Now that my goal is set, – I am to read more classics this year and to blog more about it – I stop to think about my first stepping stone. What exactly am I planning to include into this literary journey? Well, for a while now I’ve been keeping a list of books I would like to tackle in a small address book. Actually, it is very interesting for me to see how over time my interests changed, as I would probably not even think about picking some of the titles listed again. One of the examples could be my desire to obtain the entire bibliography of Jean Plaidy, that was later on debunked as pure obsession. Katherine of Aragon: A Novel of the Tudors ended my honeymoon phase, and I felt like crossing that list out of my future reads (or at least not choosing a book based on the author alone). Few books, however, are still standing strong. These books are deemed as timeless not only by me, but by the entire literary community. I am talking about classics of course. There are different perceptions of classic literature, of course, so it took me a some time to determine what I wanted to include into my blog, and what would fit this year’s challenge. First and foremost, I decided to concentrate my attention on literature that many like to include into so-called “greatest books ever written” lists and such.
These are the novels that people have known about since childhood and perhaps have even read them at some point. Over the years I have had a chance to familiarize myself with a few of them, but I believe there’s room to much improvement. This year I would love to finally discover the mystery of Jane Austen’s popularity, to gather my scattered Conan Doyle knowledge, and figure out Dostoevsky’s genius. I have started one of my selections already, first choice falling on Nana by Emile Zola. Other authors in this category I would like to add to my library include H.P.Lovecraft, H.G.Wells, Henry James, E.M.Forster, Virginia Woolf, and so on.
Also on my list are some less known (and sometimes obscure) novels that caught my attention. Most of them are adventure and mystery novels that were unfairly forgotten in time. Some of them evoke heart-warming feelings of nostalgia, as I used to pass my childhood reading them under covers with a flashlight at my grandparent’s house. For example, even though Jack London is a rather known author in North America, not many know his novel Hearts of Three, that is packed with adventure, romance and treasure hunting to rival some giants of the genre. I’ve read the novel several times already, but this year I would like to pay a tribute to the book and hopefully inspire others to read it as well. Another favorite of mine is Captain Mayne Reid, who wrote a string of amazing adventure novels set in Himalayan mountains, African plains, and open seas. Even though he was an American and wrote over seventy novels, most people on this side of the Atlantic have no idea about his work. It is nearly impossible to find his books in print, but thankfully my mom brought her copies of The Headless Horseman, The Plant Hunters, The Cliff Climbers, and The Castaways when we left Europe. I am planning to re-read at least one of these beauties this year.
I have many more books to mention, but this post is getting way too long. I will have to split it into several parts, each one describing a certain category I put my understanding of classics into. See you in part two.