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Topic: On the verge of December. . .

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Subject: On the verge of December. . .
Date Posted: 11/30/2012 12:51 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
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Let's sum up the value of 2012's challenge. Which book was your favorite? Which was not? Sometimes the book we have the most hopes for disappoints; sometimes, a book we know little about shines!

Also, considering books you've read during the year of any type, which were winners, and which were not?

I'll be responding later on.

                                                                                                                Rose

Date Posted: 11/30/2012 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Quick summary:  Travels With My Aunt, by Graham Greene, was a "hoot", and I would wager he had a romp writing this tale of a dull, dull, dull British banker and bachelor who only learns in middle age he is (technically) a bastard, and starts living an interesting and exciting life.

Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is unique.  I should have read this book decades ago.  But I feel I understand what Orwell was trying to tell us about ourselves, and he surely did so in a memorable way.

I read a C.S. Lewis book and still don't understand what its point was?  Till We Have Faces seemed to be a re-telling of the Psyche myth from Greek mythology, sorta.  Was the author perhaps having trouble making up his own mind about what he believed about God or the gods or divinity, as was his female protagonist in this strange book?  Or what? 

I read a James Michener book because it was set in Afghanistan in 1948.  Caravans was a preposterous story with preposterous characters and lots of headlong and sometimes horrifying action and adventure.  But it was fast-paced reading, and, as Michener generally makes sure to do, provided much information on Afghani attitudes, beliefs, and customs of that country that has never been 'conquered' by anyon from Alexander the Great down to the present day.

My "chewy" book is The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  It is not fast reading.  But it does convey insights into the characters' individual moral codes, under their varying life circumstances.  IMO, it's definitely worth the time and attention.

I also read a contemporary novel, Eventide, by Kent Haruf, because I needed to read about some wholesome, unpretentious, compassionate human beings who are NOT "Goody-Two-Shoes" types.  I also enjoyed the writing style . . . .With his pared-down sentences, Kent Haruf manages to be at once plain and eloquent.   In some English class I was in, long years ago,  some instructor pointed out the difference between "sentence" and "utterance" . . . . Haruf gives us the thoughts and feelings in his characters in the written equivalents of "utterances".  It's what writers can do to convey what an actor might do in a film through the use of 'body language' or facial expression.

Annie Proulx's book of short stories, Heart Songs, was another 2012 selection of mine.  Proulx understands peoples' feelings, esp. loneliness, and can write about them so as to make the reader feel them, too,

And I read another of Willa Cather's works, A Lost Lady.   I was surprised to discover that it brought to mind Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary.   What a quandary women of the 19th Century must have lived in!   Society's expectations of her were sometimes at such odds with her own impulses to seek education or express her creativity, in a society which had such a narrow definition of a "wife".

 

 



Last Edited on: 11/30/12 4:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 6
Date Posted: 12/28/2012 5:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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I don't know if my reading will help anyone and I did some substituting from the Modern Library list.  Probably won't get a couple on my list completed.  Did read Lament for the Molly Maguires by Arthur H. Lewis for another challenge.  It's memorable and fascinating.  One of the best of my Modern Library substitutions was The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen,  2/19/2012, 4 stars and I loved  A TOWN LIKE ALICE  by Nevil Shute, 8/14/2012, 4 stars .

I quite enjoyed So Big by Edna Ferber 4/4/2012, giving it 5 stars while 1984 by George Orwell rated 3 1/2 stars

And, I liked  Inherit the Wind by Jerome  Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, rating it  4 stars

For a long time I put off reading the classic fantasy, Watership Down by Richard Adams, because of its length but I found it fun, whimsical, and quite entertaining.  I read a Mark Twain short story collection which was a four star read for me, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stores by Mark Twain4 stars

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, completed 2-10-2012 was another I found myself straddling the fence about so I gave it 3 1/2 stars.



Last Edited on: 10/22/13 1:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 9
Date Posted: 12/29/2012 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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A Confederacy of Dunces.  One of the best books I read all year.  And The Hobbit, love it.

Date Posted: 9/11/2013 1:31 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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what was the challenge?

Date Posted: 9/11/2013 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Charles: You're a calendar year behind, dear fellow bookworm.   Many of us have been reading away at the Classics Challenge for 2013.  We have a group of selected categories, and each participant chooses which categories he/she will include in the year's Challenge reading.   For those pressed for time to read, there has come to be a Challenge Lite, with only six or so selections.  We share ideas for titles that "fit" the categories we have settled on.  If we continue the Challenge for 2014, we will be thinking up categories for it around the end of the year.  Perhaps you will be taking part then, and perhaps you have some ideas for categories?   Obsessed R. has often taken the lead in setting up the Challenge, and those of us who decide to participate then list which categories we intend to read in, and specific book titles, if we know them, early on.  Of course, everyone is totally free to revamp as the year progresses . . . . 



Last Edited on: 9/11/13 10:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/15/2013 11:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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I just realized I've only read one book on my 2013 lite challenge list. "The Color Purple."  Lucky for me I loved it. It was one of the best books I've read in a super long time.

And yes, I know it's not technically a "classic" in terms of years since published. I think it will stand the test of time, though.

 

I am currently reading a legit classic--Bram Stoker's Dracula. I am pleasantly suprised at how readable it is. I thought it would be another Victorian "stuffy" as I call them, and it would take a while to settle into the dry language, but it's not like Dickens. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

 

As for the other books on my list. I never got around to them.

Date Posted: 10/15/2013 11:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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If we continue the Challenge for 2014, we will be thinking up categories for it around the end of the year.  Perhaps you will be taking part then, and perhaps you have some ideas for categories?

 

Ah, my favorite time of the year. Selecting challenge categories. I am thinking about reading classic books from various Amerian states, i.e. classic book set in California, Idaho, Nevda, Kentucky, and so forth. Not fifty books, though.

I saw the list in a thread on CMT. It looked like something different.

Date Posted: 10/16/2013 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
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1/ More timely than I expected because it was about religious fanatics terrorising vactioners, talk about ripped from the headlines: The Tragedy of the Korusko  by Arthur Conan Doyle
2/ More genial, humorous, accessible than I exppected was White Jacket by Herman Melville, his fictionalized memoir of a year on a man of war.
3/ Though his last novel, written under trying circumstances, better than I expected, Playback    by Raymond Chandler
4/ More moralistic than I expected but a stunning example of the power of a storyteller to narrate action: The Forged Cupon    by Leo Tolstoy
5/ Much stranger and hard to grasp were Travels in Arabia Deserta    by Charles M. Doughtty and V.    by Thomas Pynchon (this year was the 50th birthday of the book).
6/ A re-read, I was impressed by the vivid descriptions of the real world in this fantasy novel, The Master and Margarita, by Mixail Bulgakov
7/ Best tall tales were Travels    by Sir John Mandeville and Monkey (a folk tale of tradtional China)   translated by Arthur Waley
8/ More impressive than I expected was My Bondage and My Freedom    by Frederick Douglass, he was a born writer.



Last Edited on: 10/20/13 10:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 10/16/2013 6:30 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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I should like to suggest a category that could perhaps be called "one more serving of creme de la creme", that is, the reader's choice of a book by one of the Nobel Prizewinners he/she has never gotten around to reading before.

Date Posted: 10/21/2013 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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I've only read 5 of my propsed 12 Classics for 2013 and at this point I doubt I'll be finishing them all.  Maybe I'll read one more and call it the Classics Challenge Lite. 

Date Posted: 10/21/2013 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I should like to suggest a category that could perhaps be called "one more serving of creme de la creme", that is, the reader's choice of a book by one of the Nobel Prizewinners he/she has never gotten around to reading before.

 

yes

Date Posted: 10/23/2013 10:06 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,609
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I tried to read Arabia Deserta by Doughty. I didn't get very far and gave it up. It was a long time ago but as I recall it is written in King James style language. a little too thick for me. If you like that area of the world then The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is great fun. Lots of adventure. Another great travel read in that area is Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger.

I'm glad to hear that Haruf's book Eventide is written in the same spare language style as Plainsong. I really liked Plainsong. I had such a high regard for the book I was afraid to read anything else by him for fear I wouldn't like it.