The Lucky Spin Number

The Classics Club Spin number has been announced:  #8!  The Classics ClubI’ll be reading Wired Love by Ella Cheever Thayer.  This is a perfect choice, as it fits both with the Women’s Literature Event and my constant desire to read more obscure works.  It will also push me out of my comfort zone a bit, as it has romance at its core, and I’m not a romance reader.

This book is a really interesting specimen – an early example of technology in fiction that is realistic for the times rather than speculative, as well as an example of epistolary format using proto-“online” methods of bringing the protagonists together.  In this case, the technology in question is the telegraph.  Published in 1879, the book is subtitled “A Romance of Dots and Dashes.”  It tells the story of a budding romance between two telegraph operators who communicate via Morse code, falling in love without ever seeing one another.  Ella Cheever Thayer, a suffragette in addition to being an author and playwright, was herself a former telegraph operator, so the technical details in the story should be spot-on.

Despite the central romance plot, I’m really excited to read this!  I feel like it’s a lost bit of really unusual, groundbreaking fiction, and I’m hoping to love it.


The Classics Club: Classics Spin #12

It’s time for another round of The Classics Club Spin!  Here are the rules:The Classics Club

  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday, March 7.
  • Monday morning, the Classics Club team will announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.
  • The challenge is to read that book by May 2, 2016.

I haven’t filled all potential slots in my April reading roster yet, so it’s a great time to slip in a classic!  As the Women’s Literature Event is going strong in Classics Club land, I’m only including books by female authors this time around.  Here’s my spin list, randomized at

  1. Ideala: A Study from Life – Sarah Grand
  2. The Fur Person – May Sarton
  3. Pale Horse, Pale Rider – Katherine Anne Porter
  4. The Locusts Have No King – Dawn Powell
  5. Young Man with a Horn – Dorothy Baker
  6. Joanna Godden – Sheila Kaye-Smith
  7. Memoirs of Hadrian – Marguerite Yourcenar
  8. Wired Love – Ella Cheever Thayer
  9. American Indian Stories – Zitkala-Ša
  10. The Wall – Marlen Haushofer
  11. Precious Bane – Mary Webb
  12. Nada – Carmen Laforet
  13. Nightwood – Djuna Barnes
  14. The Sundial – Shirley Jackson
  15. The Country of the Pointed Firs – Sarah Orne Jewett
  16. Under the Sea Wind – Rachel Carson
  17. Stangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith
  18. The Artificial Silk Girl – Irmgard Keun
  19. The Morgesons – Elizabeth Stoddard
  20. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons



The Classics Club Women’s Classic Literature Event


As I’m terribly late in posting about this, let me get right down to business:  In 2016, The Classics Club is hosting a year-long event devoted to reading more classic literature written by women.  I’m excited to get involved, because while I do try to balance my reading gender-wise, there are so many wonderful female authors I have never explored and so many more I’ve never heard of, whether it be because of my own reading path, because their work is not always easy to get hold of, or because their work has been actively repressed at one time or another.  I hope to learn about many new-to-me authors via other Classics Clubbers’ blogs and reviews!

As of this moment, I know I will be reading these classics by women in 2016:

  • Hangsaman – Shirley Jackson (USA, 1951, owned)
  • Around the World in 72 Days – Nellie Bly (USA, 1890, owned)
  • Maud Martha – Gwendolyn Brooks (USA, 1953, library)
  • Precious Bane – Mary Webb (England, 1924, library)
  • The Artificial Silk Girl – Irmgard Keun (Germany, 1932, owned)
  • The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing (Iran/Zimbabwe, 1962, owned)
  • The Wall – Marlen Haushofer (Austria, 1963, owned)
  • Under the Sea Wind – Rachel Carson (USA, 1941, library)

As I’m hoping to discover new favorite authors, my short list of books I will choose from to add to my reading as the year progresses are all by authors I’ve never read and who aren’t well known.  (Sorry, Buck, Cather, Elliot, Gaskell, Highsmith, Murdoch, et al.  I know it’s tragic that I’ve never read any of you, but you’ll have your turn another year after these less popular gals get some attention.)

  • Ideala: A Study from Life – Sarah Grand (Ireland, 1888, owned)
  • Joanna Godden – Sheila Kaye-Smith (England, 1921, owned)
  • Marcella – Mary Augusta Ward  (Australia, 1894, owned)
  • Memoirs of Hadrian – Marguerite Yourcenar (Belgium, 1951, library)
  • Nada – Carmen Laforet (Spain, 1944, library)
  • The First Violin – Jessie Fothergill (England, 1877, owned)
  • The Hidden Hand – E. D. E. N. Southworth (USA, 1859, owned
  • The Locusts Have No King – Dawn Powell (USA, 1948, owned)
  • Wired Love – Ella Cheever Thayer (USA, 1879, owned)
  • The Young Man with a Horn – Dorothy Baker (USA, 1938, library)
  • The Morgesons – Elizabeth Stoddard (USA, 1862, owned)
  • American Indian Stories – Zitkala-Ša (USA/Native American, 1921, owned)

All but the Yourcenar are quite obscure, and even that (so I’ve been told) masterpiece isn’t known or read as it should be.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to squeeze at least a couple of these in this year!


The Classics Club, Revisited

The Classics ClubMy original list for The Classics Club was posted on March 31, 2015, with a goal date of 2018.  However, as I’ve been away from blogging from almost a year and am just returning, I’ve decided to start fresh with a new list today, January 1, 2016, submit my updated list to The Classics Club, and set my new goal date to January 1, 2021.

In selecting my classics list, I have chosen a (largely arbitrary) 50-year cut-off age for each book’s original publication date, so each book on my list must be from 1966 or before.  I’m aiming to read and review (fully or briefly) 50 titles during that time span, but I’m listing more than 50 here, as I’m not yet certain which books I want to cut from my line-up.  I expect my list to morph a ridiculous number of times, as I can never leave well enough alone.

This is my current roster.  Please let me know if there are any here that you either love or loathe!

2016 reading note:  I have bolded the titles that I know, as of today, I will be reading in the coming year.

  1. Assis, Machado de – Epitaph of a Small Winner (1880)
  2. Balzac, Honoré de – Cousin Bette (1846)
  3. Barnes, Djuna – Nightwood (1936)
  4. Bennett, Arnold – The Old Wives’ Tale (1908)
  5. Brontë, Charlotte – Villette (1853)
  6. Brooks, Gwendolyn – Maud Martha (1953)
  7. Buck, Pearl S. – Living Reed (1963)
  8. Cabell, James Branch – Jurgen (1919)
  9. Camus, Albert – The Plague (1947)
  10. Carson, Rachel – Under the Sea Wind (1941)
  11. Cather, Willa – O Pioneers! (1913)
  12. Collins, Wilkie – The Woman in White (1860)
  13. Comyns, Barbara – Sisters by a River (1947)
  14. Dumas, Alexandre – The Black Tulip (1850)
  15. Durrell, Lawrence – Justine (The Alexandria Quartet #1) – 1957
  16. Eliot, George – Middlemarch (1872)
  17. Ellison, Ralph – Invisible Man (1952)
  18. Faulkner, William – As I Lay Dying (1930)
  19. Ferber, Edna – So Big (1924)
  20. Finney, Jack – The Body Snatchers (1955)
  21. Fothergill, Jessie – The First Violin (1877)
  22. Gaskell, Elizabeth – Cranford (1851)
  23. Gautier, Théophile – Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835)
  24. Gibbons, Stella – Cold Comfort Farm (1932)
  25. Grau, Shirley Ann- The Keepers of the House (1964)
  26. Graves, Robert – I, Claudius (1934)
  27. Highsmith, Patricia – Strangers on a Train (1958)
  28. Jackson, Shirley – Hangsaman (1951)
  29. Jackson, Shirley – The Bird’s Nest (1954)
  30. Jackson, Shirley – The Sundial (1958)
  31. Kafka, Franz – The Trial (1925)
  32. Kaye-Smith, Sheila – Joanna Godden (1921)
  33. Keun, Irmgard – The Artificial Silk Girl (1932)
  34. Laclos, Pierre Choderlos de – Dangerous Liaisons (1782)
  35. Laforet, Carmen – Nada (1944)
  36. Lagerlöf, Selma – The Saga of Gösta Berling (1891)
  37. Laxness, Halldór – Independent People (1934)
  38. Lee, C.Y. – The Flower Drum Song (1957)
  39. Lessing, Doris – The Golden Notebook (1962)
  40. Lewis, Sinclair – Elmer Gantry (1927)
  41. London, Jack – The Star Rover (1915)
  42. Mahfouz, Naguib – Cairo Modern (1945)
  43. Maurier, Daphne du – Rebecca (1938)
  44. McCullers, Carson – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)
  45. Murdoch, Iris – The Bell       (1958)
  46. Nabokov, Vladimir – Pale Fire (1962)
  47. Porter, Katherine Anne – Pale Horse, Pale Rider (3 novellas, 1939)
  48. Powell, Dawn – The Locusts Have No King (1948)
  49. Pushkin, Alexander – Eugene Onegin (1833)
  50. Rhys, Jean – Good Morning, Midnight (1939)
  51. Sabatini, Rafael – Scaramouche (1921)
  52. Sackville-West, Vita – All Passion Spent (1931)
  53. Salinger, J. D. – Franny and Zooey (1955 & 1957, together in 1961)
  54. Southworth, E.D.E.N. – The Hidden Hand (1859)
  55. Spark, Muriel – The Comforters (1957)
  56. Stone, Irving – Lust for Life (1934)
  57. Swift, Jonathan – Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
  58. Tanizaki, Jun’ichiro – Naomi (1924)
  59. Tanizaki, Jun’ichiro – The Makioka Sisters (1943)
  60. Undset, Sigrid – The Wreath (Kristin Lavransdatter #1) (1920)
  61. Vesaas, Tarjei – The Ice Palace (1963)
  62. Webb, Mary – Precious Bane (1924)
  63. West, Nathanael – Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)
  64. West, Rebecca – The Fountain Overflows (1956)
  65. Wilder, Thornton – The Ides of March (1948)
  66. Wodehouse, P. G. – The Code of the Woosters (1938)
  67. Woolf, Virginia – Orlando (1928)
  68. Xueqin, Cao – The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone #1) (1760)
  69. Yourcenar, Marguerite – Memoirs of Hadrian (1951)
  70. Zola, Émile – The Belly of Paris (1873)

Deal Me In 2016: Sign-up Post

DMI logo

As I re-start the heart of my ailing little blog, the first post I wanted to go live for 2016 is my sign-up post for the coming year’s version of one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve participated in in the past:  The Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge, hosted as always by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.  I discovered so many wonderful new-to-me authors through this challenge in previous years, and the story-loving bloggers who participate are simply great folks.  So I’m ready to jump in from the top this year!

I’m going to go for a full deck of 52 stories, although I may not discuss them on a regular schedule.  If I don’t get a post up each week, I’ll bundle them every other week or so.

This year, I will be reading Korean short stories in English translation, selections from the gargantuan (as in “put on a weight belt to lift safely”) collection of weird fiction titled, appropriately, The Weird, and a bunch of contemporary authors I’ve been wanting to read something by but have simply never gotten around to doing so.

Here’s my roster, which I will be be tracking on its own page at the top of the blog:

SPADES – stories from The Weird, edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer, part 1:
A. Casting the Runes – M. R. James (1911)
2. The Hell Screen – Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1918)
3. White Rabbits – Leonora Carrington (1941)
4. The Crowd – Ray Bradbury (1943)
5. The Summer People – Shirley Jackson (1950)
6. Axolotl – Julio Cortázar (1956)
7. My Mother – Jamaica Kincaid (1978)
8. The New Rays – M. John Harrison (1982)
9. Bloodchild – Octavia E. Butler (1984)
10. The Boy in the Tree – Elizabeth Hand (1989)
J. Family – Joyce Carol Oates (1989)
Q. The End of the Garden – Michael Ajvaz (1991)
K. The Dark – Karen Joy Fowler (1991)

HEARTS – more stories from The Weird, part 2:
A. The Ice Man – Haruki Murakami (1991)
2. The Snow Pavilion – Angela Carter (1995)
3. Details – China Miéville (2001)
4. The Genius of Assassins – Michael Cisco (2002)
5. Feeders and Eaters – Neal Gaiman (2002)
6. The Cage – Jeff VanderMeer (2002)
7. The Beautiful Gelreesh – Jeffrey Ford
8. The Town Manager -Thomas Ligotti (2001)
9. Flat Diane – Daniel Abraham (2004)
10. Singing My Sister Down – Margo Lanagan (2005)
J. The Forrest – Laird Barron (2007)
Q. Dust Enforcer – Reza Negarestani (2008)
K. Saving the Gleeful Horse – K. J. Bishop (2010)

CLUBSstories from Korean Literature in Translation’s “All Modern Korean Literature in Translation Online” Project:
A. Cho Se-hui – Knifeblade
2. Cho Se-hui – City of Machines
3. Ch’oe Yun – The Flower with Thirteen Fragrances
4. Kim Young-ha – The Man Who Sold His Shadow
5. Kim Young-ha – The Suit
6. Lee Mun-yol – The Old Hatter
7. Lee Mun-yol – Winter That Year
8. Oh Jung-hee – Evening Game
9. Oh Jung-hee – Garden of My Childhood
10. Park Wan-so – Butterfly Illusion
J. Park Wan-so – Dried Flowers
Q. Shin Kyung-sook – The Vacant House on the Plain
K. Yi Sang – Phantom Illusion

DIAMONDS – stories highlighted in the online archives of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading by authors I’ve heard of and/or shelved but have never read anything by:
A. Mack! – Colin Winnette
2. The Swan as Metaphor for Love – Amelia Gray
3. Secret Stream – Héctor Tobar
4. The Sacred Family – Rachel Kushner
5. The Bodyguard – Tom Cho
6. Athena Magazine – César Aira
7. Of the Fountain – Kathleen Winter
8. Where We Must Be – Laura Van den Berg
9. The Unbitten Elbow – Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
10. Girl and Giraffe – Lydia Millet
J. The Doctor and the Rabbi – Aimee Bender
Q. Bettering Myself – Ottessa Moshfegh
K. Recovery – Helen DeWitt