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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Club Challenges or What Am I Reading Now?

Today the gently falling snow made me feel as though I were living in a snow globe. Liking that feeling of being surrounded by the glass and thus protected from the icy air in which the flakes swirled I decided to work on the book challenge for the beginning of 2011. The challenge comes from my Reading the Classics group and is in six parts:

1. Read a classic children's book--I chose Chatterer the Red Squirrel for several reasons. We collect old editions of Thornton Burgess' books and have all of the Bedtime Story Books, but I've never read any of them. My husband remembers them from his childhood but I had never heard of them. I chose Chatterer because I adore the Red Squirrel who sits for hours with his tail lifted up over his back, happily gorging himself on the sunflower seeds meant for our beautiful feathered friends. I have finished that book and just love the way the animals are described--for being a lover of wild animals and an observer of them whenever possible , I think old Thornton must have been a lover and observer of them, too.

2. Read a classic written by an author from a country other than your own. Boy, that was a toughie but I settled on The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Again, for two reasons--I loved the movie that made a lasting impression on my very young mind when I saw it on TV. I was too young to see it in the movies in 1945. I thought Hurd Hatfield was incredibly handsome although in reading the book I find he looks nothing like Wilde's Dorian. What ever happened to Hurd Hatfield, I wonder? The book was hard going--although maybe the old film would be now, as well. Yet, as I remember it, in this instance the film was better than the book. The other reason I chose this classic was because I'd never read it. Thank goodness it was only around 150 pages; I don't know if I would have finished it otherwise!

3. Read a classic written by an author of your own country: For this, I've chosen Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Again, for two reasons--Twain is very much ignored in the schools and he is certainly one of our most prolific and well know authors. I realize that it has probably been due to his use of local dialects and 19th C words, considered inappropriate today--as evidenced by a reissue of Huck Finn this year--cleaned up and reworded! Vandalism that was only equal to the fig leaves strategically placed on classic statues or the actual removal of genitalia from them by prudish Victorians. I can only imagine the uproar if one were to change the colors in the Mona Lisa or Picasso's Don Quixote! Well, anyway, the second is that I've never read Twain--despite my father's urging. I'd had enough of Dickens and felt that the writing would probably be just as ponderous. It may be I was correct but I'm going to give it a try.

4. Reread a classic from high school or college: I've always enjoyed Hawthorne's Hester so shall reread The Scarlet Letter. I couldn't find my copy of Tess of the D'Urberville's which was my first choice and I wasn't up for Adam Bede, though I liked that very much, too.

5. Read a classic about an Animal: Once more, though I loved Watership Down, I decided to read Call of the Wild, since I'd never read it either.

6. Read a graphic novel version of a classic: This one I'm not sure I'm going to try--if I happen to see one while browsing in the bookstore I may pick it up but it really isn't calling to me.

I also have a mini challenge for Feb--to read a book with pink or red in its title or in its cover design--I'm doing Death on the Lizard by Robin Paige. Also read a book with a flower or flowers in its title or in the plot--I've chosen Nightshade by Susan Wittig Albert. I hope to have these done within two weeks and since they are pretty light reading I should be fine.

I'm going to take The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest with me on the trip. I don't usually have much time to read but like to have a book handy always for those few empty minutes that sometimes occur.

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