I read a lot. I have always read a lot. One of my earliest memories is lying in bed reading, with a pile of books next to my bed. I also own far too many books, and keep buying them even though I have so many I haven't yet read, but I do love to have choice at all times. These days I often forget about the book almost immediately after finishing it, so I want to keep a record of my reading. Here it is.
Gosh these spins seem to come around quickly, but I always enjoy them. Since the last spin I have read two more from my Classics Club list, but never seem to get around to blogging about them. Anyway, for this spin I have chosen 20 books from my list, and when the random number spin happens on Sunday 20 March (tomorrow), I find that number on my list and will need to read that book by April 30. There are some very long ones on this list, so I post it with some trepidation! Here is my list:
This was the book chosen for me to read for the Classics Club Spin #28, and I really enjoyed it. I read all the best-known Thomas Hardy books in my teens, and it is many years since I have reread any, so I was delighted to find this one at a charity shop, and to add it to my Classics Club list. I have managed to read quite a few from my list this year, and this book represents #32 of the 50 I have pledged to read before August 2024, so I am well on track!
The Trumpet-Major is one of several main characters in this novel, set during the Napoleonic period, when the locals of a small coastal village are worried about invasion. The story revolves around a young woman who is the love interest of 3 young men, only one of whom actually deserves her, but of course she falls for the charmer. One of the men is completely odious, but the girl’s mother prefers him because he is likely to come into money, whereas the other two (brothers) are poor miller’s sons. As always with classics, it is interesting (though depressing) to read about social behaviour that was apparently acceptable at that time – in this case stalking and assault that the man apparently thought would win him the love of a girl who was clearly unwilling.
The thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the humour – Hardy is such a clever writer and his descriptions of the characters and their behaviours were so relatable to people we might know today, despite the very different social climate, and I often found myself smiling. Hardy is not known for his humour – in fact I think of his books as generally depressing – so I am keen to reread some as I am sure I was not as aware of the quality of his writing when I read the books many years ago. This was a good find.
This will be my 8th Classics Club Spin, and I have been successful with all except the very first. It is a great way to motivate yourself to read some of those classics that have sat on the shelf for far too long.
The idea is to list 20 classics still on the TBR, and then wait – on On Sunday 17th, October, a number from 1 through 20 will be posted, and the challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on my Spin List by the 12th December, 2021. That’s an eight week reading window for this spin. A couple of times I have had to read the very longest book on my list (War & Peace and Tom Jones), so I am leaving the really long ones off this list as I know I will be very busy over the lead-up to the end of the year. Here is my list…
This was the book I was challenged to read as a result of the Classics Club Spin #27. I was slightly nervous about it as there are so many bad reviews on Goodreads, and several ‘ho-hum’ reviews in the Classics Club archives. Some complaints are about the archaic language, but as I read lots of classics I quite enjoyed this aspect, and it was originally published in 1719 after all – more than 300 years ago! Though quite slow to start, I did enjoy the book overall. Once Robinson is shipwrecked on the island (which takes quite a while to happen), it is absorbing to read of his inventive and dogged attempts to make a safe home and devise sustainable sources of food, which followed very quickly from his initial despair and hopelessness. I was surprised at the many, many years he stayed alone on the island, and I felt that his paranoia about the possibility of encountering other people was interesting, as most stories about shipwrecked people show them as desperate to attract attention. It was many years before he saw anyone at all, and I did enjoy the section after he first sees a footprint, leading him to further anxiety and manic building of further defences. Once Man Friday becomes part of his life, things move fairly quickly and he moves from being terrified and defensive, to becoming a strong and confident leader. One of the best aspects of the book is Defoe’s ability to demonstrate Crusoe’s character, though this book really only has one character – all the others are very incidental and not really developed at all. As many have mentioned, the end is rather an anticlimax, but overall I enjoyed the book and am glad to have read it.
Well, I have been rather slow lately – I did complete the last spin, but a couple of weeks after I was supposed to, and am still to write my review. The book assigned was the longest on my list: The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling – 877 pages long. It was an effort but I did enjoy it. Now to the next spin, which will be posted on Sunday 18 July, and the book selected will need to be read by August 22.
Classic Club spins are a great incentive to continue reading the classics, especially the ones that are rather long and/or intimidating. I made my first list of 50 books back in August 2019, with a commitment to read them all within 5 years, however I have kept adding to my list as I collect more and more classics from my charity shop habit. Here is my list of 20 books for this spin – whichever number comes up from the spin on Sunday will be the book I read.
This collection of stories with a rather off-putting cover was my chosen classic for Classic Club Spin #25. Ion L. Idriess was purportedly Australia’s most popular author at the time this book was published in 1934. My 6th edition (with the pictured cover) was published in 1944. He was certainly prolific, with more than 50 books published between 1927 and 1969. His travelling life was the basis of all of his books, and the back of the dust cover gives the following description: (He) “obtained honours in chemistry and a certificate in assaying at the Broken Hill School of Mines. He has worked in the Assay Office of the Broken Hill Pty Mine; has been an adventurer, seaman, station hand, drover, track finder, wharf labourer, opal miner, and has served in the Great War (Gallipoli, Sinai and Palestine) with the 5th Australian Light Horse. Has wandered in Northern Queensland, Western Austalia, North Australia, the Gulf Country and the Centre, the Torres Strait islands, the Kimberleys, and Papua. Has cruised the Barrier Reef seeking trochus shell, and with a mate was abandoned for seven months on barren Howick Island. Has wandered with native tribes in Cape York Peninsula studying the people, prospecting for gold, tin, and wolfram, seeking sandalwood and collecting material for books.”
In his Author’s Note to this book, Idriess tells us that “The stories in this volume record happenings or incidents in men’s lives which interested me during years of wandering among the bushmen and natives of Cape York Peninsula; the pearlers, trochus and beche-de-mer getters of the Coral Sea; the native islanders of Torres Strait; the ‘beachcombers’ of the Great Barrier Reef; and along the Arafura Sea towards the west. With two exceptions, all are transcripts of fact or largely based on fact, unusual though an occasional one may seem”.
This is useful information, because most of the 28 stories read as fictional short stories and are hardly believable. They give a fascinating insight into life (and death) in remote places in tropical northern Australia around 100 years ago. Idriess is a great writer, using vivid description and humour to reflect an experience of the brutality, tragedy, hilarity and general adventurousness of life off the beaten track. The language/vocabulary used to describe indigenous people in Australia, the Torres Strait Islands and New Guinea would not be acceptable today, but it is clear that Idriess respected and enjoyed his interactions with these characters, so although reading these descriptions is very off-putting, they need to be considered as acceptable for that time.
Overall, this is a highly entertaining and fascinating collection of stories.
Time for the Spin again – last time I got the longest book on my list – War and Peace (and I did finish it!) – so although I have several very long books on this current list, I hope to jag a shorter one this time. The luck is in the spin! The idea is to make a list of 20 books from my Classics TBR by this Sunday 22 November, after which a number will be announced, and I need to read the book next to that number by 30 January 2021.
I finished reading this 1350 page tome for my Classics Club Spin. I had begun it on January 1 and was attempting to read one chapter a day with an online group, but although I was mostly keeping up, it was driving me crazy. When the spin challenge came up I decided to add this book in the hope it would give me the excuse to just keep reading and finish it, and it came up! At the time I was also half-way through Dr Zhivago, so I have had a really good dose of Russian history over the past few weeks!
I know lots of people have struggled with the names in this novel, but one thing that really helped me get to know the characters was watching the sumptuous BBC series – 6 hour-long episodes. (I waited until after finishing the book before watching the final episode!) The visual characteristics and mannerisms of the major players helped enormously, and I especially loved Pierre – so apparently hopeless and ineffectual and yet so fundamentally caring and good. The actor was perfect for this demanding role, as were all of the others!
There are so many themes in this novel – the futility of war, parental neglect, sibling love, romantic love. Then there is the history of the war with Napoleon, and lots of philosophising about all sorts of things. I read every word, including all the descriptions of battle, but gave up during the final epilogue where Tolstoy is lecturing us about his beliefs. This novel really could have been at least three separate books – a history, an essay (or several), and then the narrative about Andrei, Nikolai, Natasha, Marya, Pierre and the rest. I do love Tolstoy’s writing, with his keen insights into human behaviour of all kinds, but I did wish he would be a bit more concise sometimes. The chapters are generally very short (most between 2 and 5 pages) so that also helps when reading such a long and dense novel.
My version of the book had a list of characters at the front, with all of their various nicknames, as well as translations of the French as footnotes – both of these things helped enormously. I chose this version after reading reviews of the various translations, and was very pleased with it.
Highly recommended, but do also watch the BBC series.
I failed with my first Classics Club Spin, but have been successful with the three since then, so here’s hoping I can succeed again. The task is to choose 20 books from my list of classics still to be read, and then wait for next Sunday when a number will be spun – I will need to read the book corresponding to that number by 30 September. This will help with my overall classics goal, to read 50 within 5 years. I read 11 in my first year (joined exactly 1 year ago today!), so am well on track at this stage. Those I have chosen for this spin are all books I already own but have never read.