« Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life | Main | "...mere smoke of opinion..." »

Summer of Classics begins!

Today marks the start of my third annual Summer of Classics. During the next three months I'll read classic works which, for whatever reason, I've never gotten around to. My first book is Henry David Thoreau's Walden, which I started reading more than twenty years ago during a tedious job assignment (don't ask) but never finished. I can already tell it's going to be a slow read, but hopefully will be rewarding if I stay with it. Though I typically stick to fiction during this summers, starting with Walden dovetails nicely with both the nonfiction kick I've been on for the past few months as well as the book I just finished, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, as they both address self-sufficiency, simplicity and getting back to nature.

After that, it will be on to fiction. Julie is always asking me "You've read this, right?" in reference to any number of beloved classics which I then abashedly have to fess up to never having read, so this year I'll be tackling some novels that she questions my literary sanity and/or scholastic rigor for never getting around to: 1984, Brave New World, Catcher in the Rye, The Stranger, and several others I'm forgetting at the moment. Hard to believe that I never even had these as required reading in high school, I know - in fact, I can remember most of the great films that our English department screened every quarter, but almost none of the novels I read, none of which were any of these that are part of the high school canon.

In case you wondering, here's what I read during the last two summers.

William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow
James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor
Nikolai Gogol, The Overcoat
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt
Knut Hamsun, Hunger
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

The verdict thus far? Classics: So Long, See You Tomorrow, The Long Goodbye, The Overcoat, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Babbitt, Hunger, Bartleby the Scrivener and Winesburg, Ohio. The others, eh, not so much.

June 2, 2009 in Books | Permalink