Catching up on Classics (and lots more!) discussion

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2019 Quest for Women Authors > Kathleen's 2019 Century of Women's Struggles

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message 1: by Kathleen (last edited Dec 29, 2019 06:05AM) (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I thought it would be interesting to see how writing about women's struggles has changed through the years, so am going to explore books by women about their challenges and triumphs, maybe even about their anger.

The new to me authors are marked with an *. I'll probably make changes, but here's the initial plan:

Three Lives by Gertrude Stein (1909)
Reeds in the Wind by Grazia Deledda (1913) * O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913)*Finished 6/10/19 ★★★
Willa Cather O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
The Wife by Sigrid Undset (1921)
Finished 12/28/19 ★★★★★
Sigrid Undset The Wife (Kristin Lavransdatter, #2) by Sigrid Undset
Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather (1935)*
Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston (1934)
Finished 12/1/19 ★★★★
Zora Neale Hurston Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston
The Street by Ann Petry (1946)* Finished 1/21/19 ★★★★★
Ann Petry The Street by Ann Petry
The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi (1957)* Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya (1954)* Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson (1951) Finished 9/19/19 ★★★★
Shirley Jackson Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
Jubilee by Margaret Walker (1966)*
Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer (1979) Sula by Toni Morrison (1973) Finished 8/28/19 ★★★★★
Toni Morrison Sula by Toni Morrison
Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El-Saadawi (1983)* Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing (1988) Finished 10/31/19 ★★★★
Doris Lessing The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
Revenge by Yōko Ogawa (1998) Finished 12/14/19 ★★★
Yōko Ogawa Revenge by Yōko Ogawa


message 2: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Possible second challenge


message 3: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Ideas and changes


message 4: by Sue (new)

Sue K H (sky_bluez) | 3046 comments Great idea and great list Kathleen. I was going to throw convention to the wind and mix up the dates too but I chickened out! Maybe I'll do that in the end, now that you have cleared the path.

I haven't heard of many of your choices but they all sound good. Revenge sounds especially good. Thanks for making me think of the Kristin Lavransdatter series. I can put The Wreath in my open spot for if I make it to a second challenge.


message 5: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn | 685 comments Great list. Anger is a timely topic. I just started Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger by Rebecca Traister.


message 6: by Aubrey (last edited Dec 11, 2018 01:04PM) (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2357 comments Great list, Kathleen. You have multiple absolute favorites of mine ('The Wife' as part of 'Kristen Lavransdatter', 'Burger's Daughter), as well as five stars ('The Street') and four stars ('The Waiting Years', 'Woman at Point Zero'). I hope you enjoy.


message 7: by MJ (new)

MJ | 180 comments What a great list of books! Added at least a few (plus Good and Mad) to my tbr. Good luck!


message 8: by Erin (new)

Erin (erinm31) | 609 comments Great list! I like your idea of reading a theme and reading it across both time and culture! 🙂


message 9: by Brina (new)

Brina Saving for 2020 when I do challenges again.


message 10: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 1578 comments Nice list. I read Jubilee and Revenge this year, and Jubilee was one of my favorite books of the year. Enjoy your challenge.


message 11: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I am thrilled to hear so many recommendations of these books!

Sue, you'll just have to do another challenge now, and join me in hopping through the decades.

Marilyn, I've heard great things about Good and Mad--a definite must read.

Aubrey, this is great news! I didn't know much about your two four star reads, so that is very encouraging. I loved The Wreath, and am determined to finally read book two in the series.

Brina, your 2020 challenge will be worth waiting for I think.

And Laurie, I am so excited about Jubilee. Glad to hear it was a favorite.

Thanks so much MJ and Erin … and everyone!


message 12: by Sara, Old School Classics (new)

Sara (phantomswife) | 4570 comments Mod
You really have some marvelous choices here and I have sadly not read a single one. I'll be following your progress and waiting to see what kind of reactions you have to them.


message 13: by Brina (new)

Brina Kathleen, I’m focusing on nonfiction next year but I really want to read The Street and Revenge and may squeeze them in. After three years of mainly reading fiction I needed a break. Hopefully Bob still has this challenge in 2020 because I’m already thinking of some fun ideas.


message 14: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Thank you Sara. I'm already worried I won't be able to get copies of some, so a few changes may be necessary. :-(

Brina, looking forward to sharing The Street with you, and also to the non-fiction you discover in 2019!


message 15: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6556 comments Oh this is such an interesting idea for your challenge. I’ll look forward to seeing what you think of each work through the decades.


message 16: by Cynda (new)

Cynda | 2499 comments Hi Kathleen. Interesting concept. Interesting what moves humanity forward.


message 17: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4779 comments Mod
I like the concept of your challenge. I’m unfamiliar with your choices, but in linking to them I found several that I would be interested in. Looking forward to any you have to say about them.


message 18: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments I read some poems by Gertrude Stein ,was thinking of trying some more .Will definitely see what you think of a novel by her ,Kathleen.


message 19: by Candi (new)

Candi (candih) | 743 comments You have a few on your list that I have on my to-read pile. I look forward to reading your thoughts on these, Kathleen :)


message 20: by Brina (new)

Brina Thank you Kathleen. I squeezed in Revenge for next year- it is short. The Street will have to wait for the following year. I have my challenge planned already lol as I already formulated by two year plan. My every other year fiction and nonfiction seems to be working.


message 21: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Thank you Pink, Cynda, Bob and Candi! It should be interesting ...

Elena, Stein's poetry is difficult for me. I'm reading The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas right now, and I think it's helping. It is written very traditionally, yet she plays with her sentences just a little bit in that special way she has. Plus there's a lot of discussion about her thinking about art, which also helps. I'm curious about the novel too!

Brina, I'm glad you were able to squeeze in a little fiction for next year. Your non-fiction sounds great!


message 22: by Brina (new)

Brina I have revenge scheduled and a few others. The Street and Burger’s Daughter are already on my list for the next year.


message 23: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Started this challenge in the middle of my decade with an epic struggle, that of Lutie Johnson in The Street.

This is such an important book--I hope everyone reads it. I loved Ann Petry's evocative writing. It's a difficult story, but a page turner and it leaves you changed.

My five star review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 24: by Kathleen (last edited Feb 16, 2019 09:17PM) (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I've been having a struggle of my own--to find some of these books I wanted to read at my libraries. No luck finding the following that I was really excited about reading:
1910's Reeds in the Wind
1950's The Waiting Years
1980's Woman at Point Zero
They will have to wait until I can afford to buy them sometime.

I didn't want to give up on my challenge though, so here are the substitutes I've decided on, including a switch of Willa Cather from 1930's to 1910's:
1913 O Pioneers!, Willa Cather
1934 Jonah's Gourd Vine, Zora Neale Hurston
1954 Nectar in a Sieve, Kamala Markandaya
1984 Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich

I'm excited about these too! Plenty of women's struggles to choose from … :-/


message 25: by Aubrey (last edited Feb 16, 2019 09:28PM) (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2357 comments Kathleen wrote: "I've been having a struggle of my own--to find some of these books I wanted to read at my libraries. No luck finding the following that I was really excited about reading:
1910's [book:Reeds in the..."


That's a shame about Waiting Years and Point Zero, Kathleen. On the other hand, unlike those two, I haven't read any of your substitutes, so perhaps your misfortune will inadvertently energize my TBR a tad :P (though I wish you could read all of these. Any library sales in your area?).


message 26: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6556 comments I’ve had the same problem with some of my 1920s choices, no luck at the library for about half of them. I might have to make some substitutes later as well. I hope you enjoy the books you’ve swapped to.


message 27: by Sara, Old School Classics (new)

Sara (phantomswife) | 4570 comments Mod
I hate when that happens, but it looks like the substitutes will all be good choices as well.


message 28: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I do regularly hit the library book sales, Aubrey, so will be watching for them. I know I'll read them eventually, but wanted it to be now! I hope to have good news to report on the substitutes.

And thanks, Pink--I wish you luck on your swaps too!


message 29: by Brina (new)

Brina I loved Love Medicine. Erdrich is one of my favorite authors from that era.


message 30: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Good to hear, Brina! I really enjoyed her Future Home of the Living God, and am looking forward to this one.


message 31: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Sara wrote: "I hate when that happens, but it looks like the substitutes will all be good choices as well."

Thanks, Sara. I was pretty disappointed, but now excitement for the new ones has taken over. That's how it works I guess!


message 32: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4779 comments Mod
Sorry this happened, but I can recommend Nectar in a Sieve, I thought it was excellent.


message 33: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Bob wrote: "Sorry this happened, but I can recommend Nectar in a Sieve, I thought it was excellent."

That's great, Bob! Thank you--I feel better already. :-)


message 34: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I read another new-to-me author, Willa Cather, and I have to say I wasn't thrilled. It's funny how you learn more about your reading tastes with each book. With this one I was reminded how much I like detail, and to get under the skin of the characters. This was a good story, but--especially for this challenge--I wanted to feel their struggles, and I didn't.

My review of O Pioneers!: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I'm loving this quest though, and I AM going to finish this challenge, even if it doesn't look like it at the moment! Next up is probably Burger's Daughter, followed by The Wife,


message 35: by Sara, Old School Classics (new)

Sara (phantomswife) | 4570 comments Mod
Sorry Cather was a disappointment. The Wife sounds interesting to me. I read Jenny last year and found that I liked Undset quite a lot. I'll cross my fingers for your next one to be a winner.


message 36: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2357 comments Kathleen wrote: "I read another new-to-me author, Willa Cather, and I have to say I wasn't thrilled. It's funny how you learn more about your reading tastes with each book. With this one I was remin..."

You're picking up two of my absolute favorites next (The Wife as part of Kristin Lavransdatter), so hopefully you'll have better luck with at least one of them.


message 37: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Sara, you should try The Wreath first. I read it a few years ago and just loved it. Thought I'd go right into the second book, but this and that happened … The thing is, the characters are so vivid I remember it well enough to jump right into book 2, even after all this time.

Aubrey, I can see why the KL series is a favorite of yours. I'm excited about the Nadine Gordimer too. I have a feeling I'll like them both!


message 38: by Sara, Old School Classics (new)

Sara (phantomswife) | 4570 comments Mod
Thanks, Kathleen. I have all three sitting, waiting, and waiting. I never seem to find the right place to fit them in. Delighted to hear that they are books and characters that stay with you.


message 39: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) | 272 comments Really good idea, and like the bools you've listed.


message 40: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Thank you, Inkspill. I'm determined to complete this, but will really have to step up my game ...


message 41: by Kathleen (last edited Sep 02, 2019 10:58AM) (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I planned to read Burger's Daughter for the 70's, and had it in front of me but after several tries, just wasn't feeling up to it. I needed a shot in the arm for this challenge, so I turned to an author I knew would thrill me, and read Sula by Toni Morrison, published in 1973.

Sula is delightfully dangerous. Like it demands a new rating system--not PG or R, but maybe WO: Watch Out.

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 42: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) | 2357 comments Kathleen wrote: "I planned to read Burger's Daughter for the 70's, and had it in front of me but after several tries, just wasn't feeling up to it. I needed a shot in the arm for this challenge, so I ..."

I'd been thinking of picking up another Morrison after her passing with 'Sula' being the top candidate, so I'm glad to see a favorable review from you regarding it, Kathleen.


message 43: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments An excellent choice, Aubrey. I hope you do!


message 44: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn | 685 comments I read several Morrison books in the 80s and really struggled with them. Since her passing I have been thinking about giving her books another try now that I am a more mature reader. Sula might be a good place to start.


message 45: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Marilyn, I've heard many opinions about which of Morrison's books is best to start with, but I just don't know. I read Beloved, then The Bluest Eye, then Song of Solomon and now Sula.

And people mature at different rates, but I think reading them after having some intense experiences of my own really increased my appreciation. She has a very distinct, intense style though, that's not for everyone. That said, Sula is sort of the epitome of that style to me, so it may be the perfect place to start. :-)


message 46: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 1578 comments Love the idea of a "Watch out" rating. It might be much more fun on GR if we had ratings of words rather than stars. I don't give out one star ratings often, but it would be more satisfying to give terrible books a mean word rather than one star. I would have some WO ratings too.


message 47: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments I have very few one star ratings too, Laurie, but yeah--a mean word is a much better idea!


message 48: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments This challenge went a little off the rails when I couldn't get the books I wanted, but there's still a chance I could finish. Here's an update to remind me how far I still have to go, with the ones I've read in bold.

1900: Three Lives-1909
1910: O Pioneers-1913 Alexandra struggles to run her family farm
1920: The Wife-1921
1930: Jonah’s Gourd Vine-1934
1940: The Street-1946 Lutie struggles with racism and violence on the streets of Harlem
1950: Hangsaman-1951 Natalie struggles with coming of age and the nature of reality
1960: Jubillee-1966
1970: Sula-1973 Sula and Nel struggle with good versus evil
1980: Love Medicine-1984
1990: Revenge-1998

My latest was Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson. This book was very strange, even for Jackson. My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 49: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4779 comments Mod
Thanks for your review of Hangsaman. Looks like another must read, Shirley Jackson is so good.


message 50: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3580 comments Thanks for reading it, Bob. Yep, she is so good, and so unique!


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