I'm always looking for partners in reading, and my hope is to make this journey more collaborative! If you'd like to read a selection with me, click on this link and enter your name next to the book(s). Enter your contact info if you want me to send you a reminder email when I start the book, or check the date column to see when I've started. Feel free to choose as many as you like, and I'll share your thoughts on the book alongside my post!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." -Ray Bradbury

Welcome!

I'm just wrapping up my first project, Conquering the Classics (click here if you're curious) so I haven't started on this list just yet. I'm re-reading I Capture the Castle as a literary palate cleanser before I leap back into the world of Irving. After #100's The Scarlet Letter, I needed something a bit lighter than adultery, ostracism, and eternal damnation. ;)

In the meantime, please click here to view the Google sheet and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Have fun exploring the list, and see you in a jiffy!

If you're curious about how I chose the list, here's a summary of my reasons from the reflection post on my other blog:

"The list is designed to feature classics that missed the first list (ahem, imho) as well as classics (or books that could at least loosely be described as such) that were written by authors underrepresented on the first list. Some examples include:
-- Classics by authors of color (particularly African-American authors, but this extends to Latino/Latina authors, Native American authors, international authors from countries other than Russia (sorry T, D, N, and B, no offense!), aboriginal authors, etc.)
-- Less 'conventional' classics, like classic graphic novels (as in featuring cartoon graphics, not the other variety - though that would be fun, too! ;))
-- Classics by women (no offense to Jane, Sylvia, Charlotte, Emily, Virginia, Mary Ann, Harper, Ayn, or the rest of the ladies repped on the first list, but let's be honest, (A) They're almost all white (we had Toni on there, and that is IT) and (B) a whole LOT of them are from Britain. Which is Great, no offense to Britain, but let's EXPAND shall we? The world is way bigger than white America and Great Britain, and (C) Even with the excellent ladies who managed to squeak their way into the literary 'canon' (with fake male names if necessary (looking at you, Mary Ann/George Eliot)), there's nowhere near an equal representation, and the types of stories told can have a tendency to lack a modern woman's perspective.
-- Classics by queer authors, and/or about queer subjects (as in GLBTQ, not odd, though again, FUN!) -- we had a fair amount of latent tension here and there, and some light and mildly kinky BDSM in good ole' Proust (thanks, Marcel!) but other than that, Preeetty low in this category. And Proust was gay himself, but not even really out and certainly not out as a character. So there was clearly room for expansion in this direction, too.
-- Classics by politically repressed/banned/hidden authors - this might seem like an odd choice, but political repression still has a lingering effect on what makes it to our collective consciousness (hello, had Anyone heard of The Master and Margarita before I read it for the blog, other than my Yalie sister Diana?). So I'm throwing in some Rushdie, some Pushkin, some Solzhenitsyn, and works like Suite Fran├žaise)

Perhaps at this point you are asking that classic follow-up question - WHY? Why should we expand the definition of the canon? Aside from my personal argument that the world is made up of millions of unique stories, and a wealth of stories should be displayed, esteemed, remembered, and read, rather than just the one that was the most powerful, or the most influential, or the most common, or the most privileged to be published, consider this note that I jotted down almost a year ago and left on my bedside table for when the time was right:

It is so important what we choose to write, but also most especially what we choose to read and revere. For the books we deem classics are the legacy we leave for generations to come. And our selection of these classics and what is and isn't a 'classic novel' determines not only what we choose to remember as a society but also what we choose to forget. So never stop reading, never stop evaluating, and never stop challenging what the world tells you you should be reading."