Project, Inspired by the Season

Anyone who has been reading here for a while and has a good memory might recall that late last year I started posting a series of book lists, categorized by topic. My original intent was to generate a “bunch” of these (say 20 or so) and then focus my reading based on these lists, with a little wiggle room for books I may have missed. But then come April, I read a really thought-provoking article on NPR (my response here) regarding our reading choices, and I realized that I didn’t want to limit myself. Chances are good I won’t get to every book I ever want to read, especially if I have too many reading years like this one. There are so many good books out there, so many I’ve not (yet) heard of or that I want to reread, books from the obscure to the well-known. So I backed off my lists.

However. I’m drawn to list-making like moth to flame. The bit of my life which strives for order enjoys the neat precision of lists, the lines to cross off, all the potential of choices. (Meanwhile the impulsive part of my life completely ignores all lists—the only books I’ve read off the posted lists have been the two Sherlock Holmes titles.) So I’ve decided to resume my list-making. Even more important than ordered precision, they provide an easy way to remember all those great books I want to read. Plus, a digital list is easy enough to amend or alter. Rather than call these lists, however, I’ve re-christened them as “projects”—they are on a theme after all. Down the road when I wish to work through a topic (or era) I will have an already-developed starting place.

Inspired by the current on-going R.I.P. challenge, as well as October’s Classics Circuit topic, I’ve finally finished putting together a list of the various Gothic/supernatural/horror/thriller/spy (spies seem to fit in with thrillers) novels or stories I’m interested in reading. Needless to say I will not be reading most of these this fall. I’m more interested in the classics right now, but I’ve also included more modern (WWI and later) titles on the master list on the Projects page.

Classics of Gothic & Sensational Literature (c. 1765-1914):

  1. Walpole, Horace: The Castle of Otranto (1765)
  2. Beckford, William: Vathek (1782)
  3. Radcliffe, Ann: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
  4. Radcliffe, Ann: The Italian (1797)
  5. Lewis, M. G.: The Monk (1796)
  6. Brown, Charles Brockden Wieland (1798)
  7. Godwin, William: St. Leon: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century (1799)
  8. Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft: Frankenstein (1818)
  9. Polidori, John William: The Vampyre (1819)
  10. Maturin, Charles Robert: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
  11. Hogg, James: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
  12. Poe, Edgar Allan: Various Stories, including:
    1. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)
    2. “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1843)
  13. Braddon, Mary Elizabeth: Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)
  14. Le Fanu, Sheridan:  Uncle Silas (1864)
  15. Le Fanu, Sheridan: The Wyvern Mystery (1869)
  16. Le Fanu, Sheridan: In a Glass Darkly (1872) – includes “Carmilla”
  17. Alcott, Louisa May: A Long Fatal Love Chase (1866; published 1995)*
  18. Stoker, Bram: Dracula (1897)*
  19. Childers, Erskine: The Riddle of the Sands (1903)
  20. Chesterton, G.K.: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
  21. Leroux, Gaston: The Phantom of the Opera (1909-10)*

“Northanger Horrid Novels“

  1. Parsons, Eliza: Castle of Wolfenbach (1793)
  2. Parsons, Eliza: The Mysterious Warning, a German Tale (1796)
  3. Flammenberg, Ludwig: The Necromancer; or The Tale of the Black Forest (1794)
  4. Marquis de Grosse: Horrid Mysteries (1796)
  5. Lathom, Francis: The Midnight Bell (1798)
  6. Roche, Regina Maria: Clermont, a Tale (1798)
  7. Sleath, Eleanor: Orphan of the Rhine (1798)

The “Northanger Horrid Novels” which I’ve pulled out separately are a group of seven Gothic novels mentioned in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, a satire of Gothic romances. Other, more famous novels (such as Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho) are referenced as well, but these obscure titles were once believed to have been inventions of Austen. They were rediscovered in first half of the 20th century and reprinted by the Folio Society of London in 1968. (See also here and here.)

I could have also included several other titles which are on some of my other lists: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Turn of the Screw, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” The House of Seven Gables, The Shadow of the Wind, and just about any Wilkie Collins. Ah, the problems of categorization!

For a change of pace from past project lists, I should actually be reading a couple of these soon: Dracula for Allie’s upcoming group read (she’s also hosting Inferno for anyone interested; I may try to reread that as well) and Castle of Wolfenbach for my first ever Classics Circuit.

As always with my projects, any comments or recommendations are welcome! I’ve also realized that with just one more title on top of those I’m planning to read already, I could hit Peril the First for R.I.P., so if you had to pick just one other seasonal title (from my list or any other), what would you recommend?

* Indicates a reread
† Indicates read pre-blog and no reread is currently planned.

12 thoughts on “Project, Inspired by the Season”

  1. Like you, I love making/collecting reading lists, but I can never stick to them. Some new (to me, at least) book always grabs my attention, and the list is soon forgotten. I see that The Monk is in your list, and I highly recommend it. It’s a very thick book but it’s actually a quick read. I couldn’t put it down. 🙂

    1. I’ve heard mixed opinions about The Monk, but I prefer to listen to the good ones! I think I read somewhere that it was controversial when it was first published. For some reason, I find myself very intrigued by the controversial classics—a “are they really as bad as everyone thought” sort of thing, I suppose.

  2. I LOVE this list!!! And I can’t wait to see more of them as you create them (no pressure.) 🙂

    1. Thank you! And no pressure felt. I actually have a spreadsheet built up with the bones of quite a few lists that I just need to finalize and format for the blog. It’s more of getting around to it…

    1. Thank you, I’m happy I could provide a useful list! There are also a number of more obscure titles listed on the current Classics Circuit sign-up page. (These are just the works that interest me the most at the moment.)

    1. Oooh, I like that, “delectable.” I think that’s a word that needs used more often. Hopefully I can get to a few of these this season…but if not, I have plenty of future choices for autumn reads!

  3. I love lists, though I don’t always stick to them! I like calling them “projects”; I’ve done that with some of my reading activities. I also did “goals” instead of “challenges” this year, which took some challenge-induced stress off of me! I hadn’t seen that NPR article (and, being new to your blog, your response to it), so I’m curious to check that out.

    I like that you pulled the Northanger novels out! That was my first Jane Austen, read earlier this year, and I was so curious to read the novels she referred to. A few of your others are on my TBR, though I doubt I’ll get to them this year. I look forward to your thoughts!

    1. I definitely like the idea of calling lists “projects,” not only because I think it will be less pressure, but I think it better reflects where I want to go with my reading. And I can always add more books or projects!

      If I recall correctly, Northanger Abbey was one of the last Austen’s I read, and I haven’t ever read any of the Gothic novels she pokes fun of, so it’s about time. I can’t wait to get to my fall reads!

  4. Lots of good stuff there, Amanda, and The Monk is a riot! I waited something like 15-20 years to read it (long story), and it did not disappoint on the trashy fun meter. Love looking at lists like this, too.

    1. Well, if The Monk qualifies under the “trashy fun meter,” it just moved way up the priority level on the list. I like making lists like this (as I’ve said…), so I’m happy people enjoy looking through them!

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