I do like my reading challenges, and I like reading classics. So these seem like a perfect choice for me.
For the first challenge, I need to read seven classics in 2012, of which only 3 may be rereads.
Herewith, my list of classics and why I'm choosing to read them.
1. Villette by Charlotte Bronte.
I recently 'inherited' my grandmother's Bronte collection, which belonged to her father. Inherit is a funny word though, because she's still very much alive, but I don't know what else to call it. Anyway, the only Bronte I've ever finished was Jane Eyre, and the only other one I've tried to read is Wuthering Heights. I hear this is a good one and that it was Charlotte Bronte's last, so hopefully it'll be a good read.
2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
The only Dickens I've ever finished was Great Expectations (unless you count the radio play of A Christmas Carol) and I wasn't terribly impressed. I've heard good things about Bleak House though, and I plan to one day watch the movie, so hopefully it'll be a good read.
3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
I started this, but didn't finish it because I lost interest. Sometimes I find that if I go back to a book a year or two later, it's far more interesting. Eliot writes very well, and this is the favourite book of some friends of mine, so hopefully I'll finish it this time.
4. The Rainbow by DH Lawrence
I've only read Lady Chatterley's Lover, which was good, but rather too full of philosophical exposition that was no doubt interesting at the time but boring a hundred or so years later. But a friend of mine loves Lawrence, and this is sitting on my shelf, so I will read it in 2012.
5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Once again, a book I've started but not finished. Everyone raves about this book, so there must be something more to it. So I'll try again and perhaps this time I'll fall in love.
6. The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas
The sequel to The Three Musketeers, which I enjoyed greatly (even if it's not as good as the first movie version I saw and never will be, sadly) it's been sitting on my shelf for ages and I'm yet to read it. So 2012 is the year!
7. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
We got this free with a bunch of other books we bought. I picked it because I hadn't read it yet and I've heard good things about it (it's a classic for a reason, after all). I haven't shown any inclination to actually read it yet and don't know anything about it except that it's set in the US and has something to do with black people (though I might be confusing it with something else), which indicates a shocking lack of knowledge on my part.
The second challenge has slightly more stringent rules regarding what you read.
1. A 19th Century classic. I have chosen The Talisman by Walter Scott. I've only read a couple of Scott's novels and I enjoyed them both, so it seems like a good idea to knock another one off my enormous to-read pile.
2. A 20th Century classic. I have chosen 1984 by George Orwell, because I haven't read it yet and that's just shocking.
3. A classic to reread. I have chosen not to choose something specific for this item. Whichever one I reread first will be it. I predict that it will be something by Austen simply because I'm currently in the middle of Lord of the Rings (again) and books started before 1 January 2012 don't count towards this challenge.
4. A classic play. Oh dear. I hate plays. That's not true. I hate reading plays. It's a requirement for the challenge, however, so I will have to choose one. I have picked The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde. I'm not sure where I'll find it, since I don't buy plays because I don't like to read them, but I'm sure that would be in any halfway decent library (except my own). The reason for my choice is that I was recently in a LARP based on this and it was lots of fun. So now I shall read it and have a greater understanding of the events of the LARP.
5. A classic mystery/horror/crime. This is a tough one. Finding something that could pass for this that I haven't read that is already on my shelves (a challenge I've set for myself, except for the play) is difficult. I have settled on The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Another book I started but didn't finish. I don't know exactly what happens but (possible spoilers) I gather there's something about the spirit and a connection to the portrait and it affects his ageing, so he stays perpetually young, which sounds like a mystery to me.
6. A classic romance. Is this a romance in the Austen-style or the Tolkien-style? Either way I have picked Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy because I've been trying to find a way to work it into this list since I discovered it's 19th century, not 20th, and the first line on the back of the book says it 'concerns the love affairs'. So it must be a romance, right?
7. A classic that has been translated into English. Not wanting to pick another Dumas (variety is another challenge I've set for myself) I finally found The Prince by Machiavelli. So I will read that, since I seem to be biased towards authors from the UK and the US.
8. A classic award winner. After much rooting around on wikipedia, I've discovered that most literary awards are fairly recent things. So this one will be a reread, but since I haven't read it since high school, I think that's acceptable. The winner is Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, which one the Pulitzer Prize in 1937.
9. A classic set in a country that I will likely never visit. This looked to be rather difficult, given that my collection tends very heavily to the UK and US, both of which I've been to. However, countries that never existed count, so it was a simple decision to pick Thomas More's Utopia. I did consider Tolkien, but I am trying to choose things I haven't read before and this is something I've been meaning to read for a while now.
Well, that's 16 books to read next year... I suspect I'll be signing up for more challenges as I find them though.