Back to the Classics 2014 Wrap-Up Post!

classics2014I did it!! I read 10 classics from various authors, countries, and time periods in 12 months! (To be honest, a big chunk of those books were read this month *procrastinator*).

This was such a fun challenge, and I’m earnestly considering doing the Back to the Classics 2015 challenge next year, although I still have a little time to decide :)

Here is my wrap-up post listing all of my reviews for this challenge:

Required Categories:

Optional Categories:

I thoroughly enjoyed every one of these books (except for maybe Wuthering Heights), but if I had to rank my Top 3 it would be: North and South, Little Women, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you to Books and Chocolate for hosting this challenge!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are you up for next year’s Back to the Classics Challenge?

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Literary Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

toptentuesdayThe actual topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and the Bookish Blog) is “Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucketlist”, but I opted to choose a past topic instead: “Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In”. This was actually a rather difficult post for me to write, because all of these worlds listed here are dark, gorey, and hopeless. But to cheer myself up I added a little surprise at the end ;)

Top Ten Literary Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

panem

Panem (from The Hunger Games trilogy): 

For anyone who has read the books or seen the movies, this is a pretty obvious choice. In the futuristic dystopian world of Panem, children ages 11-18 are entered into a lottery each year, a lottery that chooses 12 boys and 12 girls who will be forced to fight to the death in a harsh arena. Only one child survives.
Besides the annual “Hunger Games”, there are also strict rules that the citizens have to live by day-to-day. Each district has its own “Peacekeepers” to terrorize and taunt the citizens into submission. When I first read these novels I was constantly on the edge; there was no “down time”. I was always feeling anxious and scared for everyone (so much so that I had a nightmare wherein Peeta and Katniss were being physically threatened by a pack of 20 Careers. This is how I knew I needed to read something happier…like Jane Austen. Now there’s a literary world I’d love to inhabit!). I love that the author, Suzanne Collins, was able to make me feel this way, but I love even more that I do not have to feel this way in real life! No Panem for me!

lordofthefliesThe Deserted Island (from The Lord of the Flies):

What a fascinating book, but what a messed up world. If this pig on a stick image doesn’t bother you, maybe you should imagine it talking to you while flies swarm disgustingly around its dead head. Yeah, this novel gave me the creeps in many ways, but the pig head could arguably be the least disturbing part for me. The group of savage boys was much scarier, especially after they started killing off the younger ones.
Technically, this deserted island isn’t some fantasy world, but a means by which to draw out the savagery that inhabits all of us. Scary thought, isn’t it?

oneflewoverthecuckoosnestThe Mental Hospital (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Unlike most of the other novels listed in this post, I did not enjoy reading (or watching) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It doesn’t help that it features Jack Nicholson (great actor, but there’s a reason he usually plays creepy roles), but I read the book first and I didn’t enjoy it either. I usually stay away from novels and movies involving mental heath issues as they don’t tend to sit well with me.
The scariest character in this “world” is the tyrannical Nurse Ratched (I mean, with that name you can’t be expecting someone like Princess Buttercup). Instead of trying to cure her patients’ illness, she uses them to maintain her power. She even tries to convince the non-insane protagonist that he is insane. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s obvious that it’s not a happy one (or else this novel wouldn’t be on my list).

wonderlandWonderland (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

This magical world is most likely someplace that a lot of bookworms would love to visit. Not me. I recently read this novel for the first time, and I was greatly disappointed. I’ve always enjoyed the films, even though they are very bizarre, but the book drove me insane. Obviously Wonderland is a confusing place, but I was literally getting headaches from trying to follow along with Alice’s adventures. I don’t even want to imagine what that place would be like if it actually existed.

mostdangerousgameThe Jungle (from The Most Dangerous Game)

I guess this is technically a gothic short story? I’m not sure, but I did like reading it, despite the fact that the story follows a man who is unknowingly invited to another man’s private island so that he can be hunted. Not the happiest of tales, but–spoilers–it ends well. Still not the type of place I’d ever want to live in.

1984Airstrip One (from Nineteen Eighty-Four)

This is one of the first dystopian novels I ever read (I believe the very first one was The Giver), and this genre has definitely become one of my favorites despite the fact that I would never want to live in any of the dystopian worlds, like the setting of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Here free-thinking, individualism, and a sense of personality are forbidden as we are dominated by Big Brother. Obviously there are real places in this world that mirror this fictitious place, but I’ll let the conspiracy theorists argue about the extent to which it exists.

macbethAny place featured in Shakespeare’s tragedies (mainly the supernatural world of Macbeth)

Hamlet is not only my favorite Shakespearean work, it is also my favorite play, but between the ghosts and the insanity, it’s hard to find anything positive about the Prince of Denmark’s world. And Macbeth’s world is even worse. If it’s not the witches that tempt him with visions of power and success, it’s his wife, Lady Macbeth, who is essentially responsible for most of the deaths in the play.
And then there’s Romeo & Juliet, also known as the saddest story ever. I love Shakespearean tragedies (except Macbeth…I’d be fine never reading it again), but I’d never want to live in one, even as a minor character who is fortunate enough to stay alive.

waroftheworldsEarth under alien attack (from The War of the Worlds)

I’ve actually never read this novel (it is on my TBD list for this year, though!), but I’ve seen the Tom Cruise movie and that was enough to know I’d never want to experience a bloodthirsty alien attack. I highly doubt I’d survive something like that, and even if I did it still wouldn’t be enjoyable.

pillarsoftheearthKingsbridge (from The Pillars of the Earth)

I haven’t read this novel, but I did watch the miniseries and it was enough to convince me that I would not enjoy the book. Medieval England was not a happy place for anyone, not even for those in power, and certainly not for women. Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy this type of literature and that I’m extremely grateful that I don’t live in a medieval society, I actually do like one thing related to The Pillars of the Earth: it board game based on the sequel, World Without End. It is probably my favorite strategy game, ironically because you actually feel like you’re playing for your life. I know, I’m such a contradiction.

westerosWesteros (from A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Normally these lists aren’t actually in order, but in this case I can say that, without hesitation, I would rather live anywhere than Westeros. I tried reading this series after the Game of Thrones series became hugely popular, but I seriously regret every buying the books. So many graphic images and unforgettable horrors, especially involving women. I can’t fathom why anyone, if they could visit any fictitious world, would pick Westeros. And with that being said…

To cheer myself up, because it wasn’t pleasant coming up with this list, I am ending this post by sharing the one literary world I’d love to visit above all others:

avonleaAvonlea, Prince Edward Island (from the Anne of Green Gables series)

*sigh* Sometimes, I think I’d like to live in Edwardian eastern Canada permanently, and pretend to be imaginative Anne Shirley and take long walks down dirt roads and have picnics outside with my best friends every single weekend. The only competition with Anne Shirley’s world would be a Jane Austen world, but Anne, as a woman, has so many more opportunities at living an independent life and I think it would be too hard to have to rely on marriage in order to survive. Wow, I didn’t think this post would become so feminist before I wrote it ;)

So what are some fictional worlds you would never want to live in? Or, if you’re like me and would rather think about happy thoughts, if you could live in one book world, which one would it be?

Back to the Classics 2014 Reading Challenge

(updates in blue)

I looooove challenges…they make things so much more fun! Even reading, which I already find such a thrill in :) I’m already participating in The Classics Club reading challenge, but I’ve found another challenge that I can combine with it to knock off some more novels. So, here is my tentative list for the Back to the Classics 2014 reading challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate:

  • A 20th Century Classic – Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904/1911) (finished 10/19/14 – review here)
  • A 19th Century Classic – Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847). My read along for this novel starts Sunday!! (finished 1/22/14 – review here)
  • A Classic by a Woman Author – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) (finished 4/9/14 – review here)
  • A Classic in Translation – Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862), which I plan on trying my hardest to read in French! Maybe I should get started on that novel right away… Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864). Les Mis was too long and I started reading this Verne classic instead, and in French too! (finished 12/28/14 – review here)
  • A Classic About War War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1898) (finished 11/21/14 – review here)
  • A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868), which I can’t believe I have never read before. (finished 5/24/14 – review here)

Optional Categories:

  • An American Classic – For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940), better get one of my dreaded Hemingway novels out of the way…perhaps I’ll enjoy it this time? I tried!! I decided to go with A Separate Peace by John Knowles (1959) instead (finished 12/19/14 – review here)
  • A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817), the only Austen novel I have yet to read! (finished 2/25/14 – review here)
  • A Historical Fiction Classic – The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (1844) The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (1883) (finished 11/3/14 – review here)
  • A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series – North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855) (finished 12/14/14 – review here), I’m really excited about this one because it’ll give me an excuse to watch the mini-series for the…
  • Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4 – North and South, obviously :) (finished 12/14/14 – review here)

This is just a tentative list…I may just change the novels I read, or I might not even complete the optional categories. We shall see :)