Thoughts

Thoughts #30: Five Classics I STILL Haven’t Read!

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Despite having always been a big reader, I really do feel that I haven’t read enough classics. I’ve obviously felt this way for a while, having set up my Classics Challenge a few years ago. My recent re-read and following love for Jane Eyre has only served to remind me that there are so many wonderful classics out there that I need to hurry up and read! I wanted to share some of those with you today, and would love to know if you’ve read any of them, and what you thought.

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair

Scorned for her lack of money and breeding, Becky Sharp must use all her wit, charm and considerable sex appeal to escape her drab destiny as a governess. From London’s ballrooms to the battlefields of Waterloo, the bewitching Becky works her wiles on a gallery of memorable characters, including her lecherous employer, Sir Pitt, his rich sister, Miss Crawley, and Pitt’s dashing son, Rawdon, the first of Becky’s misguided sexual entanglements. Vanity Fair is a richly entertaining comedy that asks the reader, “Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”

Having recently re-watched the film adaptation of Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray and starring Reese Witherspoon, I was yet again questioning why I still haven’t read this. It’s witty and satirical, and I really enjoyed the film. Becky is a wonderful character and a total breath of fresh air compared to many of the female characters of her day. She’s determined, intelligent – and she knows how to use her gender as a weapon for her own benefit. The only thing that’s putting me off at the moment is the length of the book – around 750 pages. But I won’t know until I try, right?

The Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey

The Odyssey recounts the story of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca from the Trojan war and tells how, championed by Athene and hounded by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, Odysseus encounters the ferocious Cyclops, escapes Scylla and Charybdis and yields temporarily to the lures of Circe and Calypso before he overcomes the trials awaiting him on Ithaca. Only then is he reunited with his faithful wife Penelope, his wanderings at an end.

Oops. I know, I know. Having done my Bachelors degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, I probably should have already read The Odyssey, right? Well… I haven’t. Yet. I have read The Iliad though, and really love that one. I have this on my Kindle, but I also have a gorgeous Penguin edition which I’d much rather read than the ebook version.

The Monk by Matthew Lewis

The Monk

Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.

I can’t remember how I first came across The Monk by Matthew Lewis, but I knew that I had to read it. Although looking at the blurb now, that seems like a strange thing to say… That was over three years ago, and I still haven’t made any progress. I feel like it might be quite a difficult one to read, but as long as it’s not The Scarlet Letter standards of difficult (WORST. BOOK. EVER.) then I’m good.

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian’s picture bears the traces of his decadence.

Ahh, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, I have attempted to read you before. I was foolishly swayed by the film version starring Ben Barnes, but you’re not really much like that, are you? I did enjoy what I read of the book (around half of it), but somehow never quite finished it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird

A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father ― a crusading local lawyer ― risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

To be honest, I’m really quite amazed that we never read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee at school – I know it was studied in previous years. Despite my love of books set in the Southern US (I really don’t know why… I blame True Blood and that enchanting Louisiana accent), I’ve just never gotten round to reading this classic.

Are there any classics you really feel you need to read soon? Have you read any of the ones on my list?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #2: Favourite Book Covers

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These are the covers that I could just stare at for hours, the kind that instantly draw me to a book – sometimes it is the reason I read the book in the first place. I definitely do judge a book by its cover…

One of the things I am always looking out for in bookshops (even if I don’t intend to buy them) is pretty versions of Homer’s The Iliad or The Odyssey. The new Penguin Classics hardbacks are beautiful, and I absolutely love the colour of this one:


Here are just some of the beautiful clothbound editions you can buy:

The cover of The Snow Child, by Eoywn Ivey, is also gorgeous. It mirrors the storybook within the book itself, and the print effect looks fantastic.

What covers do you really love? Do you judge a book by its cover?

Challenges

Challenge: 2013 TBR Pile Challenge


I am continuing this challenge throughout 2014, as I hope to have read all 30 books by the end of the year.

I have decided to join the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, which runs from 1st January – 31st December 2013. You can read the rules and join the challenge here. There is also a handy Goodreads group for the challenge, which will track your challenge books for you, as long as you shelf them correctly.

I have almost 300 books on my TBR list, and some have been sitting there for years. One of the rules of this challenge is no books published after 2013, and no ARCs – which rules out a lot of my review books. This means I can read the books I want to, and have been meaning to read for some time – which means they’ll most likely be ones that I already own. I have set a goal of 15 books (considering that I also have to read review copies), any from this list:

1. The Odyssey by Homer
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (read 2014)
3. Endymion by Dan Simmons
4. The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (read 2014)
5. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
6. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
8. Redhead by Ian Cook
9. Tristan and Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliff
10. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez
11. The Ice Storm by Rick Moody
12. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
13. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
14. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
15. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
16. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
17. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
18. The Sun in my Eyes: Two-Wheeling East by Josie Dew
19. The Weeping Empress by Sadie S. Forsyth
20. A Walk in the Wood: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trial by Bill Bryson
21. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
22. Dear Fatty by Dawn French
23. Gone by Michael Grant
24. Virals by Kathy Reichs
25. Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
26. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (read 2014)
27. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (read 2014)
28. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
29. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
30. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Keep track of my progress or take a look at my tbr-pile-challenge shelf!

 Just under half of my list…