The Classics Club


Why haven’t I joined The Classics Club before now? I’ve been interested in it and thought about doing it for years! I lurked around their web site… started my own private reading challenge of 50 books à la The Classics Club but without joining… read lots of classics…  But I was afraid of not being able to finish the commitment I would make because I’m just awful at finishing challenges these days.

But, this morning I read a post by Melissa @Avid Reader’s Musings, and was so inspired by the fact that she just posted her last review and finished her 5-year challenge with The Classics Club! Congratulations, Melissa!  I wish I had simply joined 5 years ago when I first heard about it and was both fascinated by and fearful of it. Five years goes by quickly and I, too, would be finishing my last book from my list of 50 classics. So no more hesitating. Inspired by Melissa, I have decided to just go ahead and join. I am proud to become a member of The Classics Club!

My list is a mix of novels, short stories, and poetry, a combination of adult and children’s literature. Many of these books are already on my bookshelves or on my Kindle. My goal for completing my reading of these books is March 2022!  That sounds so far away, but I know that five years goes by in a flash. And what pleasurable reading years they will be!

  1. Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
  2. Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  3. Death Comes For the Archbishop, Willa Cather
  4. The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad
  5. The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
  6. The Railway Children, Edith Nesbitt
  7. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
  8. Neuromancer, William Gibson
  9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  10. A River Runs Through It, Norman McClean
  11. Arabian Nights and Days, Naguib Mahfouz
  12. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  13. The Rainbow and the Rose, Nevil Shute
  14. Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne
  15. The Chosen, Chaim Potok
  16. The Solitary Summer, Elizabeth von Arnim
  17. A Very Easy Death, Simone de Beauvoir
  18. The Book of Tea, Kazuko Okakura
  19. A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
  20. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
  21. The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett
  22. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. This Star Shall Abide, Sylvia Engdahl
  24. The Story of an African Farm, Olive Schreiner
  25. The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley
  26. A Room With a View, E.M. Forster
  27. The Moorland Cottage, Elizabeth Gaskell
  28. A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
  29. Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
  30. Kinfolk, Pearl S. Buck
  31. Ask Me, William Stafford
  32. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Kate Douglas Wiggin
  33. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  34. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  35. The Spectator Bird, Wallace Stegner (read March 2017)
  36. Travels With My Aunt, Graham Greene
  37. The Ramayana, Bulbul Sharma
  38. Kindred, Octavia Butler
  39. The Sussex Downs Murder, John Bude
  40. The Lost Prince, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  41. Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston
  42. The Unicorn and Other Poems, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  43. Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
  44. Crooked House, Agatha Christie (read March 2017)
  45. Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
  46. Two on a Tower, Thomas Hardy
  47. The Gaucho Martin Fierro, José Hernández
  48. Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, Eleanor Perenyi
  49. The Measure of My Days, Florida Scott-Maxwell
  50. Marcovaldo, or The Seasons in the CIty, Italo Calvino
  51. Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays
  52. Green Hills of Africa, Ernest Hemingway
  53. The Sea Runners, Ivan Doig

 

In the Wet

This week I finished reading In the Wet, by Nevil Shute. I love reading anything written by him, and I did enjoy this one although I found it to be quite quirky. True to all of Shute’s books, it’s quite a story. This one has a rather complicated plot — it was published in 1953 but the story takes place in 1983 — so it’s a tale of the future. There is also a time warp aspect to the story, which was very interesting. I think Shute was experimenting with different ways of telling a story, and although it was not a perfect book, it was certainly an interesting one. It’s not my favorite of his books, but as always, I find something that really strikes home with me. This time it was the ending paragraph…

“All that this strange experience has taught me has gone to confirm what I think I already knew, secretly perhaps, and deep down in my heart. If what I think I have been told is true, then it means that we make our own heaven and hell in our own daily lives and the Kingdom of Heaven is here within us for those who have gone before.”

Old Favorites

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Dusting my bookshelves today, I decided to share a photo of some of the oldest books on my shelf. These are books that have survived numerous purges and were dutifully boxed and moved with us from house to house. I’ve always thought I would reread them, but haven’t done so yet, except for My Antonia. Still, something to look forward to.

What are some of the oldest books on your shelf?

World Book Day

Robin and her beloved books

World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

So, Happy World Book Day to you! May your day be filled with books and wonderful stories!

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February Reflections

February was a good reading month for me!  It was not a month of “escape,” however. I took on some very powerful reading experiences with The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; and March, Book 2, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. I thought that In the Wet would be a wonderful old romance by Nevil Shute, but it was much more than that. It turned out to be a story of political intrigue in an England of the “future.” The book was published in 1953, the story takes place in 1983.

I finished The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien, which I read slowly and enjoyed very much. Being so familiar with the story, I was able to notice and focus more on the writing itself. That was a real pleasure. Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf was an interesting view of the founding fathers as gentlemen farmers. And Death Without Company, by Craig Johnson, was another enjoyable Walt Longmire mystery. I do love a good mystery!

All in all, a good reading month for me, and I’m looking forward to my March reads.

 

From my Archives: Sparking a Passion for Reading

To celebrate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s 210th birthday today, I want to share with you a post I wrote and originally published on this blog on February 27, 2008.

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

born February 27, 1807

Teaching young people how to read is one thing, but sparking a passion for reading is another. As a teacher, I’m highly trained in how to teach children to read, but after 22 years of teaching, I think it’s my own passion for reading that is the most powerful tool I have as I try to ignite that spark in my students. I’ve wondered exactly where my passion came from, and I’ve been able to identify a couple of things that certainly fueled the flames. One was being lovingly read to by my parents. The other was a book experience I had when I was seven or eight years old.

My father, a university professor, asked me to go with him to visit an older, retired professor in town. Dad prepared me on the drive over to this man’s house, letting me know that he was an unusual person, old and always very grumpy with people, sort of a “hermit,” he said. What he didn’t tell me was that the man was a book person extraordinaire.

I don’t think I could ever adequately describe what this man’s house was like. I walked in the front door, my father introduced us, then I looked around. I had never seen so many books in all my life. Bookshelves were everywhere and overflowing with books. Books were piled up everywhere…and I mean everywhere! The living room was completely full of books, so there was no place to sit down. The kitchen was piled high with books — the stovetop and a small space next to the sink were the only places without piles of books. The chairs and table were piled high. There were stacks of books in the bathroom, towers of books in the bedroom. Books were piled high along the hallway. Then, he took us downstairs into his basement, which was also filled with books, except that those books were on rows and rows of bookshelves, just like in a library.

Old Professor Poulson must have recognized me as a fellow book person, even though I was only eight and he was over eighty, because he very proudly showed me his entire collection, was gentle and kind to me, and before I left he gave me a book. That book has always been my most treasured book. It was a very old, lovely volume of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poems, called Voices of the Night. I still read it and treasure it.

I remember spending hours and hours reading those poems and looking at the beautiful art “plates.” I memorized his poem, “The Wreck of the Hersperus,” which fascinated me, and I can still recite it today. And when my father passed away, it was a stanza from Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life” that I chose to use during my remarks at his memorial service:

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”

Looking back, I think my Dad knew exactly what he was doing by showing me this striking example of a person’s passion for reading. It had a tremendous impact on me at a very young age! So, in searching through memories to answer the question of where my passion for reading came from, I realize that, first, my dad and mom taught me to read … and then, in so many different ways, they taught me to love reading, passionately.

I’m So Sorry, Mem Fox!

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Mem Fox has long been a favorite author of mine and of my students over the years. Her books are very special and dearly loved by group after group of my second graders. So, tonight, when I read a news article about the treatment she received upon entering the United States for a conference — please click here to read the article — I felt absolutely sick with sadness, embarrassment, and outrage at what my country is becoming. When the leader of the country and his minions demonstrate bullying and hateful behaviors on a daily basis, their behavior gives permission to other cowards and small-minded people to behave the same way. Mem was subjected to that ugliness, and I just want to tell her how very sorry I am that that happened to her and how ashamed I am of those people in my country that are so consumed with hate and meanness … and that have been given free reign to bully.

First Audiobook

the-scarlet-pimpernel

The very first audiobook I ever listened to was The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy. That was about 35 years ago but I still remember the experience well. The book was on cassette tapes borrowed from the library and it was really a lot of fun to listen to and it sparked a longtime love of listening to books. I borrowed a lot of books on tape from the library, and then a few years later, I became a member of Recorded Books — an excellent company for producing books on tape — and ordered my audiobooks by mail. I listened to a lot of books that way. Now it is so easy to have an Audible membership and simply download a book to my phone. I do love to listen to all kinds of books!

What was the first audiobook you listened to?

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