Wednesday 18 January 2017

Back to the Classics 2017

Once again I speak to you from the past! Am I writing from a parallel dimension? Can I time travel? Or did I just schedule this post?

Image result for jack sparrow ooh hands gif
I guess you'll never know.
So anyway. Gifs aside, my past self would like to announce that she's linking up with the Back to the Classics Challenge 2017, hosted by Karen @ Books and Chocolate!

To quote from Karen's blog:
It's back! Once again, I'm hosting the Back to the Classics Challenge. I hope to encourage bloggers to discover and enjoy classic books they might not have tried, or just never got around to reading. And at the end, one lucky winner will receive a $30 (US) prize from or The Book Depository! 
Here's how it works:
The challenge will be exactly the same as last year, 12 classic books, but with slightly different categories. You do not have to read 12 books to participate: 
Complete six categories, and you get one entry in the drawing
Complete nine categories, and you get two entries in the drawing
Complete all twelve categories, and you get three entries in the drawing
Cool, right? Thanks so much to Karen for hosting! Here are the twelve categories.

1. A 19th Century Classic

Ah, we could slot anyone in here. Maybe Bleak House? Or maybe I should tackle Walter Scott at long last -- my parents recommend The Heart of Midlothian.

2. A 20th Century Classic - must have been published at least fifty years ago (1967).

Perhaps The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald. He and I have been apart for too long.

3. A classic by a woman author

I've been meaning to read Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Or I could return to Du Maurier -- it's been far too long -- and finally pick up Jamaica Inn. Or Middlemarch (so that Eliot can be redeemed in my eyes after my disappointment in Romola?). Or I am planning to read The Flame-Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley while in Kenya. Lots of options!

4. A classic in translation

I intend to read Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, originally written in German!

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, page 35.:
Based on a) this picture and b) Rilke's featuring in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls. Read a serendipitous story combining these three things here.
5. A pre-1800 classic

I'm about to reread Romeo and Juliet, as research for LesMisBook -- Nina is performing a Juliet speech (Act 3 Scene 2, if you're interested) in her drama school audition. At least, that's my excuse for revisiting this beloved play ... I also plan to read A Midsummer Night's Dream and Cymbeline. And I've been meaning to tackle Spenser's Faerie Queene for ages ... if I can work up the moxie! 

6. A romance classic

Austen, anyone? Mansfield Park is the last book of hers I'm yet to read. I can't wait!

7. A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads.

So, confession time. I have never read Dracula, Frankenstein, or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I don't really want to. I think it's because a) I don't like sci-fi/horror, and b) they all feel so familiar to me -- Dracula and Frankenstein, especially, have been rehashed so many times in popular culture over the years. So please, change my mind! If you've read one of these books and liked it, tell me why, and maybe I'll pick it up!

I do, however, have some preferred options for this category. Maybe The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo -- because I love Les Mis! So! Much! -- or maybe Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. I've had this one on my shelf for a while -- it's a cult fantasy book from 1959. The only problem is, I'm trying not to start series with gay abandon, and it's the first in a trilogy. So we shall see.

Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake.   After five or six abortive attempts as a teenager, I decided it was about time that I read my mother's favourite book all the way through. I don't think I've ever read a book with such vivid imagery - it's amazing. I may have to wait for the strange dreams to stop until I read the next part of the trilogy though...:
[source] // how great is this cover??
8. A classic with a number in the title

OK, I don't have an idea for this one! But apparently Fahrenheit 451 is about book-burning? (Maybe everyone else knew this and just didn't want to tell me?) So I might give it a go.

9. A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title

I would've been all over this last year, reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Metamorphosis. This time I think I'll read one of my Little Black Classics (because I've been awful at getting through those): a Viking epic called The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue. Sounds good, right?!

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit

I love this category! At the moment I lean towards Across the River and Into the Trees by Hemingway, because my heart dwells always in Venice.

11. An award-winning classic

Don't have a clue for this one. Suggestions?

12. A Russian Classic (2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution!)

This one's easy: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It's a book they talk about a lot in The Goldfinch, so, yeah, I'm right there.

And now, the rest of the rules, copied from Karen's post:

All books must be read in 2017. Books started before January 1, 2017 do not qualify. All reviews must be linked to this challenge by December 31, 2017. I'll post links each category the first week of January which will be featured on a sidebar on this blog for the entire year.
You must also post a wrap-up review and link it to the challenge no later than December 31, 2017. Please include links within your final wrap-up to that I can easily confirm all your categories. Also, it is OK to rearrange books to fit different categories in your wrap-up post -- for example, last year I originally planned to use Journey to the Center of the the Earth in the Fantasy/SciFi/Dystopian category, but then I decided to count it as an Adventure Classic. Most books count count toward several categories, so it's fine if you change them, as long as they are identified in your wrap-up post.
All books must have been written at least 50 years ago; therefore, books must have been written by 1967 to qualify for this challenge. The ONLY exceptions are books published posthumously.
E-books and audiobooks are eligible! You may also count books that you read for other challenges.
Books may NOT cross over within this challenge. You must read a different book for EACH category, or it doesn't count.
Children's classics are acceptable, but please, no more than 3 total for the challenge.
If you do not have a blog, you may link to reviews on Goodreads or any other publicly accessible online format. For example, if you have a Goodreads account, you could create a dedicated list to the challenge, and link to that with a tentative list (the list can change throughout the challenge).
The deadline to sign up for the challenge is March 1, 2017. After that, I will close the link and you'll have to wait until the next year! Please include a link to your original sign-up post, not your blog URL. Also, make sure you add your link to the Linky below, NOT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. If I don't see your name in the original Linky, YOU WILL BE INELIGIBLE. If you've made a mistake with your link, just add a second one.
You do NOT have to list all the books you're going to read for the challenge in your sign-up post, but it's more fun if you do! Of course, you can change your list any time. Books may also be read in any order.
The winner will be announced on this blog the first week of January, 2018. All qualifying participants will receive one or more entries, depending on the number of categories completed. One winner will be selected at random for all qualifying entries. The winner will receive a gift certificate in the amount of $30 (US currency) from either OR $30 worth of books from The Book Depository. The winner MUST live in a country that will receive shipments from one or the other. For a list of countries that receive shipments from The Book Depository, click here.


I'm really excited about this. It's a nice way to organise the books I'm planning to read, and hopefully to reach out in the classics blog network (because I pretend to be a YA book blogger, but ... am I? No. I am an enigma and a mystery.) And the giveaway part is lovely, too!

Please let me know if you're taking part, and link me to your post!

Pinterest: @isabellereneexo:


  1. Emily I will read this post later honestly, but today I made a friend and said I would suggest free blog designers, but the only thing is I kinda don't know any.. Is there any chance you could recommend one? Thank you thank you thank you so much dude, and I hope you're having a great time away! And yes, will definitely read this post when I'm not on the verge of leaving for Cornwall haha.

    Much love,

    Little Moon Elephant

    1. Eh, I do not, and anyway the fact this reply is five months after the comment probably means I'm after the event, as it were! Sorry!

  2. I like that parallel dimension idea. I'm going to go with that one.

    Awesome challenge! I have to do this.

  3. FAHRENHEIT 451 IS SO GOOD MAN READ IT RIGHT NOW. I'm a big fan of the upsetting gritty classic dystopias, all disturbing and's kind of a problem. (1984 is another great one, but not for the faint-hearted...)

    - Aimee (To the Barricade!)

    1. OOH, THANKS FOR THE REC! I do love 1984, it's high time for a reread, to be honest ...

  4. Dracula and Frankenstein are a couple of my favorites - none of the adaptations have ever done either of them justice!

    Happy reading and good luck, Emily!

  5. Ooh, I just got The Flame Trees of Thika from the library this week! I haven't started it yet though (too many other books to get through). I hope you enjoy your reading :)

    1. Oh, cool! I loved it, I read it in Kenya :)

  6. Hellooooo Emilyyyyy! I just wanted to check in and see how your time in ... Kenya? .... is going ( I almost typed Korea, very sorry, so bad at geography ) But now I realise you probably won't see this and you probably don't even have internet. Do you have internet? Do you even have electricity? God I feel like such an uncultured, privileged white girl right now... :/
    Anyhoo, I hope you are having the time of your life. I miss your posts. Be sure to come back blogging when you arrive home. I hope you have access to electricity, clean water and books, and that there aren't many lions, and tigers, and bears (OH MY!) . If there are, may the odds be ever in your favour. ^_^

    1. heya, I love this comment! I am trying to post about Kenya ... it is hard!


Thanks for commenting! :)