The Classics Club is a club created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books. There’s no time limit to join and you’re most welcome, as long as you’re willing to sign up to read and write on your blog about 50+ classic books in at most five years. The perk is that, not only will you have read 50+ incredible (or at the very least thought-provoking) works in five years, you’ll get to do it along with all of these people.
I've wanted to join the classics club ever since I discovered it.
I love books. New books. Old books. Kids' books. Fiction. Nonfiction. You name it, I like it, but most of my favorites are classics.
Ordinarily, I think of classic books as those that have stood the test of time. Books that keep getting reprinted and recommended. And, to be honest, sometimes those books your teachers forced you to read and that you vowed to toss on the nearest bonfire once school was out.
My list includes favorite authors and new-to-me authors, books I've never read and books I've read a dozen times. Since I'm working on a couple of middle-grade books, there are children's books on my list, and I've included quite a few Newbery Award winners, since one of my reading goals is to finish every one of those.
So, without further ado, in the next five years, I hope to read and review the following books:
New-to-me books and authors
1. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
2. Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace
3. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
4. Fateless, Imre Kertesz
5. Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
6. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
7. North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
8. Tales of the Alhambra, Washington Irving
9. The Alchemist, Paula Coelho
10. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
11. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
12. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
13. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
14. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
15. The Waves, Virginia Woolf
16. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
17. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
18. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
19. Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
Favorite authors, New-to-me books
20. A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain
21. Captain Blood, Rafael Sabatini
22. Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
23. Mother Mason, Bess Streeter Aldrich
24. Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
25. Shirley, Charlotte Bronte
26. The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
27. The Wrong Box, Robert Louis Stevenson
28. Villette, Charlotte Bronte
Familiar Authors, New-to-me books
29. 1984, George Orwell
30. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
31. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
32. Roots, Alex Haley
33. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
34. A Spinner in the Sun, Myrtle Reed
35. A White Bird Flying, Bess Streeter Aldrich
36. An Old Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott
37. Dracula, Bram Stoker
38. Eight Cousins, Louisa Mae Alcott
39. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
40. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
41. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
42. Miss Bishop, Bess Streeter Aldrich
43. My Antonia, Willa Cather
44. My Cousin Rachel, Daphne duMaurier
45. O Pioneers!, Willa Cather
46. Rebecca, Daphne duMaurier
47. Rose in Bloom, Louisa Mae Alcott
48. Song of Years, Bess Streeter Aldrich
49. Spring Came on Forever, Bess Streeter Aldrich
50. The Black Arrow, Robert Louis Stevenson
51. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
52. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
53. The Rim of the Prairie, Bess Streeter Aldrich
54. The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
55. The White Moll, Frank Packard
56. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Y A and Children's Books, New-to-me authors
57. A Fine White Dust, Cynthia Rylant
58. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
59. Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo
60. Poppy, Avi
61. The Children of the New Forest, Frederick Marryat
62. The Giver, Lois Lowry
63. The Good Master, Kate Seredy
64. The Tales of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
65. The Trumpeter of Krakow, Eric P. Kelly
66. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
67. Watership Down, Richard Adams
Y A and Children's Books--Rereads and/or familiar authors
68. A Daughter of the Nile, Elizabeth George Speare
69. A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
70. Anne of Avonlea, LM Montgomery
71. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
72. Anne of the Island, LM Montgomery
73. Anne of Windy Poplars, LM Montgomery
74. Anne’s House of Dreams, LM Montgomery
75. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib Go over the Big Hill, Maud Hart Lovelace
76. By The Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder
77. Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
78. Dear Enemy, Jean Webster
79. Emily Climbs, LM Montgomery
80. Emily of New Moon, LM Montgomery
81. Emily’s Quest, LM Montgomery
82. Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder
83. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
84. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
85. Rainbow Valley, LM Montgomery
86. Rilla of Ingleside, LM Montgomery
87. The Borrowers, Mary Norton
88. The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden
89. The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank
90. The Incredible Journey, Sheila Burnford
91. The Island of Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
92. The Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
93. The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder
94. The Moorchild, Eloise Jarvis McGraw
95. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
96. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
97. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
98. These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder
99. Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
100. When the Legends Die, Hal Borland
The 3rd Annual Susanna Leonard Hill Holiday Writing Contest is here! Being new to writing for kids, this is my first year to enter, so I'm both scared and excited.
The Contest: Write a children's story about a Holiday Mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster. Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words not counting the title.
Here's my entry, at 349 words:
A Merry, Mixed-up Table
Gavin sniffed. Spicy smells floated from the kitchen. A mixer whirred.
“Is the table set?” Mom called. “The guests will be here soon.”
“I’m done,” Gavin said, “except for the place cards.”
Mom came in, wiping her hands. “Good. Okay, where shall we seat everybody, I wonder. Of course, Grandma Sophie goes here because of her wheelchair.”
Gavin set the card marked Grandma Sophie above the end plate.
Mom said, “Put Great Aunt Katherine next, near the fire.”
Dad called from the kitchen. “Remember, don’t put Grandma and Katherine near each other. They aren’t speaking now.”
“I forgot.” Mom sighed. “Okay, put Cousin Max between them. No, don’t do that. He forgets to pass food and makes the old ladies grouchy.”
A timer went off and Mom hurried toward the kitchen. “Hurry, but make sure Aunt Susan doesn’t sit near Uncle Charlie,” she called, “She doesn’t like to hear his false teeth clicking.”
Gavin threw the cards on Grandma Sophie’s plate. How was he ever going to set this table? Had Mom said put Cousin Max by Grandma Sophie? Uncle Charlie by Aunt Susan? His head hurt from trying to remember. Why couldn’t his family get along?
The doorbell rang. Gavin jumped, then raced around the table, setting place cards wherever they landed.
“Come in,” Dad exclaimed, opening the door. “Give me your coats and find places at the table.”
Gavin said hello to the guests and watched them hunt for their spots.
His parents brought in the food and stared at the mixed-up table. Then they glared at Gavin. He hung his head.
A cheery voice made them turn.
“Why, Katherine,” Grandma Sophie said, rolling up to the table, “it’s been weeks since we talked.”
Great Aunt Katherine nodded. “And here’s dear young Max, too,” she said.
Uncle Charlie and Aunt Susan bumped elbows reaching for the potatoes, and everybody laughed. Uncle Charlie’s teeth clicked. Aunt Susan giggled. Cousin Max passed the ham.
“Best Christmas ever,” Grandma Sophie said.
Mom smiled down the table at Gavin.
He grinned back and gave himself a thumbs-up under the red tablecloth.
Two years ago during an unofficial NaNoWriMo attempt, I wrote the story of one (traumatic, busy, change-filled) year of my childhood.
What began as a sort of memoir for middle-graders has been revised and pruned and expanded into a (too-long) piece of fiction about a twelve-year-old named Celeste. It's still not where I want it, but it's closer.
Most, if not quite all of the events in Full Moon, Half a Heart actually occurred, but they've been ruthlessly embellished and altered. Most, if not quite all of the characters are no longer recognizable as real people, not even family members and best friends.
I like that. It feels less gossipy.
This year, in my normal backwards fashion, I wrote the prequel to Full Moon, Half a Heart, also based on one year of my life. The year I wanted to be a detective.
(To be honest, I wanted to be a detective for more than one year, but that was the year I really wanted it.)
I outlined this time, using what I learned the hard way from my last book. The words streamed out, the way they often do when I have a deadline. I loved every minute of writing it.
Now, I've put Growing toward the Sun on the back burner until after New Year's, at least. I'm letting it simmer while I work on other projects and get ready for Christmas.
I miss it, though. Funny how one can fall in love with one's own characters, one's own story, in one hectic month. Letting my story rest is like hoarding that last Belgian chocolate: it keeps circling my brain, tempting me.
No, I'm not touching it. No.
Here, eat some celery and get away from that drawer!
(We'll see how long I last.)
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is what happens when over 300,000 writers spend November scribbling, biting their nails, and consuming way too much caffeine. The goal? A 50,000-word first draft of the novel or his or her choice.
(Or, in my case, a 25,000-word middle grade novel, three short stories, and the rest of my 50k in a long dreaded project that shall remain unnamed here.)
This is the second year I did NaNoWriMo but the first year I actually signed up on the NaNo website, and the first year I won.
By winning, I mean that I pasted all my words into a little text box, hit "validate" and watched the word count bar in the upper right corner turn purple. I printed out the winner's certificate, too, and claimed that winner's badge you see above.
I'll admit it. It felt good to finish.
In October, I planned my middle grade story and made an outline, so once I sat down, the writing flowed smoothly. I'll have to revise, of course. Whole sentences and paragraphs and maybe even chapters will end up in the trash bin. But I think I have plenty of good, useful stuff down, too.
Now, though, I'm not going to look at those words, not for the entire month of December. I'm going to let the words settle into the page, rest my fingers (from both typing and the aforementioned biting), and maybe even switch back to herbal tea.
As to next year, who knows. But I think I'm hooked.