The Classics Club Spin #29

It’s time for the Classics Club Spin! This is my first time participating in it and I’m quite looking forward to seeing which classic will get chosen from my list. I have listed a variety of titles from shorter to longer works…from fantasy to nonfiction to regency romance…from books I am itching to read to books that I’ve wanted to read again.

Photo by Ann poan on Pexels.com

For The Classics Club Spin, you are to write a post listing 20 titles from your Classics Club list by March 20th. So here’s my list:

1 – The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

2 – I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

3 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

4 – Far from the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy

5 – Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

6 – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown

7 – At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

8 – The Giver by Lois Lowry

9 – The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

10 – My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

11 – Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

12 – Middlemarch by George Eliot

13 – Frederica by Georgette Heyer

14 – Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

15 – Greenmantle by John Buchan

16 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

17 – Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

18 – The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

19 – A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

20 – The Road from Home by David Kherdian

And there ya have it! I can’t wait to see what book will be picked!

Classics Club for February 2022

The Classics Club has issued a Club Dare 2.0 for February. From the Classics Club Blog:

During FEBRUARY we DARE you to tap into your inner romantic! Simply read a CLASSIC book from your #CClist that you classify as romantic, glamorous, sexy or alluring. It could even be a book or author that you are predisposed to LOVE (because of its topic, its reputation etc).

I already have three reads lined up for February that will likely take most of my time. But I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to join in for The Classics Club fun! So I looked through my list…I scanned Goodreads list of romantic classics….and I’ve landed on quite a few on my Classics Club list that fit. I narrowed it down to the following:

  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

All of these are so tempting! But since I already have some bigger reads in February (specifically 11/22/63), I probably need to opt for books that are shorter rather than longer. So I’ve further narrowed it down to:

  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

I am torn between the two so I ended up just making a decision to go with whichever one is shortest. And that would be The Importance of Being Earnest. Plus, it’s a play which is great because I like to read different styles from novels to short stories to essays to plays. So that will be perfect as my first play to read for 2022!

From the Goodreads Description for the Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition:

Oscar Wilde’s madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gwendolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest’s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

I watched a film adaptation of this several years back but I honestly just don’t remember much about it! I think this sounds like some rollicking fun! Probably just what I’ll need in a month where I’m reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63! 🙂

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Length: 128 pgs.
Genre: Classics
My Rating: 4 Stars

This is only the second title I’ve read by Edith Wharton. The other one I’ve read is The House of Mirth which I read with the lovely Cleo at Classical Carousel who hosted a wonderful read-along for it back in 2019. (You can see her first post for the read-along HERE.) I have read that Ethan Frome is different in both theme and tone than Wharton’s other works. But I have to disagree to some extent. I think this novella definitely has a similar feel to it as The House of Mirth in that both are definitely sad. Although, from what I remember, The House of Mirth felt like it had more upbeat parts to it than this novella. This short work is pretty melancholic and quite gloomy.

The main character of the book is indeed the title name – Ethan Frome. As the novella begins, Ethan is giving a person a ride in his sleigh. We immediately get the impression that Ethan is not one for a lot of talking. He seems like a quiet individual. And we don’t know if it’s a quietness due to nature or due to life experiences or both.

Ethan Frome drove in silence, the reins loosely held in his left hand, his brown seamed profile, under the helmet-like peak of the cap, relieved against the banks of snow like the bronze image of a hero. He never turned his face to mine, or answered, except in monosyllables, the questions I put, or such slight pleasantries as I ventured. He seemed a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface; but there was nothing unfriendly in his silence. I simply felt that he lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for casual access, and I had the sense that his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight, tragic as I guessed that to be, but had in it, as Harmon Gow had hinted, the profound accumulated cold of many Starkfield winters.

The individual riding in Frome’s sleigh ends up taking us back in time and recounts Ethan’s story. We learn what has happened in his life and why he is where he is. It is a story of unfilled dreams; the struggle to eke out an existence when wrestling with loveless duty and forbidden emotions.

Despite the melancholic, gloomy tone, I felt this story was well-written and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened. Truly, Wharton’s prose in Ethan Frome is magnificent. Here’s just a sample of the beautiful descriptive writing Wharton pens in this novella:

Day by day, after the December snows were over, a blazing blue sky poured down torrents of light and air on the white landscape, which gave them back in an intenser glitter.

The village lay under two feet of snow, with drifts at the windy corners. In a sky of iron the points of the Dipper hung like icicles and Orion flashed his cold fires. The moon had set, but the night was so transparent that the white house-fronts between the elms looked gray against the snow, clumps of bushes made black stains on it, and the basement windows of the church sent shafts of yellow light far across the endless undulations.

This story is somber, bleak, and heartbreaking. However, when I finished the last page I didn’t feel that sense of wishing I hadn’t read it. Quite the opposite actually. I knew I wanted to read it again. I read the last words and marveled at Wharton’s skillful writing. How well Wharton captured Frome’s life and his struggles. How brilliantly and effectively she wrote about the characters and the wintry New England landscape.

I think there’s more to glean from this novella that only can be derived from multiple readings. I felt the same with The House of Mirth. So I definitely have plans to read both of these again at some point. I also think this fits well as a seasonal read for the darker, colder days of the winter season.

My Classics Club TBR

I just went through my Classics List page here on the blog to update it. I have read a number of them on my list this year but hadn’t marked them off. I also need to do some book reviews as well. Anyhoo, as I went through and got those marked, I noticed that I have actually read a lot of them on my list now. Yay! But I have also added many more to my classics TBR in my reading journal. So I set about to organize my classics page.

As I set about to organize my classics TBR list, I decided to join The Classics Club. You make a list of at least 50 classics that you’d like to read and set a time frame to read them in. I have certainly read a number of classics in the last few years so I think this challenge is do-able for me. This will be a goal – goal to get these books read in the time frame, goal to write a review of each one. But I have learned to say this is a goal – not an absolute. So I will be do my best to read each book and write about each one.

My classics list is longer than 50 books since this is my ever-evolving list of classics I’d like to read. I know I will likely continue to add to this list. AND I imagine I will start to read some and not like them and so set them aside. I want to leave room for the list to flex. As that list flexes, my goal for The Classics Club will be to read 50 of the classics from this list in 5 years.

I will be making this post a page on the menu bar above and that will be my landing page for this Classics Club challenge. I will come link my reviews of each book once each one is read.

Ok. So first, a few notes about my list.

  • What deems a book a classic in regards to how old it is seems to be inconclusive. For me, I usually consider anything 50 years or older a classic. However, my understanding is that as long as it’s 25 years or older, it can be considered classic. So my list will have titles that are at least 25 years old.
  • When I finish reading a title, I will write the finish date next to the title.
  • When I finish reading a title, I will link my review of it here. Each linked review will also be added to my new Book Reviews page.
  • If I give the book a star rating, I will put that star rating next to the title as well as in the review post. (See my Star Rating Explained page for how I use star ratings.)
  • If I DNF (do not finish) a book, I will strike through the title on the list. I may still do a post about why I DNF’d it. If so, instead of striking through it, I will link it and write “DNF” next to the title.
  • Some books are books I want to re-read. They are listed separately.

For now, I am just listing the books so I can this post posted. I plan to come back and work on organizing this list more as I have time. 🙂 Without further ado, here we go!

Date Started: November 1, 2021 (Yes, I’m a couple days late getting my post up!)

Date to Finish By: November 1, 2026

1 – The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

2 – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

3 – The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

4 – The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (play)

5 – The War of the World by H. G. Wells

6 – Our Town by Thornton Wilder (play)

7 – My Antonia by Willa Cather

8 – O Pioneers by Willa Cather

9 – My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

10 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

11 – Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

12 – Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

13 – Cold Comfort Farm by Stell Gibbons

14 – Paradise Lost by John Milton

15 – 1984 by George Orwell

16 – I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

17 – The Pearl by John Steinbeck

18 – The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

19 – The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

20 – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

21 – The Odyssey by Homer

22 – Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson

23 – The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

24 – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

25 – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

26 – Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

27 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

28 – The Warden by Anthony Trollope

29 – The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

30 – A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

31 – Our Friend Manso by Benito Pérez Galdos

32 – Middlemarch by George Eliot

33 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

34 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

35 – Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

36 – The Wonderful O by James Thurber

37 – The Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki

38 – A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

39 – Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

40 – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

41 – Under the Net by Iris Murdoch

42 – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

43 – Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

44 – Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim

45 – Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

46 – The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier

47 – The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton

48 – Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

49 – Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

50 – Far from the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy

51 – La Reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas

52 – The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas

53 – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

54 – Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy

55 – A Dog’s Heart by Mikhail Bulgakov

56 – Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

57 – Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

58 – Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore

59 – A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt

60 – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn

61 – Good Morning, Miss Dove by Frances Gray Patton

62 – The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

63 – All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

64 – The School for Scandal by Richard Sheridan

65 – Faust, Book I by Johann Wolfgang Goethe

66 – Everyman, a Morality Play

67 – The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

68 – Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

69 – In Freedom’s Cause by G. A. Henty

70 – The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

71 – Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

72 – Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

73 – That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

74 – The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

75 – Greenmantle by John Buchan

76 – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown

77 – Silas Marner by George Eliot

78 – Isaac Bickerstaff by Richard Steele

79 – Days with Sir Roger Coverley by Richard Steele

80 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

81 – A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift

82 – Battle of the Books by Jonathan Swift

83 – The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

84 – The Age of Revolution by Winston Churchill

85 – The Great Democracies by Winston Churchill

Short Stories

1 – My Kinsman, Major Molineux by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1832)

2 – Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1835)

3 – The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe (1839)

4 – The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol (1842)

5 – A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert (1877)

6 – The Grand Inquisitor by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880)

7 – The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant (1884)

8 – How Much Land Does a Man Need? by Leo Tolstoy (1886)

9 – The Open Boat by Stephen Crane (1897)

Re-Reads

1 – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

2 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

3 – At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

4 – The Giver by Lois Lowry

5 – North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

6 – Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

7 – The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

8 – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Doestoevsky