There is nothing for it but for all of us to invent our own ideal libraries of classics.”

What I take from this and the dozens of other definitions and quotations I read is that a classic is a story that you feel compelled to make sure everyone reads and thus after a certain amount of time, society assumes most people have read it or should. It isn’t a guarantee of quality of course, since everyone’s opinions are different but generally speaking, it will be a book that has something for everyone, which stands the test of time to be enjoyed in any era and always seems relevant and contains a story that will stay with you all your life, long after your first reading of it. They are the books you hold onto instead of selling at a yard sale, so your kids and their kids can read and love it someday, too.

That said, I think that both of the Anne novels I read this year deserve to be counted in my challenge. They each tell a different story in Anne’s life and I loved them for different reasons as well as the same reasons. If you only read one, I’d wish you’d read the other as well. Maybe I’d feel differently if I hadn’t enjoyed the books, but as I read on Wikipedia, I think that this definition of classic has to be made by yourself, has to feel authentic to you, because at the end of the day, the only person you are reading for is yourself.

So all in all, I’d say my time spent with classic literature this month has been thoroughly well enjoyed, but I am looking forward to discovering another great author in February and so my classic challenge continues. I’m not sure what I plan to read in February yet, I have a lot of options and a few other review books and book club picks to contend with as well, but I’ll be sure to check in at the end of the month with more reviews and thoughts on the challenge.

If you’ve challenged yourself to read more classics this year, I’d love to hear how it’s going! Feel free to share links to any reviews from this month and tell me about the books you’ve been reading; what you loved, what you hated and maybe how you define classic literature in the comments section below.

I Read: Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of the Island by L.M. MontgomeryLast week I finished reading Anne of Avonlea and was just about to start watching the corresponding film when Jean, a good bloggy friend of mine, warned me that the film combines books two and three. So even though I had just begun to read another book, I quickly set said book aside and returned to my Kindle and the world of Avonlea in Montgomery’s third Anne novel, Anne of the Island, which chronicles Anne’s formative years in college at Redmond in Kingsport.

I really do feel like this series gets better and better with each installment. I adored this book and how timelessly Montgomery describes the college experience, from those first nervous days in a new place, to gradually forming a new group of friends and way of life, the trials and tribulations and exciting times.

Then comes the experience of returning home after having been away. Sometimes it’s a welcome relief and other times, just strange as you realize the things which have changed and the things which haven’t and you gradually come to realize how you never really can go home again to that idealized version of the home in your mind at least. The whole thing was just perfect, the new characters wonderful (even when they were terrible).

This is also the book where That Love Story finally comes to a head. Declarations are made, love stories unfold and it’s not an easy road for Anne, that’s for sure. It’s not easy growing up and seeing friendships change for better or for worse and it takes Anne awhile to decide what she wants in life truly and what ideals of hers are really just old fancies with no foothold in reality when all is said and done.

So now I have finished the book, loved the book, swooned and sighed and even cried a bit with this book – and now I can watch the film (finally!) in peace with no fear of spoilers. I also feel as though Book Three manages to leave the story at a point of contentment. The story is not finished but the waters are calm and I feel like I can move onto the many other books on my shelves to be read without feeling impatient to rush back to Prince Edward Island. I know I will go on to finish the series, but there is no longer an urgent rush to do so, rather I can save them for a treat later on in between reads.

I read this book in part for my participation in Carrie @ Reading To Know’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge this month and coincidentally it also happens to be regarded as a classic work of literature making it count in my 2011 Classics Challenge as well.

I Read: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. MontgomeryI just spent a selfish bit of time sitting on the couch reading the last 5% of Anne of Avonlea on my kindle while my children made occasional sad faces and complained of boredom, but mostly entertained themselves with fun toys and sibling antics. I think you all understand and agree that those last few pages of a book are sometimes too much to resist, especially a book as good as this classic by L.M. Montgomery.

This book begins as “a tall, slim girl, “half-past sixteen,” with serious grey eyes and hair which her friends called auburn, had sat down on the broad red sandstone doorstep of a Prince Edward Island farmhouse one ripe afternoon in August, firmly  resolved to construe so many lines of Virgil.

Anyone not familiar with Anne Shirley might read that sentence and say, “so what?” perhaps mingled with thoughts like, “That sentence was awfully nicely written.” But any true Anne fan will immediately feel a little shiver of delight and anticipation and read little bits of detail in that first paragraph with a knowing air of understanding of all things Anne. At least I did.

I think we can all rest assured that I loved this second book in the well known series of Anne books by Montgomery which so perfectly portray the coming of age of any girl. But I think the books do far more than just relate to girls growing up. It tells a story of a town, it relates numerous love stories that will make you think of your own love story whether it has already happily happened or you are just anticipating what your own will be like someday. It touches on religion in way that is not over bearing or too preachy, but rather dreamy and speculative, which is probably my favorite way to think about religion.

A big theme in this book seems to be misconceptions or preconceptions, the idea that you might go into a life milestone or hobby or career with one idea of how things will be, but eventually discover something else altogether, and how often you find that new discovery to be even better than you could have imagined. Anne seems to learn this lesson a lot in several moments of her two years spent teaching at Avonlea and I felt reading the book that ultimately this would lead to her discovering her true feelings for Gilbert, although that might just be the hopeless romantic in me. If Anne of Green Gables, etc. are a love story, they are a very slow moving, prude and patient sort of story where you find yourself squealing with delight when one person puts their arm around another and nothing else happens at all, but you and he and she and anyone else privy to the moment all understand that it was everything.

So now I’ve finished the book and part of me wants to jump right into book three, Anne of the Island, but I have a few review books that I need to attend to first and depending on when I finish those, it may be time to read the next book for my bookclub and who knows what else will be calling to me, but I can assure you I’ll only have the willpower to wait so long, whether or not it manages to fall in line with my L.M. Montgomery reading challenge this month, I can’t say. I am planning to watch the miniseries adaptation of this book in the next week, so at least I’ll be able to linger in Avonlea a bit longer, even as I move onto other books.

What was your favorite of the Anne books?

I read this book for several reasons. The first being a new found adoration for all things Anne Shirley. The second being my participation in Carrie @ Reading To Know’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge this month and coincidentally it also happens to be regarded as a classic work of literature making it my first classic book read this year in my 2011 Classics Challenge.

Eleven Classics in 2011: Momma Challenges Herself to Read the Classics

momma challenges herself to read the classics

Awhile back I talked about challenging myself to read more classics in 2011. Since then I’ve made a lot of lists, downloaded a lot of the free classics onto my Kindle and today I even got all dorktastic and made a button and stuffs! So if you want to read more classics in 2011, too, you can even play along! So there’s the little banner thing at the top of this post you can use and here’s the button:

momma challenges herself to read the classics in 2011

I know, my graphics skills are just blowing you away, aren’t they? Anyway, last time I blogged about this, I listed 30 classics I wanted to read and this morning I went through my bookshelves and found a few more that I own that aren’t even on this list. Basically, I’ve got a ton of options but I think I need to narrow things down a bit so I thought I’d be clever and make my goal: to read ELEVEN classics in 2011. Snazzy, no?

Those eleven books may or may not include:

  1. Peter Pan by J.M Barrie (I own it)
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) by Pearl S. Buck (I own it)
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (free on kindle)
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (free on kindle)
  7. The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald
  8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  9. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (free on kindle)
  10. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (free on kindle)
  13. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  14. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy (free on kindle)
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
  16. Metamorphoses by Ovid
  17. Anthem by Ayn Rand (free on kindle)
  18. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  19. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  20. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  21. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (free on kindle)
  22. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  23. Dracula by Bram Stoker (free on kindle)
  24. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  25. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (free on kindle)
  26. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (free on kindle)
  27. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  28. Night by Elie Weisel (I own it)
  29. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (free on kindle)

Plus the Anne of Green Gables books, which I’ll be reading in January especially for the L.M. Montgomery Challenge hosted by Carrie @ Reading to Know. Let’s be honest, folks, which 11 classics I read may change from month to month, some will be from the massive pile of classics that are taking up residence in my bookshelves. Some will be kindle reads. Some may come from other sources entirely. Regardless, when 2011 ends, my goal is to have read 11 classic works of fiction.

Who’s with me? If you don’t want to read 11, that’s fine, too – just pick a number and join in on the fun! I’ll plan to post an update on the last day of each month with any classics I’ve read and how I liked them.

Looking Ahead: Momma Challenges Herself To Read The Classics in 2011

momma challenges herself to read the classics

I’ve mentioned here a few times that I am probably one of the worst read English Major Graduates of all-time. There are dozens of classics I’ve never read. Like it could make your head spin just to think – and often does make my husband’s head spin when the subject comes up and we find once again that my husband is much better read than I am (::coughs:: private school education ::coughs::)

The only books I remember being required to read in my four years of high school are Romeo & Juliet and The Scarlett Letter. Yup, that’s it. I mean mayyybe there were more, but I don’t remember them so it doesn’t really count. In college I read a lot of the more archaic stuff, a good bit of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Romantic Era Poetry and so on. So a loooot of great books fell through the cracks.

I’ve been trying to slowly catch up with the rest of the world and read some of the classics like Pride & Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, Gone With the Wind, etc. and I’ve enjoyed almost all of them. I thought I’d challenge myself to really kick it up a notch in 2011 and I’m inviting you to do the same! Maybe we can link up and share our classic experiences next year?

Anyway, here is a list of 30 books that I’m interested in reading next year. This is in no way a finished list. These are not the only classic books I ever plan to read, that list had over 100 titles and seemed too daunting. Truthfully, I think this list of 30 books is probably totally unrealistic and too long also but I couldn’t bear to narrow it down anymore and decided to just list them all here and read what I can. I know I’ll want to read some non-classics, too, next year – book club picks, review books that come my way (pretty please?) and all the books that catch my eye at the bookstore and library – you know how it is, right?

But enough of my babbling and excuses, let’s get down to the list. I’d love to read your lists, too! Want to make a list of 30 books of your own? Or less? Or more? Let’s be Bookish List Making Nerds together! I may even make a little button for us to use if there is enough interest. Oh look, I’m babbling again…

30 Classic Books I’d Love to Read in 2011

  1. Peter Pan by J.M Barrie (I own it)
  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  3. The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) by Pearl S. Buck (I own it)
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (free on kindle)
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (free on kindle)
  7. The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald
  8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  9. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (free on kindle)
  10. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (free on kindle)
  13. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  14. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy (free on kindle)
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
  16. Metamorphoses by Ovid
  17. Anthem by Ayn Rand (free on kindle)
  18. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  19. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  20. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  21. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (free on kindle)
  22. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  23. Dracula by Bram Stoker (free on kindle)
  24. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  25. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (free on kindle)
  26. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (free on kindle)
  27. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  28. Night by Elie Weisel (I own it)
  29. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (free on kindle)

Some of these are older than others, some considered more of a “classic” I’m sure. I know there are probably books not on this list that you’re all “waaaahhhh?”about, but hey. There’s always 2012, right? Feel free to leave commentary about my choices in the comments section, that’s half the fun you know. And definitely, if you’d like to join in – let me know!!