I’ve just returned from an impromptu visit to my sister, which we tacked onto the end of our Thanksgiving holidays. We visited four — yes, four — Half Price Books stores in the span of two days! I ended up with a ton of great books from each clearance section, which I’ll share on Saturday.

While I was at my parents’ house, I also raided my childhood book box and turned up some books I can’t wait to (re)visit. All of them count for my 2011 classics project, which I will finally explain tomorrow! Here are the treasures I unearthed:

  • Classics Project PrepTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I read this one in 8th grade and listened to it last summer. I’m not sure I’ll read it again right away, but I’m happy to have my copy on my shelves again.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: I read this one in high school and hardly remember anything! I’d like to revisit this classic.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: I picked up Smith’s other novel, Joy in the Morning, at a library sale recently. It reminded me about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I read in high school and loved.
  • Dante’s Inferno, translated by Robert Pinsky, and
  • Virgil’s Aeneid, translated by Robert Fitzgerald: I purchased these two for a college course I didn’t end up taking. I’ve never read either and am, frankly, a bit intimidated by both, but you never know when the inspiration will strike to tackle just that sort of book!
  • Homer’s The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles: I’ve only read bits of this one and am not certain I’m ready to read the rest, but listening to The Odyssey recently went better than I’d expected. (Interesting that all three of the previous titles are translated by Roberts!)
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Yet another book I read as a kid and don’t really remember!

I also looked through my bookcases at home and pulled out a few other classics I would like to (re)read for my project. Among them:

  • Classics Project Prep 2Plays by Ibsen: I read Hedda Gabbler years ago. I’d like to reread it as well as read A Doll’s House, if not some of Ibsen’s others.
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: I need to brush up on my Dickens, and this is one of the less intimidating ones, at least size-wise! I read it long ago, but I remember so little I might as well have never read it.
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: I enjoyed The Age of Innocence and would like to read more by Wharton. Since I already own The House of Mirth, I thought it’d be a good place to start.
  • Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf: I’ve only read some of Woolf’s fiction and am looking forward to trying her nonfiction.
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: I’ve never read Hemingway! I picked The Sun Also Rises up years ago and have yet to get to it. I have others by Hemingway on my TBR list, though not actually on my shelf.

These are just a few of the classics on my list of potential project reads. Stop back tomorrow for details on the project!

Your Turn!

What classics / Western canon titles have you always meant to read?

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    1. I don’t think I’ve seen the movie. I read the book so long ago that I hardly remember it. It seems lots of people haven’t read or want to reread Gone with the Wind; maybe we need a readalong!

  1. I am so impressed with your choices and think it’s very ambitious of you to grab all these books for upcoming reads! I love Dickens and haven’t read him in awhile, so I will be looking forward to your review of A Tale of Two Cities. That is going on my TBR list for the new year as well. Good luck with all these! I will be eagerly awaiting your reviews on them!

    1. Thanks! I’m not sure I’ll get to all of them, but I’m so excited to have them back on my shelves. I’ve only read the one Dickens novel; I have others on my list, but I don’t actually own them yet. I’ll look forward to your thoughts on A Tale of Two Cities!

  2. Can’t wait to hear all about the project!!!

    Hm, let’s see. I need to read Gone with the Wind, which I’ve never read before. I adored The Inferno and will be rereading it next year for my classic project and my classics book club!! The Aenied is another one I had to read in college and I couldn’t stand it, but then again, I hated all those antiquity books I had to read, except the play Medea. That’s the only one I liked. I should also really read Hedda Gebbler since I adored A Doll’s House!

    My favorite Hemingway is The Old Man and the Sea. I haven’t read The Sun Also Rises, but I’m a little leery about it because I recently read my third Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms) and hated it, even though I loved Old Man and For Whom the Bell Tolls. It seems I’m more fond of his older work, and i believe The Sun Also Rises is from his early writings. I think my next try by him will be A Moveable Feast!

    1. I’m surprised by how many people haven’t read Gone with the Wind! I hardly remember it, so I might as well have never read it. I’ll admit I’m terrified of The Inferno; I’m not sure there’s a classic that scares me more. I got The Aeneid out of the library on audio and will probably try it the way I did The Odyssey, using both the audio and the text. The Old Man and the Sea is on my list, but sadly I don’t yet own a copy. That’s what the library is for, I suppose! I really want to read A Moveable Feast as well, but again…not yet in my collection!

  3. I’m very intrigued to read the details on your upcoming reading project! It certainly sounds diverse!

    Despite having taken a university mythology course, I find I can remember very little of the Greek myths. I wanted to try to read James Joyce’s Ulysses, but then figured I’d better appreciate it if I first read The Odyssey. But when I started reading that, it made allusions to either The Iliad or The Aeneid, so I figured I should first read those… but then maybe I should refresh my knowledge of the entire pantheon of Greek gods? Seriously, this is why I never get any classics read! 😉

    1. Heh, diverse is a good word for it! If I limit myself too much, I’ll abandon it after a week 🙂

      It’s amazing how linked literature is if you are able to recognize all the allusions, isn’t it? I have gigantic gaping holes in my literary knowledge, which is part of why I’m tackling my project. I thought about trying to read semi-chronologically so as to avoid the circuitous relationship you describe, but that sounded way too structured for me…so I’m just diving in!

  4. I’d love to read some more classics by females, so I’m going to try my hand at Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot, and no doubt a few of the others on my shelves. I love the Russians, but haven’t read any Turgenev yet, so I might also try him. Hmm, and probably some modern classics from the 20s or 30s. 🙂

    1. Both of those ladies are on my project list, though not yet on my shelves! The more I see other people talk about classics they’ve read or mean to read, the more I realize I haven’t read! The Russians? I’m missing almost all of them! Ack! 🙂

  5. I never ever read Gone with the Wind and intend to read it soon (I’ll read the french translation, though). To kill a mocking bird is one of my favorite books. For the time being, I’m re-reading Jane Austen’s novels (in english !). I wish I had more time to read in english.

    1. It sounds like lots of people want to read Gone with the Wind in the near future! I loved To Kill a Mockingbird the second time around and can’t imagine why I didn’t love it when I read it for the first time. Jane Austen is an author I’ve never been able to get into, but I plan to listen to at least one of her books during my upcoming project! Reading in another language isn’t an option for me at this point; I’m not fluent in anything else. I’d love to be, though!

    1. I’m terrified of Dante. It’s more likely I’ll read the Virgil and the Homer and skip the Dante 🙂

    1. The Odyssey readalong that Trish @ Love, Laughter and Insanity just led made me really want to tackle some of the other epics!

  6. I’ve never read Woolf, and after reading The Sun Also Rises back in February I have no interest in continuing reading Hemingway. I hope you have better luck!

    I did love Gone With the Wind when I read it for a read-a-long last year. Beautifully written, and I actually liked Scarlett even if most people participating in the read-a-long did not. After I was done reading the novel, my family and I watched the movie and it was interesting to see how the two compared. Rhett in the movie did not match the Rhett in my mind.

    1. Hm, that doesn’t bode well for Hemingway! I’ll give him a shot and see what happens. Maybe I’ll start with something else, though…The Sun Also Rises doesn’t seem to be one of his more popular works.

      I’d definitely like to reread Gone with the Wind. I remember liking Scarlett, though my opinions could certainly change. I’ve never seen the movie; I tend to prefer one form or the other, but not both.

  7. From your list, I’ve always wanted to read more than just Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton; I’ve collected several, with the best intentions, and just don’t come out the other side. Not on your list, I feel a gap where Faulkner should be in my canonical reading experience.

    Your project sounds terrific: I look forward to hearing all about it!

    1. I really liked Age of Innocence by Wharton but didn’t like Ethan Frome, so I figure she gets another chance! As for Faulkner, I read The Sound and the Fury for school (whew!) and I think I have a copy of As I Lay Dying somewhere…just have to find it! He’s definitely one to hit, even if he scares me!

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