‘Shirley’ by Charlotte Bronte

I was first introduced to Charlotte Bronte in high school with “Jane Eyre”, one of my all-time favorite classics book, and one that I have read multiple times. I figured now was the time to try to read something else by Charlotte Bronte. Some of her books are on my reading list for The Classics Club and as luck would have it, “Shirley” got picked for the latest CC Spin and we had 9 weeks to read it. Easy enough.

So here we are, January 30th, and I am sorry to say that I have yet to finish it and I am even debating whether to set it aside for good. I’m so disappointed with this read and honestly, I am kind of bored with it at this point.

For one thing, the pacing of this book is sooo slow and while I understand some authors want to unfold story little by little, I feel that it takes forever to get to the character for which this book is named. Shirley is not introduced to the reader until halfway through. Rather it would seem that the main character is Caroline as we learn about all about her and she becomes front and center to the story. Even when Shirley is first introduced, the author narrates Caroline’s movements more.

While I know that this is the point in the book where things may pick up, I feel like I shouldn’t have to work so hard. I can’t relate to any of the characters and honestly feel like Caroline’s story line has gone flat. Basically, she is in love with Robert Moore and her woes as she tries to make him see her in the same way. Nothing new has happened in the last 50 or so pages. I want to keep reading but I am afraid to be disappointed if nothing changes.

This is becoming more of a rant than a review at this point, so I will leave it here. I am going to keep the book to the side and pick it up at random, with the hope of eventually finishing it. Perhaps I may surprise everyone in a few months with a new review. Or I may DNF it permanently. Whatever its fate, I am just glad that “Jane Eyre” was my first Charlotte Bronte read.


Have you read “Shirley”? Are there any other Charlotte Bronte books I should try? Let’s discuss?

Classics Club Spin #25|Spin list

The Classics Club has announced its 25th spin and for me, it will be my second. I haven’t done this in a while but my first time was successful, as it forced me to read a book that I had kept putting off. Let’s hope this one is just as successful.

How does it work? You post a list of 20 books on your Classics Club List before November 22. On that day, The Classics Club will announce the winning “spin” number between 1 and 20 and you read the book associated with that number. This time, they are giving us until January 30, 2021, which is more than month and gives us plenty of time to get through the book. My spin list is the following.

  1. The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling
  2. Light in August, William Faulkner
  3. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
  4. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  5. Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
  6. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  7. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  8. The East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  9. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  10. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  11. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
  12. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  13. Northanger Abby, Jane Austen
  14. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
  15. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  16. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  17. A Modern Mephistopholes, Louisa May Alcott
  18. Under the Lilacs, Louisa May Alcott
  19. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  20. Lady Susan, Jane Austen

The Classics Club | Revised List

So two years ago, I stumbled upon The Classic Club, a group committed to reading and blogging about 50 classics over the space of 5 years.

The Classics Club was started on March 7, 2012 by a blogger who wanted to see more people posting about classics literature in the blogosphere. Her goal was to, “unite those of us who like to blog about classic literature, as well as to inspire people to make the classics an integral part of life.”

– The Classics Club

At the time I thought it was a great idea to do this because I had joined the Modern Library Top 100 Classic Book Club that was dedicated to reading the Modern Library’s Top 100 list. I figured the Classics Club reading challenge would keep me accountable for book club. What I didn’t know was that half of the books that we were going to read would be absolutely dreadful. Most of them I just couldn’t get through. In fact, most of our book club was fatigued by the end and didn’t even want to finish the list. We did but we have since started a list of books that we thought should have made the list and we are enjoying the reads so much more.

With that being said, I think it’s time to do a complete revamp of my Classics Club list. I have acquired many other classics since I first posted my top 50 when I used book club to fill, so this new list are all the books on my bookshelves that I have yet to read. My goal is to eventually read all the books I own (isn’t it for everyone) so I might as well check off that list as I’m doing this.

Start Date: 11/18/2020
End Date: 11/17/2025

  1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  2. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
  3. The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling
  4. Light in August, William Faulkner
  5. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
  6. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
  7. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  8. Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
  9. My Antonia, Willa Cather
  10. Brave New World, Alduous Huxley
  11. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  12. The East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  13. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  14. An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
  15. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  16. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  17. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  18. Nicholas Nickelby, Charles Dickens
  19. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  20. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  21. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  22. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
  23. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  24. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
  25. White Fang, Jack London
  26. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
  27. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  28. Northanger Abby, Jane Austen
  29. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
  30. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  31. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  32. Crime and Punishment, Fyoder Dostevsky
  33. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  34. The Three Musketeers (The D’Artagnan Romances #1), Alexandre Dumas
  35. Gulliver’s Travels, Johnathan Swift
  36. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  37. The Awakening, Kate Chopin
  38. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  39. The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  40. The Arabian Nights, Anonymous
  41. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
  42. Eight Cousins, Louisa May Alcott
  43. Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
  44. A Modern Mephistopholes, Louisa May Alcott
  45. Under the Lilacs, Louisa May Alcott
  46. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  47. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  48. Lady Susan, Jane Austen
  49. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
  50. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is pure fun

I tried reading this a few months ago but never finished it. Not that it wasn’t good but because I had a lot going on at the time, not to mention, countless other books I had to read before it. I didn’t want to read it piecemeal so I put it down with plans to pick it up again.

Then the Classics Club announced another spin and so I pulled out my list of classics, made a list of 20 and waited for the lucky number which happened to be #19 and on my list that was Treasure Island.

I knew from the first time I tried reading it that this book was going to be an engaging read. Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing style draws the reader in until they are part of the action. This time, the book caught me hook, line and sinker. I finished it over a few hours.

What makes this book so great is that the adventure starts right from the first chapter when the main character Jim Hawkins and his parents, who own the Admiral Benbow Inn, receive a mysterious guest, known as the Captain, who ends up staying at their inn with nothing but soiled clothing, a mysterious chest and a huge appetite for rum. When the Captain inevitably meets his demise, Jim Hawkins discovers a map that will lead him to Treasure Island. And so the adventure begins and continues on land and sea with a whole host of characters.

I thought I knew the story of Treasure Island just from what people had told me, but it is quite another story when you read it. I had no clue what to expect except that I felt that I was standing right beside Jim the whole time, from hiding in the apple barrel overhearing Long John Silver make his plans to steal the treasure, to Jim’s actions on the island to save his friends. There was nothing predictable about this book and I kept turning the pages with anxious excitement, wondering how Jim and his friends were going to get out of the danger they were in.

Robert Louis Stevenson is so descriptive that I could picture the island clearly. I could feel the heat of the sun and feel the salt from the sea. I could also picture each of the characters, especially Captain Flint with his scar and Long John Silver with his one leg as he hobbled through the forest trying to keep up with the rest of the crew. I think one of the most iconic scenes comes right at the beginning when the reader is introduced to the blind man named Pew. He doesn’t have a large role but Stevenson has set it up that the tapping of the blind man’s cane on the road outside is equivalent to the music cue in a movie to indicate a pivotal moment. It is enough to set the reader on edge and keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen.

What was most surprising to me was that the book was first published in 1883. It doesn’t read like your typical classic that is usually bogged down with dense language. Even adventure stories like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can be slow sometimes. However, Treasure Island is anything but slow and it is so easy to read. That is probably why it has stood the test of time. It is also why it is a great children’s classic. Not to mention it is full of adventure, secret maps, treasures, pirates, danger and just plain fun.


Have you read Treasure Island? What did you think? Let’s discuss!

Latest Classic Club spin gives me another crack at Treasure Island

So this post is super late but every time I tried to post, work kept pulling me away. Don’t you hate that? Anyway, the Classic Club picked the magic number for their latest spin last week and the number is #19. Luckily for me, that means I get to try my hand at Treasure Island … again.

You might recall Treasure Island being on my reading list a few months ago but unfortunately I was distracted with other reads. While I enjoyed the start of it, I was too distracted to keep going so I put it aside until a more opportune time came for me to read it. I guess that time is now.

I am excited. I remember the beginning of the book was so gripping and there were plenty of characters to love and hate. I think, once I get really going, I will fly through this book.

At least this time, it isn’t a 1,000 pager like last time. While I am glad that I was finally forced to read Atlas Shrugged (and loved it!), it put me in a bit of a reading slump.

 

Classics Club is back with spin #20

I am excited to do the latest spin from the Classics Club, especially since I am in the mood to read a bunch of classics that I haven’t gotten a chance to read yet.

The idea is to pick 20 books from your Classics Club list before Monday, April 22, and post them to your blog. On Monday, a number will be picked and you must read the book on your list that corresponds with that number. You have until May 31.

So last time (Spin #18) I included books that I was hesitant to read because I wanted a challenge. I ended up having to read THE book I was most hesitant about –Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand — and I LOVED it. However, with so many books to read for book clubs, I didn’t want myself under that type of stress. This time, my list of 20 includes all the books I want to get to sooner rather than later.

  1. In Cold Blood
  2. The Jungle Books
  3. To the Lighthouse
  4. Nightwood
  5. The Fountainhead
  6. David Copperfield
  7.  The Jungle
  8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  9. Wuthering Heights
  10.  An American Tragedy
  11.  The Good Earth
  12.  Watership Down
  13.  Shirley
  14.  Northanger Abbey
  15.  Brave New World
  16.  The Little Prince
  17.  A Tale of Two Cities
  18.  The Sound and the Fury
  19.  Treasure Island
  20.  Call of the Wild

I would be fine with any one of these books but I am leaning toward Brave New World, Shirley or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

 

Classic Club Spin #18 winning number

So the wheel has spun for the 18th spin of the Classics Club and the number that was picked was 9. What am I reading? Wump, wump, wump … Atlas Shrugged. You guessed it, this is one of the hesitant reads. So much for beginner’s luck.

Atlas Shrugged(Book cover is linked to Goodreads)

It’s not that I don’t want to read this, I do. I just wasn’t expecting to read it right now. Merely because it’s a doozy in its length and probably one of the longest ones on my list. 1,069 pages. Hence why I keep putting it off. But if I could get through Fountainhead in high school (for fun), I’m sure I can manage this one. I guess fate is pushing me to get it over and done with. Though I’m not sure how I am going to get through this and The Golden Bowl by Henry James (my September read for Modern Classics book club) in the same month. This is going to take some strict reading.

If I had not scrambled my list, my pick would have been The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling. *sigh* Oh well, maybe next time.

Someone asked me what the other hesitant reads were on my spin list. They were both of the Dickens novels, David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities; Wuthering  Heights by Emily Bronte; and An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. And it’s not even that they are my hesitant reads. I want to read them all,  but these are the one that I can wait to read since there are so many others I want to get to first. You can see my complete spin list here.


If you are participating in the Classic Club spin, what is your read for August? Have you read my pick? What did you think? Let’s discuss! 🙂

Classics Club Spin #18

So I apparently joined the Classics Club just at the right time because they are starting a new spin.

The idea is to list 20 of the books on your Classics Club list before Aug. 1. Then the wheel will turn and reveal the winning number. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by Aug. 31.

So when I initially heard about the spin, I had made a list that consisted of books that I could either get through quickly or was excited to read. NOT SO FAST! I then saw I had to fill in some categories.

5 books you are dreading/hesitant to read
5 books you can’t WAIT to read
5 books you are neutral about
5 books which are free choice

In the name of the game, I honestly put some of the more dreaded reads on my list. And to make it even more of a gamble, I scrambled my list (I’m a glutton for punishment). Of course, I’m hoping not to fall into the dreaded/hesitant to read category, but I guess everyone is. It’s probably why they are challenging us to put some on there. I see how this game works 😉

  1. An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
  2. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  3. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  4. Brave New  World, Aldous Huxley
  5. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  6. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  7. White Fang, Jack London
  8. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
  9. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  10. Light in August, William Faulkner
  11. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  12. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
  13. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  14. The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling
  15. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
  16. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  17. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  18. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  19. Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
  20. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

Another challenge: 50 classics to read by 2023

So today, while searching for more book bloggers to follow, primarily ones who focus on classics, I stumbled upon the Classics Club. After reading what they were about, I was intrigued and decided to give it a go. (Like I need yet another challenge).

So what is it about? In short:

The Classics Club is a club created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books. There’s no time limit to join and you’re most welcome, as long as you’re willing to sign up to read and write on your blog about 50+ classic books in at most five years.  To learn more, visit them here.

Since I am already part of the Modern Library Top 100 Book Club, a local book club in Albany NY reading the books off the Modern Library’s Top 100 list, I figured that this “challenge” would keep me motivated to read those books while looking at others. So this list is a combination of future book club reads and books that I have piled on a whole bookshelf in my house. Most of them, I have never read, but there may be one or two I read so long ago or never finished that I decided to give it another go.

So here is the list I plan to read by July 2023:

  1. The Golden Bowl, Henry James
  2. The Old Wives Tale, Arnold Bennett
  3. The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence
  4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
  5. Madam Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  6. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
  7. The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling
  8. Light in August, William Faulkner
  9. A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
  10. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
  11. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  12. Nightwood, Djuna Barnes
  13. My Antonia, Willa Cather
  14. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  15. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  16. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  17. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  18. An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
  19. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  20. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  21. Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens
  22. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  23. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  24. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
  25. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  26. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  27. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
  28. White Fang, Jack London
  29. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
  30. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
  31. Parade’s End, Ford Madox Ford
  32. Appointment in Samarra, John O’Hara
  33. The Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen
  34. Finnegan’s Wake, James Joyce
  35. Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
  36. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
  37. From Here to Eternity, James Jones
  38. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
  39. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
  40. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
  41. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  42. The 42nd Parallel, (USA trilogy #1) , John Dos Passos
  43. Young Lonigan (The Studs Lonigan Trilogy #1), James T. Farrell
  44. A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music  of Time #1), Anthony Powell
  45. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
  46. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  47. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
  48. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  49. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  50. Crime and Punishment, Fyoder Dostoevsky