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Classically Challenged...

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message 1: by Simon (new)

Simon (savidgereads) | 449 comments Mod
If you have listened to this week’s episode (44) of The Readers you will hear me talking to my friend, and now blogger, AJ who came on as a guest co-host and who like me has been slightly bothered that he hasn’t read many of the ‘canon’ authors like Dickens, Austen, and Hardy etc and so we have decided to rectify this together with ‘Classically Challenged’ and we need your help.

We have decided we are going to read six novels by six authors who are deemed some of the best British novelists (*subject to perceptions) but as yet we have both never read. This will take place on our blogs over the next six months on the last Sunday from October 2012 to March 2013. These authors will be Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy, and George Elliott. We have both decided that we have to read Elliott’s ‘Middlemarch’, aptly in March, as it is deemed as one of the greatest British novels of all time. However we have not chosen a novel by each of the other four yet…

So, we would love you to suggest, in the comments below, one novel by each author which you loved/think would be the best way into their work. AJ will be collecting votes on his blog too, and we are asking on Goodreads. The novels which receive the most votes from all of you over the next week will be the ones we will read.

I can’t wait to hear your suggestions, and of course if you are planning on joining in. We will announce the schedule and six novels next week. So get voting; an Austen, a Dickens, a Hardy, a Trollope and a Wharton…

message 2: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ jane austen - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
charles dickens - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
thomas hardy - Tess of the D'Urbervilles  by Thomas Hardy

i haven't read novels by the other authors. so perhaps i'll join in and read along with you.

message 3: by Ruthiella (last edited Sep 25, 2012 11:22AM) (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments I agree with Elizabeth's choice of Great Expectations for Dickens (Bleak House might be his best book, but Great Expectations is excellent and most importantly SHORTER than Bleak House) and Pride and Prejudice from Austen.

For Wharton, I would choose The Age of Innocence.

I have never read any Hardy or or Elliott, so maybe I will read along with you on those.

I have read The Warden by Trollope, but this was many years ago. I have been considering re-reading it and continuing on to read the complete Barsetshire novels in the near future.

message 4: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 3 comments Great idea! And thrilled to see Wharton on there (unless you're going to strike her for not being British), as she's one of my favorites. I'd also recommend The Age of Innocence, but you can't go wrong with The House of Mirth or A Month in the Country. If you want short but powerful, I love Ethan Frome.

Good luck choosing, and I hope it pays off in joy as well as accomplishment.

message 5: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ Ethan frome! I have read Wharton. I used to teach this book.

message 6: by AJ (new)

AJ (ajjones) | 3 comments Hello everyone :) Excellent suggestions so far! Keep them coming folks!

I have just been browsing through all the replies on Savidge Reads, and a few that I've received on my blog. The responses have been great so far... a nice variety coming through!

Even though we'll be choosing the most popular titles you suggest, I can see that I will probably end up reading quite a few more titles from these authors after this challenge finishes :)

message 7: by Louise (new)

Louise | 154 comments Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Two on a Tower (Everyman Hardy) by Thomas Hardy (should me more accessible than Tess...)

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I haven't read this particular Dickens, but it sounds cool, it looks great and it is short! :-) Night Walks (Penguin Great Ideas) by Charles Dickens

message 8: by Jamie (last edited Sep 27, 2012 03:38AM) (new)

Jamie (jamie_loves_libraries) Ooh, definitely Persuasion by Austen. And a trusted reader told me that A Tale of Two Cities is worth a read if you have the patience for Dickens, which I don't. Good luck to you all!

message 9: by Tasha (new)

Tasha I haven't read Northanger Abbey but it is very high on my radar lately. So, that's my Austen rec.

message 10: by Tasha (new)

Tasha Perhaps not a great starting off point, but one i'm personally starting off with in Novemeber is The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton.

message 11: by Jenni (new)

Jenni (jennilukee) I second Jamie''s recommendation of Persuasion!

message 12: by Judie (new)

Judie | 5 comments Simon, I'm thrilled you have chosen 'Middlemarch'! It is one of my favourite books. I agree with James, that 'Barchester Towers' by Trollope would be a good choice -it is not too long and it is quite amusing.
I am re-reading Jane Austen's 'Mansfield Park' right now, but 'Pride and Prejudice' is probably a must as a first Austen book.
'Age of Innocence' by Wharton as Ruthiella recommended would be my choice also.
I can't recommend any particular Hardy though - I never enjoy him! Maybe 'Mayor of Casterbridge'?
This is TOO exciting!!! I love the classics!!

message 13: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 92 comments Simon, I love all of the authors that you have chosen, although I would say that for all of your discussion about never having read Dickens, he is the least literary of the group.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Tess of the D'Urbervilles  by Thomas Hardy
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Warden by Anthony Trollope

Middlemarch is one of my all-time favorite books. I am so happy that you will be reading it. I wish you joy!

message 14: by Esther (last edited Sep 29, 2012 08:08AM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 135 comments For Austen it has to be Pride and Prejudice, Thomas Hardy should be Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
George Elliot is one of my favourite authors and I love Silas Marner which also has the advantage of being quite short.
My favourite, and first, Dickens is Bleak House but The Pickwick Papers might be a lighter option.
Wharton is still on my TBR list.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Some good suggestions so far.

Austen - P&P is probably the best place to start, particularly if you are looking for a typical Austen novel, although Northanger Abbey would probably be a better way in for Mr Savidge.

Dickens - Someone suggested A Tale of Two Cities. It is a wonderful historical novel, but not really typical Dickens. Personally, I would suggest that David Copperfield is a better way in than Great Expectations. Copperfield has many typical Dickens traits, not least comic characters like Micawber and villians like Uriah Heep. It is also semi-autobiographical and hence offers some insight into Dickens the man.

Hardy is at his most typical when depicting rural life, hence something like Tess or Far from the Madding Crowd would be quite representative. I've not read Two on a Tower (Louise's suggestion), but I did enjoy a radio adaptation of that one more than any of his I have actually read, so perhaps it is a good idea.

For Trollope, I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime and join those recommending the second in a series, namely the brilliant Barchester Towers.

Wharton I have not read. Which is either evidence of my literary unworthiness, or else a useful demonstration that one cannot be expected to have read every classic author.

I wish you both a successful initiation into the nineteenth century classics.

message 16: by Becky (new)

Becky Yamarik | 74 comments I'm excited about the classics read-along. I keep wondering which of the books would Simon like the best rather than which books wd be just generically 'best'. . . is that wrong??

For Austen, I love her and I read all the novels as a teenager, but I have to say I'm a little tired of P&P. I'm adaptationed out, I guess. What about Emma? She's kind of a complex character, good and bad, Simon might find her interesting. I also remember reading Lady Susan, which was a book comprised of letters. I enjoyed that.

For Hardy, I really enjoyed Far from the Madding Crowd, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but maybe Simon would like Jude the Obscure. My husband read it and said it was pretty dark book about class. I just like how it created an outrage when it was published and called Jude the Obscene. . . plus I want to read it.

Haven't read any Trollope or know much about him, so am up for whatever is picked.

I heard some book podcast about Edith Wharton and they said that The Age of Innocence was the best book. Like many Americans, I read Ethan Frome in school and really liked it even if it did ruin sledding for me.

Am another huge Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life fan. . . Simon will like Dorothea and will really dislike Casaubon and his crazy book he tries to write.

message 17: by Essie (new)

Essie Fox | 2 comments Great suggestions. Will definitely try to read along. Re the Hardy route, Jude The Obscure is devastating. Tess is devastating. The Mayor of Casterbridge is...need I go on? I love the misery of reading well as his characterisation and glorious descriptions of the countryside. I look forward to some Wharton which I've never read.

message 18: by AJ (last edited Oct 01, 2012 05:40PM) (new)

AJ (ajjones) | 3 comments Thank you all immensely for your superb suggestions on here, at Savidge Reads and at AJ Reads! It truly has been lovely to read all of your thoughts - what you have read and loved, what you have read and disliked, and even those that you never got around to reading in the first place (we're glad we're not the only ones!)

We have collated the results and we will be posting these on both of our blogs on Tuesday afternoon GMT, so make sure you visit our blogs to see which titles came out on top (along with the titles that didn't quite make it!) Both Simon and I are hugely excited about this and raring to go!

We hope that many of you will follow along on our Classically Challenged reading journey too.

Again, huge thanks for all of your input!

AJ :)

message 19: by Tasha (new)

Tasha I plan on following along! I plan on reading a lot of classics in 2013 so this will just add to my experience!

message 20: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 272 comments Essie wrote: "Great suggestions. Will definitely try to read along. Re the Hardy route, Jude The Obscure is devastating. Tess is devastating. The Mayor of Casterbridge is...need I go on? I love the misery of rea..."

Wharton can be pretty devastating as well, but so good! The Dickens and the Trollope will help balance out the devestation :)

message 21: by AJ (new)

AJ (ajjones) | 3 comments Just to let you know that all of your fantastic responses have been collated and you can see the results at AJ Reads and at Savidge Reads.

We also have some fantastic news that Oxford University Press have taken an interest in our project and they are letting us have 3 books each to give away for every title that we are reading.

So check out today's blog posts at AJReads & Savidge Reads for full details on how you can enter our Classically Challenged book give-away.

You can double your chances of winning a book by voting on each blog too!

Look forward to seeing your responses, and so glad to hear that many of you will be reading along with us.

AJ :)

message 22: by Chris (new)

Chris | 59 comments I've sadly been out of touch and am just now reading this thread. I am SO excited about a classics reading list! I usually tackle a big classic I've always wanted to read in the winter, so you've done it for me this year! I've read Jan-March, but I haven't read any Trollope and have always wanted to! This is a great start!

Is this just a read-along or will a discussion follow on GR? I wasn't clear on that.

Thank you for starting this! A list of this nature is endless if you want to do this again next winter! ;-)

message 23: by pam (new)

pam | 24 comments i'm so excited about finally tackling some of these classics! thank you simon and aj for putting this together.

message 24: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) I love this idea! Although I read a lot of Dickens in high school (I remember enjoying Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities very much), my bookish friends are appalled that I have never read a single Jane Austen novel. I have Emma sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently, but I will read whichever one you pick.

And one of my book groups just chose Middlemarch for our November book, so I will be reading that one very soon (I better get started - it is a hefty one!)

Great idea!

Sue Jackson
Book By Book

message 25: by Simon (new)

Simon (savidgereads) | 449 comments Mod
Hello all, I was wondering, should I pop a new set of threads up on The Readers for the books me and Alan are discussing on the last Sunday of every month here in The Readers discussions, or should I do it elsewhere and set up a new one?

message 26: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ i would love to see the threads here. if any of us would like to join the discussion, we can add comments and read along with you guys.

message 27: by Tasha (new)

Tasha I agree with elizabeth! I won't be reading Persuasion but I'd like to read some of the others.

message 28: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (yourtrueshelf) | 21 comments Hi, did you set up another thread to discuss each of the classically challenged books? I've just finished Persuasion & want to see what other people thought! Loved Simon & AJ's reviews, & being able to discuss it would be cool too.

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