Thursday, May 7, 2015

Classics Club Survey.

The Classics Club is a great community that I have had the pleasure of modding and working for since shortly after it's creation. If you haven't heard of it, it is simply a blogging and reading challenge to incorporate more classics into your reading and discuss these wonderful books! I've been away from blogging for a bit, so I am setting goals to get myself back into the community and reading more classics like I used to.

Anyway, not too long ago, the Club hosted a survey related to all thing classic, and I thought it would be fun to fill out. Please post a link if you've completed this as well! I'd love to check it out!

Share a link to your club list. 
My list is here. I feel like I need to update it a bit to make it a bit more manageable, but that'll have to wait until the summer when I'm a little less insane.

When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) :)
I joined the club right when Jillian created it. Since I started blogging as a "classics only" blog, it only made sense and I loved the idea of the community from the start. Since it's creation, I've probably read about 50 titles off my Classics Club list, but I have a ton more to go. I see reading the classics as a lifelong pursuit, so I don't imagine I'll ever be "done" reading them.

What are you currently reading?
I'm in the middle of a number of books! The classic that's currently on my nightstand is Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I'm only a couple chapters into it, but I have high hopes. I did set it aside while school is still crazy.

What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
The last classic I read was Persuasion by Jane Austen over the winter. It was a reread, but I LOVED it. I think it has a great love story that is believable. And Austen is a great old friend.

What are you reading next? Why?
I really want to read A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It's on my list and the last time I read it was sometime in college.

Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?
The one that sticks out to me most is Sister Carrie by Theodore Drieser. I loved An American Tragedy by him as well, but Sister Carrie just blew me away. I really love books that surround "fallen" women (The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, A Portrait of a Lady), so I'm not surprised I loved it.

Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?
There are a lot of books that I'm looking forward to. I'm excited to get to the last book by the Brontes on my list-Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I also want to give another crack at Clarissa. I attempted to read it a few months ago, but I'm thinking of challenging myself to read it over the summer.

I also want to get to some rereads-some Dickens, more by Cather, etc. And I want to read more by some of my favorite authors-Twain, Wharton, etc.

Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?
Clarissa. Hahaha. That book really is a beast. I also have another book by Ayn Rand-The Fountainhead-that I'm not that sure about. I read Atlas Shrugged a few years ago with a group of bloggers and slogged through most of it. But looking back on it, I do feel like it was worth my time. I have some other big books waiting as well-more by the Russians, etc.

First classic you ever read?
When I was a kid, my mom bought us a set of those Great Illustrated Classics. I avoided a bunch of them as being "boy" books, but I devoured Little Women, Black Beauty, and Heidi. I'm pretty sure I can still recite passages from those versions of the books. So, probably those. :)

Toughest classic you ever read?
Very early on in my blogging challenge I read Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. It was actually the second book I read for my blog and while I loved it, it was challenging for me and outside my element. While I considered myself pretty well-versed in the classics prior to my project, I had avoided the Russians. I would also add Clarissa to that list. Because it is a beast.

Oh, I'll also add Moby-Dick to that list. That book was massive and unlike anything else I've ever read.

Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?
That has to go to one of my favorites of all time-The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. It gets me every time.

Although, I would also add Germinal to that list. It's a book that really sticks with you long after reading it.

Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?
I read War and Peace a few years ago, which has probably been one of the longest on my list. And the longest remaining is the oft-mentioned Clarissa. Considering it's one of the longest books ever published.....

Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?
I still have a lot of Greek lit on my list-The Aeneid, etc. I've read quite a few older works-The Odyssey (namesake of my blog), The Iliad, Lysistrata, and a few others...

Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?
I have a few sitting on my shelf that I'd like to get to at some point-some on Dickens, Wharton, Twain, and Cather.

Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
I feel To Kill A Mockingbird is such a classic that if you haven't read it, you should. It's a pretty pivotal piece of American literature. I'd also say The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well.

Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?
My Penguin clothbounds and English Library Editions of course!

Favorite movie adaption of a classic?
To be honest, I don't really enjoy movie adaptations of classics! I find they always miss the passion, etc. That being said, I do like Shakespeare in movie form, so I'll go with the Much Ado About Nothing film.

Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.
I'd love to see a modern interpretation of The House of Mirth. Because it's my fav...

Least favorite classic? Why?
Difficult question. If you've been around for a long time, you'll know I have a deep-rooted hatred for Dickens' Great Expectations, but I am planning on rereading it in the future. I feel like now that I have a love for some of his work, I might decide I like it.

I also hate Heart of Darkness. I've read it multiple times. And I just. don't. get. it. NOPE.

Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.
Sherwood Anderson
James Baldwin
Knut Hamsen
Guy de Maussapant

Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?
I really want to read Hamsen's Hunger, mainly because I've never seen anyone talk about it and I'm intrigued.

Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)
My Antonia. Didn't love it fully as a high schooler, but reading it for this made me LOVE Cather. I need to get back to my Cather project....

Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?
Jane Eyre is a great character. I still can't believe I waited SO LONG to read Jane Eyre.

Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?
This is a really hard question....I think I have a lot in common with Jane Eyre, but we're also very dissimilar. Actually, I have no idea who I'm most like!

Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?
Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. The girl's got spunk and fire, and I need more of that in my life.

Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?
Too hard for me to decide... ;)

If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?
I actually wouldn't wish this. I'm very much of the belief that an author's work should stand as itself, and that a reader's interpretation is more important than how the author views it. So....I wouldn't want my impressions of a book to be altered because of new information....

Favorite children’s classic?
Definitely The Little House books, or Black Beauty.

Who recommended your first classic?
Probably my mom. :)

Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)
Adam at Roof Beam Reader. He's a great resource for new lit. Not classic related, but he introduced me to Andrew Smith, who is certainly one of my favorite writers.

Favorite memory with a classic?
When I was going into ninth grade, we had to read a few books over the summer. One of those was The Count of Monte Cristo. I had brought it with me up north to my grandparents cottage, and I can remember reading it on the back of the boat as it rocked back and forth. Reading the prison scenes and escape while on the lake is still incredibly vivid!

Classic author you’ve read the most works by?
Oh man....probably Shakespeare because of the sheer amount of his plays I flew through a few years ago during Shakespeare Reading Month. I'd also add Wharton to that list, and probably Dickens.

Classic author who has the most works on your club list?
Again, probably Shakespeare, but also Dickens, Henry James, and a few others...

Classic author you own the most books by?
Shakespeare. :) I own most of his work, and I think I only have 7 or 8 plays to get to complete my little collection....

Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)
My list is SO LONG that I have no idea....

If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. 
:) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?
I've already started this process with 3 authors-Shakespeare, Cather, and Dickens. I'd like to add Dostoevsky to that list. And perhaps Toni Morrison for a more modern writer?

How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?
So many! I love rereading books. I'm planning on jumping into Gone with the Wind shortly, as well as Germinal.

Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?
I've struggled through a few. Heart of Darkness was probably the worst one. I've read it at least 5 times (once in high school and multiple times in college for classes). I just....hate it.

Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
I really didn't have any expectations for David Copperfield, but man, that was a fabulous book.

Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
I really want to get back into reading classics on a more regular basis. I've lost sight of that the last couple of years as school stress piled up. But I feel like I'm at a manageable level I'm ready to dive in.

Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Uncle Tom's Cabin. Considering I teach AP U.S. History, I feel like this is a book I SHOULD read. I always say I'm going to read it, but never do. Need to make it happen.

Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
I'm probably going to continue pushing off Ulysses.

Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?
The supportive community!

List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?
I'm out of touch with the community, but I'll give another shout out to Adam, also Melissa, and Lost Generation Reader.

If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? the best title you’ve completed? a fond memory? a good friend made?
I love readalongs! One of my favorites was one of the first I ever participated in, for Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. It was a great group of bloggers and I really enjoyed getting into the community.

If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?
All of them. Because fun. :)

How long have you been reading classic literature?
I started regularly reading the classics in high school, and picked up reading them even more in college. I started my blog when I was 24, so since then, I've read many that I probably would have never read otherwise.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Introducing: A Victorian Celebration 2015!

Welcome to the launching post for an event that I'm super excited to be hosting once again. Way back in 2012, I hosted a 2-month long celebration of Victorian literature. I loved the event as it celebrated many of the things I love about the book blogging life-books, a great community, and lots of amazing posts.

This summer, I'm hosting the second edition of A Victorian Celebration, and I hope you'll join in on the fun. I'm planning on having a few giveaways during the event, as well as guest posts, information about Victorian writers, and lots of posts related to the Victorians.

The Victorian era in literature refers to the time that Queen Victoria was ruling in Britain (1837-1901). It was a time period of great peace and prosperity for Britain and allowed for a lot of artistic and literary expression. Generally speaking, Victorians are only the British authors who published during this time period. However, some like to group American writers and others into the mix since their work can be closely tied together. I'm okay with you reading and linking any books published during this time period, but ideally you'd be reading what are considered to be the Victorians (British writers). 

Starting on June 1, I'll have a Master post up to link your reviews and posts about the Victorians. The event will last until the end of July. You can stop by any time to read other posts and reviews of Victorian literature!

If you're interested in joining along, please sign up below, and feel free to take a look at some of my favorite posts from the last event 3 years ago.

I look forward to celebrating the Victorians with you this summer!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekend Update for April 26, 2015: Readathon, Working Out, and School.

So, I participated in the readathon yesterday and while I didn't read as much as I intended, I still had a great time. I spent a lot of time cheering on blogs and on Instagram as an unofficial cheerleader, which was really fun and yes, time consuming. I've never signed up to be an official cheerleader, but for October, I certainly will. I had a blast. It was a great way to reconnect with the community!

I did read two full books-Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton and Anya's Ghostby Vera Brosgol. I also read 100+ pages in Mistborn and listened to 2 hours of Amy Poehler's Yes Please while I cleaned and did other things around the apartment (I have about an hour and a half left, so hopefully I finish it at the gym this afternoon). I'm really happy with what I accomplished yesterday, and while I feel guilty I didn't get a ton of grading done (actually...none), I have today to catch up. I needed the reading time!

And since I just mentioned the gym...

Matt and I are entering the third week of our "lifestyle change." Both of us are turning 30 this year (me in July, him in November), and we both need to make adjustments to how we eat, work out, etc. We made a game plan over Spring Break to join a gym, eat out less, and make smarter choices. For him, that mainly includes eating better. Matt isn't overweight, but he is diabetic and should be smarter about what he eats. His goals are just to eat better and gain some muscle. Oh, and to support me. :)

For me, I think I'm finally at the point where I want and need and understand the importance of shedding extra weight. I was also starting to reach a scary point on the scale. Coupled with a very "get it together" talk from my doctor, I'm finally emotionally and physically ready to make those changes. So, I finally set up my fitbit that I got as a present a couple of years ago, gave up diet pop and caffeine cold turkey, started making better choices about what I eat and when, and have been going to the gym a minimum of 3x a week. I already feel better about myself.

Giving up the pop has been difficult. I mean...I would stop on my way to work EVERY morning to get a large diet coke from McDonald's. And I would also drink pop all afternoon and evening. It was awful. But I was scared to stop drinking it because of the headaches, etc. Now, it hasn't been as bad as I thought, but I definitely have had some withdrawal symptoms. My headaches haven't been awful, but I did have quite a few the first week. I think that I will eventually pull caffeinated tea back into my diet, but for now, I'm still staying away. It's been about 2 weeks. Best decision I've ever made.

Coupled with giving up pop, I started drinking a mess of water. And now that I'm drinking what I SHOULD be drinking, I'm noticing some huge differences. First, my skin looks and feels much better. I still have dry skin, but it's much better than it used to be. Second, my lips are not as chapped. I think I'm finally giving my body the proper hydration. I've also noticed that while I don't have caffeine coursing through my body, water does enough to perk me up in the morning. I'll take it.

Going to the gym has also been great. I haven't tried to push myself too hard to start, but there have been a few times I have pushed a muscle group and felt sore after (my non-existent abs still hurt from Friday). I forgot how much I like going to the gym. It very much gives me "Me" time to relax and go over things I need to do. I also use the time to listen to audiobooks, which is another way to cram in some reading. And I find that all of the things I learned when I worked with a trainer have come right back to me (I worked with a trainer leading up to my wedding. That's the last time I lost a significant amount of weight).

I also have a few current students who work out at the same gym and we run into each other often. I love that they are supportive and have asked questions about what I'm doing. To be honest, the first time I saw them I was self-conscious, but I quickly got over it. I'm okay with them seeing their overweight teacher making better decisions. One of them will often walk by me on the treadmill or elliptical and give me a good high five when he comes in. I'll take it.

Since making all of these changes about 3 weeks ago, I've lost 12 pounds. I know a lot of that was just water weight and the chugging of copious amounts of water, but it's a great start.

I know this is going to be a very long journey as I have to lose 100 pounds to get into the "healthy" range for my age and height. But I'm okay with that. I doubt I'll talk about it often, but might update from time to time. Because here's the thing...for so long I have let my weight dictate who I am and what I do. I don't want to be bound to that anymore. So I'm working towards making that change permanent. And just being a healthier version of who I already am.

Switching gears, school is about to wind up for some crazy. While I have no intentions of stepping back from blogging or taking a break, I know it's going to get crazy once May gets here-that's when our seniors have all their events, plus my National Board Portfolio is due (and I still have a lot to do). I'm going to do my best to get as much done during the week as I can so I have time to read on weekends, and I'm going to try and get some posts prescheduled, but if there is radio silence for a bit, know I'll be back hard core starting near the end of May. I'm not working this summer either, so I have a lot of reading plans in store.

Speaking of those plans...a couple years ago I hosted a long Victorian Event in the summer. Would there be any interest in that again?

Have a happy reading week!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Classic Words of Wisdom Winners!

Hi everyone!

Had a small issue with my laptop booting, thus the delay in posting winners for my mini-challenge. First, a huge thank you to everyone who participated! I'm still trying to visit everyone to see your wonderful posts, but it'll take me a little bit.

There were 128 entries linked up, so I entered that into

Our winner is....number 59, Jessica Barnes! She chose a wonderful quote by C.S. Lewis. I will try and get in touch with you about getting you your Penguin Clothbound of choice!

I also decided to pick a second winner because I just can't help myself.

Congratulations to number 103, Amanda at Fig and Thistle! She chose a quote from To Kill a Mockingbird. :)

Thanks again to everyone who entered and participated. I hope you enjoyed the challenge and happy reading!

Readathon Mini-Challenge: Classic Words of Wisdom.

Welcome readathoners!

Hopefully by this early point in the readathon you're feeling inspired and full of love for your bookish pursuits today. I'm hopefully deep into my first book and chugging along right beside you. :)

For this mini-challenge, I'm challenging you to something I am super passionate about-the classics! I started my blog a number of years ago with the sole intention of reading as many of the classics as I could to better myself as a teacher. And while I certainly read an eclectic mix of books now, I'm always drawn back to the classics and their words of wisdom.

So, for this challenge, you need to create a post highlighting your favorite "Classic Words of Wisdom" and then explain their meaning to you.

The prize?

Here is my collection!
Your choice of any Penguin Clothbound Classic, shipped from (please make sure they deliver to your country if you're international-they ship to most places!).

To enter, write your post, then return here and link it up on the MisterLinky. Also, please comment with an e-mail so I can get in touch with you easily! When my challenge closes after Hour 4, I will pick a random winner. :)

Thanks for playing, and as inspiration, I offer you my own "Words of Wisdom."

These words, from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, are words that have become incredibly important to me recently. As someone with big dreams, I always tell myself "I wish" when things are difficult or problems step in the way of what I'm trying to accomplish. It's good to tell myself "I will" and be a person of action. That's a philosophy I've adopted over the last few months, and I'm amazed at how much stronger I've become.