In 2015 Penguin Books published a series of 80 Little Black Classic Books to celebrate their 80th anniversary. I bought the original set but see now more books have been added to the set. I believe they number 127 books. You can see the complete list here.
Of course I have looked through them but not read any of them.
This week the Classic Club 16th Spin has been announced and I thought I would use this set of books to get started reading them. I have picked the first 20 books of the series for the list. There are some I look forward to more than others but I will read the book chosen by the spin number and post a review of it, as required by the end of the year.
The list is as follows:
Mrs. Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio
As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anon
On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas DeQuincey
Aphorisms on Love and Hate
Traffic by John Ruskin
Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
Three Tang Dynasty Poets
On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman
A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees by Kentō
How to Use Your Enemies by Baltasar Gracián
The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats
Woman Much Missed by Thomas Hardy
Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant
Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls by Marco Polo
Galigual by Suetonius
Jason and Medea by Apollonius
Olalla by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
I don’t have firm favourites or ones I am dreading BUT …. if I had to choose I think my best pick might be no. 7 or 11 and the ones I might hesitate at would be no. 13 and 20. They sound a bit dry but hey! Who Knows!
The Spin will occur on Friday, November 17th. Stay Tuned.
Great Expectationsis Charles Dicken’s thirteenth novel and only the second one after David Copperfield that is written in the first person -according to Wikipedia.
I am listening to the audio version of it in the car and must say I am thoroughly enjoying it. More so than most books I have read this year. According to academic sources it includes themes of wealth, poverty, love, rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.
I have not read Dickens before and have felt guilty for many years. It wasn’t emphasised in American high schools in the 1960’s. Then life got in the way and I never made time for these very long books.
The version I am listening to is performed by Martin Jarvis and I love his interpretation of it. (Audible.com).
Dickens paints pictures with his words. The swamps with the convicts hidden, Miss Haversham’s old dilapidated house. Pip’s sister and brother in law are exceptionally well spoken. The characters are three dimensional and I expect to look over in the passenger seat of the car and see Pip or Joe sitting there. Sometimes if I get distracted by traffic I will rewind the chapter and listen to it again.
I have been reading several magazine articles from Womankind and Philosopher magazines that are published in Hobart. There is a brand new book shop in Hobart connected to the publishing establishments of these magazines. I went in for the first time the other day and talked to the staff. They let me take some photos. I will do a separate post on this wonderful new shop.
I am also reading the blogs listed on my post regularly. Although I don’t always have the time or strength to comment I do enjoy them.
I have been seriously decluttering the house. I have joined a fitness centre and am working on ‘getting old gracefully.’ Stretching, balance and weight bearing are the goals. I have lost a few pounds and am working on strengthening my upper body and torso muscles as I get achey while riding my motorbike. It is like riding a horse. I hobble the day after.
I have a week coming up in Sydney beginning the 19th of this month but more on that later too.
Our photo club challenges are taking up a lot of time. I watch countless videos on You Tube to learn all the settings of my Canon 5D Mark III. It is like learning to fly a plane. Lightroom and Photoshop are also extensions of that.
I will leave you with a happy honey bee I photographed this morning as I practised various camera settings.
Lots of bits and pieces happening during the past week or so. The biggest news is that I have taken the rest of my Penguin Book Collection to auction. It will be auctioned off on Friday. I did keep the vintage Illustrated Classics that comprise the wood prints and I kept the collection of cerise (pink) Penguins. They are the travel and adventure books mainly from the 1940’s to 1960’s. I also still have the 37 boxed sets. I will probably keep the above lists on this blog as a reference for other people who collect Penguins.
As I drove away from the auction house I was near tears but then remembered the Buddhist principals of impermanence and stopped at McDonalds for a large Orange Juice and an Egg McMuffin. I then felt okay. I was beginning to worry a lot about who was going to take this house apart if I depart this earth first. I don’t want Mr. Penguin worrying about it. I still have so many adventures on the shelves to keep me happy.
I decided to treat the whole collection as the Penguin Journey. As if it had been a holiday that had to come to an end. I visited England on the book hunt. I made many friends. I learned a great deal about the Penguin Publishing history. I gave several community talks. I visited the Bristol University Archives. I had a great time over almost 10 years and now that holiday is over.
Time to move on. I have never shied away from moving on in any capacity. I am getting deeper and deeper into photography and enjoy the new friends I am making in the arena of the Hobart Photo Club and the challenges through the Cannon Collective. Learning Photoshop is exasperating and fun and hopefully will keep dementia at bay. It is really like learning a foreign language which is supposed to be great in fighting off dying brain cells.
My photography equipment doesn’t take up as much space either as 2000 books did. In many way it is true that decluttering helps de-stress a mind. It wasn’t ‘sparking joy’ as it once did.
I still have five rescue pets under my roof to keep me stressed and happy with their worries, recklessness and happiness.
I might take up Wordless Wednesday with photographs. I picked that up from “O” of On Bookes blog. I enjoy her classics blog, life with rescue hens and budgies as well as her photographs of northern England. I am in the midst of three books at the moment.
A crime book by Robert Crais, The Promise, is currently on my phone kindle. I have followed his characters of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike for years. He lives in the hills of Los Angeles and I enjoy his antics. I read that when I am out of the house waiting for people and appointments.
A wonderful version of Great Expectations is on the car bluetooth speakers through Audible.com. I am loving it. Dickens was wonderful in character descriptions and dialogue and I am loving this story I have not read before. I look forward to driving and listening to another chapter.
In print I am continuing walking The El Camino in Talking with Cats by W. Lee Nichols. I love the philosophy he thinks about, his experiences in cafes and hostels and his mind is always turning over. Meaning of life stuff and history.
Speaking of long walks. I am still playing with the dogs but thinking I don’t get as much exercise as I need. I have signed up for swimming and senior exercise classes at a local fitness centre. Having grown up within the cornfields of mid Michigan I wasn’t exposed to a lot of swimming. Paddling around a lake or fishing, yes, once in awhile. But the Australian childhood puts growing up in other countries to shame when it comes to swimming. I am enjoying being in the water and getting out of breath from lap to lap. I do mean lap to lap too. Swim one lap. Rest. Swim another one. Rest. My goal at the moment is two without the rest. Small steps.
I forgot to mention I also have hung onto the more modern Penguin smaller books. English Journeys series. Great Journeys series. Great ideas. I am toying with the idea of saving these for weekend reads. Now I need an alliterative title for post on weekend Penguins. Though it may just be called Weekend Penguins. I am planning on making some minor tweaks to my blog’s focus. It is coming up on about 7 years and we all need changes from time to time.
Looking ahead to 2018 I see travel. We have a big trip coming up for the month of March and there will be much walking. I need to be more fit. More on the later. I see more reading of the TBR. I see more Penguin books posted. I see better health (2017 was a wipe out). I see photography. I see food. I am cooking more. I might share one of the Great Foods books Penguin puts out.
More to come. Are you as ready to finish off 2017 and start a new year as I am?
Tassie has been very dry lately. This morning the rains have come and the temperature is high enough to have the window open so we can hear it. A favourite kind of a day. While the cats are doing high speed runs through the house the dogs are a bit quieter. Molly, our terrier has gone back to bed. Odie sits with me every morning.
This morning is a good time to talk about new books. Fuller’s. An independent book shop. I talk about this shop a lot. It really is my home away from home with their lovely books, friendly, family like staff and a good cafe to boot.
Whenever I need a gift for someone (or myself) I usually get it here from their wide range of books, beautiful stationery or cards and calendars. As a result I get these wonderful book vouchers sent out every so often throu th their rewards program. Yesterday I had a big one and put it to good use.
I generally use it to buy reference books of some sort but since I have been in a book reading slump I thought I would put it towards some novels that might make me curious enough to inspire me to put down internet articles and magazines.
Here is the loot!
Bill Bryson makes me laugh and I have always wanted to read this one. I have read several of his others but somehow this has escaped me over the years. Having done several road trips through the UK I know I will enjoy this.
I have no idea who this is but the cover drew me in. The book blurb states, in part, “Yasmin Abdel-Magied is a young Muslim dynamo offering a bracing breath of fresh air-and hope. As a 21 year old she found herself working on a remote oil and gas rig: the only woman.” This is her story. It includes being a third culture kid, growing up migrant and Muslim in Australia post 9/11.
It sounds really interesting and comes from an interesting perspective.
Then there is this. I had a friend who died a couple of years ago. He was a hoarder. Like the ones you see on tv reality shows. It is a psychological illness that I have been fascinated by. I am also a BBC First TV addict of British forensic crime shows. This book might be gruesome but it is a part of our society that does exist and I admit, I am curious. Sometimes we need a change of genre in our reading selections. I think one of these in this subject will be enough.
Last but not least I wanted another bit of non fiction. The Organised Mind by Daniel Levitan supports to help us weed the wheat from the chaff with so much media and internet overload in society. It discusses our daily processing limits and claims to help organise our memory, attention span and improve our memory. It is supposed to be based on neuro-scientific principles. We will see how evidence based it is.
As it is continues to rain and I have nothing else planned until my photo club meets this evening seems my day is off to a good start. How do you spend a rainy day?
I know it is a holdover from working so many years but Saturday always feels good. There are choices of things to do and often never enough time to do them. The International Photo Walk is happening today. I might join in at the Hobart wharf and participate in that for a couple of hours. The Penguin enjoys travelling around Hobart also. I need a way to attach him to my camera strap or backpack.
I had one of those nights where one goes to bed early, being very tired and wakes at three am ready to start the day. After rearranging two dogs and two cats on the bed, straightening the covers, and getting a glass of milk; I propped myself up and walked the El Camino trail for a couple of hours with W. Lee Nichols, Walking With Cats. It is one of those books where you read a couple of chapters at a time. One needs to absorb the villages, history of each town he explores and the landscape. I have yet to meet one of the cats the title refers to but feel I am getting close.
The thought of walking this trail is very appealing but some of the crowded accommodation not so. Up to 250,000 people a year are now doing this pilgrimage and the thought of that sounds soul destroying. I know though that people do walk in various spots where they find fewer people. I think living in Tasmania, (Australia really) one gets spoiled to enjoying nature without hordes of people at every turn.
I also listened to some of the ABC Radio National’s program (repeat of the day) Books and Arts. It comes on week mornings from 10:00 to 11:00 but I often catch the repeat later in the night. I listened to an interview with author Michelle de Kretser about her latest book A Life to Come. The book description really appealed to me and I will be interested to hear what others who read it think of it. I tried to get into her earlier book A Question of Travel twice but couldn’t swing it. My mood though has shifted a bit towards various authors and I may give both of these a try again but the latest one sounds the most interesting. (At least at this hour in time.)
Today is the weekly Salamanca Market in Hobart. It is a very large market with upscale crafts amongst Asian made trinkets, jewellery, food stores and areas of fresh vegetables from the Hmong people that remain here. Those that didn’t relocate to Queensland. I may have a walk around it today. I have been in a cooking mood. Something about spring cleaning cabinets, getting rid of old glasses and finally our old set of cheap dishes. I treated us to something nicer and also bought a pressure cooker. I remember the days when pressure cookers exploded and yesterday when it released its steam at the end of cooking the pumpkin, potatoes and leeks for a soup I was making, I jumped three feet across the kitchen.
There is a new film at the State Cinema in North Hobart (our local Art theatre that now has seven separate cinemas in it) I would like to see. The description states “At an intimate and sumptuous celebration of her husband’s latest business venture, Beatriz is introduced to Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), a ruthless billionaire real-estate developer. She listens uncomfortably while Doug brags about his aggressive business tactics, but when he boasts about shooting a rhino in Africa, she can no longer hold her tongue. As opposing worldviews collide over a dinner table, Beatriz’s pent up outrage spills out in a way that surprises even herself. The Doug Strutt character is based on Donald Trump, as some believe and current political arguments are infused throughout this film.
Patrons are allowed wine, coffee, tea and ice cream cones but no popcorn is sold). It has a lovely cafe too with a small menu of small meals and wonderful sweets.
It is now time to decide what to do with the day. The sun is up and it is supposed to rise to a spring like 18C ( ) degrees.
Life: So happy winter is over. Although we did some wonderful overseas trips the rest of the winter has had me down and out with illness after illness. I won’t write about how I lost my lunch at the Hadley’s Hotel where I was trying to attend the Readers and Writers festival. Never mind, there will be another one.
Book Life: I dropped out of my book club for awhile as it was just too much. Too many books I wasn’t enjoying made me rethink the myriad of ones on my shelves I really want to read. I find reading takes more effort lately outside of blog pages, newspapers and magazines. Films are hard competition too. So if I am going to embrace my books then I need to read the ones I have bought over the years or the ones that really hit a note from blogs I read.
Films: Nothing at the theatre but yesterday I sat down and watched To Sir With Love. It was made in 1967. I was in grade 11 at the time. I loved and still love Sidney Poitier. I cannot believe this is the 50th anniversary of this film and I really enjoyed it. So much time has gone by. When?
And who knew one of the other teachers portrayed in the film was Patricia Routledge. (Hyacinth Bucket of all people amongst other important roles) and James Clavell (The Asian series, Shogun, King Rat, Tai Pan) did the screenplay from the book by E.R. Braithwaite
Books on the Go: I have two on the go, both very different. Talking With Cats by W. Lee Nichols. Mr. Nichols was raised and home schooled in Appalachia in the U.S. . Now he is at the pointy end of his life, he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. He had the operation. Surgeons recommend radiation and maybe chemo. He says, “No, I want to walk the El Camino Trail…all 500 miles of it.” He begins. This is the story. He describes the wonderful food he encounters, the trail he takes, the accommodation, the hip pain. I have just begun it but am enjoying it thoroughly. I assume he will also reflect on his past and talk about other things. Being raised in Appalachia, the other foods and cultures he has studied. He advocates for senior health and the healing power of joy and nature. He wants to be known as “the Poster Boy for Walking”.
The other book I am almost finished with is one from Audible.com. Tim Winton’s book of short stories. Tim Winton, The Boy Behind the Curtain. He states, ‘Being a copper’s son, I’ve always got one eye out for trouble. I can’t help it. But I don’t go looking for it anymore.’
Published 2017 by Penguin books. I love the writing of Tim Winton. I feel as though someone has put me into Western Australia during the 1960’s and left me there. This book reflects a great deal on the life of being the son of a copper during this time. Many of the stories reflect his experiences with his dad. His dad’s bad car accident that nearly killed him. Coming across a motorbike accident while in the car one evening with his dad. Growing up in church and his views on that institution. He discusses the conflicted impact those days had on his Sundays, when he loved the memories of community and family but yearned to use those Sundays to go surfing with friends. Every time I hop in the car and take the 10 to 15 minutes to drive into town or take the dogs to the beach I hear yet another tale of his, narrated by him as I become a Western Australian again.
Both books are full of thoughts, ideas, good writing and in Tim’s case quite a bit of humour.
Travel: I seem to travel mainly to the dog beach with Odie and Molly. They love it and as tourists flock here from other places I can always pretend I am on an exotic holiday just by living in Tassie.