The Sunday Salon: Classics & Oranges

Today’s post is all about classics and prize winners, two of my favorite reading categories.

I’m having a great time with The Classics Circuit, which encourages the reading of classic works by celebrating them through book blogs.  This month we’re reading and blogging about Edith Wharton.  I had a lot of fun writing my own post, but it’s been even more fun visiting each stop on the tour.  I’ve read some fabulous reviews and developed an even greater appreciation for Wharton’s life and work.  In particular, I’ve decided I really must read Ethan Frome someday.  I’ve shied away from it because it is almost universally loathed by high school students.  But two reviews really grabbed me:  one by Eva @ A Striped Armchair, and another at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing.  Have a look and I bet you’ll be reading Ethan Frome soon yourself!

In February The Classics Circuit will feature a Harlem Renaissance Tour.  This is a perfect way to celebrate Black History Month in the US, and it seems particularly appropriate to focus on non-white authors after this week’s Bloomsbury USA cover gaffe.  When this tour was announced, I signed up right away.  I’ll be blogging about Langston Hughes on February 11.  And again, I’m really looking forward to reading contributions by other bloggers.  Because this tour has such a broad scope, I expect to learn about many new-to-me authors and poets.

And then … The Classics Circuit committee decided to offer lighter fare.  March will feature Georgette Heyer, who wrote meticulously researched Regency romance novels.  I’ve never read her work, but I have friends who swear by her as a comfort read.  I’m eager to discover a new author.  So once again, I’ve signed up to host the circuit for a day.  I wonder what April will bring?  I can’t wait!

But meanwhile, it’s still January.  And this would be a dreadfully dull and boring month were it not for Orange January, part of the Orange Prize Project.

My 2010 Orange Prize reading is all about the shortlists.  This week I finished a 2006 shortlisted work, The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters (read my review).  It was pretty good, although I enjoyed her novel Fingersmith more.  And then I also read and reviewed Samantha Harvey’s The Wilderness, which was shortlisted in 2009.  This was a sad story of a man suffering from Alzheimer’s, but it’s very well-written.

Now, in a rare move, I have two books going at once.  One is Pat Barker’s Regeneration.  This book has received plenty of acclaim, including a coveted place on the list of “1001 Books you Must Read Before you Die.”  That alone is sufficient reason for me to read it!  But besides that, in my quest to read all of the Booker Prize winners, I have yet to read Barker’s The Ghost Road.  And it’s the third book in a trilogy; Regeneration is the first.  So of course I need to start at the beginning!  My other book is The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticat.  This one has been sitting on my shelves for a while, and I was inspired to read it after the recent earthquake in Haiti.  This is a collection of short stories, so I am hoping to dip in and out of it over the next week or so.

I’ll be back next week more about both of these books, and a look back at the first month of 2010.

Read more from The Sunday Salon here.

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10 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Classics & Oranges

  1. I had the same line of reasoning re: Barker’s trilogy and really loved Regeneration. I haven’t made it to the next two yet though.

    Well done keeping the Classics going!

    • Marieke, I’m committed to reading all three this year because this is my year to complete the Booker winner’s list! So you can expect reviews of the other two books in the coming months. And then you can make your own decision 🙂

  2. I felt the same way about The Night Watch vs. Fingersmith. Have also really enjoyed reading posts from The Classics Circuit, and may give Georgette Heyer a try, too!

  3. You know, you are responsible for a lot of my reading the last couple of years! I hiked on over to the Classics Circuit and signed up for Georgette Heyer month, which will be interesting since I’ve never read her. But keep hearing wonderful things about her, and I have a book of hers on the way from a generous friend, so it seemed the right time! Thank you, Laura (I think)! ;o)

    • Terri dear, I think that “responsibility” you mention is mutual! Who was it that sent me two of my most recent reads? Hmmmm ? I’m really looking forward to discovering Georgette Heyer also and can’t wait to read your impressions.

  4. Oh! “Regeneration” is so brilliant! It was my favorite discovery of my oral examinations list in graduate school, and since then I have taught it several times. Most of my students really love it. It seems to me that the Booker for “The Ghost Road” was something akin to the Oscar for the last Lord of the Rings film – it was really a recognition of the whole trilogy. Both “The Eye in the Door” and “The Ghost Road” are very good, but “Regeneration” remains my favorite.

    • Ariel! Whoa! Where’ve you been?

      Actually, I just spent about 15 minutes getting reacquainted with your blog and have subscribed to it as well! It’s great to have you back blogging again. Yours was one of the first I followed when I was a new blogger in 2007.

      I love your theory about the Booker for The Ghost Road. That makes so much sense to me, especially since most people I’ve talked to seem to consider Regeneration the best of the three.

  5. I have really been enjoying participating in the Classics Circuit and “touring” the other blogs! I missed the sign-up for the Harlem Renaissance but I’m definitely reading along.

    BTW, regarding earlier blog posts of yours, love your husband’s latest woodworking project. My dad is one as well but it’s been a long time since he made me anything.

    • Valerie, thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I’m lucky to be married to such a talented guy and benefit from his handiwork! Also glad I’ve inspired you to read The Reef … The Classics Circuit seems likely to topple all of our TBR piles!

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