A year ago today, I decided to join The Classics Club and created a list of seventy-five classics I would like to read within a three year period. I said in my introductory post that I hoped to read twenty-five classics each year and, a year later, I’ve read sixteen books off of my original list plus an additional eight books that could also be considered classics.
All of my book reviews for those titles I’ve read for the club are available here in their own category. The additional eight books considered classics I’ve read and discussed are available in my “classics” tag. Some of the highlights of the past year include:
In the next year of being in the Classics Club, I plan to tackle books by the Brontë sisters as I’ve been avoiding Anne, Charlotte, and Emily for years now as a bad experience with Wuthering Heights. It would be lovely if I could fall in love with them as much as I have with Edith Wharton!
Much smaller pile this time around. The selections available at the library’s used book sale were pretty repetitive — lots of book clubs dumping their selections, I guess — and I haven’t exactly been reading enough to justify bringing home yet more books.
Three of the books I picked up — The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon — are books I remember making their rounds through the blogosphere over the last couple of years. And I’ve read two novels by Sophie Hannah before hence bringing home The Cradle in the Grave.
The only book I didn’t pick up at the used book sale was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which I purchased at a local bookstore while I was hanging out with a friend in Somerville last weekend. This novel is my book club’s selection for August, and there was no way I would make it to the top of the 450+ waiting list at the library in time. I haven’t made much of a dent in the book, but it’s set during World War II so I am looking forward to reading it.
The first Saturday in an even-numbered month means there’s a used book sale at the public library to check out so the first Sunday in an even-numbered month means it is time to share my recent acquisitions with you all. The organization that runs the used book sale was offering a number of deals and promotions this time, but I zeroed in on the buy one, get one free promotion for fiction.
Once again, I picked up two books I have read before at the sale — The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson and A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’ve been itching to read Larsson’s series again, especially after a fourth book in the series to be written by another author is slatted to be published in August. As much as I understand the position of Larsson’s partner of thirty-two years, I think saying I won’t read The Girl in the Spider’s Web — period — would be a lie at this point. I’ll likely wait for the reviews to start trickling in before I deciding yay or nay.
I picked up Martin’s novel, the third in his series, for two reasons: (a) I’m trying to encourage my family to read the books since I’ve been so disappointed (and disgusted, to be honest) with season five of the television season and (b) this book happens to be my favorite of the five he’s published so far. Oh, and did I mention I got it for free?
I purchased three novels by authors whose other works I’ve read and enjoyed in the past — Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate, and Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls — and then two by authors I’ve heard a great amount of acclaim for, Little Bee by Chris Cleave and Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.
Rounding out my purchases are Madwoman on the Bridge by Su Tong, the first two books in Julianna Baggott’s Pure series, and Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. It wasn’t until I started walking home that I realized I recognized the titles of Wouk’s books because there are television miniseries from the 1980s based on the novels, which are both in my Netflix queue. So now I don’t know if I should start with those giant chunksters in the bottom right of the picture above or get my feet wet with the television series? Or, maybe I’ll start with one of the familiar authors on my list. So many choices!
It’s my birthday and I’ll buy books if I want to! And, lucky for me, the public library’s used book sale coincided nicely with my birthday so I was able to spend the morning of perusing the tables of books and seeing what I could find that caught my fancy. For fifteen dollars, I came away with eleven books — three hardbacks and eight paperbacks — including three books selected by my book club for the upcoming months.
I was most surprised to find A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin considering the popularity of the series. I’ve already read the book and, admittedly, did not love it, but Martin swears he will finish the next one in the series by 2016 and the television show is going to start diverting from the books in the next series so I’d like to have a copy on hand to help me brush up on what happened.
I was also thrilled to find a copy of Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings given the wait list at my library still numbers in the hundreds for the book. My book club selected Kidd’s novel this past December for our meeting, and I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy before then. Other book club selections I was able to find at this sale include Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.
The three books published by Persephone were birthday presents from my parents and all were written by Dorothy Whipple. I started Because of the Lockwoods on Saturday and am already entranced by Whipple’s writing once more. (I’ve previously read her novel Someone at a Distance back in November.) I’m looking forward to tucking into The Priory and Whipple’s short story collection, The Closed Door and Other Stories, soon.
To get straight to the point, I failed the TBR Double Dog Dare. I managed to avoid bringing home any books from the library (with the exception of those I needed for book club) for about six weeks. Yet, in mid-February, an opinion piece in the local paper referenced David Kirby’s Death at SeaWorld, which I then had to read, and in March I came down with such an awful cough and cold that all I wanted to read were graphic novels and memoirs. So I broke the dare and went to the library. Whoops.
Of the thirty-one books I read between January 1 and March 31, ten books were print copies from my physical to-read pile (nearly all of which found new homes via PaperBackSwap upon completion), nine were audiobooks on my iPod loaded back in 2014, and seven were from the library for book club meetings. The rest were from the library for the excuses explained above.
So, yeah, I failed the dare. But looking at the glass half-full — ten books off my shelves and nine off my iPod is great progress in culling down Mt. TBR! In that regard, the TBR Double Dog Dare was a success. Plus, I have two more print novels and an audiobook in progress that will also help to create more space on my shelves
for all the books I’ll buy or receive for my upcoming birthday.
If I can continue with finishing roughly three books in print a month for the rest of the year, I’ll only have seven books in my physical TBR pile left at year’s end. And, if I can’t keep that momentum going, hopefully James Reads Books will choose to host the dare again in 2016.