Tag Archives: classic literature

Reading Challenge 8: A Book at the Bottom of your “To Be Read” Pile

All right, so I’ll admit I went a bit easy on myself for this one. But this is a book I’ve never read that was definitely on my “to be read” list. And I’d just finished reading Gone Girl, which was great but pretty long. And it just fit the time of year so well that it was impossible to resist.

So yes, for my final challenge doing this long 26 book list, I decided to do A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

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I don’t even feel like I need to really put a description up. To be honest, this story is so iconic that I really don’t have any desire to review it. It’s short and sweet and utterly Christmasy. If you haven’t read it you should. Let’s just stick with that.

I had thought about doing a reading challenge wrap up, but I think I’ll leave that for another post. In the meantime, thanks to all my readers who have stuck with me through these long series of posts. Maybe with the new year I can begin some more unique ones to mix it up, and maybe get back to writing.

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My reading list on goodreads and you can see the bottom

In the meantime I’ll ask my readers: Have you read this book? What’s at the bottom of your read list? What are your reading goals for the New Year?

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Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Entire challenge:

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Solely for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

7. A Book by an Author You Love

8. A Book at the Bottom of your “To Be Read” Pile

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

10. A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit

11. A Book You Started but Never Finished

12. A Book with a Lion, a Witch, or a Wardrobe

13. A Book with a Female Heroine

14. A Book Set in Summer

15. A Book of Poems

16. A Book You Learned About Because of this Challenge

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

18. A Book with a Blue Cover

19. A Book You Were Supposed to Read in School but Didn’t

20. A Book EVERYONE but You Has Read

21. A Book with a Great First Line

22. A Book with Pictures

23. A Book From the Library

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

25. A Book that is More than Ten Years Old

26. A Book Based on a True Story

 

 

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Reading Challenge 19: A Book You Were Supposed to Read in School but Didn’t

As an English major, I’m going to go ahead and be honest about how many reading assignments I skipped… none.

All right, so that seems a little fishy most likely, so I’ll go ahead and clarify that I did skip some poetry readings, journal articles, or literary criticism articles (I don’t remember which ones), and I definitely was guilty of doing some serious skimming at times. But I have always loved reading, and I usually didn’t have too much of a problem finishing up what was required of me, even if I didn’t read it as well as I should have.

So instead of selecting a book I was assigned and never read, I went with selecting a commonly read classic that is often assigned in school. I had several choices for this, there are lots of lists of canon high school reads (see for example this Goodreads one of which I’ve read 45). But I finally settled on one my father suggested, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

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This book tells the story of two men looking for work in California while they dream of a better future on a farm of their own. Lennie is strong but utterly simple, he relies on George to direct their path, which George tries his best to do while dealing with the problems that Lennie has created in the past. Together they find work on a ranch, but even with their hopes of a better life ahead, there are still many obstacles in their way.

I started this book having only experienced Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath, which I read in high school. I remembered not really caring for the book overall, but that was likely just my youth speaking, and I’d have to read it again to remember better. So, I went into reading Of Mice and Men thinking I’d probably hate it, only grateful it was short.

I’ve never been so wrong in my life.

This book has quickly become one of my favorites of all time. It’s short, true, but it’s incredibly poignant, and the story is simply incredible and touching. I nearly teared up sitting in the dentist waiting room with this one, which was more than a bit embarrassing. I fell in love with simple, naive Lenny and sympathized with George’s concerns for their future. And of course, I loved that it was an easy and uncomplicated read after finishing off Tender is the Night. This is definitely a book I’d encourage everyone to try. I think it has a beautiful story that should be shared with the world.

How often did you skip reading material required in school? What “classics” have you not managed to read? How would you choose to fulfill this challenge?

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Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Previous Posts:

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Solely for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

7. A Book by an Author You Love

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

10. A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit

11. A Book You Started but Never Finished

12. A Book with a Lion, a Witch, or a Wardrobe

14. A Book Set in Summer

15. A Book of Poems

16. A Book You Learned About Because of this Challenge

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

20. A Book EVERYONE but You Has Read

21. A Book with a Great First Line

22. A Book with Pictures

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

26. A Book Based on a True Story

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Reading Challenge 14: A Book Set in the Summer

You’ve heard of Christmas in July, right? So here’s my version with a summer book in the winter! I suppose if I’d started the challenge in January, and followed it chronologically this book would have lined up nicely with summer time, but due to how I decided to skip around this has ended up being one of my December reads.

The problem with this challenge, is that if you look at a list of books set in summer…they tend to largely be…well…lesser quality works. No judgement to those of you who like paperback romance novels, but they’re really not my cup of tea. So setting into this challenge, was definitely a challenge for me to find something that’s less of a beach novel and more of a literary one.

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A snip of the Goodreads set in summer list

I found Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald listed somewhere on the internet on a list of books set in summer. My other two choices were A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (but I took one look at the size of that volume and was thoroughly done with the idea) and Atonement by Ian McEwan which still remains on my reading list. However, I was curious to try out another Fitzgerald novel, so I decided to give this one a go.

Tender is the Night follows the story of the Divers, a psychologist and his mental patient who have married and are living a sort of extravagant life in Europe. A young American starlet named Rosemary becomes involved with the couple one summer, traveling with them and quickly becomes immersed in their troubled marriage.

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That’s about all that can be fit in a nutshell without becoming too complicated. The main thing I’d like to say in my own review of this book is that I think any naive reader like myself needs to be aware of how foolish it is to align this book with The Great Gatsby. While this book still maintains Fitzgerald’s poetic prose and fantastic characters, it is in every way its own story and deserves its own analysis without the bias of Gatsby in the background. However, I went in with this tainted view, and for that reason I think I cannot love this book as much as I would like to.

The book is more difficult to follow than Gatsby. It has a tricky sort of flashback structure that can be a little confusing. I will definitely admit I glanced over Sparknotes to make sure I hadn’t missed too many major details. I really wish I’d given more time to reading this book, because I think that would have helped me understand it more. I also feel like it lacks the cohesiveness of Gatsby’s plot. It is more drawn out, and I kept waiting for some surprising turn that never truly came.

However, to me the Divers are truly fascinating characters. Rosemary is a bit dull, but I think the main couple makes up for her by being so compelling in terms of their problems. Nicole in particular just had me riveted to the story with her horrible background and all of her terrible mental problems. I think the dynamic between her and Dick is quite interesting and really redeemed the novel for me in terms of feeling like it let me down after Gatsby.

There are many positives about this book, and the main one for me was that it was a summer novel that still had a story of love and betrayal while being something of a challenge to consume, which was exactly what I wanted to fit this challenge.

How do you feel about a typical “summer book”? Does your reading list change during the summer at all? Have you ever judged a book by its author’s past works instead of its own merits? Always love hearing from my readers!

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Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Previous Posts:

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Solely for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

7. A Book by an Author You Love

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

10. A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit

11. A Book You Started but Never Finished

12. A Book with a Lion, a Witch, or a Wardrobe

15. A Book of Poems

16. A Book You Learned About Because of this Challenge

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

20. A Book EVERYONE but You Has Read

21. A Book with a Great First Line

22. A Book with Pictures

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

26. A Book Based on a True Story

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Persuasion to Love Austen

Persuasion

All throughout my life as a book reader people suggested Jane Austen’s works to me. While I initially stubbornly refused I eventually turned to the books in my senior year of high school in a realization that people would continue to expect me to read them. Thinking the most famous was the best to start with, I began by reading Pride and Prejudice.

Now Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books in existence, and I had read it only a short while before starting into Pride and Prejudice. Having been recommended both and knowing they were from the 1800’s and written by women, I figured they would be fairly similar. Instead I was distressed to find that Austen’s book simply couldn’t hold a candle to my beloved Jane Eyre.

Now before Austen lovers berate me for my comparison, I will admit I entered in with unrealistic expectations. And I suppose if I read it again I might find it more likeable. However, at the time I decided Austen only wrote about women chasing after men and gossiping and being somewhat annoying.

And then I read Persuasion.

I read it because someone commented that they didn’t think Pride and Prejudice was a very accurate representation of all of Austen’s works. And how right they were.

I related much more to Anne Elliot than I did with Elizabeth Bennet. She was quiet and musical and smart. I liked her personality and enjoyed her story. I am glad to have been able to rethink Jane Austen thanks to this book. I don’t know that I can even truly describe why I love this book, but perhaps its simply because I was more open to it than I was in my first Austen encounter. I simply enjoyed it for the story and the characters and kept some of my critiquing skepticism at bay. Perhaps I need to read Pride and Prejudice again to really see if it was the book, because I strongly suspect it was myself that caused the problem.

However, I think the main thing I’ve learned from reading Persuasion has little to do with the book itself. This was my life lesson this fall: you should never give up on things too soon, and should never define limits of what you will not try. Just because you hate one thing doesn’t mean you’ll hate another.

My friends are often surprised when I sit down to watch movies with them because I am very picky about what movies I like. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try and enjoy, and I hope I can continue to inspire this attitude for years to come.

I suppose in many ways this attitude fits with Persuasion though not obviously perhaps. Anne has all but given up after falling out with her love, but this story is one of her trying to love again. And how fitting that was in trying an Austen book for a second time.

So I encourage you dear readers to do the same. Expand your limits. Try new things. And don’t let one failure with a genre, or author, or style keep you from ever venturing into that area again. For there is nothing so disappointing as a person unwilling to try new things.

What things have you surprised yourself by liking after a second try? Did you like Austen right from the start? Any feedback you have is wonderful.

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