Welcome to the second edition of our Classics Clubber of the Month feature. We decided to create this feature as a way to highlight some of our members and the amazing things they are doing with their Classics Club list. If you know of a Club member who is doing fabulous things, please fill out this form to nominate them.
This month, I am honored to feature O of Délaissé. Since joining The Classics Club, she has read an astounding 47+ books from her list! She is continually pushing herself to read new and different titles, and consistently blogs about everything she is reading. Personally, I know that I read each post of hers in a state of awe and respect.
I sent her a few questions so that we could all get to know her better. Her responses are in italics.
I’m thirty years old, and I was born in North Yorkshire. When I was too young to remember, we moved further north to a small village west of Newcastle upon Tyne where I was brought up, and then a little over a year ago I moved north again and currently am living in a forest on the Scottish Border with my boyfriend Big C. At this rate, I expect to be in John o’ Groats by the time I’m sixty! I love living in the forest, it’s beautiful here, so quiet, so full of life and colour, and so very isolated. It’s lovely living in a world so apart from the “normality” I’m used to. I feel like I’ve gone back in time a little bit, like in winter we get so many power cuts we’re dependent on candles, coal fires, and stoves, which of course brings a new (or old?) set of problems and obstacles (wood cutting, candles, cooking on a Raeburn!) that I’ve never faced before. And getting an internet connection generally down to providence! Here the weather dictates the day’s activities, which is fine in the summer, but tricky in the colder months. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything. We may be at the mercy of the elements at times, but it is truly stunning here, and besides, I like the old ways of living. Once mastered, they’re simpler.
And I’ve been blogging at Délaissé for fourteen months. I’ve blogged on and off since 2005, but I never managed to comfortably find my way until I started this blog. The very first post was written whilst crossing the Forth Bridge (we were stuck in traffic!), but the very early posts were deleted before 2011 was out. I never intended this blog to be a book blog because although I loved reading, I didn’t have the confidence to write about what I read. I had believed that there was a way to blog about books, and that I ought at least attempt to be objective about the whole thing, but as I began my blog I was moved to write about a book, and then another, and my confidence grew. Around about September 2011 I discovered Jillian’s blog, and I fell in love with it instantly (I remember the first time she commented on my blog, I had a fan girl moment!), and I felt comfortable to blog in my own style. I decided so long as I was honest, and as long as I didn’t force myself to write about every book I read, then it would be an enjoyable experience and I could make it into something I was proud of, and perhaps something vaguely useful to other people. Now, blogging and reading go together: reading keeps my blog going, and blogging keeps my motivation up, especially during the times I have a run of reading books I don’t like, or when I can’t settle to read.
I joined the moment I knew about it! Firstly, I love making lists and challenges for myself. I almost exclusively read the classics, which isn’t a snobbery thing, simply a preference, so I thoroughly enjoyed making myself a map to guide me over the coming years. It’s exciting to look at my own list, because it’s filled with books I’ve always wanted to read, and I know one day I’ll have read all these wonderful books. Also, I have to admit I like ticking them off as well to mark the progress!
Another reason for joining was the community aspect. There’s so many people involved now, and although we each have our own goal, everyone is connected through this website, and we can see how everyone else is doing, read their thoughts on “our” books, get new perspectives and ideas, learn details we didn’t know before, and discover new books we perhaps hadn’t heard of or didn’t think we’d like. The Classics Club is building up a kind of index of the classics, some of titles we all know and love, and other more obscure titles. I do believe it is a valuable resource and I’m so happy to be contributing to it with everyone else.
My goal is to read one hundred and eighty books in three years, finishing on 10th March 2016. I do, I have to say, keep adding to it and I really need to stop doing that now we’re six months in! I promise I won’t add any more, I’ll just look forward to ‘Classics Club: the second cycle’ 😉
4. How many books have you read so far? What has been your favorite? Least favorite?
So far I’ve read forty seven. I think I have more time to read than most because my boyfriend is a singer, and when he performs I go with him to set up and such, so I have many hours whilst he is performing sitting in the car reading.
My favourite so far…. I want to say The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, but possibly I’m saying that because it is the last book I read that I loved. Oh, but I really did love it! Shirley by Charlotte Brontë is certainly another favourite, and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. And Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, that had a big impact on me at the time of reading! Zola’s Germinal is the most exciting book I’ve read, and it’s led me to start reading the whole Rougon Macquart cycle. I can’t honestly decide, it depends on my mood, and my mood right now says The House of Mirth. I had an extraordinarily good run with The Victorian Celebration, and really enjoyed most of the books I read.
Least favourite? Well, right now I’m finishing Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence, and it may be one of the worst books I’ve ever read, certainly the worst classic I’ve read. I’ve not finished, so I won’t say too much, but as I said on Twitter on Sunday, if Gudrun and Ursula aren’t killed by the canary they mocked half way through the book it will be a less than satisfactory ending! I love birds, I have two budgies, Trotwood and Myshkin, and an African Grey, George, and I detest people who say birds are boring and stupid. Possibly the personality of my birds are a little different because they spend most of their time outside their cages, which leads me to assume that if a caged bird appears boring, it is probably depressed. But, leaving aside my birds, there’s a wealth of reasons to hate Ursula and Gudrun, and indeed the entire book.
Good Lord, how do I answer that? I’ve written before on this: it’s impossible, I think, to pick an ultimate favourite book because it is so dependent on the mood at the time. For now, today when it is grey and cool and peaceful and all is generally right with the world, I’ll go for Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë, and The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. My top three changes by the day, though, and no doubt when this is put up I’ll think, “Why on earth didn’t I say…?”
Anything else you’d like to share with Club Members?
I haven’t always been such a reader, but I have always been a collector. All my life I have enjoyed reading, but, particularly in my mid-twenties, life rather got in the way. I wasn’t so well then, and not so settled, but always hoped that one day life would be better. So, even when I wasn’t reading for months, years even, at a time, I liked buying books so that once I was better and I could focus, I would have plenty to read! And I did get better, and life became much more stable and enjoyable, and even when it isn’t, when the mundane or the stressful dominate, I can step away from it and read. I’m so grateful for that. Times were kind of hard, but, looking back, it put things into perspective, so even when things get a little tricky, I know it could be worse.
I am so glad I got to know O a little better, and I hope you did too! I want to take advantage of this opportunity and share some wonderful things O has written, as well as let you know about an event coming up in October on her blog!
One of my favorite posts that O has written was about Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. I know many of us see this as a daunting and heavy book (which it is…heavy, I mean), but her total adoration for it makes me want to read it, right now.
I also love this recent post about Reading the Classics. It speaks to my own classics-loving heart!
There is also this wonderful post about Reading and Books, and why we bother to collect and cherish these tomes.
And, of course, there is her wonderful Classics Club list (I see lots of titles on there that I want to read!).
I also want to mention that O is hosting an October Gothic event, including a readalong of Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho! I know that’s a book on my Classics Club list, so what better opportunity to read it? She is also coordinating a few other fun things with Jean of Howling Frog Books during the month, so it should be a really great event to read some classic gothic fiction.
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know O a little better. Visit her blog, share some love, and comment away. 🙂