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Posts from the ‘Classic Club’ Category

And The Spin # is …..

The Classic’s Club has spun the number and it is 19! 19 seems like an odd number; excuse the pun, but we get #1, #8 or even #20 but never #19. So it’s very interesting to get a 19! This per my list, makes me read Tales of South Pacific by James Michener.

pink-tilted-tiara-and-number-19-hi

I must own I am very very relieved to get this book and not something like The Rigveda, which is tremendously difficult to understand and takes a lot of time and concentrated focus, or so people who have read the book tell me. However, Michener can be a bit of a unpredictable read as well. I loved his  The Source and Caravan, both go into my all time favorite and not be missed lists; he has also written Sayonara, which is the most ridiculous piece of writing to come from an author as brilliant as him. I also have his Alaska, which with all my heartfelt sincere attempts have still not been able to finish and it lies next to my bed side table, with a bookmark accusingly sticking out from page 237. Also as I was discussing with Brona, all his books are chunksters, so tackling them anyway, is a challenge. Having said all of this, the fact still remains that when Michener gets it right, he writes what can only be described as deep, insightful and heart rendering books! I am hoping Tales of the South Pacific will be one of them. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and there is that la-de-da musical as well, but neither is a guarantee of the novel’s actual power. Many Pulitzer’s have failed to actually keep their promise, atleast to me and I often wonder, why they were rated so high. As far as the musical is concerned, well, the lesser said the better! I guess, I will find out soon enough! The book arrives today and I have per the rules till May 31st to finish it and I am hoping to do that sooner than that, as I have as always, bitten more than I can chew.

Cleo, my soul sister and my friend, who inspires me to do all great and crazy things is also participating in the Spin and her #19 is like va-va-voom interesting. It’s A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. This is an outstanding classic and our lives are replete with quotes and phrases from Johnson and Boswell. No way, could I pass this up. It’s too complicated for me to read alone and I would have needed some proding. Well, someone heard my prayers, and now I am buddy reading with Cleo on this. I need help!

To end, the die is now cast and I have books to be read! I am super excited to be part of the Spin again and realize now, how much I missed it! Without further ado, then, let’s read! Happy Spinning all!

The Return of the Spins

The Classic Club Spin has been one of my favorite reading activities. Thanks to this activity, I have read many books, which I would NOT have ventured into and in hindsight I know I would have missed out on such great and enriching works! Work and personal life however for last one year has been crazy, forcing me to let go of several spins and while I did feel upset about missing out on quality reading, there was very little I could do! I was planning to miss this spin as well, but then, I realized that I cannot always keep leaving out things that I truly enjoy for the things that must be done. I really cannot after a point get anything done, if I do not keep evolving myself and reading Classics is surely one of the best ways to do that. Furthermore, Cleo, my soul sister and my partner in crime whose life is equally busy and chaotic, has decided to plunge into this Spin and like always inspired me to join her madcap adventures. So, here, I am ready to Spin again.

The rules are simple and I quote directly from the CC Spin Page

  • At your blog, before next Monday 22nd April 2019, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.
  • This is your Spin List.
  • You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period.

 

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Ivan Kramskoy – Reading Woman (portrait of artist’s wife) From Wikimedia Commons

I usually pick books randomly, but Cleo again got me hooked on this randomizer and when I ran my Classic’s list, this is what came up as my first 20 –

  1. 9 The Eustace Diamond by Anthony Trollope
  2. 14 Wives and Daughter by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. 1 The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarrington
  4. 16 So Big by Edna Ferber
  5. 15 Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
  6. 2 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  7. 30 And Quiet Flows The Dawn by Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov
  8. 12 The Duke’s Children by Anthony Trollope
  9. 21 Son Excellence Eugène Rougon by Emile Zola
  10. 40 The Meghadūta by Kālidāsa
  11. 22 The Kill by Emilie Zola
  12. 46 Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck
  13. 17 The Rig Veda; Translated by Wendy Donier
  14. 27 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
  15. 25 Mr. Harrison’s Confession by Elizabeth Gaskell
  16. 26 The Bucaneers by Edith Wharton
  17. 39 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  18. 29 Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  19. 24 Tales of South Pacific by James A Michener
  20. 41 Kumarasambhava by Kalidasa

Some of these books, I really want to get to like, #3, #10 and #12; while others like #7 kind of scare me; but then, I know for a fact that books which I found intimidating were the ones I ended up loving the most! Thus, now I await Monday and the lottery of what I shall finally read!

Happy Spinning everyone!

The Archbishop of New Mexico

Yet another late post; a book that should have been read & reviewed in April, finally trundles into mid May and I go with the philosophy, that truly, some things are better late than never! As part of The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge, an event hosted by Adam, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, was my TBR book for April, and though I managed to finish the novel within the month, but just never got to posting a book review!

Death Comes

Death Comes for the Archbishop chronicles the life and works of Archbishop Bishop Jean Marie Latour and his Vicar, Joseph Vaillant , as they attempt to establish a Catholic Diocese, in the newly captured New Mexico territory of United States. The novel begins with the Bishop and the Priest travelling from Ohio though difficult terrain to establish their Diocese in New Mexico. After some initial setbacks, including a trip that took a year and on arriving, realizing that the local Mexican Clergy, refuse to recognize the authority of Jean Marie Latour, the two worthy settle down to tame the wild elements of the Church which so far had been in lackadaisical fashion managed by the Mexican priests, and bring true piety and relief to the inhabitants, whether European or American or Indians. Over the years, they develop friendships with the local Indian leaders as well the American Businessman and Mexican Ranchers; they rescue an abused woman from the tyranny of a violent husband and convince yet another, to give up on her pride and declare her true age, so that she does not lose her wealth. They try and overcome the acrimony that exists between the local Mexican Priests and the new wave of leaders that Vatican was sending forth and enable the building of  a Romanesque Church. Finally they both end their days, in this land, Father Valliant pre-deceasing Father Latur, as the Bishop of Colorado. Father Latur now retired chooses to stay in New Mexico instead of returning to his homeland in France, dying in the company and service of the people with whom he worked and whose devotion to him till the end was unstinting and complete.

Ms. Cather remains as usual her brilliant self. The dry, difficult land of New Mexico, with its parallel institutions of the Indians, Mexicans and Americans cultures and politics comes alive in this slim novel. In sparse, but succinct prose, Ms. Cather manages to convey, not just the atmosphere, but also the depth of the characters and their past history, all the while, moving the plot along, in such magnificent manner, that leaves you in awe both as a reader and a writer. The lives of Father Latur & Father Valliant, Wikipedia, advises is based on the life and times of Jean-Baptiste Lamy & Joseph Projectus Machebeuf respectively and I am not sufficiently well read to comment on how true to life the portrayals are; however in the characters of Father Latur & Father Valliant, Ms. Cather, created the epitome of spiritual leaders, who like all humans were beset with doubts and weaknesses, but still lead their people, providing comfort, support and spiritual guidance as and when needed, with minimum interference and with a lot of respect for different cultures and practices. The ensemble cast is equally good, providing much needed “materialistic” and “earthy” props to the religious/spiritual narrative of the main protagonists. The thing that really stands about Ms. Cather’s writings is her sense of humanity; writing in 1927, she made it clear in her quiet writing style that the government’s practices against the Navajos, who were exiled to the Bosque Redondo, killing many of its population was unacceptable and defined the very principles of humanity! To end, I can only say, this is a beautiful, lyrical book, that seems to sings songs of the land and lives of the New Mexico Deserts!

About Summers and Reading

I am seeing many posts around the internet, celebrating Summer! Reading and Summer seems a most conducive combination; reminds of my summer vacation from schools, with 2 and a half month of bliss, reading and eating! Unfortunately, as  a Project Leader, I do not get summer vacations and more importantly, the concept of an idyllic summer with bright, cheerful days and quite balmy nights is dispelled in my part of the word and instead replaced by unceasing, pounding heat,  that makes one feel like one is being slowly baked in one’s skin in the very middle of a vast furnace, with the earth and the sun belching out fire! Temperatures have hit 51ºC or 123º F and there is no respite in sight….monsoons when they come, if they come, will be hailed as Godsend by most, especially the farmers of this country, struggling with heat and drought!

Realities are harsh and books as usual provide a consolation from all that is mundane and distressing! Therefore without further ado, lets plunge into June Bookish Plans! As most are aware, for May, I had dispelled all reading plans because I had tremendous catching up to do; thankfully, I am almost caught up with all, but there are still some items that need to be finished, but hopefully should finish soon! I venture towards June again finally with a reading plan!

My Read Alongs continue on track as planned – I am hoping to finish the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien Read Along with Cleo as I had planned in June. I should also make some progress in the ever challenging The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser which I am reading with O, Cleo, Jean, Ruth and some other readers; I am going really slow with this one as it takes up quite a bit of time to truly understand and absorb the various levels of intellectual gymnastics that Mr. Spenser had laid out for his readers! The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens read along is also in the plans and its an effort to really read it in piecemeal fashion, considering I am enjoying it tremendously! I have added another to my overspilleth list with Hamlette’s Jane Eyre Read Along. I have increasingly developed a great love for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and the cold of England is very bracing psychologically, sitting in the stewing pot! Among the reading challenges, where I am really truly behind is my 12 Month Classics Reading Challenge – I am still to finish Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis for May and I have for June themed A British classic,  Dombay and Son’s by Charles Dickens. I am also somewhat struggling to catch up on my Reading England project, and for this  I am reading The Darling Buds of May by  by H. E. Bates covering Kent. Finally for my Women’s Classic Literature Event, I am reading a modern and albeit a relatively lesser known classic  by Katherine Ann Porter  – Ship of Fools. In a stand alone event, I am also reading The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy as part of Margaret Kennedy Day hosted by Jane, who had two years ago introduced me to brilliance of Margaret Kennedy’s works!

That is all I have planned for June; like I said I have had to play catch up and am still struggling to complete everything that is outstanding. This is also the first time I am giving the Classic Club spin a miss – I have yet to finish Death comes to Archbishop by Willa Cather which was my last Spin Read and also my Women’s Literature Reading Event for April and it is only fair that I venture into another Spin only after I had finished the previous one!

That’s the plan then! Wishing you all a fabulous and less heat generating summer and a scintillating brilliant reading time!

May-ish Reads

Ah! May…..the fire breathing months on Indian plains, where the sun burns and earth scorches and you wonder if hell is like this! Joy! Naturally, so joyous a month will begin with something depressing and nasty and it did – to celebrate the May coming, the weather here turned nasty and between pollens and pollutants, my lungs practically gave away! I have spent the last two weeks in bed, trying to work from home for projects that will not wait and read on books that required little if any brain work! Needless to say I am completely and disastrously behind all my reading schedules!

I have not read a single page from Murder at Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe for my April reading for the 12 Months Reading Challenge and here is May where I had committed to reading Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis for the theme of An American Classic. I have not turned a page in my Women’s Classical Literature Event cum Classic Club Spin 12 reading of Willa Cathar’s Death Comes to the Archbishop and I am not even getting started on how much I have to catch up on my Reading England Project or my epic read alongs like The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser and Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens! I am behind, behind and way far behind in all my reading plans! The plan for May is therefore to re-group and catch up! I am not starting any new book until I finish all my spill overs from March and April. I am not even going to start on Arrowsmith, till I have finished everything else. But there are exceptions and I am only human with absolutely no self control when it comes to books and this I have committed to read along with Cleo and Hamlette for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but the good part is that it does not start until the end of May, so I should have made some significant inroads to my overloaded pile. And knowing its May and it is the anniversary of The First War of Independence in India, I will for sure go back and read one of my most favorite and one of the best work of fiction based on the event – The Shadow of the Moon by the inimitable MM Kaye! Like I said  I have enough and I mean ENOUGH to read on my plate and this one time I really really need to stick to the schedule!

Therefore I bid adieu and head back to plunge in the tottering pile of books! Hopefully I should find my reading rhythm again, but until I plough through the significant amount of that pile, I keep my post short and well, I cannot really do sweet!

Holiday Hangover, April Reading and Therapy…

Hello! Hello! I am back! And while I am overjoyed to be back in the world of cyberspace and virtual interactions, I must say, I soooooo do not look forward to the Monday! But that is a bridge that I will cross and dream of August again! Where was I you ask? (Even if you did not, please humor me…I am suffering from a really bad case of holiday hangovers!) I was away for last one week from the madding crowd, to the magnificent Himalayas, specifically the Dhauladhar Range,  or the White Range and I spent the first half in an artisan village, and the second half in the city of His Holiness Dalai Lama. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful places on earth and it was one of the best holidays ever! Be rest assured, that  I will share photos and adventures soon!  Yes! Those are the joys of blogging companionship!;)

For now however, April is here and considering the amount of reading I am taking on each month, I have started maintaining a Reading Journal, just so I remember what I have to read and how much I have to read and how many books at a glance are in my TBR, atleast the ones on Kindle! Just so I start getting some more discipline in not only my reading but also my book buying spree. I am not sure if this will work, but I will keep you all posted!

Now, considering I was on holiday during a significant holiday portion of March, I manage to stick to reading plan pretty well, except I did not read the fictions that I had charted out including Up the Country by Emily Eden, The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel and The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, because I was busy reading about Tibet! Since I was planning to do some serious cultural exploration of the Tibetan lives during my vacation, it made sense to read up some stuff but I may have gone on an overdrive!  But now I know much more beyond the Chinese annexation of 1951 and, for a somber moment, it is not a happy thought that a culture is passing away and hundred of Tibetans are dying with it while the world looks on! I will re-visit this later for sure!

For the April reading, there is an urgent need like I mentioned to discipline and close on everything that I already have and finish the open tasks! I am yet to complete my March Play, The Man Born to be King by Dorothy Sayers and since I did not want to add on more complications, I decided to mix my Drama Reading for April with my Reading England effort, this time covering Warwickshire and am going to read As You Like It by the Great Bard of England, William Shakespeare. Again because I have couple of books stemming from March, I decided to roll in Classic Club Spin#12 and Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event for the month and read Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather. The April theme for 12 month Reading Challenge is “A classic you’ve seen the movie/miniseries/TV show of” and I read The Murders at Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. I have seen the 1983 made for television film recently and I was not very impressed, but I will read the book with an open mind and then decide on the matter! Finally, Ali is holding a Mary Hocking Reading Event and as both she and Jane have words of high praise about Mary Hocking’s works and since I really really appreciate their insights, which has led me to reading some brilliant works, I will for sure join this one reading event – Good Daughters by Mary Hocking!

My serial readings continue as before – I continue to read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien with Cleo as part of my Lecito List and have now moved to The Twin Towers. I also hope to finish Metamorphoses by Ovid; I am down to the last two books and I really need to complete it before I move on to what I consider my reading albatross. For the next couple of months I will be reading The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser with Cleo, O, Ruth and many others . I read TFQ in college and did not like it at all. But I am hoping for a better experience this time, but for now I see it as an albatross! On the brighter side of things, I continue with the Pickwick Paper by Charles Dickens Read Along and I am beginning to really enjoy the work as well the way we are reading it! Finally Cleo again leads me into all these reading temptations and I have surrounded to them (completely my choice and my will)  after a long fight (actually no fight at all!) with them –  I am reading The Histories by Herodotus as well as 1 poetry a week for the National Poetry Month!

I know I need therapy! I wonder if there some kind of recovery program for the book reading obsessed! Do let me know if you find one….until then I am off to read!

 

I got all my sisters with me……

 

This is a bit of delayed post for March reading plans, but I really wanted to figure out what the Classic Club Spin#12 would bring, before I chart my course! To begin with, I am really proud of myself as to how well I have adhered to the reading plans of January and February and got some additional reading done as well. I may twist my arm, patting myself on the back, but I cannot help but grin! (Grin!Grin!)

However, wise people say that it is important to look ahead instead of gloating over successes of the past, so I reluctantly but rationally share the plan for March. Now we all know this is the month of International Women’s Day, which is in fact today – 8th March. Coming from a country that was as liberal and egalitarian as it gets on women issues until about 7oo years ago, when we lost all sense of proportion, and become a very conservative and masochist nation, I feel especially strongly about today. Its like having a great thing and then losing it! You never miss what you did not have, but when you have it and then lose, it seems kind of end of the world, not to mention stupid! Anyway, while we have recovered significantly in the last 100 years, I still have sisters in various corners of the country who are deprived of education, financial independence and the simple choice of living life on her own terms! Therefore call me a feminist, but I am all Go Woman!

I therefore have decided that besides the Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event which is a great monthly event, I will spend the month of March only reading Women authors, with the exception of the Readalongs which kind spread over from previous months! This is my kind of celebration of Womanhood! Therefore, to kick start, as part of Women’s Classical Literature Reading Event as well as 12 Month Classic Challenge (March theme – A classic you’ve been recommended), I am reading Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market and other poems. In Reading England, I select a crime fiction, because you cannot constantly read heavy literature and I wanted a good romping read towards the latter half of the month when I go on vacation to the Himalaya, and therefore it is Busman’s Honeymoon: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery by Dorothy Sayers, focusing on Hertfordshire. I also revisit Dorothy Sayer’s in another avatar of a playwrite as I read her The Man Born to be King. I know this more of Christmas play and this is the wrong time of the year, but hey, it is Lent and Easter will be around soon! I think Christ believed that we should keep God in our hearts and remember him always and not during a particular month, so I venture forth on this drama as my Drama read of the month. You know you are lucky when your Spin Read is also a woman author – I will be reading Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather. Also because I know vacation is cometh and I will be undisturbed in the glorious pastures of Himalayas for a week, I added some more books to my reading kitty –Up the Country: Letters to her sister from the Northern Provinces of India by Miss Emily Eden. Her brother was one of worst Viceroy’s of British India, but I have heard great things about Ms. Eden’s writing so I want to really read this, especially when sitting in a British built hill station, watering place kind of thing! In some additional fun reads, I have got Ms. Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson, something recommended highly by  a grand aunt and Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. Finally if I do find time, I will also have The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel, though I strongly doubt I will reach that far!

Now for the exceptions – I continue and hopefully will finish The Metamorphoses by Ovid, that I started in January with Cleo and O. I also have The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Readalong with Cleo, which forms a part of my Lecito List Reading. Finally O is hosting a brilliant and innovative ReadAlong for the The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, that kicks starts this month!

That’s the reading plan for this month! Simple, would you not agree?

Before I bid adieu for this post, though, I came across these lines in Rossetti’s Goblin Market, which seemed so very appropriate for the sisterhood we all belong to and therefore I leave you with it –

For there is no friend like a sister

In calm or stormy weather;

To cheer one on the tedious way,

To fetch one if one goes astray,

To lift one if one totters down,

To strengthen whilst one stands.

Cheers to Us!

 

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