And the Book Is… Another Classics Spin

Question Mark - cover place holder

UPDATE: The spin number is 8, so Pedro Páramo it is. One of the few books on this list I don’t already have on hand, but I’ve already ordered a copy from the library. It’s coming from elsewhere in the state, so hopefully it arrives in time…

I wasn’t going to do it, really I wasn’t, what with all the books I’m still in the middle of, plus the upcoming busyness of my April Event, but I kept seeing others’ posts and in a moment of weakness I decided to join in the latest Classics Club Spin anyways.

The last spin I participated in I failed, if by failed you mean didn’t get it read by the deadline. I succeeded marvelously if the goal was to actually get the book read and posted about–even if it did take several months past the deadline. Really, reading deadlines are just general guidelines anyways, right?

I did limit my choices primarily to either books I already am planning on reading soon, books I own, or books that hit multiple categories in this year’s challenge goals (actually, all the books will meet at least one of those, not counting Classics Club). After randomly sorting the list I arrived at:

  1. Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
  2. Fables – Aesop
  3. Antigone – Sophocles (Sophoklēs)
  4. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  5. The Day of the Owl [Il giorno della civetta] – Leonardo Sciascia
  6. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
  7. The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  8. Pedro Páramo – Juan Rulfo
  9. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
  10. 2666 – Roberto Bolaño
  11. The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
  12. Agamemnon – Aeschylus (Aiskhulos)
  13. The Iliad – Homer
  14. His Last Bow – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  15. Three Exemplary Novels – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  16. Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
  17. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  18. Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges
  19. The Aeneid [Aeneis] – Virgil
  20. Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare

I’m most hoping to get one of the Shakespeare, as those are both “sooner rather than later” books (I have Titus Andronicus out from the library already). And my fingers are crossed that I don’t get the Cervantes, since my copy is in Spanish or any of the longer titles (such as 2666) – I really don’t see how they would be finished by May 2! I’ll update here with which book I’m reading once the number is announced.

Anyone else spinning? Or this there a book on my list you really hope I get?


Children’s Classics: Suggestion List

Classic Children's Literature Event 2014 Logo 300w

We’re fast approaching the start of January and The Classic Children’s Literature Event start. Although I linked to last year’s suggestion list in my introductory post, I believe I promised a revised suggestion list for this year. Actually, rather than a revision, it is composed entirely of titles that weren’t on last year’s list. Of course, I haven’t actually read most of the suggestions in this list yet, but I’ve heard/read good things about most of these. I also can’t speak for how easy or difficult it is to find copies of many of these (especially the translations). The list is in approximate chronological order by original publication date.

  1. Hoffmann, E.T.A: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816, Germany) – One to read now, perhaps?
  2. Marryat, Frederick: The Children of the New Forest (1847, England)
  3. Afanasyev, Alexander: Russian Fairy Tales (1855-63, Russia)
  4. Busch, Wilhelm: Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) (1865, Germany)
  5. Dodge, Mary Mapes: Hans Brinker, of The Silver Skates (1865, U.S.)
  6. Carroll, Lewis: Sylvie and Bruno (1889, England) and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893, England) – I don’t know much about them–which makes me curious, knowing what the Wonderland books are like.
  7. Alcott, Louisa May: Under the Lilacs (1878, U.S.)
  8. Macdonald, George: At the Back of the North Wind (1871, Scotland)
  9. Pyle, Howard: Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire (1883, U.S.)
  10. Kipling, Rudyard: Just So Stories (1902, England)
  11. Grahame, Kenneth: The Wind in the Willows (1908, England)
  12. Nesbit, E.: The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899, England)
  13. Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden (1911, England)
  14. Montgomery, L.M.: Magic for Marigold (1929, Canada) – One of many alternatives to the more familiar Anne stories
  15. Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Tarzan of the Apes (1914, U.S.)
  16. Colum, Padraic: The King of Ireland’s Son (1916, Ireland)
  17. Lindsay, Norman: The Magic Pudding (1918, Australia)
  18. Kästner, Erich: Emil and the Detectives (1929, Germany)
  19. Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons (1930, England)
  20. Field, Rachel: Hitty: Her First Hundred Years (1930, U.S.)
  21. Streatfield, Noel: Ballet Shoes (1936, England)
  22. Atwater, Richard and Florence: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938, U.S.) – Why do I get the feeling that the recent movie version had little to do with this book?
  23. Volkov, Alexander Melentyevich: The Wizard of the Emerald City (1939, USSR) – I understand that this was a Soviet-era version of Baum’s famous first Oz book – perhaps a comparison of the two would make a fun project?
  24. Eager, Edward: Half Magic (1954, U.S.)
  25. Goudge, Elizabeth: Linnets and Valerians (1964, England)
  26. Jansson, Tove: Finn Family Moonmintroll  (1948, Finland)
  27. Henry, Marguerite: King of the Wind (1948, U.S.)
  28. Thurber, James: The 13 Clocks (1950, U.S.)
  29. Taylor, Sydney: All-of-a-Kind Family (1951, U.S.)
  30. Norton, Mary: The Borrowers (1952, England)
  31. Green, Roger Lancelyn: King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (1953, England)
  32. Sutcliff, Rosemary: The Eagle of the Ninth (1954, England)
  33. Boston, L. M.: The Children of Green Knowe (1954, England)
  34. DeJong, Meindertt: The Wheel on the School (1955, Dutch-U.S.)
  35. Juster, Norton: The Phantom Tollbooth (1961, U.S.)
  36. Dahl, Roald: James and the Giant Peach (1961, Britain) – Or any of his, really.
  37. Rawls, Wilson: Where the Red Fern Grows (1961, U.S.)
  38. L’Engle, Madeleine: A Wrinkle in Time (1962, U.S.) – The first in a series.

And some post-1963 titles (I’m bending my own guidelines)

  1. Cooper, Susan: Over Sea, Under Stone (1965, England) – The first in The Dark is Rising series, a favorite of mine and for anyone who loves both Arthurian legend and fantasy.
  2. White, E.B.: The Trumpet of the Swan (1970, U.S.) – My favorite White title.
  3. Howe, James and Deborah: Bunnicula (1979, U.S.) – My dad still talks about how much he enjoyed reading this series to my brother and me.

Book Riot also had a fun post recently with a list of children’s classics that many of us know via the movie versions rather than the original books. Check it out!

And after all that–I’m feeling like I need January to be twice as long–I see too many additional books I’d like to read!

On Lists (Again) & Another Classics Club Spin

If my memory serves me correctly (which, chances are, it does not), a month or so ago I skimmed a number of posts on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Which of course spurred another one of my list-making crises, although, fortunately this time it was completely of the mental sort accomplished while driving back and forth to work (and also fortunately did not so distract me as to end up in a ditch or the back seat of the vehicle in front of me–I do have some practical priorities). But after I think it over, I think all my list-making–scratch that, some of my list-making; the other portion results from my over-fondness of lists–originates from a feeling of being “under-read.” Whatever that means.

I suppose it comes from a notion that there are books I should read–those books that everyone knows, or those big “origin” books–the ones that influence everyone else down the road. Why else, unless I should be an actual university-attending student of literature with prescribed reading lists, should it matter if I read this book or that? Chances are I’m still going to be better read than most people I interact with daily, and there’s pretty much an 100% guarantee that I will never have time to get to everything on all the lists of “must-reads” that I find interesting.

Yet I can’t shake the idea that I’m under-read and I should improve that. I think part of it actually comes from a less ideological place where I’ve read about or heard about all these novels that I’ve never read but which so many people make sound so interesting or challenging or wonderful or…. The curse of the book blogger.

And then I realized, that if I do want to begin to make my way towards “better read,” so that I know first-hand about all these amazing books (and the not-so-amazing ones as well), I don’t need to subscribe to someone else’s list. I already have one. The concept of my Classics Club list, all 125 books, was to read, not all of the books, but the books I most wanted to read sooner rather than later. The authors or the stories I most wanted to try. (And, cheating, those books I just must revisit.)

I haven’t been doing too great with actually reading from my list, though, but after a relaxed spring/summer, it seems an appropriate time (okay, okay, summer’s still not over, but the local schools are about to start back and the weather’s been seasonally confused) to return to the list. Coincidentally, Classics Club is sponsoring their 3rd “Classics Spin,” so I’ll start there. [Actually, I started with Much Ado About Nothing last week, but that’s because I want to reread it before I see the movie.] As I feel that the 20th century is my weakest area, I’ve chopped my spin list straight from that portion of my larger list, starting with William Faulkner (one of my dad’s favorites), only omitting titles that I think would be too long to finish by the first of October. And then, maybe? Maybe I’ll read some of the other 19 after the first is done.

  1. Faulkner, William: As I Lay Dying (1930)
  2. Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World (1932)
  3. Dinesen, Isak (Karen Blixen): Out of Africa (1937)
  4. du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca (1938)
  5. Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
  6. Wright, Richard: Native Son (1940)
  7. Smith, Dodie: I Capture the Castle (1940)
  8. Green, Henry: Loving (1945)
  9. Orwell, George: Animal Farm (1945)
  10. Waugh, Evelyn: Brideshead Revisited (1945)
  11. Asturias, Miguel Ángel: The President [El Señor Presidente] (1946)
  12. Carpentier, Alego: Kingdom of This World [El reino de este mundo] (1949)
  13. Orwell, George: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
  14. Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles (1950)
  15. Cela, Camilo José: The Hive [La colmena] (1951)
  16. Ellison, Ralph: Invisible Man (1952)
  17. Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayev: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1952)
  18. Steinbeck, John: East of Eden (1952)
  19. Baldwin, James: Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
  20. Tolkien, J. R. R.: The Lord of the Rings (1954-56) (re-read)

That doesn’t seem a bad list to choose from at all, now does it?

Classics of Children’s Literature: The Project!

Can I confess to some relief that it’s February? Reading children’s classics and others’ posts about them was enjoyable, certainly, but it turned out to be a bit time-consuming at just the wrong time for me. I mentioned earlier this year my unexpected new job and the lengthy commute tied to it. On a good day, it takes about 50 minutes to get to work (and the same or a little more to get home). Unfortunately, the weather has been less than cooperative more days than not: snow, fog, rain. Can spring and sun come already?! Also, the work day is over eight hours–I was told that I should average about 44 hours a week depending on work load. The hours are easy to get, actually, but adding it all together, I only have a few hours each day for anything not work related, and it’s easy to fall behind on just about everything. On the other hand, everyone is really nice and gets along well, the work is interesting enough, and the routine fell into place quicker than I expected. Just not much time. I’ve considered formally saying “blog break!” but I don’t think I’ll do that–I just will do a lot more drive-by skimming of other bloggers’ posts and skimp on my own blog. Because, after all, I can’t give up reading. I have a pile of library books next to me now: the library might be on my way home. Oops. One of them, The Princess and Curdie, would even have fit into my January reading theme had it arrived on time (I had to request it). But there’s no blogging rules that just because January is over I have to stop reading children’s classics!

Nor do I want to. I don’t mean to continue in the organized everybody read these books this month fashion, rather in the scatter-shot, get to it when I get to it, but with a plan in the manner of all my many other projects. I believe I’ve gained some readers lately thanks to the Classic Children’s Literature Challenge, so for those who don’t know I really like creating project lists for myself. (And then I generally ignore them–explaining at least one of my goals for the year!) This one is a little different in that I started the project before I generated a complete list, and I’ve been adding titles to it based on the reviews I’ve seen throughout the past month. I won’t say it’s finalized–they never are; all my projects are designed to shrink or expand at my whim–and there is certainly no time-frame attached. This is my longest list to date, other than perhaps my revised Classics Club list, but I’ve already made a nice start on it.

To save space, I left some books (series titles, more recent books) off the list below–the complete list is on the Project Page. When I was researching for this list, I found some interesting-sounding titles which I couldn’t readily find through the library system (which, for me is actually quite extensive–not only do I have easy access to books from a large network of public libraries, but also to many of the books from the many universities in Ohio–yay 21st century technologies!), so unique to this list is some limitation based on what I could or couldn’t get without purchasing. Feel free to offer up comments or suggestions–I’m sure I’ve missed some! If you know of any books from outside of English-speaking countries (available in English), I’m especially interested.

  1. Perrault, Charles: Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals [Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé] (1697, France)
  2. Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, selections (1812, Germany)*
  3. Wyss, Johann David: The Swiss Family Robinson [Der Schweizersche Robinson] (1812, Switzerland)
  4. Hoffmann, E.T.A: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King [Nussknacker und Mausekönig] (1816, Germany)
  5. Pushkin, Alexander: Fairy Tales (1830-34, Russia)
  6. Yershov, Pyotr Pavlovich: The Little Humpbacked Horse (1834, Russia)
  7. Anderson, Hans Christian: Fairy Tales, selections (1830s-70s, Denmark)*
  8. Ruskin, John: The King of the Golden River (1841, England)
  9. Marryat, Frederick: The Children of the New Forest (1847, England)
  10. Afanasyev, Alexander: Russian Fairy Tales (1855-63, Russia)
  11. Ballantyne, R.M.: The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean (1858, Scotland)
  12. Kingsley, Charles: The Water-Babies (1863, England)
  13. Busch, Wilhelm: Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) [Max und Moritz-Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen] (1865, Germany)
  14. Dodge, Mary Mapes: Hans Brinker, of The Silver Skates (1865, U.S.)
  15. Carroll, Lewis:
    1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865, England)*
    2. Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871, England)*
    3. Sylvie and Bruno (1889, England)
    4. Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893, England)
  16. Alcott, Louisa May:
    1. Little Women (Part One) (1868, U.S.)*†
    2. Little Women, Part Second [Good Wives] (1869, U.S.)*†
    3. Little Men (1871, U.S.)*
    4. Jo’s Boys (1886, U.S.)*
  17. Macdonald, George:
    1. At the Back of the North Wind (1871, Scotland)
    2. The Princess and the Goblin (1872, Scotland)
    3. The Princess and Curdie (1883, Scotland)
  18. Coolidge, Susan: What Katy Did (1872, U.S.)
  19. Swell, Anna: Black Beauty (1877, England)
  20. Spyri, Johanna: Heidi’s Years of Learning and Travel [Heidis Lehr-und Wanderjahre] (1880, Switzerland)*
  21. Ispirescu, Petre: Folktales from Romania (1880s, Romania)
  22. Collodi, Carlo: Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storio di un burattino [The Adventures of Pinocchio] (1883, Italy) ¤
  23. Pyle, Howard: Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire (1883, U.S.)
  24. De Amicis, Edmondo: Heart [Cuore] (1886, Italy)
  25. Wilde, Oscar: The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888, Ireland)
  26. Wilde, Oscar: A House of Pomegranates (1888, Ireland)
  27. Turner, Ethel: Seven Little Australians (1894, Australia)
  28. Kipling, Rudyard:
    1. The Jungle Book (1894, England)
    2. The Second Jungle Book (1895, England)
    3. Just So Stories (1902, England)
  29. Falkner, J. Meade: Moonfleet (1898, England)
  30. Grahame, Kenneth: The Reluctant Dragon (1898, England)*
  31. Grahame, Kenneth: The Wind in the Willows (1908, England)*
  32. Horwood, William: The Willows in Winter (1993, England)‡
  33. Nesbit, E.: The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899, England)
  34. Nesbit. E.: The Railway Children (1905, England)
  35. Salgari, Emilio: Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem (1900, Italy)
  36. Baum, L. Frank: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900, U.S.)*
  37. Wiggin, Kate Douglas: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903, U.S.)
  38. Barrie, J.M.: Peter Pan (1904, 1911, Scotland)
  39. Burnett, Frances Hodgson: A Little Princess (1905, England)*
  40. Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden (1911, England)*
  41. Montgomery, L.M.:
    1. Anne of Green Gables series (1908-39, Canada)*
    2. The Story Girl (1911, Canada)
    3. The Golden Road (1913, Canada)
    4. Emily series (1923-27, Canada)*
    5. A Tangled Web (1931, Canada)*
    6. Jane of Lantern Hill (1937, Canada)
  42. Porter, Eleanor H.: Pollyanna (1913, U.S.)
  43. Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Tarzan of the Apes (1914, U.S.)
  44. Colum, Padraic: The King of Ireland’s Son (1916, Ireland)
  45. Colum, Padraic: Legends of Hawaii (1922, Ireland)
  46. Lindsay, Norman: The Magic Pudding (1918, Australia)
  47. Lofting, Hugh: The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920, England)
  48. Finger, Charles: Tales from the Silver Lands (1924, U.S.)
  49. Milne., A.A.: The World of Pooh (1926, 1928, England)∞
  50. Mukerji, Dhan Gopal: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon (1928, India-U.S.)
  51. Potter, Beatrix: The Fairy Caravan (1929, England)
  52. Kelly, Eric P.: The Trumpeter of Krakow (1929, U.S.)
  53. Kästner, Erich: Emil and the Detectives [Emil und die Detektive] (1929, Germany)
  54. Hergé: The Adventures of Tinitin
  55. Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons (1930, England)
  56. Wilder, Laura Ingalls: Little House books (1932-71, U.S.)*
  57. Kassil, Lev Abramovich: The Black Book and Schwambrania (1933, USSR)
  58. Travers, P.L.: Mary Poppins (1934, England)
  59. Fortún, Elena: Celia novelista (1934, Spain)§
  60. Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Hobbit (1937, England)*
  61. Lakin, Lazar Yosifovych: The Old Genie Hottabych (1937, USSR)
  62. Atwater, Richard and Florence: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938, U.S.)
  63. Bazhov, Pavel: The Malachite Casket (1939, USSR)
  64. Volkov, Alexander Melentyevich: The Wizard of the Emerald City (1939, USSR)
  65. Blyton, Enid: Five on a Treasure Island (1942, England)
  66. Saint-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943, France)
  67. Lindgren, Astrid: Pippi Longstocking (1945, Sweden)
  68. Buzzati, Dino: The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily [La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia] (1945, Italy)
  69. White, E.B.:
    1. Stuart Little (1945, U.S.)*
    2. Charlotte’s Web (1952, U.S.)*
    3. The Trumpet of the Swan (1970, U.S.)*
  70. Goudge, Elizabeth: The Little White Horse (1946, England)
  71. Goudge, Elizabeth: Linnets and Valerians (1964, England)
  72. Jansson, Tove: Finn Family Moonmintroll [Trollkarlens hatt] (1948, Finland)
  73. Rybakov, Anatoly: The Dirk (1948, USSR)
  74. Henry, Marguerite: King of the Wind (1948, U.S.)
  75. Thurber, James: The 13 Clocks (1950, U.S.)
  76. Lewis, C.S.: The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56, Ireland)*
  77. Rodari,Gianni: The Adventures of the Little Onion [Il romanzo di Cipollino] (1951, Italy)
  78. Gubarve, Vitali Georgievich: Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors (1951, USSR)
  79. Taylor, Sydney: All-of-a-Kind Family (1951, U.S.)
  80. Norton, Mary: The Borrowers (1952, England)*
  81. Green, Roger Lancelyn: King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (1953, England)
  82. Green, Roger Lancelyn: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1956, England)
  83. Sutcliff, Rosemary: The Eagle of the Ninth (1954, England)
  84. Boston, L. M.: The Children of Green Knowe (1954, England)
  85. DeJong, Meindertt: The Wheel on the School (1955, Dutch-U.S.)

* Indicates a reread.
† Published in the U.S. since 1880 as a single volume titled Little Women
‡ A recent sequel to The Wind in the Willows
∞ Contains Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
^ Nonfiction
§ I hope to read in Spanish
¤ I hope to read in Italian

Children’s Classics: Suggestion List

Classic Children's Literature Reading Challenge January 2013The Classic Children’s Literature Challenge is almost here, and while I’m sure most participants already have their books picked out, I believe I promised a suggestion list for those still looking for something. I had to restrain myself a bit as I love list making, and there are so many good books to chose from, but I did try to include quite a few well-known and not-so-well-known selections. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that quite a few are (relative to native English-speakers) translated stories–we adults sometimes fret and fuss over reading in translation: too much, not enough, is it the “right” translation, is a translation too “clunky” to bother with–but when we are children they just sneak up on us and we didn’t even know it happened! (Unfortunately, I am unable to recommend good translations for any of these titles.)  I do beg for a little forgiveness on your part, as I added quite a few comments to the titles. I haven’t read everything on the list, and some books have the coating of nostalgia attached, so I can’t completely vouch for the merit of all titles. The list is in approximate chronological order by original publication date.

  1. Tales of Mother Goose – Charles Perrault (France) – A collection of fairy tales even older than those of the more famous Grimm brothers; some are original to Perrault while others are based on folktales or stories from France and Italy. They include some of the most famous fairy tales such as “Sleeping Beauty” and “Little Red Riding Hood,” and were probably originally intended for an adult audience.
  2. Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Germany) – The best known collectors of fairy tales, although their original interest was in a scholarly preservation of oral stories.
  3. The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann David Wyss (Switzerland) – My mom read this to my brother and I when we were little – all I recall of it is that it introduced to me the fascinating idea of tree-top living.
  4. Fairy Tales – Alexander Pushkin (Russia) – As best I can tell, the best-known Russian fairy-tales.
  5. Fairy Tales – Hans Christian Anderson (Denmark) – If you only know “The Little Mermaid” from the Disney movie, Anderson’s original will be quite the surprise. And this is only one of the well over 100 stories which he wrote.
  6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll (England) – I don’t know if I’ll ever understand the Alice books, but they are certainly fascinating.
  7. Eight Cousins – Louisa May Alcott (U.S.) – An alternative to the better known Little Women, its sequel is Rose in Bloom.
  8. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell (England) – Probably the best-known horse story ever written, it has been very influential
  9. Heidi – Johanna Spyri (Switzerland) – One of many hand-me-down books I read when I was little, but all I remember are Heidi, her grandfather, and a goat. Or two.
  10. Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi (Italy) – I’ve heard tell that Collodi’s Pinocchio and Disney’s are rather different. True or not, if you visit Collodi’s hometown of Florence, Italy, you can find Pinocchio figurines all over the place.
  11. The Happy Prince and Other Tales – Oscar Wilde (Ireland) – I was surprised a few years back to learn that the short story “The Selfish Giant,” which I remember from childhood, was by none other than Wilde.
  12. The Blue Fairy Book – Andrew Lang (Scotland) – I devoured the Andrew Lang fairy books when I was in fourth and fifth grades; they contain fairy tales from all over the world. This was the first.
  13. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling (England) – I’ve read just enough of this to know that the Disney movie is only a portion of the original. I find chapter 9, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” unforgettable.
  14. Seven Little Australians – Ethel Turner (Australia) – I discovered this title while researching suggestions – it has apparently remained popular for over 100 years.
  15. The Reluctant Dragon – Kenneth Grahame (England) – I perhaps have Grahame to blame for my fondness for dragons.
  16. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum (U.S.) – The first of a fourteen book series. I actually preferred Ozma of Oz when I was little, but the first book is the best introduction to Baum’s Oz.
  17. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm – Kate Douglas Wiggin (U.S.) – I was surprised by the similarities to the later Anne of Green Gables, but found Rebecca adorable on her own merits. (I read this last year.)
  18. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie (Scotland) – The play came first, but Barrie adopted his own play into a novel a few years later.
  19. The Railway Children – E. Nesbit (England) – I haven’t read any Nesbit, but have seen her highly recommended.
  20. A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett (England) – One of my absolute favorites from childhood. I loved Sara’s powers of imagination.
  21. Emily of New Moon – L.M. Montgomery (Canada) – You may know the more famous Anne of Green Gables, but have you tried the Emily books? This is the first in a series of three.
  22. Pollyanna – Eleanor H. Porter (U.S.) – Although I’ve seen the 1960 movie several times, I forgot that it was based on a book until I started researching children’s classics.
  23. Winnie-the-Pooh – A.A. Milne (England) – It’s been so long since I’ve read this I have no memory of it. But if we’re to be consistent, I have to say I imagine it differs from the Disney version!
  24. The Adventures of Tintin (various titles, although some are post 1960) – Hergé (Belgium) – Fun adventure stories in comic-book form – the three which were adapted into the 2011 movie are The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham’s Treasure.
  25. Little House in the Big Woods  – Laura Ingalls Wilder (U.S.) – This entire series is a long-standing favorite of mine. Little House in the Big Woods is the first, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.
  26. Mary Poppins – P.L. Travers (England) – I’ve never read the Travers series, but I would love to know how this compares to the well-known movie.
  27. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien (England) – A long-standing favorite of mine. It just had its 75th birthday, and with part 1 of the movie in theaters, if you don’t know the original, there’s never been a better time to start. (I posted on this recently.)
  28. The Little Prince – Saint-Exupéry (France) – Probably the best-known French title I’ve come across (at least in the U.S.) – I’ve had a copy for years but have yet to read it!
  29. Five on a Treasure Island – Enid Blyton (England) – An author I’ve heard of but never tried.
  30. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren (Sweden) – I’ve seen mixed opinions on this title, but it is probably the best-known Swedish title in the U.S.
  31. The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily – Dino Buzzati (Italy) – I discovered this title while researching the list–it’s only be recently translated into English, but if the author sounds familiar, he’s best known for the grown-up novel The Tartar Steppe.
  32. Misty of Chincoteague – Marguerite Henry (U.S.) – I was never horse-obsessed, but for some reason I read quite a few horse books. Henry won the Newbery Medal for the later King of the Wind, but this title is the one I remember. (And it did get a Newbery Honor.)
  33. The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge (England) – I’ve yet to read Goudge, but I’ve seen her highly recommended on blogs.
  34. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White (U.S.) – My favorite White, The Trumpet of the Swan, falls outside the date range for the event, but all of his books are wonderful.
  35. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (Ireland) – The first and most famous of the series of seven books. Some advocate a chronological reading of the series (starting with The Magician’s Nephew), but I prefer the order they were originally published. And with its wintery setting, this one is perfect for January!
  36. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare (U.S.) – My favorite book/author when I was in 5th grade.

Other places to look for ideas include the Newbery Medal Winner and Honor books (given out by the American Library Association, list HERE) and for picture books, Caldecott Medal Winner and Honor books (ALA also, list HERE). Also, many of the authors listed about wrote several books for children, while I mostly limited myself to one apiece for the list.

There were also some suggestions in the comments of the introductory post:

  • Sylvie and Bruno – Lewis Carroll (England)
  • The Call of the Wild and White Fang – Jack London (U.S.)
  • The Wizard of the Emerald City – Alexander Melentyevich Volkov (Soviet Union)

Please feel free to add more ideas in the comments below and I will add them in!

From the comments:

  • Emil and the Detectives – Erich Kästner (Germany)
  • Arenel has put together a nice list of Russian-language books HERE, complete with her thoughts and comments. The quick summary:
    • Krylov, Ivan Andreyevich: fables
    • Pogorelsky, AntonyBlack Hen, or Living Underground (1829)
    • Pushkin, Alexander SergeyevichThe Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda (1830), The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1831), The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish (1833), The Tale of the Dead Princess (1833), The Tale of the Golden Cockerel (1834)
    • Yershov, Pyotr PavlovichThe Little Humpbacked Horse (1834)
    • Tolstoy, Lev NikolayevichChildhood (1852)
    • Aksakov, Sergey TimofeyevichThe Scarlet Flower (1858)
    • Olesha, Yury KarlovichThree Fat Men (1924)
    • Kassil, Lev AbramovichThe Black Book and Schwambrania (1933)
    • Kataev, Valentin PetrovichA White Sail Gleams (1936)
    • Gaidar, ArkadyThe Blue Cup (1936), Chuk and Gek (1939), Timur and his Gang (1940), stories
    • Lagin, Lazar YosifovychThe Old Genie Hottabych (1937)
    • Bazhov, PavelThe Malachite Casket (1939), The Mistress of the Copper Mountain, tales
    • Volkov, Alexander MelentyevichThe Wizard of the Emerald City (1939) (plus the rest of the Magic Land series: Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers (1963), The Seven Underground Kings (1964), The Fiery God of the Marrans (1968), The Yellow Fog (1970), The Secret of the Abandoned Castle (1982))
    • Rybakov, AnatolyThe Dirk (1948), The Bronze Bird (1956)
    • Gubarev, Vitali Georgievich: Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors (1951)

      Nosov, Nikolay Nikolaevich: The Adventures of Dunno and his Friends (1954) (plus the rest of the series: Dunno in Sun City (1958), Dunno on the Moon (1966))

  • Carnegie Medal Winners (UK prize for Children’s Literature)
  • Hans Christian Anderson Award for Writing (International Award–given to author based on the body of their work)

Libros españoles – un proyecto nuevo

Yesterday marked the first day in three and one-half months (has it been that long, really?!) that I haven’t looked at my reading plans with the weight of The Silmarillion hanging over my head. Yes, that’s right, I’m finished! And lest you think that the length of time it took me to read it reflected the quality of the book, my one-word summary review: “awesome.” But more on that later this week.

Today instead I’m focusing on Stu’s and Richard’s Spanish Language Lit Month. I mentioned previously that I planned on participating, but it also seemed the perfect time to add another one of my project lists. I’ve had an interest in Spanish language books ever since our required summer reading for high school Spanish class (10th grade—Don Quixote, which I didn’t actually finish, whoops!; 11th—our choice of The House of Spirits, One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Fictions; 12th—La casa de Bernarda Alba). Some really good group reads over the past few years and I’m hooked. This is one of my longer lists to date, and I’m sure it will grow. As an explanation for the seemingly random nature of which books I hope to read in Spanish: for the moment, it’s those books for which I already have a Spanish copy.


  1. Bécquer, Gustavo Adolfo: Legends and Letters [Leyendas] (1871)
  2. Valera, Juan: Pepita Jimenéz (1874)
  3. Pérez Galdós, Benito: The Disinherited [La desheredada] (1881)
  4. Pérez Galdós, Benito: Fortunata y Jacinta (1887)
  5. Alas y Ureña, Leopoldo “Clarín”: The Regent’s Wife [La regenta] (1884-85)
  6. Pardo Bazán, Emilia: The Manors of Ulloa [Los pazos de Ulloa] (1886)
  7. Baroja, Pío: The Tree of Knowledge [El arbol de la ciencia] (1911)
  8. Unamuno, Miguel de: Mist [Niebla] (1914)
  9. García Lorca, Federico: Obras Escogidas (c. 1918-35)†§
  10. García Lorca, Federico: La casa de Bernarda Alba [The House of Bernarda Alba] (1936)*§
  11. Cela, Camilo José: The Hive [La colmena] (1951)
  12. Goytisolo, Juan: Fiestas (1958)§
  13. Martín-Santos, Luis: Time of Silence [Tiempo de silencio] (1962)
  14. Benet, Juan: Rusty Lances [Herrumbrosas lanzas] (1983)
  15. Marías, Javier: All Souls [Todas las almas] (1987)
  16. Marías, Javier: Your Face Tomorrow [Tu rostro mañana] (2002-07)
  17. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: El capitán Alatriste [Captain Alatriste] (1996) §
  18. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: Limpieza de sangre [Purity of Blood] (1997) §
  19. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: El sol de Breda [The Sun over Breda] (1998) §
  20. Pérez-Reverte, Arturo: El oro del rey [The King’s Gold] (2000) §
  21. Delibes, Miguel: The Heretic [El hereje] (1998)
  22. Vila-Matas, Enrique: Bartleby and Co. [Bartleby y compañía]  (2000)
  23. Cercas, Javier: Soldiers of Salamis [Soldados de Salamina] (2001)
  24. Somoza, José Carlos: Lady Number Thirteen [La dama número trece] (2003)
  25. Ruiz Zafón, Carlos: The Shadow of the Wind [La sombra del viento] (2004)


  1. Echeverría, José Esteban Antonio: “The Captive” [“La cautiva”] (1837)
  2. Echeverría, José Esteban Antonio: “The Slaughterhouse” [“El matadero”] (1839)
  3. Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino: Facundo (1845)
  4. Hernández, José: Martín Fierro (1872-79)
  5. Arlt, Roberto: The Seven Madmen [Los siete locos] (1929)
  6. Borges, Jorge Luis: Ficciones (1962)
  7. Borges, Jorge Luis: The Book of Imaginary Beings [El libro de los seres imaginarios] (1969)
  8. Cortázar, Julio: Hopscotch [Rayuela] (1963)
  9. Puig, Manuel: Kiss of the Spider Woman [El beso de la mujer araña] (1976)
  10. Saer, Juan José: The Witness [El entenado] (1983)
  11. Eloy Martínez, Tomás: The Perón Novel [La novela de Perón] (1985)
  12. Eloy Martínez, Tomás: Santa Evita (1995)
  13. Eloy Martínez, Tomás: The Tango Singer [El cantor de tango] (2004)
  14. Piglia, Ricardo: Money to Burn [Plata quemada] (1997)


  1. Donoso, José: The Obscene Bird of Night [El obsceno pájaro de la noche] (1970)
  2. Allende, Isabel: La Casa de los espiritus [The House of the Spirits] (1982)*§
  3. Allende, Isabel: Of Love and Shadows [De amor y de sombra] (1987)
  4. Allende, Isabel: The Stories of Eva Luna [Cuentos de Eva Luna] (1989)
  5. Bolaño, Roberto: Nazi Literature in the Americas [Literatura Nazi en América] (1996)
  6. Bolaño, Roberto: Savage Detectives [Los detcctives salvajes] (1998)
  7. Bolaño, Roberto: 2666 (2004)


  1. García Márquez, Gabriel: No One Writes to the Colonel [El coronel no tiene quien le escriba] (1961)
  2. García Márquez, Gabriel: Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude] (1967)*§
  3. García Márquez, Gabriel: Autumn of the Patriarch [El otoño del patriarca] (1975)
  4. García Márquez, Gabriel: Chronicle of a Death Foretold [Crónica de una muerte anunciada] (1981)
  5. García Márquez, Gabriel: Love in the Time of Cholera [El amor en los tiempos del cólera] (1985)
  6. García Márquez, Gabriel: Clandestine in Chile [La aventura de Miguel Littín clandestino en Chile] (1986)
  7. Mutis, Álvaro: The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll [Empresas y tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero]  (1993)
  8. Vallejo, Fernando: Our Lady of the Assassins [La virgen de los sicarios] (1994)


  1. Gómez de Avellaneda, Gertrudis: Sab (1841)
  2. Carpentier, Alejo: Kingdom of This World [El reino de este mundo] (1949)
  3. Carpentier, Alejo The Lost Steps [Los pasos perdidos] (1953)
  4. Cabrera Infante, Guillermo: Three Trapped Tigers [Tres tristes tigres] (1964)


  1. Asturias, Miguel Ángel: Mister President [El Señor Presidente]


  1. Azuela, Mariano: The Underdogs [Los de abajo] (1916)
  2. Paz, Octavio: The Labyrinth of Solitude [El laberinto de la soledad] (1950)
  3. Rulfo, Juan: Pedro Páramo (1955)
  4. Fuentes, Juan: La muerte de Artemio Cruz [The Death of Artemio Cruz] (1962) §
  5. Poniatowska, Elena: Massacre in Mexico [La noche de Tlateloloco] (1971)
  6. Esquivel, Laura: Like Water for Chocolate [Como agua para chocolate] (1989)
  7. Rivera-Garza, Cristina: No One Will See Me Cry [Nadie me verá llorar] (2003)


  1. Arguedas, José María: Deep Rivers [Los ríos profundos] (1958)
  2. Vargas Llosa, Mario: Los jefes/Los cachorros [The Chiefs and the Cubs] (1959) §
  3. Vargas Llosa, Mario: The Time of the Hero [La ciudad y los perros] (1962)
  4. Vargas Llosa, Mario: Conversation in the Cathedral [Conversación en la catedral] (1975)
  5. Vargas Llosa, Mario: La fiesta del chivo [The Feast of the Goat] (2000) §

Puerto Rico:

  1. Sánchez, Luis Rafael: Macho Camacho’s Beat [La guaracha del Macho Camacho] (1976)


  1. Onetti, Juan Carlos: A Brief Life [La vida breve] (1950)


  1. Gallegos, Rómulo: Doña Bárbara (1929)
  2. Parra, Teresa de la: Mama Blanca’s Memoirs [Memoria de Mamá Blanca] (1929)

Latin America:

  1. Menton, Seymour, ed.: El cuento hispanoamericano, vol. 1 & 2 (1964 ed.) §

I’ve tried to compile my list based on books I own, books I’ve heard good things about, and books that are on “best of” lists. As always, any comments, corrections, suggestions, or emendations are welcome! Needless to say, this is going to be a very long-term project.

* Indicates a reread
§ I hope to read in Spanish
Obras Escogida: An Anthology in the Original Spanish, Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (1965)

Why We Need Challenges

I don’t usually write posts that are acting as responses to other posts, but I saw a comment recently that suggested that it’s a little silly to have reading challenges for reading outside of our language/country and another that readers should already be naturally exploring translated fiction. Since this seems to crop up from time to time, especially in connection with the concern that we readers, from all countries, tend to focus too much on the English-language dominated “canon,” I thought I’d chirp in, at least so that I can focus my own thoughts.

While some of these points may be valid or well-intentioned, and while I think the whole discussion is ENTIRELY different for those whose first language is not English (see: this article about the reading habits of Europeans, many of whom apparently prefer English-language books), it seems a bit naïve to me to believe that readers—especially US readers—will naturally gravitate to translations or works from outside their country. To illustrate:

In 2007 I created a LibraryThing account and entered all the books I had read at that point. I have kept a list of what I’ve read since mid-1997, so the numbers go back that far: 343 books read since 1997. Of these, 30 were translations. Another one was half-read but not completed (so not in my completed list), and one was read in the original language. Four were written in English by authors originally from outside the US/Canada/UK.

I categorize them as follows:

Books read for school (required, high-school & university)

    1. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes) [half-read—shhh—don’t tell my teacher!]
    2. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez)
    3. Selections from the Decameron (Giovanni Boccacio)
    4. Waiting (Ha Jin)
    5. The Odyssey (Homer)
    6. The Romance of Tristan and Iseult (Joseph Bedier retelling)
    7. La Casa de Bernarda Alba (Frederico García Lorca) [read in Spanish]
    8. Medea (Euripides)
    9. Antigone (Sophocles)
    10. Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
    11. All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
    12. Night (Eli Wiesel)
    13. The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)

Books read on my own

    1. Bible (Anonymous)
    2. Daughter of Fortune (Isabel Allende)
    3. Portrait in Sepia (Isabel Allende)
    4. Eva Luna (Isabel Allende)
    5. City of Beasts (Isabel Allende)
    6. Zorro (Isabel Allende)
    7. The General in His Labyrinth (Gabriel García Márquez)
    8. The Club Dumas (Arturo Perez-Reverte)
    9. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
    10. The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)
    11. Arabian Nights (Husain Haddawy translation)
    12. The Alchemist (Paolo Coelho)
    13. The Metamorphosis (Ovid)
    14. Perfume (Patrick Susskind)
    15. Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne)

Books read because of online challenges/readalongs

    1. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri)
    2. The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
    3. The Savage Detectives (Roberto Bolaño)
    4. Santa Evita (Tomás Eloy Martínez)

Books in English

    1. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, for school)
    2. In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez, for school)
    3. Ilustrado (Miguel Syjuco)
    4. Saving the World (Julia Alvarez)
    5. Waiting (Ha Jin)

Not counting the last 4, that means 32/344 [includes incomplete book] were translated works, or  9.3%. That’s it. In 15 years. If it hadn’t been for school requirements, I might not yet have read the 13  for school,  and another 6 from my “on my own” list, having discovered their authors through school. That would bring my average down to 4%.

Why do I tell you all this? Because I think it’s fairly reflective of a typical American reader. Go to the library, the bookstore, and the books on the shelves are far and away mostly works in translation. In fact, I’ve had to request several books from outside my library system because they weren’t available (and my library system isn’t small). Or, if you don’t believe me, look at the Classics Club lists—over 150 of them and the vast majority (not all!) are heavily focused on American/British fiction. (I should note, a number of these lists are by readers for whom English is a second or third language, so they are reading outside their tradition.) So when I see a reader saying that they feel it should just be a given that someone spends, say 10% of their time with works from outside their language or country, I feel it is naïve at best. There are all sorts of reasons (excuses?) many readers aren’t doing so, good or bad. Some of those I can think of:

  • An abundance of choice within one’s own region.
  • A lack of readily available choice from outside of one’s region.
  • Marketing successes and/or failures: success at promoting the local market, failure to promote the “outsiders”
  • Those pesky lists: while they can be great—the international edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die includes many, many non-US/UK authors I’d never heard of—, many of them are very English-centric. One prominent example: the MLA 100 top books of the 20th century. Among the criteria for books on this list was that they be originally in English. The list is full of great books (and room for debate, of course!), they just happen to be all in English.
  • Fear. Fear that we won’t get it, because the culture is foreign, or the references are meaningless. (This is a good reason for good annotated texts!) Fear that the translation will “feel” like a translation—that it will be rough or bumpy. Fear of names we can’t pronounce. (Actually, for me, this is a major annoyance—I want to say it correctly, darnit!) Fear that it will just be plain hard.
  • Bad experiences with bad translations.
  • Plain ol’ lack of interest. If I as a reader prefer a particular genre/style and I can’t find translated works in that genre/style, I might see no reason to bother.
  • Too many books already on our lists! Even though I’ve lived my entire life in the US, there are still an abundance of books by American authors I’ve never read—I’ve read almost none of the 20th century “great” books.
  • Not knowing how to find them. Finding non-English classics from before 1900 or so can require a lot of research if you want to go beyond to obvious, such as Dumas, Hugo, Dante, etc. (The best suggestion I’ve seen relative to this is to ask a professor of literature of that language.)
  • We’ve not been exposed to other literatures or cultures or are actively biased against them.
  • I’m sure there are others…

So this is why I think it’s naïve—and can come across at times as downright snobbish—to express dismay at other-language/country challenges or to confidently assert that most readers should be reading works in translation without difficulty. Challenges remind us when we’re not doing as well as we might like. They introduce us to books we might not otherwise find—not to mention other readers and points-of-view.

Now there’s another little pickle as part of this: the “serious” reader, which is often part of the conversation. I both agree and disagree with the notion that a “serious” reader should be naturally looking outside their comfort zone.


  • Even if you are focused on just one area of literature, there are usually foundational texts that are commonly referenced within in that tradition. For example, the Bible and the Ancient Greeks are common sources to literatures of many countries. So even if you aren’t “studying” the books you are reading, it can be useful to know these background works so you can follow the story.
  • I think anyone who has spent a lot of time thinking about reading and books will likely realize that there is so much more out there than they now read. (And then panic. How can we get to it all?)
  • I am almost always in favor of expanding our own boundaries and 100% in favor of life-long learning. (Although…have you heard about the guy with 29 degrees? That’s an extreme I can’t imagine going to…maybe if I were independently wealthy…)
  • The most famous works from other countries are often part of the cultural conversation, just as works from our own countries are. It just makes sense to read them.


  • The Definition Problem. What do we mean by “serious reader”? I think a lot of people might say “someone who takes literature seriously” (wow, is that circular logic or what, Amanda?), but to some that might mean nothing more than reads a lot, regardless of the level of their reading. I have a feeling this could be one of those definitions that could result in a lot of contentious debate. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a definition, just that it could be hard to arrive at a consensus. (To be clear, I think a “serious reader” is more about the quality of reading rather than the quantity, but I think it becomes really sticky when we start trying to qualify which those quality reads “should” be.)
  • If someone has already spent a good chunk of time focusing on another country or language or style, and has chosen to move on/return to their comfort zone should we figuratively wrap their knuckles for not pushing the boundaries?
  • If someone is just starting out their explorations, they may not yet realize how interconnected so much of literature is, or the value of exploring other-language predecessors. I certainly never thought about it until a year or two ago. (Thanks, Dante!) I don’t see the need to scare someone away by questioning how “serious” they are if they aren’t pushing the boundaries.
  • The risk of turning someone off a real exploration of reading by telling them they’re not (already) serious enough. This might not bother some people, but I’d rather not do that. Baby steps.

So I’ve probably dipped my foot into a highly charged topic, but I figured if I was running the thoughts through my brain, I might as well type them up. And also depress myself at the thought of how many books I still have to read. Please, ancestors, tell me I have your longevity genes—it looks like I’m gonna need every year I can get and then some!

As for me personally, why do I wish to explore works from other countries/why do I join challenges?

Mostly, the honors Colloquium I as required to take in college: most of the books we covered were from other countries. One Hundred Years of Solitude (plus all that high-school Spanish) really sparked my interest in Latin American fiction. Also, my semester in Italy prompted me to consider I haven’t read much in the way of Italian fiction (one book to date, eek!). One thing just leads to the next. So, the best thing I think we as bloggers can do is promote, promote, promote—and not just among ourselves, but everywhere. Italy had nothing to do with reading for pleasure, but it certainly enriched my life—and hopefully my reading.

Promote, encourage, celebrate!

Some challenges I’m currently aware of:

Edited to add: Tom quite correctly pointed out in the comments that Waiting (Ha Jin) was actually written in English. I’ve relocated it, but not adjusted the math.