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2016 Old & New Classic Challenge > Miikka's 2016 Old & New Classic Challenge

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message 1: by Miikka (last edited Dec 10, 2016 06:35AM) (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Old School
1. Middlemarch - George Eliot (1872, 904 pages) READ 4/2/2016
2. King Lear - William Shakespeare (1607, 384 pages) READ 18/11/2016
3. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1605, 1104 pages) READ 3/7/2016

New School
4. Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family - Thomas Mann (1901 - 731 pages)
5. The Castle - Franz Kafka (1924, 316 pages) READ 4/10/2016
6. For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway (1940, 480 pages) READ 27/3/2016

My Wild Card Six
7. Fear and Trembling - Søren Kierkegaard (1843, 160 pages) READ 7/2/2016
8. Baltasar and Blimunda - José Saramago (1982, 343 pages) READ 28/7/2016
9. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting -Milan Kundera (1978, 263 pages) READ 5/4/2016
10. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866, 545 pages) READ 20/3/2016
11. The Iliad - Homer (~800 BC, 683 pages) READ 24/8/2016
12. The Odyssey - Homer (~800 BC, 560 pages)

Alternates
A-1. 2666 - Roberto Bolaño (2004, 1126 pages)
A-2. The Stand - Stephen King (1978, 1430 pages) READ 10/12/2016

Will be waiting for my Christmas presents to fill out the list, but I won't be changing much from the ones I already picked. I also happily noted that I probably get to read Middlemarch as part of Quarterly Long Read.


message 2: by Katy, New School Classics (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 9315 comments Mod
What a great start for the New Year. Can't wait to see what else you choose.


message 3: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Choosing consists of looking at my bookshelves and seeing what has been there the longest without being read :D. I was thinking about Ulysses, but I guess I should read The Odyssey before to have better knowledge about the references?


message 4: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4838 comments Mod
I like your New School choices, someday I'll finally pick one of those two up, both have been on my list for a long, long time.


message 5: by Sam (new)

Sam (aramsamsam) | 304 comments What a nice mix of nationalities! And some real chunkers... Good luck and happy reading to you!


message 6: by Desertorum (new)

Desertorum 1&2 are also in my list and I did try Don Quixote this year but I must admit I did not finish it :/


message 7: by Miikka (last edited Nov 25, 2015 06:33AM) (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Yeah, those unread doorstoppers are looking at me weird from my bookshelf and fill me with shame. When looking over for the next book to start, its intimidating to pick up that ~1000 paged Don Quixote over 120 page novella. Its basically choosing either 1-2h commitment or 15h+ commitment. Having finished every book I started in the last five years adds to the intimidation, as I will fight till the end to read it :D. Though I must say, some of the longer reads have been the most satisfying as well. That's the reason I added the bigger books to this challenge, it forces me to start to read them.


message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I enjoyed Don Quixote but I struggled with falling asleep. I think I had an 18th century translation though.

My unread doorstopper this year was The Count of Monte Cristo. I made it about 350 pages in and set it aside never to be picked up again. For now :)

I put Sacajawea on my list to give me extra incentive to read it. Sometimes it does help with the giants.


message 9: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Yeah those old translations feel so gluey, in that you sometimes need to read the sentences many time over because some word feels so out of place. In the worst case scenario you add in small font that is printed on to some thin low quality paper... it feels like you can't actually go forwards, no matter how many pages you turn around or how long you sit in your comfy armchair.

But Sarah, why add Sacajawea to your alternates instead of the normal 12, if you really want to read it? ;)


message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I have such a hard time with the truly long books. in quaking in my boots over Sacajawea :)

I hate it when they go with a small font. And I can't stand thrift editions because of the icky paper! It's creepy feeling.


message 11: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Yes, the thin paper sticks to my fingers and its hard time trying to turn just one page at time :P. Just realized I have been reading The Complete Poems by William Blake for almost a year now. The first couple of hundred pages went fast, but when it was time for the prophetic poems... it feels like I have to have 5 pages open from wikipedia just to make some sense of it. Thinking of maybe adding Jerusalem to the end of the list, as its some of the last books of that collection and probably would make me finish the whole collection next year :D.


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Wow, I would say that's a long time but it is poetry ;) Not my strength. That's a great idea about adding Jerusalem.


message 13: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Just added Christmas presents The Stand, The Iliad, The Odyssey and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Without alternates its ~6500 pages, with alternatives its ~8700 pages. Looking at them now seems quite big challenge of reading, but somehow I managed to read ~25k pages this year. So it should be possible to finish this challenge this year... leaving Jerusalem for next year, if I have not finished it then :D.


message 14: by Desertorum (new)

Desertorum Your list does sound daunting!


message 15: by Miikka (last edited Feb 04, 2016 06:10PM) (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Just finished Middlemarch. It is the best book I have read from Eliot, but I guess her books are not my cup of tea. Some of the characters were kinda left foggy and distant. There were still enjoyable parts and themes, especially the relationship of Rosamonde & Tertius. Middlemarch clearly stands above Silas Marner & The Mill of the Floss, the slice of early 19th century life it captures is much broader and as a whole its much more controlled. Even the ending was good for Middlemarch, where as in The Mill of the Floss it kind of ruined the whole book for me.

Finishing my thesis seems like an endless task... polishing and polishing. Haven't read as much as I would have liked to, this should change soon!


message 16: by Katy, New School Classics (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 9315 comments Mod
Good luck on the thesis!


message 17: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Thanks Kathy, it seems through luck and efforts I will be getting a good grade after all. Sorry to say my field is not something exciting like literature, but instead software engineering :D.

Just finished Crime and Punishment and I must say its one of the best books I have ever read. It was easy to identify oneself with Raskolnikov. I have also been guilty of youthful narcissism, but happily it never took such extreme forms with me. Complex book with the psychology, religion and Russian way of life, but very rewarding and surprisingly easy to read.

Also read Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death before Crime and Punishment, the themes and outlook on religion and psychology is very similar if not identical. There is something in these writings that resonate with me. Probably lots to do with my Lutheran upbringing.


message 18: by Katy, New School Classics (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 9315 comments Mod
Miikka wrote: "Thanks Kathy, it seems through luck and efforts I will be getting a good grade after all. Sorry to say my field is not something exciting like literature, but instead software engineering..."

I don't know about that, sounds like a great field to me!


message 19: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6556 comments I'm glad you enjoyed Crime and Punishment so much, I listened to it on audiobook a short while ago, but unfortunately it was an abridged version so I feel like i missed out on a lot. I think it's one I'll need to revisit later.


message 20: by Miikka (last edited Jul 03, 2016 12:41PM) (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Just finished Don Quixote today. Not a pleasant read really, even when it made me laugh out loud many times. Really long and too much repetition for my liking. At some point the same joke just isnt funny anymore. The start was good and it also got better near the end, for example the referencing of Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda was funny.

Some time ago I also finished The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Kundera's work was more forgettable for me, now few months afterwards I realise I don't remember a whole lot from it.

For Whom the Bell Tolls I really liked, the story kept me interested the whole ~500 pages. Maria is lacking as a character though, that is the biggest flaw of the book for me. I got The Sun Also Rises as present, so that is probably the next Hemingway I am going to read.


message 21: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 1092 comments There are a couple of guys reading Don Quixote in "my" Finnish group, too, if you are interested in joining. Though I think they haven't finished the first book, yet.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Miikka wrote: "For Whom the Bell Tolls I really liked, the story kept me interested the whole ~500 pages. Maria is lacking as a character though, that is the biggest flaw of the book for me.

I had a similar reaction to For Whom the Bell Tolls. The plot and pacing kept my attention, and I enjoyed the book, overall. I really enjoyed the characters of Pilar, Robert Jordan, and Pablo -- Pilar, especially -- they seemed multifaceted and well-drawn. But Maria's character struck me as vapid and childlike, and I couldn't understand Jordan's attraction to her. In fact, her character seemed to be stereotypical in a sexist sort of way.


message 23: by Miikka (last edited Jul 04, 2016 07:28PM) (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Tytti wrote: "There are a couple of guys reading Don Quixote in "my" Finnish group, too, if you are interested in joining. Though I think they haven't finished the first book, yet."

The whole forum looks interesting, as did the discussions on Don Quixote. I have to look more into it and perhaps even participate if I feel I have something to say that adds to the conversation.

MMG wrote: " I couldn't understand Jordan's attraction to her. In fact, her character seemed to be stereotypical in a sexist sort of way."

I can understand the attraction, perhaps ironically being vapid, naive and simple can be associated with being "pure", though I don't remember Jordan being particularly religious. I don't think there is malice behind it, more likely it was just inability to write a good feminine female character. At least I remember reading somewhere that badly written female characters would be recurring in Hemingway's work. Can't confirm it myself, as I have only read The Complete Short Stories and The Old Man and the Sea in addition to For Whom the Bell Tolls.


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 04, 2016 07:21PM) (new)

Miikka wrote: I can understand the attraction, perhaps ironically being vapid, naive and simple can be associated with being "pure", though I don't remember Jordan being particularly religious. I don't think there is malice behind it, more likely it was just inability to write a good feminine female character...."

Interesting point, Miikka, about Maria being meant to represent purity. I hadn't thought of her character in that way. But, yes, I've also heard Hemingway had difficulty creating female characters. Like you, though, I've not read much by him, so I can't judge his oeuvre in that regard. Like you, I've only read The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. When I was a teenager and in school, I read a couple of his short stories, but I don't remember them.


message 25: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 1092 comments Miikka wrote: "The whole forum looks interesting, as did the discussions on Don Quixote."

Though it's still a new group and not very big, for obvious reasons. And I am still finging my way as a moderator but the more, the merrier. But anyway, I thought I'd provide a place for us Finns and hope that people who read more would "provide" the discussions.


message 26: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments Been so busy at times I have doubted if I can finish the challenge at all. After finishing my master's thesis I got an offer to do research and start working towards a doctoral thesis. But it seems after a day of reading scientific articles, getting into Iliad or other serious literature feels too heavy. I guess this is adulthood, people have told me stories about it, not impressed.

Baltasar and Blimunda is interesting but ultimately not that enjoyable book. Stories and depictions of building a monastery to Mafra were really interesting, but the story of the main characters never really interested me. I read most of the book in a summer cottage near the sea in my few free days, just remembering those days is kind of a bittersweet with the fall fast approaching and the wind becoming more chilly.

The Iliad is too complex for me to fully comprehend, but still a good reading experience. Basic plot is quite easy to follow, even if the nuances are lost on me. The realism of gory violence surprised me, after all this is an epic poem where gods and goddesses intervene on the life's of people. I would have guessed a throughoutly sentimental or romantic view on death, but instead there were descriptions of what happens when a spear pierces a mans head, or pleading for one's life without glory and in vain.


message 27: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6556 comments Miikka wrote: "I guess this is adulthood, people have told me stories about it, not impressed..."

Ha! I think we all feel like this at times! I'm glad you're still reading when you can :)


message 28: by Miikka (new)

Miikka (nurmis) | 50 comments It seems I still have a chance to finish this challenge. Will be reading Odyssey before new years and that should do it :). No chance to read 50 books this year which was my other goal. I have read many doorstoppers though, and graduated/started working too... I blame those things and not myself!

I read the longer version of Stephen Kings "The Stand", well because my brother got it for me as a Christmas present last year (the shorter version would have been ok). The first 700 or so pages I throughoutly enjoyed. The unfolding of the apocalypse and the following survival were easy, interesting and fast to read. Everything after that was either bad or worse, straightforwarding world to good and bad would work better if I felt that the "good" side was actually good. Some of the things the "good guys" did I felt were just so objectionable. Never been fan of the "supernatural" in this kind of genre fiction. Its just kind of makes the book ridiculous in my view. Now a book about history of occultism would be a whole different thing.

I don't have that much to say about King Lear and The Castle, which I read few months back. King Lear was really good, but harder to grasp than Hamlet/Titus Andronicus and thus not that pleasant of a read. The feeling of gratification in the end is always nice in such reads though.

The Castle... The Trial and Metamorphosis were both better in my opinion, after all they are "finished" works. That dark milieu created in this work fully compares to The Trial.


message 29: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6556 comments Good luck finishing your challenge with The Odyssey, that's a great book to finish the year with. I can understand not meeting your goal of 50 books, but you've still managed some great reads within a busy year :)


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