Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Classics Club: 50 Questions

1.  Share a link to your club list.
You can find  my evolving list here.

2.  When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) 
I joined the club April 15, 2012 and have read 26 classics since then.

3.  What are you currently reading?
Christmas at High Rising by Angela Thirkell

4.  What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
I just finished The Hotel by Elizabeth Bowen. It was well-written, but a little too slow for my taste.

5.  What are you reading next? Why?
Up next is They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple for the Classics Club spin.

6.  Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?
Do I really have to choose just one? Narrowing it down to three is the best I can do..
Stoner by John Williams
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

7.  Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?
Probably An American Tragedy... it had been on my shelf for 35 years!

8.  Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?
Crime and Punishment... quite possibly the Russians in general, and you probably know why!

9.  First classic you ever read?
Black Beauty,  I loved that book as a kid!

10.  Toughest classic you ever read?
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (and famously failing my own readalong), but maybe this doesn't count because I never actually finished?

11.  Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

12.  Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?
The Count of Monte Cristo is probably the longest classics I've read, and The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope is the longest book left on my list.

13.  Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?
I have no idea what the oldest classic I've read might be, but think Emma by Jane Austen may be the oldest one on my list.

14.  Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?
The best author biography I've ever read is A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey.

15.  Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
I think many readers rebel when told they SHOULD read something, at least I did.

16.  Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?
I love my leather-bound Easton Press edition of Pride and Prejudice.

17.  Favorite movie adaption of a classic?
Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy... no doubt about it :-)

18. Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.
There are far too many film adaptations I have yet to see, so I won't suggest more.

19.  Least favorite classic? Why?
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane.... so boring!

20.  Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.
Anthony Powell, Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Mitford, Thomas Mann, George Gissing

21.  Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann... because Bellezza loved it.

22.  Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)
The Old Man and the Sea - I hated it in high school, then couldn't believe it was the same book when I read it a few years ago.

23.  Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?
Tess from Tess of the d'Urbervilles

24.  Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?

25.  Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?
I'm okay where I am.

26.  Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?
I have no idea.

27.  If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?
I'd avoid it.

28. Favorite children’s classic?
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

29.  Who recommended your first classic?
my mother

30.  Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)
my blogging friends :-)

31.  Favorite memory with a classic?
my 4th grade teacher reading Charlotte's Web aloud to the class

32.  Classic author you’ve read the most works by?
Maybe Jane Austen...

33.  Classic author who has the most works on your club list?
Elizabeth Gaskell

34.  Classic author you own the most books by?
Jane Austen

35.  Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)
My list is evolving,  so I'm constantly adding titles.

36.  If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. :) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?
I wouldn't attempt this without already "knowing" the author, but it might be a good way to approach Henry James.

37.  How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?
I have five rereads on my list, but have not read any of the yet - Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Howards End by E.M. Forster, The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I'm most looking forward to The Winter of our Discontent.

38.  Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
Not yet.

40.  Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
- joining the readalong of The Forsyte Saga by John Galswothy
- future Classics Club spins
- beginning a project to read The Rougon-Marquart series by Emile Zola
- other Classics Club events and readalongs
- reading reviews by other club members

41.  Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell... must continue her Barsetshire series

42.  Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Can I put off the Russians for another year?

43.  Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?
The feeling of community, definitely!

44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?
Only five?

45.  Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber?
o @ Behold the Stars wrote a wonderful post about Clarissa

46.  If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?
Classics are always better with friends! I've participated in quite a few readalongs, but two that stand out in my mind are North and South  by Elizabeth Gaskell and Vanity Fair  by William Makepeace Thackery.

47.  If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?
The Way We LiveNow  by Anthony Trollope  - because it's very long, and I think reading it with a group would be a lot of fun

48.  How long have you been reading classic literature?
Forever, really.  I loved classics as a child and that has continued through my adult life. I even owned a Classics group on Yahoo before blogging.

49.  Share up to five posts you’ve written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn’t love, lists, etc.

The Classics Club: Midpoint Report
Thoughts on Reading An American Tragedy
The Age of Innocence and a Perfect Day
Discovering Angela Thirkell
The Old Man and the Sea, Revisited

50.  Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)
I think you've covered just about everything ;-)


  1. I really like this post! I happen to struggle in reading classics too. Even though the English is quite difficult compared to modern novels, but I think classics get their own charms and sometimes narrate what happens in life better than modern novels. Thanks for sharing and visiting my blog, JoAnn!

    1. Deasy Yolanda - The Classics Club offers a great support/friendship network for bloggers wanting to read classics... check them out :)

  2. You've inspired me to get going on my own list! I'm trying to limit my review books next year so that I actually have reading time to get the classics in. I think I'll skip Clarissa though. And you can have my share of Russians. I got enough of that in high school! Though in all honesty Crime and Punishment is one of the more comprehensible ones.

    1. Katherine - Review books and new releases are SO tempting, but in my heart I love backlist titles and classics. I've done better with review commitments this year, but have also read more new releases than ever. I'm still happy with my reading this year.

      I'm happy for your feedback on Crime and Punishment. Maybe this will be the year for the Russians after all ;-)

  3. Thanks to your post I've resurrected my Classics Club reading list! And I actually BLOGGED about it.

    I think about Hardy's Tess quite often myself. That book is so grey and depressing, but I love it so. And Charlotte's Web? Oh, my heart. Love that children's book.

    1. Terri - Hooray! I'm so glad to see your blog post today :)

      I read Tess for a Classics Club spin last year and cannot believe how much of it has stayed with me.... such a good book! Hope to read Far From the Madding Crowd before too much longer.

  4. I have a feeling we'll be haunted by Clarissa forever. :-)

    I share your avoidance of the Russians - I have had The Brothers K staring at me for ages and still haven't picked it up.

    Enjoyed reading your answers - fun to look back at the journey.

    1. Cat - LOL, I will never be free of Clarissa... but I do love The Classics Club! Maybe I'll give Crime and Punishment a try in 2015...

  5. This is a fun post. Everything you've said make me want to take part in the Classics Club, too! Have you tried the audiobook of Clarissa? Richard Armitage (the actor) has such a lovely voice . . .

    1. Monica - It's not too late to join The Classics Club! I just love the community and events... take a look at their blog. I have not seen an audiobook of Clarissa, but I may give the film a shot ;-)

  6. Well done on making it through the fifty. I made it through Vanity Fair this year, and though it hasn't become a favourite I'm glad I did it.

    1. Fleur - I felt the same way about Vanity Fair. Although I enjoyed the book, the readalong experience was more enjoyable.

  7. I've never even heard of The Winter of Discontent. I'm definitely not up on the Steinbeck backlist, apparently.

    For the life of me, I cannot get interested in reading Thomas Hardy, despite hearing clues such as from this post that Tess of the D'Urbervilles is worthwhile.

    Re: your reread of the Old Man and the Sea. I've been astounded by how differently I respond to a book that I originally read in high school. Books I was bored by, or disappointed in, when I was in high school and I just adore them now: Sarah Orne Jewett's Country of Pointed Firs, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice.

    1. Christy - I've never been interested in Hardy either, but Tess was a Classics Club spin selection for me and I still can't believe how deeply it moved me. Will definitely read more Hardy now.

      As far as those high school reads go, after such remarkable experience with The Old Man and the Sea, I am seriously considering a "rereading high school" project. The Winter of Our Discontent is first on the list ( I loved it then, but probably didn't catch the full meaning), followed by Tender is the Night. I've never read Country of Pointed Firs or A Town Like Alice... both are on my list.

  8. Great post. I tried reading Hemingway in college and hated it. I may need to give him another chance. :)

    1. Cynthia - I can't think of another author where my opinion shifted as dramatically as it did with Hemingway... definitely wasn't a fan in my younger years!

  9. Everybody keeps talking about Hardy's Tess. I need to read her. :)

    1. Marianne - Oh, yes!! Tess definitely belongs on your list :)

  10. Oh man, Tess of the d'Urbervilles is on my TBR list for next year. I'm both scared and excited to read it.

    1. Melissa - Tess changed my idea of tragedy... brace yourself!

  11. One of my BFFs favorite authors is Hardy and I read Tess - need to read another. Want to readalong on Madding Crowd? I'd be interested in the Trollope, too.
    I read Old Man and the Sea with a book club about 15 years ago and we all hated it. again. too funny.
    Is there a calendar to the Classics Club? I need to do better to be involved with it. I have really been a Classics glutton lately.

    1. Care - The idea is to make a list of books and read them in a 5 year period, but it's pretty laid back. My list is constantly changing (I call it evolving!) and it's not like anybody is enforcing rules. The purpose is just to have fun and read more classics!

      I'd definitely be up for a readalong after the holidays :)

  12. It's my goal to join next year - when I have time to make my list. I love reading these posts and how you all keep classics fun :)

    1. Stacy - If I've learned nothing else during my time with the club, it's that classics are even more fun with friends! I'll keep an eye out for your list.

  13. Ha. I have had some difficulty with the Russians too. I approached Anna Karenina very slowly and then once I fell into those crazy names and who was who, I quite enjoyed myself. I have read the first few pages of War and Peace what seems like a hundred times, and I have had much more of a problem.

    1. Toady - I still need to read more Russians for the Club. Every time I add to my list, they seem to be the ones pushed further down, lol! I've started War and Peace quite a few times myself ;-)


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