Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Good Read

This year my new year’s resolution was not to make one. Resolutions, especially at this time of the year are generally made with bright hopes and high spirits. However, come the middle of the year (or the middle of January in many cases) those well-meaning resolutions have been quietly forgotten. That is why the following “thing that I have decided to try to do” is most definitely NOT a resolution!

I have decided to read more “classic” literature. I found myself in company, very pleasant it must be said, over the holidays where authors such as Dickens and DH Lawrence were mentioned. It occurred to me that the closest I had come to classics of this sort was while at school and the nearest I had ever come to Dickens was being in the chorus of “Oliver” many moons ago. My boss has also tried to draw me into literary conversations which seem to end at the mention of “John le Carre”. I felt that this situation should be remedied. On discussing this with my boss, her eyes lit up and she suggested “Brave New World”. My mum, however looked a bit doubtful and suggested “anything by Jane Austen”. I dutifully considered these suggestions and decided to start with “Lolita”. Whether this is what my mum or my boss had in mind is a moot point, but my copy has an introduction and notes and rather a lot of big words which does give it the air of something that one might have read in school. Providing I haven’t lost my appetite for the classics by the time I have finished the book, I might just move on to, oh I don’t know “War and Peace”. Any other suggestions would be warmly welcomed, just please don’t mention “Ulysses”.

17 comments:

Omega Mum said...

Middlemarch, Portrait of a Lady, any Edith Wharton (cos I haven't read any but want to) Dubliners (hell of a lot easier than Ulysses), any Katherine Mansfield (see Edith Wharton) Bleak House. Sophie's World (stuck in it but useful, though contentious). Pretentious, moi?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

I must admit that I've been trying to improve my reading matter (Jilly Cooper and Martina Cole just doesn't cut it and Marjorie's thinking of starting a Book Club) and am currently re-reading Anne Frank's diary. I know it's not Dickens or D H Lawrence (I'm working my way up) but it's extremely thought provoking and makes me ashamed to whine about what I'm currently whining about.

Pepette said...

I set myself a kind of literary challenge on World Book Day last year and decided like you to reacquaint myself with classic literature. I made a list and you can check it out if you go to my blog; just click on the red "Defi Litteraire 2007" link on the left handside. Of course some titles are French classics, but it might still inspire you!

By the way Lolita is on my list but I haven't started it yet!

And needless to say that I failed the challenge miserably - almost a year on, I have only read about 6 or 7 books on the list of 26!

Katie said...

Lolita is a great book, once you get past the creepy paedophile thing.

I really liked Brave New World. Also, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden by John Steinback are wonderful.

Gwen said...

Thanks Omega Mum. I've got a couple of Edith Wharton which I must read - also Portrait of a Lady. All good reads by the looks of them.

Anne Frank's Diary sounds interesting Nunhead Mum. A book club could also really whet your appetite for more books - never a bad thing.


Pepette - I will have a look at your list. I did a couple of French Classics at school - Albert Camus I think.

Katie - yes a find the paedophile thing a bit creepy but we will see how it goes. I quite like the humour although it is a bit black. I did a couple of John Steinbeck books at school. I remember we read The Pearl and all got thoroughly confused by it.

Roman Empress said...

Elizabeth Gaskell, much more socially interesting and not as daft as Austen. 'Mary Barton'.

Five-Centres said...

I don't read nearly as much as I used to, when at one stage it was about two books a week.

I blame a short journey to work and the invention of the ipod.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I used to read so much variety. Now it tends to be more blogs than anything.

Crystal xx

Ishouldbeworking said...

I've been reading 'Ulysses' since I was eighteen, Gwen. I intend never to finish it.

I like a bit of George Orwell for clarity of writing and evocative documentary ( and they're quite short books, too). If you want to start to get to know Dickens, you could do worse than begin with 'Hard Times'.

For a big meaty read, though, Zola takes some beating, as does Dostoevsky ('Crime and Punishment' remains one of my lifetime favourites).

Have fun - above all, have fun!

auntiegwen said...

If you do read Brave new World, follow it up with 1984 to compare and contrast (no, honestly I'm not an English teacher)

I love Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca but anything of her s is worth a read

Our book group has just finished The Kite Runner and about to start his new one

Nunhead Mum of One said...

I have a little something for you over on my blog.....the "E is for...." post will explain all!

NMO x

Kelly said...

I have awrded you a little something....

Gari said...

I like a bit of George Orwell, but can I suggest "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin. Mind you, it did cause a bit of a fuss when it was first published. You can find it as a stand alone novel or in various collected works by Ms Chopin.

Graeme said...

I started Ulysses a few years ago. It is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. However, I realised that I'd read about a hundred pages and I had absolutely no idea what was going on so I stopped reading it. I haven't gone back to it.

Give Don Quixote a try. It's long, yes, but very very funny.

Bark Pamphlet said...

Oh really!

'Classics' completists are dreadfully tiresome, espousing the virtues of Austen and Hardy without ever dipping a toe past 1930.

Forget trying to impress at dinner parties. Go with your heart you little devil. And start, for pity's sake, with 'The Empress of Ireland' by Christopher Robbins.

No extra charge for these sage words.

Valentine Suicide said...

I like Jackie Collins...

..Are you still out there, G?

Gwen said...

Thank you all for all your suggestions. I'm sure I will get through a good many of them. Especially Jackie Collins!