February End Notes…..

Its the end of the second month of the New Year and if we are standing on the brink of third month, can it be really be called a new year anymore? Does the newness of time wear off after some time? But is not the start of day, a new day and maybe in terms of time, we never really lose the newness? I would like to think so; there seems to be such possibilities is this kind of belief!

And speaking of possibilities, February was a great month in expanding and exploring new material for reading, very different from January! There were several interesting and thought provoking reads this month, along with a few, what-the-hell-was-the-author thinking bookish mishaps! This is how February reading month finally looked like –

I am glad to have had some some variety in my books this past month, with a few non fiction, one play and an Indian author reads. I really enjoyed Valmiki’s Women and Anna and her Daughters as well as re-reading The Thursday Murder Club. I have a LOT to think about after reading Humankind by Rutger Bergman and will try and post about it soon! March looks to be similarly fulfilling, I have another #ReadIndies 2022 book finishing up for Karen & Lizzy’s event ( so relieved they extended the deadline till March 15th ). I have also finally gotten hold off Amor Towles’s latest book ( not latest anymore, but you know what I mean ) and Lincoln Highway seems to hold on to all the promises of a Amor Towles’s book; history, deep insightful emotions wrapped in a great story! I am also reading an extremely interesting revisionist history, called The Dawn of Everything by Dr. David Graeber and David Wengrow. And I need to also complete my long overdue Classic Club Dare 2.0 reading, The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens!

February has also been kind of sick month ( Yes! Chemo side effects is still rocking & rolling ) but I still managed to have fun and do the things I needed or wannted to do.

February marks the end of winter and the start of spring in our part of the world and naturally, this is a cause for celebration! The festival is called Basant Panchami , Basant meaning Spring, Panchami refers to the 5th day in the lunar fortnight of the Hindu calendar. The day also marks the occasion of Saraswati Pujo; Goddess Saraswati is the patron God of knowledge, wisdom, literature and art. Naturally, she is one of my most favorite among the pantheon of Hindu Gods ( Yes, we have several choices here, God of Power, God Destruction, God of Wealth, God of Success; you name it, we have it! ) and we celebrate this festival every year! Some pictures of the “Pujo” , the worship ceremony and the special food that is cooked on the occasion – Kichudi, it is mixture of Rice and legumes, cooked with spices and clarified butter, some tomato chutney ( Sweet) , a side preparation of a unique vegetable dish made of 5 winter vegetables without onion or garlic and finally, the pièce de résistance  – Hilsa fried fish. The East Indian culture in India, offers fish for all auspicious occasion and Hilsa is consider the queen of the fresh water fish in the Indian Subcontinent, available only for a few months in the year and tasting like heaven! It is offered at this festival and will not be eaten again until the monsoon season sets in!

This year 7th February marked what would have been the 49th marriage anniversary of my parents and their 58 years of being together. They met through my Aunt ( my father’s sister ) who was my mum’s friend. They were complete opposites in everything they did or liked from books to food to travels. They loved music, Hindustani Classical to Jazz ( only people I know who went to all the hip Jazz clubs that were swinging in Kolkata in 70s) and hosting dinner for friends and impulsive travels. They weathered storms and patched up their differences and had their moments. Even death could not keep them apart too long; Baba followed Ma just 5 years after she passed away! The first photo was taken in Sikkim, then an independent Kingdom in 1973, a few months after their wedding. The second was taken in 1993, when we were on a family vacation to the Himalayas.

Food was always, a major love of my parent’s life and though they liked diametrically opposite cuisines, eating was always an occasion to be enjoyed. We celebrated their anniversary with Chicken Kati Rolls. Wikipedia describes this food the best; it says, Kati Rolls s a street-food dish originating from Kolkata, West Bengal. In its original form, it is a skewer roasted kebab wrapped in a paratha bread.

My phone has been given me trouble lately ( like a year!) but I loath to change gadgets, so I have been dragging the poor thing along for a while. I could not hear anything, the apps took forever to open and the display screen gave away and yet I continued using it. Finally it decided commit hara kiri and simply not work and I had to get a new phone. Mandate in the family, that we take one selfie, every time, my sister or I get a new phone and this one marked the start of this gadget journey!

My sister and I have been doing Sunday movie nights religiously these past few months and one of the best films I have seen lately was Harishchandra’s Factory. The film tells the story of the founding father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke and traces the life of his and his wife’s lives during the time they tried to put together, the very first film of India. Beautifully shot, using both voice and non voice narrative, to move the story forward, capturing the life and times of India in that era authentically. The nature of the subject could have made the story telling into a depressing pedagogic film, instead it shimmers with joy and humor and is a treat for the soul!

February despite several hiccups, turned out quite all right, and it is one more month down in the goal calendar! I am super excited about March as its my sister’s birthday and we will have family visiting! But for now leaving you all with one of my most favorite poems for February by Hilaire Belloc –

The winter moon has such a quiet car
That all the winter nights are dumb with rest.
She drives the gradual dark with drooping crest,
And dreams go wandering from her drowsy star.
Because the nights are silent, do not wake:
But there shall tremble through the general earth,
And over you, a quickening and a birth.
The sun is near the hill-tops for your sake.

The latest born of all the days shall creep
To kiss the tender eyelids of the year;
And you shall wake, grown young with perfect sleep,
And smile at the new world, and make it dear
With living murmurs more than dreams are deep.
Silence is dead, my Dawn; the morning’s here.

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Traveling Through America

September is coming to an end and it’s time to discuss the book that was spun for me through The Classic Club Spin #24

I was very fortunate to get to read one of the books that had been on my TBR for a very long time by an author whom I admired and whose books had defined my formative years. I speak of none other than John Steinbeck and one of his last books, Travels with Charley.

In 1960, after recuperating from a heart attack, against the explicit instructions of his Doctors, John Steinbeck set off to explore America again. As a writer of people, he felt that he had lately lost touch with his own country and its people, about whom he had written prolifically at one time and he set out to correct this miss! He started with meticulously organizing for the road trip, which included a customized Camper which he named Rocinante , furnishing it with all the books and maps he could not possibly need, stocking up food and other essential supplies and then choosing a traveling partner, his 10 year old, extremely pragmatic French Poodle – Charley. The trip started from a ferry at Long Island which was to take Charley, Rocinante and him to Connecticut from where he would start his actual “road” trip. He drove through Maine, New York, Buffalo, Chicago, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, then onto Montana, through Seattle and Oregon and California, Salinas where he grew up. He then headed back home via Texas and Virginia and then New Orleans where heart sickened, he proclaimed that his journey was technically over and he was just now heading home. He saw Niagara Falls and drove through Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast and the Yellowstone Park. He met small store clerks and motel owners who yearned to take off like he did and he spoke to migrant farmers who came over from Canada to help out during the autumn pickings and the supervisor of a ranch who would be seduced away from the wild beauties of the land to a secure albeit boring job in the city, at the behest of his young wife who wanted luxuries.  He wrote of the “plastic” culture that decorated each motel and of the upwardly mobile aspirations of the people he met. He drank coffee and whiskey with strangers in a trailer park and spoke to them about the country, the upcoming elections and their aspirations. He was saddened by the people at Sauk Centre, the home town of Sinclair Lewis who failed to appreciate his genius and at one time had treated him as pariah until his death, made the town a lucrative tourist destination. And finally, he was completely heartbroken by the hatred and venom he witnessed from people opposing a newly integrated school. He felt that his journey ended with this episode and he drove home to New York summarizing that the country and it’s people had changed dramatically, moving directionless, away from all that which was real and good into an industrialized and material living frenzy, that did not brood well for the future.

John Steinbeck as always is deeply observant of human nature and the book is replete with many insightful and in some ways prophetic remarks. On watching migrant farmers from Mexico, India , Philippines work on the crops, he is reminded of the lessons in history where Carthaginians hired mercenaries to fight their wars; Americans bring in migrant laborers to do the hard work and he hopes that one day, they are not overwhelmed by the hardier race, in mighty foretelling of the future. He captures narratives from people who are comfortable living in mobile homes and not worried about not having roots, for they are convinced that obsession with building roots stops progress and moving forward. He muses “Perhaps we have overrated roots as a psychic need. Maybe the greater the urge, the deeper and more ancient the is the need, the will, the hunger to be somewhere else  The wonderful thing about the author is his ability to see two sides of the story; while he misses the more personalized way of doing things prior to the industrial boom, he also acknowledges that “I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days.” and therefore nostalgia is presented with a pinch of salt. The rediscovery of America is always sombre, but there is much humour that only a master craftsman like Steinbeck can bring to a book, that is a difficult narrative – his conversations with Charley are downright hilarious, filled with laugh out loud moments. Charley is an intelligent dog and Steinbeck never forgets this fact in his 4-month long journey and the intellectual parley’s he engages in with him. His sense of irony is equally powerful when describing a quiet and enjoyable Thanksgiving, at a Texas millionaire’s place, talking a dig that the incorrect representation of Texas as loud and ostentatious. The language is flowing and despite being a travelogue, not once is the reader exhausted wondering when this journey will end. In fact, his description of the landscapes he covers is vivid and lyrical that brings alive the places and the reader is swept away with them! There is so much I can say about this book, that to end, I would only say that I read some essays which state that Steinbeck took several artistic liberties in writing this book, and this work is more fictional in nature. Be that as it may, his insights about life and humanity holds good now as it did 60 years ago and his deep heartbreak at people not being able to internalize respect for fellow creatures and the mad race of consumerism holds true today more than ever!  

Let’s Spin Again…..

The Classic Club Spin is one of my most favorite reading activities. Over the years it has forced me to read books, that I was not sure I wanted to read and tackle texts, which I thought would be beyond me! Naturally the result has been wonderful, I fell in love with so many books that I had been hesitant to read; of course, there were one or two odd ones, that I could not and still do not like, but most of the times, the result were way more positive, with discovery of books and authors to cherish forever. Lately however, with all the tumult that life has thrown up, I have missed many of these events, but now that I am slowly settling back in, it is time to turn to those things that gave me a sense of joy and achievement. Therefore, I am all set to participate in The Classic Club Spin # 24

Thoughts by John Henry Henshall, 1883, The Athenaeum

The rules are as always, extremely simple and I quote from the site directly –

  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog before Sunday 9th August.
  • We’ll announce a number from 1-20. 
  • Read that book by 30th September 2020.

Thus, without further ado, I present my list of 20 and look forward to August 9th with both excitement and some trepidation (not all books are up there in I-want-so-read list!)

1The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarrington
2Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope
3Desperate Remedies by Thomas Hardy
4Wives and Daughter by Elizabeth Gaskell
5Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
6The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xuequin & Chi-chen Wang (Translator)
7Son Excellence Eugène Rougon by Emile Zola  
8The Bucaneers by Edith Wharton
9The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
10Kim by Rudyard Kipling
11And Quiet Flows The Dawn by Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov
12The Bachelor by Stella Gibbons
13A Country Doctor’s Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov
14The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy
15Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem
16Gora by Rabindranath Tagore
17Gossip in a Library by Edmund Grosse
18Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck
19 Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
20White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

And now we wait for Aug 9th!

#ccspin

The Challenge….

The two things among many things, that I realize in the hindsight I missed the most during my blogging hiatus were good book recommendations and reading challenges! After blogging for 8 years I can proclaim to all and sundry that Blogging besides helping me become part of tribe, called readers; forced me to read books that I would not have usually read and find favorites that I did not know could be a favorite. Virginia Woolf’s To The Light House and Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin to name a few! In the absence of book discussion, I found myself drifting in deeper in the reading slump and I was running out of ideas and definitely motivation! But two weeks back into this familiar comforting world, I have added more book’s to the TBR (as Kagssy recently mentioned in her post, Ahem! and then went ahead and introduced me to a author whom I have never read; I really missed this!) and there are enough challenges to push one into action!

I am aware that I am slowly returning to form, so I am being sensible and not signing up for everything! However I am supremely tempted aka as in given in to join the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge, hosted by Sue Jackson over at Book by Book! There are no rocket science rules and it’s easy and flexible and I quote them directly from the blog page –

  • Anything 400 pages or more qualifies as a big book.
  • The challenge will run from Memorial Day weekend (starting May 22 this year) through Labor Day weekend (Labor Day is September 7 this year).
  • Choose one or two or however many big books you want as your goal. Wait, did you get that?  You only need to read 1 book with 400+ pages this summer to participate! (though you are welcome to read more, if you want).
  • Sign up on the first links list on Book by Book.
  • Write a post to kick things off: you can list the exact big books you plan to read or just publish your intent to participate, but be sure to include the Big Book Summer Challenge pic, with a link back to Book by Book. It’s fine to kick-off your Big Book Summer as part of another post.
  • Write a post to wrap up at the end, listing the big books you read during the summer.
  • You can write progress posts if you want to and/or reviews of the big books you’ve read … but you don’t have to! There is a separate links list at Book by Book for big book reviews, progress update posts, and wrap-up posts.

This challenge works beautifully for me – I have just started a chunkster The Anarchy by William Dalrymple and am also in the middle of The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. After a book slump that lasted so very long, I could do with the additional impetus this challenge brings and the timelines are generous enough to allow me some room for distraction if I desperately need it! A shout out to the wonderful Classic’s Club for always keeping me posted on what is happening in the bookish world!

Outside of this, the only other read along that I may jump in is with Cleo and if and when she reads, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. All folks who have been following me know Cleo is my soul sister and our reading adventures have been far and sometimes totally wild (we never did finish Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol despite all our enthusiasm!Yikes!)and reading with her is both insightful and funny! It’s been ages since I read anything with her and to read a novel like To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that defined my character, just makes it doubly wonderful!

So that’s my Summer reading plan! The idea is to keep it simple and tread with care, but move forward neverthless! What then is your reading plan?

The Return of the Spins

The Classic Club Spin has been one of my favorite reading activities. Thanks to this activity, I have read many books, which I would NOT have ventured into and in hindsight I know I would have missed out on such great and enriching works! Work and personal life however for last one year has been crazy, forcing me to let go of several spins and while I did feel upset about missing out on quality reading, there was very little I could do! I was planning to miss this spin as well, but then, I realized that I cannot always keep leaving out things that I truly enjoy for the things that must be done. I really cannot after a point get anything done, if I do not keep evolving myself and reading Classics is surely one of the best ways to do that. Furthermore, Cleo, my soul sister and my partner in crime whose life is equally busy and chaotic, has decided to plunge into this Spin and like always inspired me to join her madcap adventures. So, here, I am ready to Spin again.

The rules are simple and I quote directly from the CC Spin Page

  • At your blog, before next Monday 22nd April 2019, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.
  • This is your Spin List.
  • You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period.

 

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Ivan Kramskoy – Reading Woman (portrait of artist’s wife) From Wikimedia Commons

I usually pick books randomly, but Cleo again got me hooked on this randomizer and when I ran my Classic’s list, this is what came up as my first 20 –

  1. 9 The Eustace Diamond by Anthony Trollope
  2. 14 Wives and Daughter by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. 1 The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarrington
  4. 16 So Big by Edna Ferber
  5. 15 Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
  6. 2 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  7. 30 And Quiet Flows The Dawn by Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov
  8. 12 The Duke’s Children by Anthony Trollope
  9. 21 Son Excellence Eugène Rougon by Emile Zola
  10. 40 The Meghadūta by Kālidāsa
  11. 22 The Kill by Emilie Zola
  12. 46 Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck
  13. 17 The Rig Veda; Translated by Wendy Donier
  14. 27 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
  15. 25 Mr. Harrison’s Confession by Elizabeth Gaskell
  16. 26 The Bucaneers by Edith Wharton
  17. 39 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  18. 29 Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  19. 24 Tales of South Pacific by James A Michener
  20. 41 Kumarasambhava by Kalidasa

Some of these books, I really want to get to like, #3, #10 and #12; while others like #7 kind of scare me; but then, I know for a fact that books which I found intimidating were the ones I ended up loving the most! Thus, now I await Monday and the lottery of what I shall finally read!

Happy Spinning everyone!

May-ish Reads

Ah! May…..the fire breathing months on Indian plains, where the sun burns and earth scorches and you wonder if hell is like this! Joy! Naturally, so joyous a month will begin with something depressing and nasty and it did – to celebrate the May coming, the weather here turned nasty and between pollens and pollutants, my lungs practically gave away! I have spent the last two weeks in bed, trying to work from home for projects that will not wait and read on books that required little if any brain work! Needless to say I am completely and disastrously behind all my reading schedules!

I have not read a single page from Murder at Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe for my April reading for the 12 Months Reading Challenge and here is May where I had committed to reading Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis for the theme of An American Classic. I have not turned a page in my Women’s Classical Literature Event cum Classic Club Spin 12 reading of Willa Cathar’s Death Comes to the Archbishop and I am not even getting started on how much I have to catch up on my Reading England Project or my epic read alongs like The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser and Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens! I am behind, behind and way far behind in all my reading plans! The plan for May is therefore to re-group and catch up! I am not starting any new book until I finish all my spill overs from March and April. I am not even going to start on Arrowsmith, till I have finished everything else. But there are exceptions and I am only human with absolutely no self control when it comes to books and this I have committed to read along with Cleo and Hamlette for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but the good part is that it does not start until the end of May, so I should have made some significant inroads to my overloaded pile. And knowing its May and it is the anniversary of The First War of Independence in India, I will for sure go back and read one of my most favorite and one of the best work of fiction based on the event – The Shadow of the Moon by the inimitable MM Kaye! Like I said  I have enough and I mean ENOUGH to read on my plate and this one time I really really need to stick to the schedule!

Therefore I bid adieu and head back to plunge in the tottering pile of books! Hopefully I should find my reading rhythm again, but until I plough through the significant amount of that pile, I keep my post short and well, I cannot really do sweet!

I got all my sisters with me……

 

This is a bit of delayed post for March reading plans, but I really wanted to figure out what the Classic Club Spin#12 would bring, before I chart my course! To begin with, I am really proud of myself as to how well I have adhered to the reading plans of January and February and got some additional reading done as well. I may twist my arm, patting myself on the back, but I cannot help but grin! (Grin!Grin!)

However, wise people say that it is important to look ahead instead of gloating over successes of the past, so I reluctantly but rationally share the plan for March. Now we all know this is the month of International Women’s Day, which is in fact today – 8th March. Coming from a country that was as liberal and egalitarian as it gets on women issues until about 7oo years ago, when we lost all sense of proportion, and become a very conservative and masochist nation, I feel especially strongly about today. Its like having a great thing and then losing it! You never miss what you did not have, but when you have it and then lose, it seems kind of end of the world, not to mention stupid! Anyway, while we have recovered significantly in the last 100 years, I still have sisters in various corners of the country who are deprived of education, financial independence and the simple choice of living life on her own terms! Therefore call me a feminist, but I am all Go Woman!

I therefore have decided that besides the Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event which is a great monthly event, I will spend the month of March only reading Women authors, with the exception of the Readalongs which kind spread over from previous months! This is my kind of celebration of Womanhood! Therefore, to kick start, as part of Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event as well as 12 Month Classic Challenge (March theme – A classic you’ve been recommended), I am reading Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market and other poems. In Reading England, I select a crime fiction, because you cannot constantly read heavy literature and I wanted a good romping read towards the latter half of the month when I go on vacation to the Himalaya, and therefore it is Busman’s Honeymoon: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery by Dorothy Sayers, focusing on Hertfordshire. I also revisit Dorothy Sayer’s in another avatar of a playwrite as I read her The Man Born to be King. I know this more of Christmas play and this is the wrong time of the year, but hey, it is Lent and Easter will be around soon! I think Christ believed that we should keep God in our hearts and remember him always and not during a particular month, so I venture forth on this drama as my Drama read of the month. You know you are lucky when your Spin Read is also a woman author – I will be reading Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather. Also because I know vacation is cometh and I will be undisturbed in the glorious pastures of Himalayas for a week, I added some more books to my reading kitty –Up the Country: Letters to her sister from the Northern Provinces of India by Miss Emily Eden. Her brother was one of worst Viceroy’s of British India, but I have heard great things about Ms. Eden’s writing so I want to really read this, especially when sitting in a British built hill station, watering place kind of thing! In some additional fun reads, I have got Ms. Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson, something recommended highly by  a grand aunt and Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. Finally if I do find time, I will also have The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel, though I strongly doubt I will reach that far!

Now for the exceptions – I continue and hopefully will finish The Metamorphoses by Ovid, that I started in January with Cleo and O. I also have The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Readalong with Cleo, which forms a part of my Lecito List Reading. Finally O is hosting a brilliant and innovative ReadAlong for the The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, that kicks starts this month!

That’s the reading plan for this month! Simple, would you not agree?

Before I bid adieu for this post, though, I came across these lines in Rossetti’s Goblin Market, which seemed so very appropriate for the sisterhood we all belong to and therefore I leave you with it –

For there is no friend like a sister

In calm or stormy weather;

To cheer one on the tedious way,

To fetch one if one goes astray,

To lift one if one totters down,

To strengthen whilst one stands.

Cheers to Us!

 

Spining in 2016

I was planning to blog about March reading plans and get myself a pat on the back for adhering so well to the Jan and Feb reading plans; however as I opened wordpress, I saw a notification from The Classic Club, a notification that I just could not ignore! It was naturally for a Spin event, the #12 in the series and the first one of 2016. Over the years I have read such wonderful books as well as some oh!-I-can-so-have-done-without-this books through the Spin, but they have all been an uniformly enriching and interesting experience! Therefore there was no way in the world I was missing this spin. The rules remain simple as always and I quote directly from the The Classic Club Page

  • At your blog, by next Monday, March 7, list your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list — in a separate post.
  • This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in March & April. (Details follow.) So, try to challenge yourself.
  • Next Monday, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to
  • read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by May 2, 2016.

Thus, the List –

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  2. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
  3. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  4. The Wings of Dove by Henry James
  5. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
  6. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  7. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
  8. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  9. The Name of a Rose by Umberto Eco
  10. A Room with a View by M Forster
  11. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  12. The House of Seven Gables by Nathanie Hawthorne
  13. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
  14. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
  15. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
  16. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  17. As I lay Dying by William Faulkner
  18. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
  19. Hunger by Knut Hamsum
  20. I Claudius by Robert Graves

Finally I now sit back and await Monday!

Hail To The Great Women…..

The Classic Club is hosting a brilliant event through 2016 called Women’s Classic Literature Event. The idea is to read classic literature by female authors and share your thoughts! The fun part is you do not have to wait for January, for the Club decided that Christmas had come early and opened the event on October 09 2015…so super yay! It goes without saying that I will be participating, the only problem I do face as of now is what all to read…more like there is so much and I don’t want to leave out ANYTHING! Therefore in a rare moment of wisdom, I have decided to take one book at a time and I will kick of the event with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. This book was part of my Reading England project and now it snugly fits into Women’s Classic Literature event as well. I plan to read it through November and I am super excited as I had been waiting to read this FOREVER!

Moving on, as part of the same event, the club has brought out a survey for its members to complete; this survey is naturally based around Women in Classics and I am sorely tempted to attempt it, though I am ridiculously bad at these things! I never seem to remember the pertinent things in a timely manner and later I go through these huge moments of “Oh! Damm! I should have said that!!!”  However, the survey is far too interesting to give up without any struggle and with a quaking heart, I venture forth-

The Survey

Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event.

For those of you who already do not know, (that sounds incredibly pompous!) I am Cirtnecce – part time Project Delivery Leader, full time (constantly hoping and NOT in any order) Writer, Reader, Traveler and Foodie! To say I love reading is a ridiculous understatement – I cannot remember a time I did not read and I hope I never live to see a day when I cannot read! Books are what sustain me and what makes me!  I am really excited about this event and what I looking forward to is reading works of some lesser known female authors, especially outside of the Anglo-American belt.

 

Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?

I have read a significant amount of Classics by women, but I know there are many more brilliant works out there which I have never tried. One of the main reasons is that many of these works are not easily accessible, especially in my part of the world. Even e-books are have limited number of such works available, making it kind of hard to diligently follow up on these readings.

 

Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.

I have been kind of scared of reading Virginia Woolf for sometime; however most of the readers that I respect assure me that I will LOVE To the Lighthouse! So here’s hoping, I get to reading atleast one work (I am guessing Lighthouse) Adeline Virginia Woolf, born 25th January 1882, at Hyde Park Kensington England

 

Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. (Without spoilers, please!)

This is a toss-up between Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn and Esther Summerson from Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I think both the characters embody the complete and true identity of woman – they display courage in the worst circumstance and they refuse to give on life and move on until they have improved not only their own lives, but lives of others, dependent on them by sheer force of will and quiet strength!

 

Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?)’

This has undergone so many changes over the years, so I quote directly from one of my old posts – Like many others, I began by absolutely admiring Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen…I still do; I love her pride, sense of doing the right thing, even accepting her own folly. However over the years, others have joined her company – Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; as a teenager, when I read the book, I was not particularly impressed by the namby pamby Jane Eyre and her stiff upper lip stance. I wanted fire and courage in my heroines and Jane was a calm stream of water. But re-reading the book during an interesting phase of my life (The Willoughby phase!), I realized how much of strength it takes for an ordinary governess to stand up to a Mr Rochester – to demand to be treated as an equal and what’s more to seek respectability and honesty in a relationship, even when your heart is breaking. And finally Mrs. March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and though she may not be the primary heroine, there is a lot to look upto her – here is a gentlewoman who is no longer in the comfortable circumstances she was originally born or married to, yet she tries her best to single handedly bring up four,  albeit difficult daughters, manage a household with diminishing funds, and yet instil joy and faith among all. It requires a lot of courage, what I call quiet courage to face the world everyday alone bravely. She is first single mother of modern literature and by far the most intelligent, kind and strongest of them all.

We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list? (Just skip this question if you don’t have any at this point.)

I love this list by Feminista! 100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women –http://www.thebookescape.com/Feminista.html

I also recommend this list by Buzzfeed :  http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/howmany-of-the-greatest-books-by-women-have-you-read#.mw2bXVXWG

Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. (Again, skip over this if you prefer not to answer.)

Well I am sure most of us have read all of these three authors, but I still believe these writers are a good place to start –

  • Jane Austen
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Willa Cather

Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the New Year starts?

I think I have already answered this question right at the start of this blog…I cannot wait till January and I plunge right in with Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list?

I love lists, and usually try and stick to it, but then something catches my eye and the list goes awry, so this one time, I am not doing any lists. I will completely go with inspirations and whatever catches my fancy at that moment in time!

 

Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?)

In no order of significance, this is what I will most likely end up reading vis-à-vis genre – novels. Essays, short stories and poems; but then I may surprise myself and read a series of journals, but as of now the above looks like a plan!

 

Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women?

Even without trying, I know I will gravitate between the years of 1800-1945, however I would try and spread my readings out, but knowing my previous tendencies, I am not sure this is one commitment I will be able to hold on to.

 

Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? No worries if you don’t have details. We’re just curious!

I have not planned any as of now!

 

Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? Sharing may inspire someone to offer.

I think considering my apprehensions about Woolf, I would love to join a reading group or get a buddy to encourage me to start and then finish To the Lighthouse!

 

Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet.

There are so many, but I decided to go with one of the more understated ones – this was one of the earliest hurrays celebrating the independence of woman, liberating her from the traditional requirements of husband, home and hearth for occupation; and naturally, it was written by the inimitable Jane Austen in Emma – “If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, with a great many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and-twenty. Woman’s usual occupations of eye and hand and mind will be as open to me then as they are now; or with no important variation. If I draw less, I shall read more; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet-work. And as for objects of interest, objects for the affections, which is in truth the great point of inferiority, the want of which is really the great evil to be avoided in not marrying, I shall be very well off, with all the children of a sister I love so much, to care about. There will be enough of them, in all probability, to supply every sort of sensation that declining life can need. There will be enough for every hope and every fear

Finally, ask the question you wish this survey had asked, & then answer it.

No…I think the survey is quite complete! 

The Much Awaited Spin…

I have really been missing the Classic Club Spins and as they say, ask and you shall receive! Lo! Behold I open wordpress and guess what?  There is an update from Classic Club page, inviting everyone for Spin#10! Needless to say I will be joining the Spin and the more interesting experiences of my last Spin reading will not stop me. (Ahem! Ahem! Kate Chopin’s The Awakening was …well something else!). Anyway, the way forward is to march on and I do.

The rules for the Spin remain same and simple; I quote directly from Classic Club’s post –

  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Try to challenge yourself: list five you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday.
  • Monday morning, they will announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.
  • The challenge is to read that book by October 23, even if it’s an icky one you dread reading!

And now for the list – drumroll please –

  1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  2. A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  3. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  4. The Wings of a Dove by Henry James
  5. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  6. Love in the Times of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  7. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  8. Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  9. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  10. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
  11. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  12. Doll’s House by Henrick Ibsen
  13. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
  14. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
  15. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  16. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  17. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  18. Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
  19. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  20. Queen Lucia by E F Benson

That’s the list…some old, some new, some I would love, some I am anxious about! Nevertheless, now that the die had been cast (allow me the drama…it’s the weekend!!), can Monday be far behind? (I know that is really bad! But it is the weekend! And everyone knows I lose my marbles during the weekend!)