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message 1: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Hi all. There has been quite a bit of interest expressed in reading Little Women and I imagine there'd be some interest in reading some of the other classics as well. So, here's my proposal:

Let's start a thread of reading a classic each month. It will be an informal discussion with no leader. It will be a place to share quotes and thoughts about classics and a place of encouragement because, let's face, some of those classics are scary looking and just knowing someone else in the world is reading it at the same time as you can be comforting.

If there's any interest, we'll start immediately with Little Women and toward the end of the month take a straw poll on what our next one should be.


message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments I like the idea. Classics are always good to read, but they're even better when you have people supporting you to keep reading and who are willing to talk to you about them.


message 3: by Lori (last edited Sep 05, 2010 12:56PM) (new)

Lori Walker I'm thinking an informal, go at your own pace discussion. I'll keep a running track in the first post of this thread what we read each month. People are always, of course, welcome to read something we've already gone over and add to the discussion.

Let's go ahead and start Little Women, even if it's just us two, and people can snowball on in this and subsequent reads/months.


message 4: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 604 comments I love this idea! I reread Little Women in January so I won't be reading it again right away, but I might take part in the discussion.


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 2 comments I haven't read little women since I was in elementary school! I keep meaning too, but this seems like the perfect opportunity! I'm in.


message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 2 comments *to

oh and I'm reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo right now, and that's a classic. And way good. Maybe an upcoming month? I'd love to discuss it!


message 7: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Michelle, Glad to have you join in! Maybe we'll read Les Mis sometime. Right now, I don't plan on us doing a formal nomination and voting process. Just toward the end of the month, we'll talk about possibly books and whatever feels consensus-y we'll read. If there are two that are very close, I'll flip a coin.


message 8: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 604 comments Michelle wrote: "*to

oh and I'm reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo right now, and that's a classic. And way good. Maybe an upcoming month? I'd love to discuss it!"



I've been wanting to read Les Mis for some time, but it's so big I've been too intimidated to start it. Good luck, Michelle!


message 9: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments So, there isn't much in the way of discussion going on here. I just finished it (finally!), and since I just wrote my review a few minutes ago, instead of writing what I think about it all over again, I'm going to be lazy and copy-paste my review here instead. So here it goes:

Little Women. I don't know that there is a more daunting book to review. I honestly considered not reviewing it at all, and I'm not going to make any promises that this review is going to make much sense. This book has been a favorite of young children ever since it was first published, and mothers read it to their daughters at bedtime even now. This book follows the March family, and tells the stories of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, as they grow from girls into women. Other characters include their ever-loving mother and role model, Mrs March, their saint of a father, and their good friends and neighbors Laurie and his grandfather.

The wide popularity of this book made me rather excited to start reading it. After the first couple pages, my impression was that this was just like any other quality children's book, and I looked forward to the rest of the story. But as the pages went by, I started to notice that the book dwelt quite a bit on the moral lessons that the sisters were learning than on things like characterization or plot. Now, I love a book with a moral as much as anyone. In my opinion, the best books don't just tell a story, they have something to say about the world in which we live. But I prefer my morals to be gathered from the plot, not stated right out in the open by the characters or, even worse, the narrator. Morals are one thing, being preached at is another entirely. Sadly, that is the route that this book takes. So often the plot is disrupted by a paragraph (or two, or three) of lecturing by Mrs March, one of the sisters, or the narrator. That's permissible every now and then, but it happened at least once a chapter, often more, and after a couple hundred pages it started to get pretty old. For awhile I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to make it through this book, but I kept on reading, thinking that there must be something worthwhile eventually, or it wouldn't have lasted this long. And, to my surprise, I was (mostly) right.

This is a book that gets steadily better as it goes. The first half, maybe more, is so focused on the moral upbringing of the girls that it often lets plot fall by the wayside. But towards the end of the book the girls start to grow up and find love and lives of their own, and the plot becomes more apparent. The moralizing never really goes away, but near the end of the book the plot takes over to a point that the preaching is alright.

Usually if a book is low on plot it makes up for it by being more character driven. You'd think that since the main focus of the book is how the girls learn to be good women that a character driven plot would fit it perfectly. Sadly, I found the characterization to be a bit lacking as well. Each of the girls filled a certain stereotype. Beth was the sweet shy one, Jo was the tomboy, Meg was a good girl who just wanted to be rich like her friends, and Amy was the spoiled little one who cared too much about the opinions of others. Beth learns to trust other people, Jo learns to calm her temper, Meg learns that being poor doesn't matter, and Amy learns to be a sweet little lady. Those just seemed like the most predictably stereotypical things that could ever happen to these cookie-cutter girls. The only one that I could even care about was Jo, and that is because she is, for quite a bit of the book, the focus, and because she resembled me the most out of all the girls. But doesn't every girl who reads this book say that?

***Spoilers This Paragraph***

For me, one of the faults of this book was when Beth died. I felt like the author never made Beth anything more than a perfectly sweet little girl, so it was hard to really feel sad when she was gone. She wasn't a real character to me, just a tool the author used to teach the other characters, especially Jo, a lesson in humility and kindness. That said, I think the book gets much better after she dies, if only because that's when things start happening in both Amy and Jo's lives. Now, I was secretly rooting for Laurie and Jo to end up together the whole time, so I was a bit disappointed when that didn't happen. But, as soon as Laurie showed up in Europe with Amy I knew what was going to happen. It was interesting to see how quickly Amy turned from a spoiled brat into a really lovely young lady, second in goodness only to Beth. I'd say that by the time they were together, Amy and Laurie were indeed a perfect match. But where does that leave Jo, I wondered? It's a bit late in the story to introduce a new character. But then in comes the professor to save her from spinsterhood. I wasn't really sure how I felt about that to begin with. How much older that her is he? But she was so happy in the end, with her professor and her big house full of boys, that I couldn't argue.

**End Spoilers**

The true beauty of this book was in the last chapter or so. Everyone goes into this book knowing that, in the end, everything is going to end up alright, so the sunny happy scene at the end of the last chapter should really come as no surprise. But somehow that ending, even though you're expecting it the whole time, really manages to ring true in a way that honestly surprised me. It leaves you feeling warm and peaceful, like everything is right with the world. I set out to finish the last part of this book just so I could review it and return it to the library once and for all, and even I smiled as I read that last page. The ending alone was enough to raise my rating a whole star.

All in all, though this book suffered from being too preachy and having rather stereotypical characters, I think that the intent of the book was good, and sometimes that really shines through, especially in the ending. I wouldn't read this book again, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone in particular, but I'm still glad that I at least read it just this once. It may not have been the best book I've read all year, but it was, in a strange and unexplainable way, somehow worth reading.


message 10: by Jane (new)

Jane (JaneLitChic) | 14 comments Lori wrote: "Hi all. There has been quite a bit of interest expressed in reading Little Women and I imagine there'd be some interest in reading some of the other classics as well. So, here's my proposal:

L..."


Lori, such a great idea about the classics thread! There are so many classics sitting unread on my bookshelf that I have been meaning to pick up and read or reread - including Little Women.

Just a little aside... I noticed in a bookshop earlier today that there is new retelling of Little Women titled Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina. Has anyone read this or any of the other recent retellings such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Android Karenina etc.?


message 11: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 604 comments Jane wrote: "Lori wrote: "Hi all. There has been quite a bit of interest expressed in reading Little Women and I imagine there'd be some interest in reading some of the other classics as well. So, here's my p..."

There's also a retelling called Little Women and Werewolves by Porter Grand that I think sounds really interesting, but I haven't read it yet, or any of the others.


message 12: by Emily (last edited Sep 12, 2010 06:28PM) (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments Kayla wrote: "There's also a retelling called Little Women and Werewolves by Porter Grand that I think sounds really interesting, but I haven't read it yet, or any of the others. "

Now that does sound interesting. I should check that out.

On a completely different topic, another problem I had with Little Women was the way it treated gender roles. I'm sure this is mostly because of when it was written, but there were so many times that it said something about how a woman's best job/role/happiness was in being a wife and mother. Now that's true for a lot of people, probably even most people, but it kind of annoyed me that that seems to be all that they could look forward to, like they lost a lot of the rest of their lives once they got married. *Mild Spoiler* Jo gave up her writing and Amy gave up her art. Now why did they need to do that? Couldn't Jo at least have kept on writing and been a great writer on top of being a happy wife and mother? *End Spoiler* I was especially expecting there to be some gender role related tension with Jo, but it never really happened. While I won't argue that they didn't end up happy, because they really did, it just seems to me like that could have been handled just a little bit better.


message 13: by Emily (new)

Emily Emily, I think you made a really interesting point. I think it's really hard for us to imagine what it was like back then, even in the '50s it was shamful for a man to have a wife that worked because then it meant that he couldn't provide for her and was "less of a man". I think that Alcott was very aware of these gender roles and although it seems sexist to us, at the time the book broke boundries - Jo being a tomboy, refusing to accept a marriage proposal. Alcott herself chose to never get married and many historians believe it was because she didn't think she would have the same freedom she had as a single woman. It was more socially acceptable for her to write being single than being married.


message 14: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (kalypso) | 214 comments I love reading classics and will probably join in ocassionally. Not too interested in reading Little Women at the moment but I will join in with the next selection. Great idea!


message 15: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments Which reminds me, when do we want to choose something new, and what do we want to choose?


message 16: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Good question. I've been so swamped that I don't think I've read more than 10 pages in the last week and a half. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I had wanted to do these by popular consensus rather than a formal vote.

I'll throw out Moby Dick as a possibly next book.


message 17: by Shwetika (new)

Shwetika | 72 comments ^I totally loved it. Oscar wild is a genius ...


message 18: by Erin (new)

Erin (ersiku) Kayla - I just finished The Picture of Dorian Gray. I really liked it!


message 19: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 604 comments Maybe we should try and decide on a book for November? I'm not sure I could get through a big book like Moby Dick, though. November's going to be a busy time for me because that's when all the big, final essays for my classes are assigned.

What about The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien?


message 20: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments I absolutely love The Hobbit!
and I definitely agree with Kayla. I don't think I can handle a big book in November. I have lots of concerts, recitals, and papers due that are going to be eating all of my time.


message 21: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker On one trip to Borders, I almost bought the complete Oscar Wilde. I wish I had bought it! He's a gaping hole in my literary read list.


message 22: by Caro (new)

Caro (wutheringreads) Lori wrote: "On one trip to Borders, I almost bought the complete Oscar Wilde. I wish I had bought it! He's a gaping hole in my literary read list."

Oh, go back and buy it! Oscar Wilde is absolutely amazing. His style was so sharp and realistic despite how unreal his scenarios could be, and his work is just plain unique. Definitely one of my favorite authors.


message 23: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Borders sent out a 40% off coupon, so I'm sending my mom to get it (no Borders in my college town). Yippie!


message 24: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker What classics have y'all been reading lately? I haven't finished a book in ages, but I'm quite a ways through Little Women, Wuthering Heights, and Out of Africa. My plan is to finish those, and the other books I've started, before the end of the year. Then I'll focus on Swann's Way or some other books.


message 25: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments I think I'm going to try to read Jane Eyre over the break. There is a movie coming out next year, and I want to read the book before I see it. Next semester I am taking English Literature: Medieval to Renaissance and American Literature: Realist to Modern, so I'll be reading plenty of classics!


message 26: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker I want to read Jane Eyre before the movie too. Do you know when next year it comes out?

I'm definitely jealous of your American Lit class!


message 27: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments I think it's supposed to be released in March.


message 28: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker So that puts it a bit higher up on my to-read list.


message 29: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen It is pretty great. One of my favorites.


message 30: by Denise (new)

Denise I liked the mini-series of Jane Eyre that came out in 2006 or 2007. There were a couple parts that definitely were not in the book, but overall it's my favorite adaptation (so far).


message 31: by Kelly A. (new)

Kelly A. | 499 comments Jane Eyre is great! I'm trying to read Villette by the same author over break. I started it before but it wasn't the easiest book to read. I'm also hoping to read some Dickens in the near future.


message 32: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (Charlotte_Cook) | 20 comments I'm almost done with A Christmas Carol now. Unfortunately, it simply won't grow on me, like a lot of Dickens' work, I find it so difficult to read. I always end up reading at a snails pace with his books and I'll never understand why. I usually fly through classics one after the other but I find myself getting distracted so easily when it comes to Dickens. Strange, as I really want to love his writing, I just find it quite laborious.


message 33: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 487 comments Charlotte wrote: "I'm almost done with A Christmas Carol now. Unfortunately, it simply won't grow on me, like a lot of Dickens' work, I find it so difficult to read. I always end up reading at a snails p..."

I have the same problem with Dickens! Something about his writing just doesn't work out for me for some reason. It's too bad really.


message 34: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (Charlotte_Cook) | 20 comments I know. I really want to enjoy his books, but it just doesn't happen. Strange really.


message 35: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (kalypso) | 214 comments I received Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for Xmas. That's one I would really love to read next!


message 36: by Chris (new)

Chris | 93 comments I'm a nerd for classics. I'm totally in on this. I just finished Anna Karenina a few weeks ago and I'm going to try and wade my way through one of the classic Russian novels every year.

How do you guys feel about Shakespeare?? I personally love just about everything he's 'supposedly' written but I know some people have issues with the language. I know Julie Taymor just did a new movie version of the Tempest so I'd like to reread that one soon.


message 37: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker I haven't read nearly as much Shakespeare as I should have (especially for being an English major), but I'd like to read more of his plays this year.


message 38: by Amy (new)

Amy Harrison | 26 comments Kayla wrote: "Jane wrote: "Lori wrote: "Hi all. There has been quite a bit of interest expressed in reading Little Women and I imagine there'd be some interest in reading some of the other classics as well. So..."
Actually, Amy and Jo didn't give up their arts... as you can find out in the last two books. In fact, Alcott wrote Jo in as a famous author! I highly recommend "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys" if you liked "Little Women"; they are in the same style.


message 39: by Caro (new)

Caro (wutheringreads) Chris wrote: "I'm a nerd for classics. I'm totally in on this. I just finished Anna Karenina a few weeks ago and I'm going to try and wade my way through one of the classic Russian novels every year.

How do you..."


I haven't read that much Shakespeare, but from what I did read I'm torn. I adored Hamlet, but I wasn't a big fan of Romeo and Juliet. I remember I read a few more, but it was so long ago that I definitely have to give them another try.


message 40: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (kalypso) | 214 comments Chris wrote: "I'm a nerd for classics. I'm totally in on this. I just finished Anna Karenina a few weeks ago and I'm going to try and wade my way through one of the classic Russian novels every year.

How do you..."


I love classics but I am not a fan of Shakespeare at all. I always dreaded reading it in school.


message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris | 93 comments Carolina wrote: "Chris wrote: "I'm a nerd for classics. I'm totally in on this. I just finished Anna Karenina a few weeks ago and I'm going to try and wade my way through one of the classic Russian novels every yea..."

Taming of the Shrew is pretty funny. One of my faves. 10 Things I Hate About You was a pretty good modern adaptation.


message 42: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen Taming of the Shrew is one of my least favorite Shakespeare plays because of its blatant sexism and abuse... but 10 Things I Hate About You is fantastic. One of my favorite movies.


message 43: by Chris (new)

Chris | 93 comments There's a point to it, the entire play is supposed to be ironic. Including the fact that the actual play doesn't happen, it's a fantasy of some drunk guy


message 44: by Tami (new)

Tami | 3103 comments Mod
Since a bunch of books that fit the Spring/Summer Challenge 10.8 Must Read Books are considered classics, does anyone want to try to do a group read of one over the next month or two?


message 45: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen Maybe if we posed it more like a readathon it would get more participants?


message 46: by Tami (last edited Apr 08, 2011 05:41AM) (new)

Tami | 3103 comments Mod
Here is a list of the titles on everyones task lists plus Nullifidian's suggestion:

Atonement by Ian McEwan
Howards End by EM Forster
Independent People by Halldor Laxness
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by DH Lawrence
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I left off two that have already been group reads because they already have discussion threads.

Thoughts?


message 47: by Chris (new)

Chris | 93 comments Poisonwood Bible was pretty good.


message 48: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 604 comments Do you want to set up a poll with those books listed and have the two books with the most votes be the ones we'll read for the next two months? You may want to start the readalong in May rather than this month because by the time we've voted April will already be halfway over.


message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah A readalong sounds awesome. It'd be cool to do it for a really long book that one might not normally read on one's own. Like The Brothers Karamazov or something like that.


message 50: by Kayla (last edited Apr 12, 2011 07:56AM) (new)

Kayla | 604 comments Sarah wrote: "A readalong sounds awesome. It'd be cool to do it for a really long book that one might not normally read on one's own. Like The Brothers Karamazov or something like that."

Or The Count of Monte Cristo :)


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