At least, not in the sense that it's something out of the ordinary. You see, I've signed up to the 2016 Classics Challenge, but I grew up on classics. Not because I was clever or well-read, but because at the time I first began buying books for myself Penguin had launched their £1 Penguin Popular Classics range. And if like me you were a skint, book-loving teenager in the 90s you'll know there really wasn't a choice when the options to buy ranged from a modern book for £6.99+ or a classic for £1.
I've since learnt that just because a book is a classic it's not necessarily readable (I advise you to steer well clear of Gulliver's Travels or The Water Babies), but the first pound classics I picked up happened to be really very good, which ended up influencing my reading for many years to come.
Among the titles I devoured in my late teens were The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, which has become my all-time favourite read; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, even better as an adult than in my childhood years; and Tolstoy's War and Peace, bought purely because it offered the best page-to-penny ratio, loved because of everything I experienced while reading.
All of which makes it seem a bit unnecessary for me to sign up to a classics challenge, but the simple truth is I like to get involved. I also like to shout about my favourite book wherever possible, and as this challenge offers opportunities for both it would be a little daft of me not to join in.
At the moment I have a vague plan of the classics I plan to read for the challenge, but as my reading mood changes the list may also be subject to variation. Essentially, don't hold it against me if I don't end up reading what I set out to complete.
You'll see from the pictures I've gone for a diverse selection of classics, with a little crime, comedy, love, war, children's and science fiction all thrown into the mix, because in my eyes a classic is a book that has or will stand the test of time, but really the classics 'genre' is so large I don't see how participants will be able to limit themselves to just one per month.
So, on my current 2016 Classics Challenge list are:
- John Buchan, The thirty-nine steps
- Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
- Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Shuttle
- John Christopher, When the Tripods came
- Arthur C Clarke, Childhood's End
- Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
- Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons
- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
- Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
- John Whyndam, The Kraken Wakes
- P G Wodehouse, The Adventures of Sally
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
As I'm yet to buy the last book, I've instead photographed Andy Miller's The Year of Reading Dangerously (acquired here), which is the reason I'm determined I must finally read Moby Dick.
I started the challenge with The Shuttle, published by Persephone, which I finished reading last night. Telling the story of unhappy marriage, it's a beautiful, uplifting read but certainly doesn't live up to any stereotypes, however as I'm no book reviewer I'll direct you here to find out more.
With that thought in mind, I admit it's unlikely I'll blog about every classic I read for the challenge, however I will be taking part using the #2016ClassicsChallenge hashtag, so if you'd like to find out how closely I stick to my proposed list, take a look on Twitter. Also, if you're looking for classic inspiration drop me a line or tweet, I'm always happy to make recommendations.
Meantime, I'm busy choosing my February classic. I've not decided which one from the list it will be, but while I make my mind up I'm treating myself to another favourite read: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of my go-to books when I need to escape, it also happens to be a classic...
Posted: 26th January, 2016