Last week, I read and reviewed The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay. In reading the book and writing the review, I got to thinking. So much of the backbone of the book focuses around the lives and works of the Bronte sisters (thus the title), and while I really enjoyed reading it, I felt at such a disadvantage because I’ve never read anything by any of the Brontes. Ok, I may have read Wuthering Heights….like 10 years ago….and I’m not 100% sure that I finished it.
In thinking further, I realized that my literary priorities are totally skewed. Some of my favorite reads are books about books. Not only that, but more often than not, they’re books about authors of literary classics (Hemingway, Austen, Fitzgerald, etc). “So? What’s skewed about that?”, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. While I enjoy reading about great literary minds, I’ve read little to none of their actual work. Of course, I read all the obligatory high school curriculum reads: Canterbury Tales, The Scarlett Letter, Macbeth, etc, but the only “classic”, in recent memory that I’ve read simply because I felt like it was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which, in case you’re wondering, I love with every fiber of my being. I haven’t read Twain, Hemingway, Fitzgerald (no, not even Gatsby), or pretty much anything that one would respond with “BUT THAT’S A CLASSIC!” And, for the record: No, I’m not limiting “classic” to mean American or male…they were just the first three that came to mind. But, that’s neither here nor there and I’m digressing.
Here’s where the fraud part comes in. Who am I, as a book blogger, to provide commentary on contemporary works of literary genius (or flop-ness), when I haven’t read the work from which literature as a whole has taken root? I literally have a 5×4′ shelf FULL of literary classics, resplendent in their leather-bound, gilded paged, smelly-good glory. I haven’t touched any of them, and this is a travesty. Granted, an argument can be made for the fact that they’re so pretty, to read them would be to risk ruining them. BUT, that well of excuses runs extra-dry when you factor in the knowledge that I do, indeed, own a Kindle, and most, if not all, of the works I am referencing are not only available, but FREE!
I feel like, if I’m going to be taken seriously as a reviewer (more like: If I’m going to take myself seriously), I need to fix this gaping festering hole in my literary life. So, here’s where you come in, my beautiful non-judgy readers….I need help. I’m going to create my very own special TBR challenge for 2016 to help me to put a dent in my classic-oriented deficiency. I haven’t decided on a number of books, frequency of completion, or even a list of authors to include in this challenge. While most of these details I will be able to hash out myself, what I need help with is this: There are SO many books that are considered “classics” and “must-reads” that I’m having trouble compiling a comprehensive list. So, if you were compiling one-said list/challenge, what book (or books) would absolutely be included?
(Side note: I’ve tried to read Shakespeare. I know it’s a cardinal sin, but I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that Shakespeare and I are just not destined to be friends.)