In 2016, I’ll be taking part in the Classics Challenge, hosted by Stacey at The Pretty Books. As an English graduate and English teacher, I am always happy to indulge in more classics, particularly lovely Victorian novels, which I did a lot of in 2015, as I discussed here. So I am hoping that the 2016 Classics Challenge will encourage me to read lots of lovely books, whilst also discussing these lovely books with other participants.
My main target for the Challenge is George Eliot; I read The Mill on the Floss as a teenager and remember finding it very hard work, and I’ve tried Middlemarch on a couple of occasions and just can’t get into it. For these reasons, I always thought I just hated Eliot; however, in 2015 I discovered that my previously similar view of Thomas Hardy was completely and utterly wrong, so I hope I will discover that I was just put off Eliot by my very boring and misogynistic university professor. I have the pretty Penguin English Library edition of both these books, so at least I can stroke the covers lovingly if I need a break from reading.
Also on my hit list is Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Cranford Chronicles; I love Gaskell and have read her major novels, so I anticipate enjoying this. I was inspired by Lena Coakley’s Worlds of Ink and Shadow (a novel reimagining the childhoods of the Brontes, interwoven with their juvenilia) to buy a copy of the Bronte’s childhood writings, so I’ll be reading that too. My Thomas Hardy binge of 2015 meandered to an end when I found myself overdosing on Victorian novels, so I’ll be revisiting Under the Greenwood Tree in order to qualify as a proper Hardy expert. If anyone else is considering some Hardy for 2016, please allow me to recommend Far From the Madding Crowd for its accessibility and Tess of the D’Urbervilles for pure heartbreak.
A few years ago, I binge-read 19th century French novels for a bit and I still have a few which I didn’t get to; Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses will be top of my reading list. Sadly, my French skills are probably no longer adequate for reading whole novels in the language, so I’ll be reading translations, but I will look up the occasional passage in the original to make myself feel intellectual.
Finally, I’ve recently started reading classic children’s books to my daughter; you can only read Cat’s Cuddles so many times before you start losing your grip on reality, so I cunningly snuck The Wonderful Wizard of Oz onto the bedtime story list a few months ago, and I’ll be continuing this campaign in 2016. The tiny person has developed an alarming obsession with Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile (“Mummy, it’s not okay to eat children, is it?”) so I’ll be introducing Matilda and The BFG, along with Winnie the Pooh and Black Beauty, although the latter does feature some unfortunate names (Blackie and Dick) which I will have to surreptitiously change to avoid them being repeated in company.
Are you participating in the 2016 Classics Challenge? I’d love to know what everyone else is going to be reading, and if indulging in too many Victorian novels makes anybody else talk like a 19th century nobleman. I’ll be blogging about my reading here and Tweeting too (@wildeonmyside).