Category Archives: The Classics Club Spin

April Activities

Is it only April 7th today? It seems like April has already been a month long! How much Life can be packed into seven days, anyway? Well, I have to answer my own question with: A LOT!

April Activities thus far:

I have finished two books already in April. I read Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute, for my Classics Club Spin book. I will be reviewing it soon. Then, I listened to the audiobook version of When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi. It’s a beautifully written memoir of a young neurosurgeon’s battle with lung cancer. It made the waiting room time go much faster.

 

Our daughter came to spend time with us, which is always a delightful time for us. Once again, she helped out with our yard work and gardening, something she loves to do and which we appreciate so deeply.

Our daughter starting the spring clean-up the butterfly garden…

Byron underwent his second chemotherapy infusion, and in these first few days of April, has completely lost his hair. He is tolerating these chemo treatments every three weeks pretty well, with fatigue (and hair loss!) being the main side effects so far. During the times that he is feeling deep fatigue, we have been watching (and really enjoying) a YouTube channel called 4kSeoul. A very talented young man films his walks through the beautiful city of Seoul, South Korea. There is no narration, just sounds of the city surrounding you (especially if you put on your headphones to listen). Byron loves to see the architecture of the city as we walk through different neighborhoods. I am fascinated by the people we see, the energy of that city, and the historical structures we come across on these walks. It’s a fun way to experience a different place and a different culture.

On a walk in Namsan Park, in Seoul, South Korea…

So, hello to April! Life is full and busy for us right now, albeit in some ways we didn’t anticipate, and we are enjoying and appreciating the beauty of early Spring.  I hope you are enjoying your April, too!

Classics Club Spin # 29

It’s time again for a Classics Club Spin! (Click here to see how a “SPIN” works.)  I missed the announcement of this new Spin, so I didn’t make a list of 20 books from my current Classics Club list. However, I want to participate, and so when I realized that a number (#11) had already been chosen (too late to put together a list), I looked at my list for my TBR Pile Challenge, and found that #11 on that list is also on my Classics Club list. Perfect!  So for Classics Club Spin #29, I will be reading Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute! And I’m looking forward to it!

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court


I will admit that I did not care much for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain. It was on my list of 50 classics to read in 5 years, and was the book that came up for my Classics Club Spin #28, however I labored to get through it. Mark Twain had a wicked sense of humor, and that was the part of the book I enjoyed the most. If it had just been a comedy, with the fantastical adventure of going back in time to the world of King Arthur, I would have gotten a big kick out of it. But it was overall a much more serious book, touted as a critique of the political and social Institutions of the time. I’m afraid I’m suffering from burnout from the political and social institutions of our own time, and it was clear from this book that not much has changed since Twain’s America.
I found it tedious with the tedium lifted by episodes of brilliant humor.

from the publisher:

Hank Morgan is the archetype of modern man in 19th-century New England: adept at his trade as a mechanic, innovative, forward thinking. So when a blow to the head inexplicably sends him back in time 1300 years and places him in Camelot, instead of despair, he feels emboldened by the prospect placed before him and sets out to modernize and improve the lives of his fellow citizens. But, in order to do so, he’ll need to contend with brash nobles, superstitious nincompoops, and a conniving, blowhard wizard.

While time travel has become a common trope in storytelling today, in Twain’s time it was truly a novel idea; all the more imaginative when you consider how it’s used for satirical effect. A thinly veiled critique of the political and social institutions that impede progress and a scathing condemnation of the naiveté that allows them to thrive, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court saw Twain’s biting wit and sharp tongue honed to a fine point.

I had both a Kindle version of the book and the audiobook which was narrated by Nick Offerman. He did a great job with his narration, and that was a plus in my experience with the story. And as I have discovered over time with my negative responses to certain books, it was simply not a good time for me to read it. I might like it much better at a different point in my life. But to quote my wise son (at age 3 or 4), “maybe so and maybe not.”

Reading Long Books

A Place of Her Own, by James C. Christensen

It’s been a long time since I read a long-ish book, and now I’m immersed in two of them at the same time. Both books are on my Classics Club list, but I didn’t plan to read them right now, let alone at the same time. However, one was chosen as my Classics Club Spin book, and the other one was for a fun read-along challenge that I simply couldn’t resist. So here I am, reading one chapter a day for The Three Musketeers read-along, and listening to the audiobook of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court while doing chores or driving in the car. And I’m enjoying them both!

Spin Book Reading

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Today, the number was chosen for The Classics Club Spin #28. It was book #12 on my list, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain, so I will be spending the next few days immersed in this story.

I actually have both the print version and the audiobook version. The audiobook is narrated by Nick Offerman, so I know it’s going to be a fun listen!

Happy reading to all who are participating in this fun event!

Classics Club Spin #28

It’s time for another Classics Club “Spin!”  Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your blog.
  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog before Sunday, 17th October.
  • We’ll announce a number from 1-20.
  • Read that book by 12th December, 2021.

Here is my list of 20 books. Check back here on October 17th to see which book I will be reading for this new Spin.

  1. Sons, by Pearl S. Buck
  2. The Enchantress of Florence, by Salman Rushdie
  3. The Little Bulbs, by Elizabeth Lawrence
  4. The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
  5. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
  6. Home, by Toni Morrison
  7. The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. In Morocco, by Edith Wharton
  9. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
  11. Summer at Fairacre, by Miss Read
  12. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain (click on the title to read my review)

  13. The Cossacks, by Leo Tolstoy
  14. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
  15. Night, by Ellie Wiesel
  16. Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
  17. Round the Bend, by Nevil Shute
  18. Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki
  19. House Made of Dawn, by M. Scott Momaday
  20. Malgudi Days, by R.K. Narayan

Sunday Reading

…painting by Robert Panitzsch (Danish artist, 1879-1949)

I came across this painting by the Danish artist, Robert Panitzsch, and loved the feeling it gave me. It describes beautifully my Sunday afternoon reading mood!  The book open on the chair would be my current read: A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. And I would be taking just a brief break to make some more tea. How lovely to read in such a room with sunshine, open window, potted plants. The perfect Sunday afternoon!

Classics Club Spin #26


It’s time for Classics Club Spin #26!”  Here’s how it works for members of The Classics Club.

At your blog, before Sunday 18th April, 2021, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. (Click here to see my list of 50 books to read in 5 years.)

This is your Spin List.

You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period.

On Sunday 18th, April, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by the 31st May, 2021.

Please check back here soon to see which of these books I will be reading for this new Classics Club Spin!

  1. Night, Elie Wiesel
  2. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  3. The Gaucho Martin Fierro, José Hernández
  4. The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck
  5. The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
  6. The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen
  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  8. Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell
  9. The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck
  10. The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende
  11. A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry

  12. The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck
  13. A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
  14. The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck
  15. The Book of Tea, Kazuko Okakura
  16. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  17. The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck
  18. Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope
  19. The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck
  20. Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village, Ronald Blythe

Classics Club Spin #25: Heidi

Although I didn’t post my list earlier for the Classics Club Spin #25, I did read the book that corresponded to the number chosen. That book was Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. It was another book I had missed reading when I was growing up. Of course, I loved the movie starring Shirley Temple, but for some reason, I never read the book. I do love going back and reading the books I missed over the years!  And this book was a sweet one.

Summary from the publisher:

When Heidi, a cheerful 5-year-old orphan, comes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps, she brings a bright ray of sunshine into the lives of the people around her. Young Peter, a goatherd, shares her love of nature, and his blind grandmother delights in the little girl’s bubbling personality. Even Heidi’s surly and hermit-like grandfather, the old Alm-Uncle, finds his long-lost grandchild a source of immense pleasure.

A few years later, when she is forced go to Frankfurt to serve as a companion for Klara, a well-to-do but sickly girl, Heidi must leave her beloved mountains and friends behind—an experience that proves highly traumatic to the innocent and sensitive little girl. But her return home and a visit from Klara result in magical moments that will leave young readers thoroughly captivated by this heartwarming tale of an unforgettable child and her effect on the people around her.

Some favorite quotes from the book:

    • Let’s enjoy the beautiful things we can see, my dear, and not think about those we cannot.”
    • The fire in the evening was the best of all. Peter said is wasn’t fire, but he couldn’t tell me what it really was.  You can though, Grandfather, can’t you?’  ‘It’s the sun’s way of saying goodnight to the mountains’ he explained. ‘He spreads that beautiful light over them so that they won’t forget him till he comes back in the morning.

And some teacher humor that caught my eye:

“My tutor is very kind, and never cross, and he will explain everything to you. But mind, when he explains anything to you, you won’t be able to understand; but don’t ask any questions, or else he will go on explaining and you will understand less than ever. Later when you have learnt more and know about things yourself, then you will begin to understand what he meant.”

As I said before, it was a sweet book. Heidi was one of those wonderfully strong, free-spirited, deeply caring girls that I loved to read about in stories like  Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it…and now I’d like to find the Shirley Temple movie and watch it again!

 

Heidi was one of my choices for my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

 

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust: Reading the World,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book based in Switzerland.

Classics Club Spin, #24: The House on Mango Street

“She thinks stories are about beauty. Beauty that is there to be admired by anyone, like a herd of clouds grazing overhead. She thinks people who are busy working for a living deserve beautiful little stories, because they don’t have much time and are often tired.”

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, is a beautifully written series of vignettes, very poetic and poignant, about a young Hispanic girl growing up in Chicago. These short little narratives of so many episodes in her life, create a clear view of the culture she grows up in and the struggles she faces in coming of age. It’s not an easy life, but she is one who observes closely and learns from her experiences. She is often lonely on her road to self-discovery, but is also surrounded by family and friends. She seeks beauty and a life beyond where she is growing up. And she describes it all as a poet would.

“Someday I will have a best friend all my own. One I can tell my secrets to. One who will understand my jokes without my having to explain them. Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor.”

The House on Mango Street was one of my choices for my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

 

 

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 I also chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book took place in Illinois.

Classics Club Spin #24

It’s time for another Classics Club “Spin!”  Here’s how it works:

At your blog, by August 9th, 2020,, 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.

Try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you have been putting off, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favourite author, re-reads, ancients, non-fiction, books in translation — whatever you choose.)

The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30th September, 2020.

During this time of continued quarantine for Covid-19, I am enjoying a lot of reading. So here I go again with a list of  books from my 50 books to read before March, 2022.
Please check back here soon to see which of these books I will be reading for the new Spin!

  1. Rose in Bloom, Louisa May Alcott
  2. Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope
  3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
  4. A River Runs Through It, Norman McClean
  5. Night, Elie Wiesel
  6. The Book of Tea, Kazuko Okakura
  7. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
  8. A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
  9. Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell
  10. The Story of an African Farm, Olive Schreiner
  11. A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
  12. Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
  13. Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
  14. The Ramayana, Bulbul Sharma
  15. The Lost Prince, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  16. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  17. The Gaucho Martin Fierro, José Hernández
  18. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

  19. Sons, Pearl S. Buck
  20. Barracoon, Zora Neale Hurston

Classics Club Spin #23: Excellent Women

I read Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym, many years ago. It was the first book I read by her and I remember liking it very much. Since then, I have read many of her other books, but it had been so long since I read this one that I decided to include it on my list of 50 books to read in 5 years for The Classics Club. Last month, it came up as my “Classics Club Spin” book for May. I’m glad I reread it, and I’m happy to spend time reading anything written by Barbara Pym.

Excellent Women” is a term referring to unmarried women who are considered spinsters. In this story, which takes place in the 1950s, the main character, Mildred Lathbury, is just over 30, and well established in the community as a spinster. As the daughter of a clergyman, she devotes much of her time to helping at her church, and just helping people in general. She is capable and independent, and quite satisfied with her life as a single person. But new neighbors, a married couple, complicate her predictable daily existence, and she gets drawn in to the drama of their lives. She is good friends with the pastor of her church and his sister, (who has always taken good care of him), but when he gets engaged to the widow of another clergyman, that further complicates Mildred’s ordered life.

Throughout this story, I felt that Mildred was the only “adult in the room.” Everyone else was needy in one way or another, or selfish and unable to really care about others. I felt sorry for Mildred because of the demands placed on her, and when others took advantage of her I wanted her to stand up to them and just say “No.”  It took her quite awhile to be able to do that, but she weathers all the demands and drama, and in the end appreciates her single life, her solitude, and her independence even more than before.

I suppose an unmarried woman just over thirty, who lives alone and has no apparent ties, must expect to find herself involved or interested in other people’s business, and if she is also a clergyman’s daughter then one might really say that there is no hope for her.

There is always a lot of subtle humor in Barbara Pym’s novels, which is very entertaining. I liked the main character, Mildred Lathbury, more and more as the book progressed and appreciated her intelligence and her insightfulness into the humans around her. This was a novel well worth re-reading.

 

Excellent Women was one of my choices for my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.