The Sunday Salon: A Late-November Interlude

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Today has already proved to be quite the dreary, cold, blustery day, and to be honest I can’t think of an environment more friendly to a day of solid reading! I’m so woefully far behind on my Goodread’s classics bookclub’s reading of Swann’s Way by Proust that I think I’m just going to have to throw in the towel on this go-round and add it to the list of classics I’m planning on reading in 2012. The book is beautiful and sweeping, but my interest and attention span just don’t seem to be on board with reading it right now.

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While I’m not exactly succeeding with Swann’s Way, I’m actually cruising along at a rather surprising pace through Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth. The sprawling story is, as might be expected, rather operatic and soap opera-esque but for some reason it’s working for me at the moment. I don’t necessarily understand much of the cathedral construction terminology, but the opportunity to get lost in the sprawling kingdoms and political intrigue of the Middle Ages has been a rather wonderful distraction from the mundane task of mass job-applying that’s been on my plate lately. I’ve still got about 400 pages to go (it IS a 1000 page book, after all) but I’m hoping/excited to finish before I leave Wednesday for T-Givings. I’ll have a much more in-depth review later, but for now let me say that I adore Philip and Aliena and can’t stand the rapist William Hamleigh.

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As much as I’m loving Pillars of the Earth, I’m feeling like I need that extra little confidence boost of actually finishing a book, and as I’ve delayed my reading of Little Women until after the new year, I’ve decided to satisfy my classics craving with Bronte’s Jane Eyre (and a HUGE cup of coffee with caramel macchiato creamer, as you can see in the picture above). This is a re-read of one of my favorites, one I haven’t visited for the two years or so since my British literature survey course, and I’d almost forgotten how much I love dear Jane. I’m barely started – I just got to the part where John pulls Jane from behind the curtain in the study, and Jane is unfairly sent to the red room – and already I’m remembering my dire urge to punch Jane’s pseudo-siblings in the face! They’re such miserable little brats, and it just makes it that much easier to sympathize with Jane.

All in all, I’d have to call this one of the best reading Sundays I’ve had in quite some time, and I hope that whatever yours is stacking up just as well. Happy reading!

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Hoppin’ On Board that Soul Train

Yep. That’s right. The Back to the Classics Challenge 2012, hosted by Sarah of Sarah Reads Too Much, has been blowing up a number of blogs that I follow religiously regularly, and I’m super stoked to be taking advantage of such a great opportunity to read some classics that have been on that illusive ‘books I’ve been wanted (and secretly feeling like I should) to read’. I’ve lined up a couple of different options for every category, and even those are entirely up to my whims and subject to what’s available at my local library! Without further ado, my list so far:

  • Any 19th Century Classic: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Any 20th Century Classic: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • Reread a classic of your choice: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • A Classic Play: The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction: Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • Classic Romance: Tristan and Isolde, Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Read a Classic that has been translated from its original language to your language: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • Classic Award Winner: American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Pulitzer), The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty (Pulitzer), Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (Booker)
  • Read a Classic set in a Country that you (realistically speaking) will not visit during your lifetime: Lord of the Rings  by J.R.R. Tolkein (Middle Earth), Out of Africa by Isak Dinesan (Kenya), Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally (Germany/Poland)

I can’t wait for 2012 to roll around so I can get started! (And for those of you curious, yes I have decided to delay my reading of Little Woman and have plans to read it VERY shortly after the new year!) I’d love for you to participate in the challenge this year, too, or to at least let me know if there is some vital classic I simply must give my attention to this coming up year. Happy reading!