Sunday 10 September 2017

My Classic Club Questions

Lately, I've been wracked by doubts about what I actually do here at Brona's Books.
Is it reviewing or journaling?
And what about all the memes I like to join in?
Does it even matter what we call it or what we do as long as we're having fun with books and maybe learning something interesting/amusing/OMG-ish along the way?

With a little bit of reflection, I've come to realise that Brona's Books is all about my personal response to what I read. 
Sometimes I add a little bit of researching & philosophising to round out my reading experience.
I also love making lists and joining in readalongs.
However, the main thing I love is engaging with like-minded bookish folk.

Source unknown

I started blogging 8 years ago very much in teacher mode.
I wanted to inform and help other teachers and parents in finding suitable books for the children in their lives, but I got bored with that format rather quickly.

My early posts make me cringe now.
They're completely and utterly soulless and lacking in any personality.
But I keep them all here, as I view Brona's Books as a journey.

It has evolved, stagnated and changed course several times.
I have experimented, explored and ditched things that seemed like a good idea at the time.
And I keep it all here to remind me of my progress.
The good, the bad and the ugly!

One of the things I have always enjoyed is filling out surveys and compiling lists.
The Classics Club has been marvellous in feeding both these habits over the years.

I have been looking for a way to mark the spectacular non-completion of my hugely ambitious CC five year list & this seemed like the perfect response!

Classics Club Questions

Share a link to your club list. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? 

I joined up in August 2012.
This is my overly-ambitious 95 classics in five years list.
I've only read 53 of these titles so far.

The list went up and down in size a few times, until I solved my dilemma of new books and a desire to reread by creating CC Take 2.
I've read 10 of these books to date which makes a grand total of 63 classics in five years.

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently rereading The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien.
Or to be precise, I've finished the trilogy and just have the dreaded Appendix to go.
The observant among you will note that this is NOT one of the classics on CC#1.
This has been part of my problem!


I'm also reading several shortlisted, contemporary novels & non-fiction titles at the same time.
This has also been part of my problem!

Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?

I think it might have to be Germinal by Zola. 
The mining scenes which I thought would be boring or too technical, were so realistically written.
I felt so claustrophobic and the mine was almost a character in and of itself.
I was impressed with the richness of detail and the incredible storytelling, and I vowed to read the entire Rougon-Macquart series on the strength of this book alone.

Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?

Indiana by George Sand.
I read one of her books in my pre-blogging days - Mauprat.
I've been trying to source her backlist ever since.
Indiana is the only other book I've ever found still in print.
I'm also a little nervous about reading it as I have such high expectations for it.

Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?

Ulysses by James Joyce for all the obvious reasons.

First classic you ever read?

My mum encouraged me to spend my 12th birthday money on a classic book (and not just another Trixie Beldon!)
On a trip to Sydney for my sister's annual orthodontic appointment, we scheduled a visit to David Jones' book department, where after much indecision, I purchased the Penguin classic of Jane Eyre.
My love affair with classics began.

Chinese Skirt (1933) Agnes Noyes Goodsir

Toughest classic you ever read?

This is a tough question.
Tough in what way?
Some of the Ancient Greek classics I read for my HSC were tough going because I had never read anything like that before, but I grew to love them.
I struggled to read David Copperfield because it was my first Dickens, but I adored it by the end.
The content of If This is a Man by Primo Levi is some of the toughest around, but I was compelled to read every single word.
However, for pure endurance, perseverance and determination to finish, the honour of toughest read goes to Homer's The Odyssey.

Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?

Inspired? To Kill A Mockingbird
Scared? The Lord of the Rings - my first read was long before the movies.
The fate of Frodo, Sam et al had my heart in my mouth for the entire journey.
Cry? I very rarely cry in books, but Little Women and Anne of Green Gables still make me tear up.
Angry? Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?

War and Peace, but I read this BBB (before Brona's Books).
I have several chunksters left on CC#1, but I think that Don Quixote wins the chunkiest award.

Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?

I think that Homer's The Odyssey gets the nod for this, which means that the oldest one left on my list is The Iliad.

Favourite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?

I'm not sure I have a favourite, although my current read, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne may just change that.

Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?

It's probably the typical response here, but To Kill A Mockingbird has so much to say about justice, mercy, compassion, empathy and plain old fashioned goodness, that it really is the book everyone should read, even if the only thing they get out of it is the famous Atticus quote about walking in someone else's shoes to understand them.

Favourite edition of a classic you own, if any?

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield is one of the beautifully designed books in the Virago Modern Classics Designer range.
Pretty isn't it?

Favourite movie adaption of a classic?

Nearly everybody else has said this already I'm sure, but To Kill A Mockingbird is really hard to beat, as a book or as a movie.
Gregory Peck will always and forever be Atticus Finch.

Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility has to come in a pretty close second.

As far as TV movie adaptations go, Northanger Abbey (1986) is one of the best Austen versions around.

Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.

The Tragedy of the Korosko by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Although it has quite an Imperialistic tone to the modern reader, it also has a lot to say about fear of the other and the unknown, especially in relation to Islam.
It would be interesting and relevant to explore these themes in the context of our current political climate.

Least favourite classic? Why?

Catch 22
I started off enjoying the joke and appreciating the cleverness, but then it just kept on going on and on and on!
It never seemed to get anywhere, especially to the point!

Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.

Elizabeth Taylor, Frances Burney, Mikhail Bulgakov, Victor Hugo and Samuel Richardson.

Reading B G Gujjarappa

Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?

Camilla by Burney as it was one of Jane Austen's favourites.

Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving?

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen went from being my least favourite Austen to (almost) top of the list with this reread.

Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?

Janey from Their Eyes Were Watching God.
A reread is definitely on the cards.

Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?

I'm a mixture of Anne Elliot and Elinor Dashwood.

Reading in Autumn Mountain Shen Zhou

Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?

Jo March.
I love her spunkiness and her goodness.
She is so enthusiastic and in touch with her creative side.
I envy that.

Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?

There is no character that comes close to my BFF.
She does however have the loyalty of Melanie Hamilton, the tenderness of Diana Barry and the humour of no book character I've ever met!

Whereas the wonderful Mr Books, BMF extraordinaire, is a lovely mix of Mr Knightley and Captain Wentworth. 
Lucky me :-)

If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favour of the original? Why?

Pride and Prejudice because everything about this book is so much more than a 'happily ever after' story.
I want to know how Darcy and Elizabeth navigated their married life.
I want those final paragraphs that Jane tempts us with, to be fleshed out into a proper full length story.

Woman Reading Books (Guy Cambier)  

Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included?

All the ones that ended up on CC#2!

If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore?

I've started doing this with Virginia Woolf.
 So far, I've only read her first book, The Voyage Out, but the plan is to make my way through her oeuvre in chronological order.
Given her changing style and how difficult so many people find her later books, I'm hoping this approach will make her work more accessible to me as I evolve right along with her.

I'm also planning on reading the Sherlock Holmes books in chronological order, one day.

Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?

It wasn't so much that I expected to dislike it, I just thought it might be difficult/tedious with a heavy emphasis on the poor, depressing mining stuff.
It had all of that, but it wasn't difficult and it certainly wasn't tedious.

Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?

More Zola definitely.
 I think its also time to tackle War of the Worlds and begin my Sherlock Holmes journey.

Source unknown

Favourite thing about being a member of the Classics Club? 

The community that gets together to say 'hi' and support each other as soon as a CC Spin is announced, or a check-in post goes up or a what are you reading now.
Love the fellowship.

If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?

I joined in the Their Eyes Were Watching God readalong a few years ago.
I had never heard of this book before, but it sounded intriguing, so I found a copy and jumped on board.
It was an amazing reading experience - the book, the chats and all the reviews.

I also participated in a very enjoyable readalong for North and South.
The only problem I experience is the time difference factor for things like twitter chats.
I would love to do more readalongs though.

If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?

A Don Quixote readalong is probably what I need to get me into this chunkster.
I think The Master and Margarita would also be best explored in a group.

Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)

What is your favourite non-Western classic?

My favourite Indian classic is The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore (discovered thanks to another fabulous readalong event).

My favourite Japanese classic poet is Matsuo Basho.

Thanks for travelling all the way though this rather lengthy Sunday afternoon ramble.
You deserve a medal!

Or a gin and tonic.
Whichever you prefer :-D


  1. I have also been struggling with my epic fail at completing my CC list in 5 years. Really enjoyed this post and am impressed by your ambitious goal of 95 books! I agree with you about TKaM as the best movie. I'm super lucky in that the character most like my BFF (Mr. R) is Atticus Finch. I also agree that fellowship is one of the best things about CC.

    1. I figure that a lot of the fun was to be had in the actual compiling of the list and it's several re-jigging's over the years. The books will get read one of these days, but in the meantime, I get to chat classics with many other classics lovers like yourself :-)

  2. Love it! Most of the time I think it's pointless to fret about classifying our blogs. It's more important to enjoy what we're doing and connect with each other, but I supposed a little self-reflection is good for everybody...sometimes. :D

    1. I've had a year, so far, of fretting about lots of unnecessary things! And you're so right - reflection is good - in small doses :-)

  3. Great post, Brona - I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey through the classics. Now, do you mean Sherlock Holmes chronologically in terms of publication dates or by the dates of when the stories are set... there are whole books on this subject, you know! ;) I loved The White Guard by Bulgakov, so am also hoping to read The Master and Margarita before I get too much older...

    1. Now you've thrown a spanner in the works!
      I had to make a similar decision with my Zola's as there's a chronological order and a Zola preferred reading order.
      Do you have a preference one way of the other re Sherlock?

  4. Superb post Brona.

    I agree, these book blogs are really just about us talking about books, no matter how we choose to do it. I think that your blog is super in many ways.

    Tess of the d'Urbervilles also made me angry. It is that kind of book!

  5. Anonymous13/9/17

    Great post! I think it's time for another CC Spin!

  6. Some of my answers are similar to yours and I did not read this post until AFTER I finished my post!
    (Virginia Woolf, Don Quixote)
    It took me a few hours to get my thoughts on paper....but it was so much fun!
    Thanks for the nudge!

    1. It is a HUGE effort, I agree, but there was something very satisfying about making the time to do this quiz. Perhaps we should make a 2019 readalong of Don Quixote a real thing to make us both get into it?

  7. Great post, as usual. My random thoughts: I'd love to participate in (help lead?) a Don Quixote readalong. Your additional question is excellent. I wonder why no one else thought of it, with so much emphasis on diversity these days. I've never even considered reading Zola...until I read this post. Thanks for your enthusiasm. Lucky you, with your esposo so much like Wentworth and Knightley. I compared mine (and rightly so) to Tom Sawyer.

    1. Your Mr sounds a little handier than mine - he could whitewash a fence, but it would take 3 yrs as it would have to be done perfectly, exactly and by the book!

      Always delighted to have turned someone else onto Zola :-)

      I've been wondering if Don Quixote would be a good choice for a chapter a day read (like I'm doing with Les Mis). It has about 127 chapters, I think. which would make it a 4 mnth project. But I'd like to wait to see if Nick (who is running Les Mis) will continue next year with The Count of Monte Cristo as I would join in that ... and one chpater a day is more than enough!


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