Way back in June last year I wrote my Classics Clubs list. I tried to take a different angle on it, balancing my list of 52 titles equally between male and female authors and aiming only to include those I wanted to read rather than just The Names that I felt guilty about. And I think that I got it right for the most part, there’s still plenty of books on my list I can’t wait to pick up. A year later though there are a few I’m less keen on and after spending a little time looking at the list I’ve decided to make a few switches.
Out - I Am A Cat by Soseki Natsume (1906) / The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925) / Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)
In - The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759) / The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924) / A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov (1839)
I didn’t really enjoy Japanese Literature Month earlier this year, the subtle, distanced style of the books I tried left me feeling unsatisfied and in need of messy stories full of noise, passion and laughter. The two Kafka novels I picked up in the last year confirmed I’m not really a fan of his work either. I’m sure I will read Japanese titles and maybe even a Kafka in the remaining four years but I really don’t fancy keeping them on the list so they are replaced by Tristram Shandy (a re-read that is long, long overdue of this startling and entertaining book), a Russian classic I really should have read by now and the huge tome of The Magic Mountain – which should keep me busy during German Literature Month. :)
Out – The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M Yonge (1853) / The Daisy Chain by Charlotte M Yonge (1856) / Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
In – Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (1971) / The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (1961) / Secresy by Eliza Fenwick (1795)
I really can’t face more Yonge for a good while after suffering through one of her saintly heroines being so abominably nice I wanted to stab my own eyes out so I’ll take her off my list. I’ll probably still end up reading more books by her as I’m interested in female authors and the female reading experience but not for this challenge. I did try reading Gone With The Wind this summer but my enthusiasm for both the book and film has almost evaporated over the last couple of years so it’s best replaced by something else. I’m adding Mrs Palfrey because I could have sworn I had a Taylor on my list and was surprised to find I didn’t. Meanwhile, The Game of Kings is on my bookshelf and I need a nudge to read this classic of historical fiction. Secresy is another book that’s languished on my shelf for a while, I fancy some more 18th century drama and this epistolary novel of hidden pregnancy and high drama sounds like just the thing.
So, six swaps in all but I do feel much more enthusiastic about the revised list – it better fits my interest in early novels and absorbing, personal dramas. Plus, I had the delicious entertainment of playing with the list and pondering dozens of possible titles… :)