Jan 28, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-03

I haven't done a Weekly Geeks since Dewey's passing, but in this new year, I've decided to rejoin the weekly meme with a subject close to my heart, the classics.

We were asked to choose two or more questions from the list and these are the ones I chose:

1. How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don't get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

I have loved classic literature since I first picked up Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear in 7th or 8th grade, shortly after I was reading Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I think that sums up my favorite classics. For someone who has little experience with the classics should probably start with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens or A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens because those are classics that are easy to read and get into with their wacky characters. I would love for others to fall in love with Jane Austen as well, probably start with Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility.

2. Let's say you're vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don't find her a book, she'll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?

Myrtle, Myrtle what are we going to do with you? I think you need to spread your wings and check out Cold Rock River by J.L. Miles and Testimony by Anita Shreve. Not to mention, Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt and Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips.

3. A challenge, should you choose to accept it: Read at least one chapter of a classic novel, preferably by an author you're not familiar with. Did you know you can find lots of classics in the public domain on the web? Check out The Popular Classic Book Corner and The Complete Classic Literature Library, for example. Write a mini-review based on this chapter: What are your first impressions? Would you read further?

For this mini challenge, I chose to read Chapter 1 of The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit, who is an author I have never read before.

I was initially intrigued by the first mention of Guy Fawkes, but there are several paragraphs where the fireworks and their validity are discussed. This conversation turned me off from the beginning. I didn't get far into this chapter, and think I should have selected another author. I had no idea who the kids were in the chapter, knew very little about what they looked like and how they related to one another.

However, this doesn't temper my thoughts on trying other chapter of E. Nesbit's works.


Terri said...

Great post Serena. I loved your lecture to Myrtle! I have Testimony waiting for me at the library, I think that will be my next read.

Anna said...

For the Nesbit book, do you own that or did you access the first chapter online? Just curious.

I was never a big Dickens fan, but I enjoy Austen like you do.

Diary of an Eccentric

Serena said...

Terri: Someone has to lecture that Myrtle. There are so many great books out there that she has been missing out on. I wonder who picked that name anyways.

Anna: I read the first chapter last night online. Though I didn't finish the whole chapter because I got bored with the firecracker argument that seemed to go on forever.

As for Dickens, those are the only two I liked. I would never recommend A Tale of Two Cities for example. LOL I love Jane, but you knew that.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Classics? My darling, I have TWO degrees in English and am proud of the fact I've successfully avoided most of the classics. (Guess I'm worse than Aunt Myrtle, huh? Hey, you should have bought her The Demo Tapes! Just kidding.)

Thanks for the congrats. Now, can I turn a profit TWICE??? That is the question!

Serena said...

Susan: I have complete faith in you! You can turn a profit 100 times over. is that too high or too low...

Jeanne said...

To read E. Nesbit, one should really begin with Five Children and It. Like with some mystery novels, there's a kind of progression, and that's where the children are introduced.

Jo-Jo said...

Gods Behaving Badly should definitely put Myrtle in her place...lol

Serena said...

Jeanne: Thanks for the advice...when I'm ready to try him again, not for a Weekly Geeks challenge, I will start with the one you suggested!

Jo-Jo: That's exactly what I was thinking!

Iliana said...

This weekly geeks assignment also brought me back to the game :)

I agree a Christmas Carol would be a great introduction to the classics. Especially as it's a story that's so well-known I would think it'd be easier for someone to follow along.

Serena said...

Iliana: I really think the classics that people know the stories already would help ease them into the actual novels.

naida said...

Great post Serena, I havent read Dickens yet!
But I am a big Austen fan.
I cant wait to read Gods Behaving Badly.

I havent read Nesbit.

.Books by TJ Baff said...

I agree with Jeanne...you must start with "5 Children and It" and then work your way through the rest of the books.
I also loved George Macdonald's books like "The Princess and Curdie" or "The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby" by Charles Kingsley.
as a child I was exposed to alot of old fashioned stories.
"The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett or "A Little Princess"

Anonymous said...

OMG...the idea of Myrtle reading Gods Behaving Badly just cracks me up. I can just picture her reaction to the sex scene in the bathroom.

Serena said...

Naida: If you do read dickens start with Great Expectations...you'll love Mrs. Haversham (SP?)

TJ: I adored the secret garden as well...that was my first hard cover book.

Softdrink: I agree..that would be too funny. Perhaps why I mentioned it to her...I want to see her reaction.

Stephanie said...

I just read P&P for the first time last year and feel that it was the perfect introduction to Jane Austen. I loved it!

Serena said...

Stephanie: I'm glad you liked P&P! It's one of my favorites

Ali said...

>>I wonder who picked that name anyways. That would be me! It was a fairly common name in the 1880-90s, then it plummetted in popularity in the 20th century, so it seemed like the perfect choice for this exercise.

My kids and I enjoyed E. Nesbit's The Railway Children a lot, but couldn't get into Five Children and It, which we tried first. I haven't read any others by her. Sorry it was a bust!

Serena said...

Ali: Thanks for clearing that up. makes sense that it would be from the late 1800s that it would be popular.

I may try e. nesbit again sometime.

Shana said...

I can't wait to read Gods Behaving Badly! Great answers Serena.