September 2012 Classics Clubber of the Month: O of Delaisse.

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.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been blogging? What made you start a blog in the first place?

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.

2. Tell us a little about your involvement in The Classics Club. When did you join? What made you want to join?

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.

3. What is your goal for your participation in The Classics Club?

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.

5. Top 3 favorite books of all time.

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. 🙂

Allie

To nominate someone to be next month’s Classics Clubber of the Month, fill out this form!
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August 2012 Classics Clubber of the Month: Fanda of Fanda ClassicLit.

I am really excited to be kicking off one of our new features on the blog today-the Classics Clubber of the Month! We (the moderators) thought it would be a great idea to feature members of our Club who are doing wonderful and fabulous things with their lists and reading. For this first month, we decided to pick a blogger to feature. In the future, you can nominate individuals to be featured by filling out this form.

Our very first Classics Clubber of the Month is a blogger that has inspired many of us. Fanda of Fanda ClassicLit was an early joiner to the Club. Since joining, she has read 13 titles off her list of 100! That’s pretty amazing! She is also working towards spreading a love of classic literature in Indonesia, where she lives, and continues to write posts in English and Indonesian.

To learn more about Fanda, I sent her a series of questions. Her responses are in italics.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been blogging? What made you start a blog in the first place?

I am an Indonesian book lover and book blogger. I love books from my childhood, my parents always spoiled me with books because they are also book lovers, especially my father. I am single (and that’s why I have so much time to read! J), and work as a secretary in a small office (and that’s why I have time for blogging—I blog at office, and read at home—because I can manage my own tasks).

Around 2008 I have just been introduced to blogging world, and then I thought, why not blogging about books, since reading is always my biggest passion? So I created my first book blog on November 2008 (Baca Buku Fanda http://bukufanda.blogspot.com). I have read so many books, and I think it will be good to write about what I think about the book, as well as their main plot, so I won’t ever forget them after years. My second purpose is to share my thoughts to the world. I blogged then in Bahasa Indonesia (my first language), so that other Indonesian blogger who did not quite like reading can have information about new good books. I started my Fanda Classiclit blog only last year, because I felt that my interest has been narrowing to certain focuses, that is classics and historical fiction. So, I now have three book blogs, with my first blog serves for general books (besides classics and historical fiction).

Tell us a little about your involvement in The Classics Club. When did you join? What made you want to join?

Because I have decided to focus on classics book blogging, I searched for other blogs about classics, and that’s how I met Jillian’s blog. Not long after that, I found out that she had just started The Classics Club. So I joined quite early, on 8 March 2012. I am a person of challenge; I like challenges because it takes me to a higher level everytime. I don’t like to be at the same level for too long, because I will get bored soon, and will end what I have started. So to keep my spirit of reading and blogging, I used to join reading challenges, and even created my own. The Classics Club is a long-term commitment, and I think it can encourage me to read more classics. Plus, I can meet bloggers or people with the same interest (I feel lonely being in the minority of Indonesian blogger who love classics). That’s why I decided to join in.

What is your goal for your participation in The Classics Club?

First, to encourage myself to read at least two classics every month, that’s why I took 100 classics in five years to be my goal for The Classics Club. Second, to get to know more about classics books and authors.

How many books have you read so far? What has been your favorite? Least favorite?

I have read 13 books so far. My favorite? This is a tough question 🙂 because I like most of them. L’Assommoir by Émile Zola was my first reading, and the ‘blow’ is still echoing in me, so I think it’s one of my favorites. The other one is Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas; Dumas is one of my favorite authors (besides Dickens and Zola) because I love heroics adventures, and Dumas is genius in this. There are not many deep moral values or things about life we can learn from his books, it’s just highly entertaining. And I love books that make me engaged from first to last page.

My least favorites are The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Midsummer was my first Shakespeare ever, and I am not ready to give it up yet, I think I ought to give Shakespeare a second chance. That’s why I volunteered to host the year-long plays event for The Classics Club, this time I will encourage myself to learn how to enjoy plays (especially Shakespeare’s).

Top 3 favorite books of all time.

To Kill A Mockingbird, The Curtain-Agatha Christie, and Harry Potter series.

Anything else you’d like to share with Club Members?

One thing that I have gained during The Classics Club, is that I become more familiar to read English books, and to blog in English. Before 2011 I would laugh if someone offered me an English book, why must I trouble myself with reading a book not in my own language? It would only make my reading twice longer, I’ll just wait for the translation. A Christmas Carol (read in December 2011) was the first English book I read (I can speak, read and write in English but not too familiar before). But after joining The Classics Club, I read more and more English books, and considering that there would be international blogger who visit my blog, I must forced myself to blog in English (although I still write in 2 languages for reviews so Indonesian bloggers can read them too). So, thanks to The Classics Club, I think I have been, in a way, in a higher level than before!

In addition to just being inspiring, Fanda has been a very active participant in The Classics Club since its beginning. I know that I have received countless comments from her in the past few months as I have tackled my own journey. She is always courteous and encouraging-the best thing to be! I know I have appreciated all she has said and done, and I am looking forward to getting to know her better as we continue forward in our exploration of the classics.

I would also like to feature some of the wonderful things on her blog, before I send you there to explore and get to know her on her own terms!

She hosts a weekly event called Character Thursday to highlight those zany and wonderful characters she meets in the classic she is currently reading. Like her, I believe getting to know and understand characters in classic literature is an important aspect of reading these books. This is a great way to hash out your issues with a character, or rave about how wonderful they are! Click here to get more information about this fun little meme!

Fanda is hosting a readalong of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind starting on September 1st. For those of you who have that book on your Club list, it is the perfect opportunity to read it in great company! If you are planning on signing up, you can click right here and be taken directly to the sign-up post. She has also offered to host some Shakespeare plays in 2013 as part of the Club’s plan to get us all reading the Bard!

You might also be interested in seeking out her Classics Club Book List-there are quite a few books on there that I haven’t read yet, and sadly, aren’t on my own list!

And to see the reviews written for all 13 of the books she has completed so far, here is a list for you to click through!

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Fanda just as much as I did!

Allie

To nominate someone to be September’s Classics Clubber of the Month, please fill out this form. We look forward to hearing from you!