CC Spin #26: my result

Last week I made a list of twenty classics for the classics club spin. It’s my first participation, so I was excited to discover my result. And the lucky number is…. 11!

This means I’m going to read ‘Lady Chatterley’s lover’ by D.H. Lawrence.

I wasn’t expecting a particular book. I made a list of 20 random and not too bulky books. Lady Chatterley’s lover doesn’t seem like the most hard or serious book on the list. This book was banned back in the 1920’s because of explicit sexual language. I’m quite sure that will not be the case if you compare it to current standards (50 shades anyone?), so I’m eager to see what the fuzz could have been about.

I know this is not a high-rated classic or story. A lot of people dislike it. But I did enjoy the 2015 BBC movie with Richard Madden and Holliday Grainger. So that’s why it ended up on my classics club list. 😅 I don’t remember everything from the story, so I guess it’s a nice moment to start reading the book.

I’ll start this classic after finishing my current historical mystery ‘Rags of time’.

What’s your result?

Howards End by E.M. Forster

The middleclass sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel are living in London together with their younger brother Tibby. On holiday in Germany, the land of birth of their deceased father, they meet the Wilcoxes, a family rich by business. Back in England, Helen goes to live a few days with them at Howard’s End, the favourite house of Mrs. Wilcox. But things don’t go as planned. After a romantic affair with the youngest son Paul, Helen returns to London. At an opera show, she accidentally steals an umbrella of the clerk Leonard Bast who has a poor income. In the coming years fate will bring these three families together again.

I had already seen the most recent BBC/Starz adaptation, so I knew the story a bit. I love how everything comes together at the end and how Howard’s End seems to be an extra character in the book. The house is always there, looming over the events.

Howard’s End was published in 1910 and offers a pre-war perspective on European relationships. At times, it felt like a total different world out there. The book covers a lot of interesting themes: social class, poverty, prejudice, feminism and sisterhood. The three families are all part of a different social class. The Schlegel sisters are middleclass. They love art, poetry and culture and don’t need to worry about money. The Wilcoxes are affluent, trying to make even more money thanks to the right investments. They tend to value things over people. While at the same time, the Basts are struggling to make ends meet. Leonard wants to get higher up in life and starts taking an interest in books and art, a subject he enjoys discussing with the Schlegel sisters.

The main perspective was that of Margaret, the older Schlegel and not my favourite character. Margaret is sensible and thoughtful. She’s the perfect opposite of her impulsive and emotional sister and the rather dull and rational Wilcoxes. She’s the much needed conscience in the story, as many of the other characters appear rather flat and insensitive at times.

The writing is good, although I found it a bit difficult at times. There is some dialogue, but also a strong narrator perspective where Forster directly speaks to the reader. Some of these aren’t always that easy to follow. There are also some time jumps that can be confusing.

In the end, I understand why Howard’s End is considered a true classic. The unique atmosphere of Europe before the Great War combined with themes that are still highly relevant today make for a great novel. I also have ‘A passage to India’ from Forster on my classics club list and am looking forward to see if I’ll like it even more.

This is book 3/50 for the Classics Club.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read anything by E.M. Forster? What’s your favourite?

My reading challenges for 2021

It’s time to look forward to my reading year of 2021. Every year I try to participate in a few reading challenges just to help me prioritize certain books. I’m not a big fan of joining challenges with random book prompts. I’ve noticed that reading outside my TBR can be disappointing. I’m quite good at picking books that I know I’ll like and I also try to read outside my standard (royal) historical fiction genre a few times a year.

Goodreads reading challenge

2020 was the first year where I raised my Goodreads challenge from 30 to 35 books. And I managed to hit that target in November. For 2021, I’ll also set my challenge on 35 books. I do want this challenge to be manageable, especially as I plan to read some big books and/or classics. But I still want to read 3 to 4 books a month and this means I’ll end up around 35 books.

The historical fiction reading challenge

Originally hosted by a few other blogs, than by Passages of the past and now by Intrepid Reader, this challenge is all about my favorite genre: historical fiction. The goal is to pick a number of historical fiction books you want to read, corresponding to a certain historical era. Write a review of what you’ve read and link-up your reviews every month at the Intrepid Reader.

These are the different levels you can choose from:

  • 20th Century Reader – 2 books
  • Victorian Reader – 5 books
  • Renaissance Reader – 10 books
  • Medieval – 15 books
  • Ancient History – 25 books
  • Prehistoric – 50+ books

For me this is an easy choice. I will strive to meet the Ancient History level. Almost 90% of what I read is historical fiction so this should be easy. I secretly hope to hit more than 25 books, but Prehistoric will be too ambitious as I don’t read 50 books a year (yet—one may have hope :D).

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted, as there is historical romance, historical mystery, historical fantasy, young adult, history/non-fiction… Roughly counted, of the 38 books I read in 2020, 33 of them are historical fiction. A few others are in a kind of grey zone if they are either historical or contemporary/fantasy (How to stop time and the winter of the witch for example).

The classics club

And then of course, 2021 will be my first year of the Classics Club! You can read my sign up post for this challenge here and my progress can be followed on my Classics Club page. I will start with The tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brönte as my first classic. And after that, who knows? Maybe, I’ll join some of the Classics Club spins where you have to compile a list of 20 books and then read the books corresponding the number that was the outcome of the spin. Funny way of choosing your next read.

This is it for now. Maybe I’ll join some other challenge during the year. Maybe not. I’m looking forward to all those great (or so I hope) reads!

What reading challenges are you aiming at in 2021?

I’m joining the classics club in 2021

And it scares the hell out of me. A few years ago, I already started my own classics project. And I did read some great classics: the novels of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, The three musketeers… I enjoyed them all, but the last years I’m just picking up other books above classics. Mainly because I think they will be too difficult to read and thus take too long to finish. But I kept enjoying TV adaptions of classics such as War and peace and Les miserables. So now, I want to start reading classics again.

That’s why I joined the classics club where the goal is to make a list of 50 classics and read them in the coming 5 years! You review them on your blog and track your progress on a separate page. I don’t have high hopes in really finishing 50 classics in 5 years. I will try, but as I only read around 35-40 books every year, it’s a great commitment. But I’m not afraid of a challenge. I know that by joining I will have read a lot more books from this list by 31st December 2025 than without this challenge.

My list consists of authors I already enjoyed or think I will enjoy (the BrontĂ« sisters, Dumas, Du Maurier…), of stories I already know because of the TV version (Vanity Fair, Les miserables, War and peace…) and of some older historical fictions works (Richard III, The fifth queen, I Claudius…).

When you take a look at my list, you should keep this in mind:

  • No Jane Austen on this list as I already read her books.
  • No Ernest Hemingway, as I hated ‘the old man and the sea’.
  • Not too much of dystopian fiction as it really isn’t my thing. So no Orwell or Wells, I made the exception for ‘a clockwork orange’ since one of my best friends loved it so much and for ‘the handmaid’s tale’ because everyone seems to love it.
  • There are some authors on this list that I’m scared to start reading because of what I heard about their writing. That’s why I only chose one book from them so that I can give up on the author if the writing is not my cup of tea. This is the case with Charles Dickens, G.G. Marquez and Fyodor Dostoeysky.

This is my list:

  1. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  2. My cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
  3. Jamaica’s Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  4. Villette by Charlotte Brontë
  5. Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
  6. The tenant of Wildfell hall by Anne Brontë
  7. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (reread)
  9. War and peace by Leo Tolstoj
  10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj
  11. Les misérables by Victor Hugo
  12. The count of monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  13. The man in the iron mask by Alexandre Dumas
  14. La reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas
  15. The Borgias by Alexandre Dumas
  16. The prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  17. Utopia by Thomas More
  18. Howard’s end by E.M. Forster
  19. A passage to India by E.M. Forster
  20. To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
  21. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  22. Tess d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  23. Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy
  24. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  25. Lady Chatterly’s lover by D.H. Lawrence
  26. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  27. The handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood
  28. Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  29. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  30. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  31. And then there were none by Agatha Christie
  32. Great expectations by Charles Dickens
  33. The color purple by Alice Walker
  34. The idiot by Fyodor Dostoeysky
  35. North and south by Elizabeth Gaskell
  36. The remains of the day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  37. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  38. The fifth queen by Ford Madox Ford
  39. The woman in white by Wilkie Collins
  40. Treasure island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  41. The Iliad by Homer
  42. The Odyssey by Homer
  43. The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  44. A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess
  45. The cacher in the rye by J.D. Salinger
  46. The trial by Franz Kafka
  47. The bell jar by Sylvia Path
  48. Richard III by William Shakespeare
  49. Love in time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  50. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

What’s your favorite classic?