It is the year 2000-and full employment, material abundance and social harmony can be found everywhere. This is the America to which Julian West, a young Bostonian, awakens after more than a century of sleep. West’s initial sense of wonder, his gradual acceptance of the new order and a new love, and Bellamy’s wonderful prophetic inventions – electric lighting, shopping malls, credit cards, electronic broadcasting – ensured the mass popularity of this 1888 novel. But however rich in fantasy and romance, Looking Backward is a passionate attack on the social ills of nineteenth-century industrialism and a plea for social reform and moral renewal.
I may have read this book in college, when it was still the 1990s, but the year 2000 was coming up fast. I took a class on Utopian Literature, and I’m pretty sure this was on the syllabus. We read some interesting work for that class, and I wish I still had the reading list, but since there’ve been 25 years and a 2,000-mile move between then and now, it’s not surprising that I don’t have it anymore.
If we did read it, I don’t think I remember anything about it. It’s always possible, though, that one of the “I know I read that somewhere” fragments in my brain will be found inside.
The Classics Club have issued their latest challenge for another Classics Club Spin! Did I complete my challenge for the last spin? No, I did not. Am I going to try again? Yes, I am. Am I using the same list as last time except for the book that I was supposed to read for June? Again, yes, I am.
The idea is for members to select 20 books from their list of 50 classics which they have challenged themselves to read within five years, then read the selected book before 30 September 2020.
My Spin list:
Iliad by Homer, translated by Caroline Alexander
Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
Aenid by Virgil, translated by Sarah Ruden
Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johnn D. Wyss
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Devil’s Pool by George Sand
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
The Reading Challenges haven’t gone so well for me the last two years. But I’ve once again succumbed to the promise of a brand new year and brand new challenges. Here’s what I’ve got lined up for 2020:
Back to the Classics is hosted by Books and Chocolate. I read two out of 12 last year (and failed to post about either one). Some of the titles I’ve picked for this year are carry-overs from last year’s list.
The Georgian Reading Challenge is hosted by Becky’s Book Reviews. The goal is a minimum of four books – fiction or non-fiction – related to the Georgian era (I’m using the 1714-1830 period – sorry, William IV). I’ve earmarked some possible titles, mostly the same as last year, since I read exactly zero books from the list in 2019.
Remember all those reading challenges for 2019 I was so excited about back in December of 2018? Turns out, 2019 had its own special set of challenges for me. Still, let’s take a look back and see how things went.
January:Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Finished: March 8) February:Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb March:Goody Two Shoes by McLoughlin Brothers April:The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston May:The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter June:Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne July:The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame August:Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes September:Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault October:Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie November:Raggedy Ann & Andy by Johnny Gruelle December:Nutcracker and Mouse-King by E.T.A. Hoffmann
2019 Middle Grade Reading Challenge (hosted by Becky’s Book Reviews) Goal: 6 or More Books with optional checklist Result: 10/6 (166%) (I know there were more, but I seem to have forgotten to log them somewhere in the middle of the year.)
a Newbery Winner: Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (finished February 11)
a Newbery Honor: The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (finished February 14)
realistic/contemporary: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (finished February 23)
Author beginning with C: Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (finished March 7)
nonfiction: Camp Panda by Catherine Thimmesh (finished March 8)
children’s book published in the 1880s: Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (finished March 8)
historical fiction: Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransom (finished March 13)
mystery: The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson (finished March 28)
fantasy: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (finished December 3)
any book in a series: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (finished December 21)
Of all the challenges I signed up for, I did the best on Read Harder. I actually had books selected for the 3 tasks that were left unfinished, but I didn’t get to them soon enough. I am definitely in for Read Harder 2019, as well as a bunch of other challenges. The beginning of the year is always filled with so much promise, isn’t it?
I’m still working on a 2018 Reading Challenge wrap-up, but I’m already looking forward to these new challenges. This year, I’ve created separated pages to keep track of most of the challenges, all linked up there in the menu bar.
The Georgian Reading Challenge is hosted by Becky’s Book Reviews. The goal is a minimum of four books – fiction or non-fiction – related to the Georgian era (I’m using the 1714-1830 period – sorry, William IV). I’ve earmarked some possible titles.
The Victorian Reading Challenge is also hosted by Becky’s Book Reviews, with options of a BINGO card or a checklist of 20 titles, as well as a couple more self-directed themes. I’m going for the checklist. Of course.
Read Harder comes from the fab folks at Book Riot. Some of the 24 tasks are going to be more challenging than others, but I’ve got #14 covered.
The Reading Women challenge comes from the Reading Women podcast. It also has 24 tasks, and some of these will definitely be challenging.
The Official TBR Pile Challenge is hosted by Roof Beam Reader. I’ve already picked out my list of 12 books (plus 2 alternates). I completely forgot about the check-in posts in 2018: another thing to improve on in the new year!
Outside Category Challenges
Blogger Shame Challenge: Hosted at Herding Cats & Burning Soup, this is a challenge meant to nudge those of us who read advance review copies to actually, well, review the books. I’m hoping to improve my NetGalley feedback rating a lot.
Reading Challenge Addict Challenge: If you’ve made it this far down the list, you already know why I’ve signed up for this one. My goal is “On the Roof” (6-10 challenges entered and completed.
Classics Club: I’ve put this in “Outside Category” because it’s a multi-year challenge. I have a list of 50 books that I plan to read before the end of 2023.
How about you? Are you doing any of these challenges? Or different ones?
According to the receipt tucked in the back of the book, I bought this in 2013, not long after I fell headlong into the Sherlockian world. I’m pretty sure I bought it solely because of the Gaiman story. I’ve never actually read any Lovecraft; while I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz as a teenager, I moved away from horror over the years. This made for an interesting reading experience, as I picked up bits and pieces of a through-line from story to story.
I really enjoyed “A Study in Emerald”, the opening story in the collection, written by Neil Gaiman. It’s a very clever twist on A Study in Scarlet. I’m glad I read it before reading the graphic novel adaptation, which was also very, very good, but the ending packed a little more punch for me without the visuals. As with any anthology, there were stories that really appealed to me, and there were others that didn’t. Some of the stories have awfully tenuous claims to Sherlockiana, too, at least as far as I could tell. Perhaps I would have enjoyed those more if I were familiar with the other source material.
Source: Purchased at my local used bookshop.
Challenges: Counts for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge and the Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. (And R.I.P. XIII (Readers Imbibing Peril), but I didn’t manage to post about it in October!)
It’s getting to be that time of year. The time when we (I) look at our valiantly attempted reading challenges, shrug off the incompletes, and look ahead to a fresh new year with fresh new challenges. Finding them really couldn’t be easier, since Feed Your Fiction Addiction has already done the work and compiled a Master List of 2019 Reading Challenges.
The Victorian and Georgian Challenges would combine nicely with my personal Classics Club list. And I’m just tickled by having the option of a list or a BINGO card for the Victorian one. That’s a nice touch right there.
You know what I really (don’t) need? Another reading challenge.
But I’m going to do one anyway.
I heard about Readers Imbibing Peril XIII on the latest episode of the For Real podcast. I am, as ever, late to the party, since the challenge started at the beginning of September.
And what is this challenge, you ask? From the site linked above:
The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
I think I can make that work. In fact, since I’m so far behind on my personal challenge of reading my entire Doubleday Sherlock Holmes this year, I’m already planning on reading both Hound of the Baskervilles and Valley of Fear this month, so there are two books already. (Yes, I am counting them as two separate “books” even though they’re both in my one massive volume, since I think that’s in the spirit of the challenge.)