Week’s End Notes (20)

  • A few months ago, I would have said I was having a pretty decent reading year–both quality and quantity of books I’m reading. But lately, I feel like I’m getting nothing read. It’s not even a reading slump, it’s just my total fault–I’m picking up the internet instead of the book. Ahem. I’ll blame the time change. (AKA apparently 5:00 a.m. is now “sleeping in.”) And since I’m still thinking my way through my most recent book finished (and not likely to get any others done for another week or so), I thought I might take the easy way out: bookish survey from The Classics Club. But when I started to go through the list, I realized that a) I didn’t have answers for every question, and b) those I did, I was often too wordy. I wouldn’t want to read my own post, much less subject others to it. So I thought I might perhaps just pick and choose a few instead.
  • #2b. I’ve read 6 of the numbered 125 items on my list, or 13.75 total novels/plays on my list. So I have some work to do. I keep getting distracted by other books that aren’t on my list–many of which could have been in a different version of my list, were I to revise. Or for that matter, which are on one of my other (many) project lists. But you know what? I don’t actually care, so long as I keep reading awesome books. (Mixed success to date, but…) And every time I look over my list I am inspired again to read from it.
  • #8. Something I find interesting is how many blog posts I’ve seen deal with difficulty with or intimidation by certain books. And question #8, “What book are you avoiding?” AKA “What books is intimidating?” I know that a lot of the books on these lists ARE difficult or require a lot of WORK (Joyce, Shakespeare, for instance: see Amanda didn’t include Ulysses), but what I’m really wondering is whether by assigning something the arbitrary label “classic” we don’t also subconsciously automatically equate it with something difficult, regardless of its actual nature. How often does someone express surprise at how “readable” a particular classic is!
  • #6. For not reading very many of my CC books yet, I’ve managed to find some real winners. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion provided me with a whole new appreciation for his The Lord of the Rings and the depth of the imaginary world he created. Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose was incredibly engaging, considering all the theology/church history inserted. But it was William Faulkner who blew me away with As I Lay Dying. So of course I don’t have any more Faulkner on my list. That means, of course, #35, that I wish I had more Faulkner on my list. Anything.
  • #7. But there’s still so much to look forward to: Les Misérables. Wives and Daughters. The Turn of the Screw. 2666. Some of the books do have a sort of “obligatory” feel – I added Don Quixote because I’ve never finished it (well…I read Part 1, which was originally the first book and Part 2 was the sequel. But never more than a few chapters of Part 2. Which is supposed to be the better part.). And the Greeks–the actual, capital-C Classics. I know they’re not really difficult, but I’m not currently excited by them. So I might try to read some next year. Because I can be contrary.
  • #48. It’s funny, I feel like I’ve been reading “classic” literature forever (I recall asking the school librarian in 6th grade for a classic recommendation), but not only do I not recall my first classic (#9)–although my first children’s classic was almost certainly Little House on the Prairie–I don’t feel like I’ve actually made it through all that many. I have a record, more or less complete, of the books I’ve read since my sophomore year in high school (so 17 years-long or so), and there was a big swath of time when it was mostly mysteries or rereads. And my reading pace slowed dramatically when I went to college. (Unless one counts Concrete Masonry Handbook (or something like that). Which one doesn’t. Did I actually read that anyway?) That’s why I have such a LONG LIST (#1). Plus all the other project lists.
  • #28. One non-regret–no, I wouldn’t want to revise my list this way–but I think I could call this project list a parallel list–Children’s Classics. Oh, those wonderful books–I’ve been discovering stories I didn’t even know I missed. I don’t think I can truly cite a favorite. Anne of Green Gables has long been a strong contender, as have the Little House books, but I’ve also discovered the delight of the Moomins and the wordplay of The 13 Clocks. And I’ve only just begun that journey.
  • And now I swerve from the survey. For one of my own. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I thought I’d read children’s classics again in January (round 3!), and although I’ve somehow found myself involved in an informal Don Quixote RAL that overlaps that timeframe (oops), I’m still planning on children’s classics. I was browsing my shelves last night, thinking about classics I’ve read already, when I came across an old–my grandma’s brother’s–copy of Treasure Island. (My grandma is 93 and her brother was 12 years older, so it’s old.) And I thought, maybe that for a January RAL. But I’ve also thought–maybe Pinocchio. (Which has the merit of being on my Classics Club list.) The question: is there anyone interested in either? Not both, I don’t think I could manage both–but if there were strong interest in one or the other, I might make it a RAL title. I’m not absolutely set in any direction. But January will be for Children’s Classics. (And Don Quixote.)

4 thoughts on “Week’s End Notes (20)”

  1. I’m up for Little Pine Nut. I was thinking about suggesting it as a readalong myself, as part of some old timey Italian reading I will probably do next year. No one else will want to read any of it, except for Pinocchio.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with doing Treasure Island.

    I have the last two Moomin books left. To my surprise, an overreaching arc is developing. I had thought they were more purely picaresque. It is very interesting.

    Are you doing the children’s literature event again? It’s such a good idea for a book blog event.

    1. Hmmm…you’ve stumped me with Little Pine Nut–is that a literal translation of “Pinocchio” or am I missing something? If I read Pinocchio next year it will most likely be in January, as, yes, I am intending to host a children’s lit event again. Would you be interested in a Pinocchio readalong then? I’ve certainly had it on my shelves long enough. Although, that’s the Italian, and I’d never get through that in one month–is there a recommended translation?

      I’ve only read one Moomin book myself so far, and would have thought picaresque. Now you’ve intrigued me with the “overreaching arc.” Maybe my other January reading…

    2. “Pine nut” is one translation, at least, Tuscan dialect or something like that.

      My impression is that there are now a number of good, modern, unexpurgated translations. Then there is a question of illustrations. I think I am going to use the Nicolas Perella edition which has vintage illustrations, lots of notes, and even facing-page Italian. Of course lots of readers won’t want all that.

      1. My Italian copy has the vintage illustrations–and an old-style type face (it’s a “copia anastatica dell’edizione originale”) which makes it quite fun to look at…if only my Italian were better. But no, probably most readers wouldn’t care about the Italian!

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