Saturday, December 1, 2007

Is This Dangerous Reading?

I’ve been surfing around looking for cool blogs on reading and have found a few, most notably Eloise by the Books Piles, which is absolutely charming and first-rate. A “must see” for readers. Eloise led me to Ex Libris, which led in turn to Estellas Revenge: A ‘zine about books and the My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge.

The challenge is to read one intimidating or dangerous book per month during 2008, and the Estella article linked above includes a list of 12 official titles, but also encourages readers who want to develop their own list to do so.

Like I needed encouragement to go my own way? :-)

I decided to pick 12 books already in our house. This isn’t the limiting factor some might suppose — we have literally thousands of titles begging to be read. In fact, whenever I start doing housework, straightening things up, putting books away, etc., it is hard not to notice some interesting book which has languished on a shelf for years, pick it up for a quick perusal, and let an hour slip by before I feel the eyes of Elly on the back of my neck and hear an amused (and mildly chagrined) comment along the lines of “So this is where you have gotten off to.” Last Sunday, for example, I was lead astray by The Letters of E.B. White. (What self-respecting reader could resist such temptation?)

Anyway, here is my list of 12. These aren’t necessarily dangerous — as long as I’m not reading them when I should be doing chores — they are just books I have meant to read, or reread, and have actually acquired copies of through the years, but have somehow not made time for them. Also, while novels predominate, several works of nonfiction are included, not necessarily with any rhyme or reason but simply because when I wandered through the house picking out titles they caught my eye.

January: Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.
February: The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser.
March: Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes.
April: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
May: The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin.
June: Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
July: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
August: Boswell's Life of Johnson by James Boswell.
September: Middlemarch by George Eliot.
October: Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollop.
November: The Wings of the Dove by Henry James.
December: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.

And now Samba has arrived to remind me it is well past his dinner time...


Peter Mc said...

Yes, it is in places dangerous reading, I can speak for two on the list: the Voyage of the Beagle and Old Curiosity Shop. All the D's.

The Voyage is just brilliant, but can lead you into long, complex and sometimes frustrating projects:

Both myslef and fellow blogger nunatak read The Voyage and, well, here we are.

The Old Curiosity Shop will tell (or remind) you just how brilliant Dickens is. Like Darwin, and I suppose most authors of the time, he tends to be a bit prolix and it can sometimes be a bit a wade but his characters, names, dialogue and eye for a great scene are just wonderful. Enjoy the danger.

Fiske said...

Peter thanks so much for visiting. I am going to make time to visit thebeagleproject blog today, my curiousity having been piqued. My mother was an Earth science teacher and I early developed a fascination for the natural sciences which has never left me. Darwin has long been a hero of mine. I have read several works about Darwin and evolution, most recently The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, but have not devoted enough time to reading the man himself.


Estella said...

Thanks for joining us. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the books you've chosen.


Sylvia said...

Samba: Awwwwwwwww!

Thanks for the link. :)