Thursday, October 13, 2016

Better Late Than Never - The Classics Book Tag

It's been about a year and a half since the original book blog post, introducing the Classics Book Tag, by It's a Books World appeared.   As I am a recent convert to the book blogging sphere, I thought that this would be a fun way to think about and engage with classic books.  I should note that these will be classics in the Western Cannon, as that is the literature with which I am most familiar and educated.  Here we go!

Question 1: An over-hyped classic that you really didn't like.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and I just don't get along well together.  I could not get excited about the much-trumpeted romance between Catherine and Heathcliff.  In fact, my Feministey-Senses were tingling throughout the reading experience; I was so angry at times that I wanted to thrown the book across the room.  This is a problem I have when reading much of the literature published before the 1960's; there is often a lot of inherent, accepted, systematic, and normalized sexism.  I cannot abide that in my personal life, and I have difficulty doing so in my reading life.  I'm sure there are many other classics that would fit this criteria, but Wuthering Heights is the one that sticks out in my mind most clearly.

Question 2: Favorite time period to read about
I especially enjoy reading about the inter-war period and into WW2.  There is so much societal change taking place at this time, and it's fascinating to see it portrayed in fiction and non-fiction.  Perhaps this is why I enjoy Persephone Books so much; this time period is their specialty!  Mollie Panter-Downes' London War Notes is an engaging collection of journalistic essays written for The New Yorker about life in London during WW2.  Persephone Books has also published two collections of her short stories from the same time period: Good Evening Mrs Craven and Minnie's Room.  The writing style is very engaging and entertaining, whilst still portraying characters in an honest and thoughtful way.

Question 3: Favorite fairy tale
Admittedly I don't read a great deal of fairy tales, and therefore I don't have many examples on my shelves.  I much prefer fairy tale retellings.  One such collection, that I very much enjoy, is Kirsty Logan's The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales.  There is a mixture of original stories and retellings.  It is modern and ancient at the same time, and through her wordsmithing the author makes these stories relevant to today's audience.

Question 4: The most embarrassing classic that you haven't read
There are many classics that I haven't read yet.  I resist the notion that I should feel shame or inadequacy just because I have not read certain books.  That being said, when I mention that I haven't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, many people seem surprised.

Question 5: The "top 5" classics you would like to read soon
  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  2. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  3. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
  4. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
  5. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Question 6: Favorite modern book/series based on a classic
I thoroughly enjoyed Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, his response to C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia epic.

Question 7: Favorite movie version/TV series based on a classic
Easy - the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehly.

Question 8: Worst classic-to-movie adaptation
I'm not a huge fan of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the movie adaptation with Demi Moore and Gary Oldman is difficult to watch in all its poorness.

Question 9: Favorite editions in which you'd like to collect more classics
  • Persephone Books
  • Penguin Fitzgerald Classics 
  • Canongate Myth series and Penguin 60's (pictured together)
  • Penguin Drop Caps

Question 10: An Underhyped classic that you would recommend
The novella Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street by Herman Melville is a classic that very few people seem to know.  Actually, the ones who know about it tend to be aware through the independent publisher Melville House, who use Bartleby's phrase "I Would Prefer Not To" as their tagline, and print it on mugs, shirts, totebags, and other goods.  

If you're interested in answering these fun questions, consider yourself tagged!  

Librorum annis