I decided to do the Classics Club survey. Note: I love filling out surveys, so I completed all 50 questions. This is kind of long, although I’ve edited some of the questions slightly to prevent walls of text–the originals can be found at the link.
- Share a link to your club list.
- When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read?
I joined The Classics Club at the start of summer 2014, I think. I’ve read nine titles, although I’ve only reviewed four so far (some reviews omitted because I want to reread first, some simply out of poor administrative skills).
- What are you currently reading?
I’m not currently reading anything for The Classics Club. I’m working through Dune, midway through Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, and revisiting a lovely, rubbish YA fantasy series called The Wind on Fire.
- What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
Just finished All Quiet on the Western Front. It’s brilliant, and devastating, and grim—exactly as it should be. I wrote about it here.
- What are you reading next? Why?
I will be reading The Last Unicorn next, which is the book I drew in the most recent spin.
- Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?
Probably Brighton Rock. I found the way that the narrative voice was used absolutely fascinating, plus it led me to read The Heart of the Matter (not on my list), which is one of my favourite books of the year.
- Book you most anticipate on your club list?
Daniel Deronda. Middlemarch is one of my very favourite books, and although I’ve never read any other George Eliot, I love the way that she weaved so many stories and characters together in a seemingly effortless fashion.
- Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?
I’ve had a couple of goes at Flatland, now, but I’ve been mostly avoiding it. I know that it’s brilliant satire, and also I am the daughter of a passionate mathematician, but the concept is so tricky that it’s going to take a lot of mental energy to read it.
- First classic you ever read?
Probably one of The Chronicles of Narnia. First “grown-up” classic was, I think, Jane Eyre.
- Toughest classic you ever read?
Depends on what you mean by “toughest”—Jude the Obscure was miserable and awful and left me feeling terrible about the universe, and Les Miserables took forever.
- Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?
I don’t know if inspired is the right word, but Middlemarch encouraged me to continue with my PhD at a time when I was considering giving up. Conversely, when I was in Y7, we read Dracula, and it gave me nightmares for weeks.
- Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?
Longest classic is probably still Les Mis. The longest left on my club list is Anna Karenina.
- Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?
The oldest classics I’ve ever read are the plays of Aristophanes, mostly Lysistrata, which I read for A-Level Ancient History. The oldest one left on my list is The Art of War, but honestly, I think that might get bumped in a future edit.
- Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read?
I haven’t read any biographies that I’ve loved, but CS Lewis’ memoir Surprised by Joy was wonderful.
- Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
Reading tastes are very personal, but if people ask me to recommend them a classic and I don’t know them very well, I tend to go for Lonesome Dove or Brighton Rock. Those are both extremely plot-driven, but they still have a lot of character development, and Brighton Rock in particular addresses some very interesting themes. They’re also more modern, so it’s easy to follow the language if you’re used to more contemporary fiction.
- Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?
I like all my Penguin English Library classics, but they only work because they’re all standing next to each other looking orange and friendly. My favourite individual classic is probably this copy of Pride and Prejudice.
- Favorite movie adaption of a classic?
I love the Lord of the Rings films, even though they cut out so much of my favourite stuff from the source text. Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility is also excellent, and I’m eagerly anticipating watching the Hitchcock adaptation of Rebecca.
- Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.
Most of my favourite classics have already been adapted, albeit with mixed success.
- Least favorite classic? Why?
Jude the Obscure is single-handedly the most miserable thing I’ve ever read. I was so depressed when I finished it. I should have stopped reading it long before, but I kept expecting there to be some sort of glimmer of hope. (Spoiler: there isn’t any and everything is terrible forever).
- Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.
Isaac Asimov, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Leo Tolstoy, and George MacDonald.
- Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?
Probably Foundation by Isaac Asimov, because he was so surprisingly spot-on with so many of his predictions of the future.
- Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving?
Pride and Prejudice. I have written about this in the past.
- Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?
Scobie, from The Heart of the Matter.
- Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?
Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch.
- Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?
(Grown-up version of) Nancy Blackett from the Swallows and Amazons books. Don’t you dare tell me they aren’t classics. I will fight you.
- Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?
I have a handful of best friends, which makes this question pretty impossible to answer.
- 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?
I’d be completely in favour of another Lord of the Rings installment, preferably focussing on the continuing adventures of the hobbits upon returning to the Shire.
- Favorite children’s classic?
Probably The Silver Chair (CS Lewis) or We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea (Arthur Ransome).
- Who recommended your first classic?
I remember Dad reading us The Just-So Stories when I was very small indeed. Is that a recommendation?
- Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature?
Totally depends on the genre. Mum recommends great spy thrillers and science fiction, for example.
- Favourite memory with a classic?
I wrote my GCSE French oral exam about the controversy surrounding Wuthering Heights at the time of its publication, and what I considered to be the strengths and flaws of the novel. My French teacher told me I was a massive nerd (other people’s orals were pretty much limited to “I had fun in Florida!”), which he meant as a great compliment. At the end of my course, he said he fully expected me to run an antiquarian book shop one day.
- Classic author you’ve read the most works by?
Honestly, I don’t know. Probably a children’s author–Arthur Ransome or CS Lewis.
- Classic author who has the most works on your club list?
I tried to include no more than two books from each author, so there isn’t one that meets this criterion.
- Classic author you own the most books by?
CS Lewis. Treated myself to the Signature Classics boxset recently, plus I have most of the Chronicles of Narnia in various states of disrepair.
- Since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?
My list has been edited a couple of times. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to read Ulysses, but it’s one of those books everyone raves about. It got switched out for All Quiet on the Western Front a few weeks ago. I’ve also switched I, Robot for Foundation, both by Isaac Asimov.
- 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?
I haven’t read anything by Virginia Woolf yet, but from what I little know of her, she was fascinated by style–it would be interesting to watch hers evolve.
- 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?
Only two, at the moment: Children of the New Forest, and Le Morte d’Arthur. I am most looking forward to the former, and fully intend to take it into the New Forest (which is on my doorstep) and read it there over a long weekend, camping.
- Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?
The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. My dislike for this book makes me feel like a bad socialist, but there you have it. It’s still on my shelves, so eventually I’ll get through it.
- Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
I didn’t put anything I thought I would dislike on my list. (I find it kind of odd that anyone would intentionally read a book they expected not to like, but each to their own).
- Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
I don’t really have five distinct things, other than the books I will read. I’m hoping to convince my book club that we want to include some classics next time we pool our suggestions, but that’s nearly a year away.
- Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
I’m in a very SFF sort of mood recently, so I’d probably put Slaughterhouse-Five, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and The War of the Worlds on this list.
- Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Anna Karenina and War and Peace are just going to have to wait until post-PhD. Roll on September 2016.
- Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?
Having discussions about classics with people from all over the show.
- List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?
A Room of One’s Own, which Jillian describes as her journal. Her posts are insightful, and often talk far more about her relationship to what she’s reading than the content of the book.
The Oddness of Moving Things. Geoff reads a huge variety of books, and I especially like the structure he’s developed for his reviews.
Yasmine Rose’s Book Blog. Yasmine blogs about books, including but not limited to classics. I enjoy her book posts, but I also love hearing about her life in Hong Kong, where she’s an English teacher.
Exploring Classics. Fariba writes quite a lot about classical Christian literature from over the centuries, which is something I don’t get to read about that often.
Brona’s Books. Brona’s enthusiam for the Classics Club is infectious, and it’s through her that I’ve found out about a lot of the club-related things that I’ve most enjoyed (e.g. last year’s Austen in August, though I didn’t participate this year).
- Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber?
This changes regularly, but I enjoyed this recent post by Jillian about what would be on her syllabus if she taught a class on Margaret Mitchell–it made me wonder what I would put in a class about female Victorian novelists, what essay options I would give, etc.
- If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience?
I’ve never participated in a readalong—well, not effectively–but my mum and I are both reading Dune this summer (for her it was a reread, and a first time for me). I need to get more than 6% in before we can discuss it, though.
- If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?
I’d really love to read I, Claudius with someone, as I keep getting stuck even though I’m enjoying it. Having someone to discuss it with might provide the impetus to keep going.
- How long have you been reading classic literature?
The first books I remember reading independently are the Chronicles of Narnia and the Famous Five series. The definition of the latter as a classic is probably a bit more contentious than that of the former, but either way, a very long time.
- 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.
I loved reading as a child, mostly because I was that weird kid with a bad haircut and terrible interpersonal skills and no friends. I wrote here about how reading made me feel less lonely (and continues to do so, when I’m feeling blue).
Here is a list of ten books I found influential. It’s a very early entry, and there are probably far more possibilities since I started blogging, but it shows the variety of ways that a book can be influential over me.
I wrote about dropping star ratings from my reviews (and thus from the way I think about books) here.
- Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)
If you could share a cup of coffee/glass of wine with any classic author, dead or alive, who would it be?
At the moment, this would probably be DL Sayers. I find her approach to life and politics and theology fascinating, even though we don’t agree on everything. Also, I think that someone who could create stories so rich in irrelevant details would have any number of fascinating facts and anecdotes to share, which is one of my favourite conversational things.