In the book place

Magdalena and I just spent a tonne on books from Amazon, with the idea that we’ll build up our collection of classics for the coming 2010 season of the Berwick Manor Book Club. We established the book club in April 2007 and I’d estimate we’ve read close to a book a month since then. When we were recently down in Mandurah for a long weekend we discussed some titles that we’d like to read, and came up with a list similar to this (in alphabetical order):

  • “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
  • “Emma” by Jane Austen
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
  • “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  • “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
  • “Persuasion” by Jane Austen
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  • “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
  • “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

You might notice there’s a few Jane Austen novels in there – Amazon were doing a 3-pack for $8 which was hard to go past. We’ve found so far that we most enjoy reading books that you’d regard as classics for our book club, like George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four”, Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange.”

As a side project, I’m running another book club (of which I am the only member) where the focus is on classic adventure stories that boys should have read growing up. To be on this list, the book has to have been written before I was born. I wanted to read some of the books that my father read as a boy, and even some that his father might have enjoyed too.

Magdalena didn’t think she’d be interested in a lot of the titles, so I’m doing it solo. Feel free to play along at home if you’re interested – I’ll use to keep you informed of the titles as I start them. There will be some cross over with “Lord of the Flies” and “Frankenstein” being on both the lists, however I have added (again, in alphabetical order)

  • “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne
  • “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll
  • “Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne
  • “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming
  • “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” by Jules Verne
  • “Live and Let Die” by Ian Fleming
  • “Moonraker” by Ian Fleming
  • “Peter Pan: Peter and Wendy and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” by J.M. Barrie
  • “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe
  • “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
  • “The Complete Sherlock Holmes: All 4 Novels and 56 Short Stories” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • “The Invisible Man” by H.G. Wells
  • “The Swiss Family Robinson” by Johann D. Wyss
  • “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells
  • “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson

When I was a kid I had a pop up book about Tom Sawyer, and it was the most amazing book ever. I have such fond memories of it, but alas, it seems as though eBay, Amazon, and even Google don’t have a recollection of it. I guess it’s destined to remain a memory. Watching the recent Sherlock Holmes film was the final motivational push I needed to start creating a list of the all-time classic adventure stories that I really should find the time to read.

I’ve also seen the latest Bond film, Casino Royale, and know that Lewis Carroll was not on LSD when he wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (though he probably should have been). In “Back to the Future III”, Doc Brown recalled with a great fondness reading Jules Verne’s work when he was a child, and that ol’ time-traveller knew what was what. I probably watched a Disney version of Peter Pan as a child. All up, that’s my experience with these stories, and I’m very excited about the prospect of changing that.

Call me sentimental, but I think it’s a romantic notion that one day my son, or daughter, will want to read these books too. If that day comes, these novels will be already waiting on the shelf, eager to be devoured by yet another generation.

Which of these titles have you read, and which would you like to read in the future? What do you think I’ve forgotten? Will you be playing along at home?

13 Replies to “In the book place”

  1. ‘Pride & Prejudice’ would actually have to be my favourite book. I’d recommend that you and Mags read the book (it’s fantastic) and then watch the BBC film version of it. It’s the most popular one where Colin Firth plays Darcy. I think you’ll both love it. The language is rich and the subtleties of humour in the comments she makes about gender and status in society are hilarious. I read it for Year 11 Literature and I absolutely adored it. I’d say I’ve easily read it at least another ten or so times since then. Which equates to picking it up about once a year :)

    I’ve also read the other Jane Austen books you listed. I enjoyed them too but ‘Pride & Prejudice’ wins by a long shot!

    I read ‘Alice’s adventures in wonderland’ to my Pre-Primary prac class in 07 and they (and I) loved it. I’ll read it to my Year One’s this year too. I’ve read Peter Pan also. It’s a lot more ‘grown-up’ than the Disney film version ;) Quite a bit darker and more violent :)

    You’ll love the ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’. I read that a couple of years back on recommendation of my Mum and an acclaimed American teacher, Rafe Esquith (whose books on education I adore), who both are advocates on reading the classics to children in the classroom. It’s a fantastic ‘teaching’ book as well as being a great story! You can learn quite a bit about life from that book!

    I also really loved the Sherlock Holmes stories. I read them as a teenager on recommendation from my Grandad and funnily enough as a motivation after seeing Disney’s ‘Basil the great mouse detective’ which is loosely based around the Sherlock Holmes theme :) I loved them!

    I would also suggest for books out of print that you can’t find. Adam raved about this picture book he read as a kid and couldn’t remember the title or the author but could describe to me what it was about. After a bit of searching I worked out what the title was and eventually I managed to locate a copy of it there and buy it for him :) You might have some luck with your book there?

    Nice list though! Have fun – if I think of anything I’ve read before and think you’ve missed I’ll be sure to let you know ;)

  2. I was forced to read Frankenstein for year 12 English Literature, (and come to think of it, so were you!). I found it a thoroughly unenjoyable experience having to analyse a story that was essentially written on a lark, so I hope you find it a better read for pleasure. I have also read Emma, as it was Mum’s inspiration for my name :) I’m more familiar with the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice than the book, but know it to be a lovely story.

    That’s it though. As an educated person, I feel ashamed that so many of the classics are yet to make it to my bookshelf. Let me know if you would like to borrow Frankenstein or Emma though, so you have a copy each when you come to read them.

  3. You’re right Em; I did read Frankenstein for English Literature with you, but forgot to mention that. I also read Lord of the Flies in year 8 I think so that will be a revisit also.

    For the books that we’re reading together, Magdalena and I buy two copies so that we can both read it at the same time. Considering the price of books these days, it’s silly not to. Thanks anyway though. I’ll let you know when we’re reading those titles if you want to join in. First up for us is The Catcher in the Rye.

  4. Ive read:
    “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
    “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” by Jules Verne
    “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe
    “The Swiss Family Robinson” by Johann D. Wyss
    “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson

    As you say, all great adventure books. You may also wish to add “Ender’s Game” by Prson Scott Card.

    Can’t wait to read your opinions of each :)

  5. and for adventure stories for young boys, you should add ‘The Old Man and The sea’ to the list, as well as ‘For whom the bell tolls’.’

  6. @Brad Dunn: Glad you chimed in- I thought you’d have some interesting things to add. Thanks :)

    @Kirstie: Your comments were pretty big, so WordPress needed me to approve them. You were absolutely right – that was the book I was looking for. I’ve ordered it and it’ll be here mid-Feb. Thank you *so* much :)

  7. (From my FB comment)
    Ella absolutely adores being read to which is awesome. She has a lot of new books and books that have been passed down, but she definitely enjoys the classics better (and so do I). I think it is because she knows that they were once read to me by my Mum and that they are a ‘grown-up’ book. We recently finished Huck Finn and are currently reading Pippi Longstocking (again!) Girls love an adventure, too!

  8. I have had a similar list on my blog for a little while. I keep buying other books that aren’t on the list so it’s been slow to get through it. Animal Farm is the only title we have in common.

  9. I’m looking forward to reading Catcher as our first book of the year and I think The Picture of Dorian Gray would be a great addition for later down the track.

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