Tag Archives: classics club

Classics Club Spin #28

Look at me posting twice in a week like some kind of blogger . . .

It’s Classics Club Spin time! Classic Club is a group of readers and bloggers who have pledged to read 50 classic books in five years.

More information on Classics Club.
My Classics Club list. Deadline: 12/14/2024

For a Classics Club Spin, I pick 20 books from my list and the organizers of the Classic Club pick a number between one and twenty. And then I read the appropriate book by a deadline, in this case Dec. 12th.

Below is my list:

  1. The Land of Mist by Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. The Yellow Claw by Sax Rohmer
  3. The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham
  4. The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck
  5. The Dorrington Deed-Box by Arthur Morrison
  6. The Wind in the Rose-Bush by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
  7. The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
  8. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
  9. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
  10. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis
  11. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  12. King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard
  13. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant
  14. Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime, and other stories by Oscar Wilde
  15. The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill
  16. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
  17. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  18. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green
  19. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  20. East Lynne by Ellen Wood

Reading Notes, 7/5/21

Finished Reading

A Thin Ghost and Others cover.

A Thin Ghost and Others by M.R. James

I’m very susceptible to peer (non)pressure. Or maybe it was a case of FOMO. But, anyway, Dale at Mirror with Clouds is reading through a collection of James’ tales and I was moved to read a few as well. I was going to read Journey to the Center of the Earth for my June Classics Club book, but Verne will have to wait.

I’ve said this before, probably differently, but M. R. James gets undervalued as a writer of weird literature. He gets the designation “teller of traditional English ghost stories,” but maybe I don’t understand either category. Are traditional English ghost stories full of bugs (often very large ones) and strange hairy things that are spawned from an apparently cursed wallpaper print? Sure, James has the nested narrators—someone relating a tale told to him by a friend who read the creepy historical documents—of a Christmas ghost story. Often, at least in the case of these five stories, the terrible thing has happened in the less enlightened 1700s, but make no mistake, James traffics in the uncanny.

Reading Challenge Check-In

Here we are at the halfway mark of 2021. Time for a good check-in!

Summer Challenges

10 Books of Summer graphic.

20 Books of Summer

Actually, my goal was to read 10 books between June 1st and Sept 1st, but I’ve already finished six! They’ve all been on the short side, but I’m still considering changing the goal to 15 books. Only two of the six were from my original TRB. ✅

#TrekAThon prompt graphic.

#Trekathon

#Trekathon just started July 1st. I’ve finished one prompt: read a book either set somewhere you’ve never been. A good start.

Next, I’m listening to the event group-read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, though I’ll probably switch over to reading it when my hands get tired of crocheting.

I’m feeling pretty optimistic about this readathon! 😎

Year-Long Challenges

Classic Club graphic.

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 6/10

✅ I’m on track! For the second part of the year, I plan on reading a couple of longer works. I might go for a chapter-a-day strategy after I finish the Dune books.

Bookshelf picture.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#ShelfLove / Shelf Maintenance

Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: I’ve acquired 12 titles (including five ARCs and a preorder), 5/21+

❌ I’ve moved on to cataloging my Kindle books on LibraryThing, which is kind of a pain. I’m through titles A–F. I’ve deleted quite a few ebooks that I downloaded for free that, frankly, I’m never going to read. As is, I’m at 453 unread of 862 titles.

I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 3/6

✅ Still on-track, more or less. So far I’ve read:

  • A body of water (featured in story, on cover, or in title): The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson
  • Written by a woman: Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren
  • Ghosts or spirits: A Thin Ghost and Others by M. R. James

Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s 6 Dune books by October.
Progress: I managed to finish God Emperor of Dune, which is generally considered a stumbling block. I’ll admit, though, Heretics of Dune isn’t clicking with me. ✅

Nonfiction

Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: Currently, at 36%. No nonfiction planned in July though. Or August. I’m not worried. I’m sure something will come up. ✅

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week and Cather Reading Project each month.
Progress: I dropped the Cather Reading Project, mostly because I felt like I wasn’t adding much to the discussions. Still reading my Deal Me In Stories, but haven’t been posting about them. 😬

Reading Notes, 6/3/21

Finished Reading

The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale

Heard about this book from What’s Nonfiction’s fabulous blog.

I’ve read quite a few books about magicians and, tangentially, spiritualism due to the vocation of many magicians to debunk (or, alternatively, learn from) mediums. As a skeptic myself, I find mediumship curious. So much of it is a con, but there is also often an aspect of self-delusion. Even magicians who have done mind-reading or séance type acts—professionals who know they are not communing with spirits or guides—have reported the feeling of working beyond what they’re capable of. But they also realize that this is a feeling and not reality.

The Haunting of Alma Fielding begins in 1938 when a normal British housewife begins to be harassed by poltergeist activity. Nandor Fodor, a “ghost hunter” for the International Institute for Psychical Research, investigates. Fodor believes in psychic phenomena, but he wants badly to have scientific proof of it. When we begin this story, he’s in some hot water with the IIPR because he has, disappointingly, proved several mediums to be frauds. He is desperate to find a true case of a haunting, but has also begun to theorized that these poltergeists might be manifestations (still psychic in nature) of trauma. As Alma begins to get attention, from the press and the IIPR, the poltergeist activity shifts to being apports (manifested objects) and mediumship, things that Fodor wants to see of her. There is an interplay between the expectations of Alma and Fodor. Their relationship becomes maybe too co-dependent. And Fodor eventually finds out that Alma isn’t as simple as she seems. This is all against the backdrop of a Britain under increasing pressure as WWII become immanent. Summerscale mentions that there was an increase in news-worthy cases of poltergeist activity during this era, which is a interesting detail.

At times, the book was maybe a little repetitive and there were a few too many a names. I had a tough time remembering who everyone was after putting the book down for a day or two. For me, this is a good addition to my framework of magic and spiritualism. It brought me further into the 20th century than my usual reading.

Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This was my May Classics Club Spin book, which I did finish in May. Barely.

I forget sometimes that Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe were contemporaries. What wonderful dinner parties those would be… Anyway. Like Poe, I’m not a fan of Hawthorne’s straight-up allegories. We’ve talked about this before when I touched on “Egotism; or, The Bosom-Serpent” during Deal Me In. To me, the only way a writer should present allegory is if they can do it with a level of actual story. So, a few of the stories in Mosses (“The Celestial Rail-road ” & “The Procession of Life”) were rather torturous for me to get through. But so many others are such wonderful, if cynical, stories. I’m still a Hawthorne neophyte, so I’m still surprised by the very dim view Hawthorne takes of humankind. I’m not used to that from authors. Ironically, while I am not a fan of allegory, I am a fan of speculative fiction genres and the two go hand in hand, especially in the pre-pulp days. “Young Goodman Brown” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and even “Feathertop” and “Egotism; or, The Bosom-Serpent” have gooey horror fiction cores.

Deal Me In

4♠️ – “The Cold Embrace” by Mary E. Braddon
Speaking of early horror fiction… Ever read a story where you say, “Oh, you naive boy. You don’t know what kind of story you’re in”? Yeah, I did that here and enjoyed every second of our main character’s comeuppance.

Currently Reading

Started on my summer reading and then was quickly sidetracked my an impulse read, All the Flavors by Ken Liu, while I was cataloging the books on my Kindle. Next up is The Hypno-Ripper: Or, Jack the Hypnotically Controlled Ripper; Containing Two Victorian Era Tales Dealing with Jack the Ripper and Hypnotism, edited by Donald K Hartman and then back to Journey to the Center of the Earth.


Reading Notes, 5/17/21

Bout of Books 31 Wrap-up

Last week was actually kind of stressful, despite my optimistic Monday attitude. I had a goal of reading 700 pages for BoB and ended up reading 648 pgs. Considering I got into a big don’t-feel-like-reading mood around Thursday, that’s pretty good.

  • I finished reading A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (and reviewed it!). I’ll say it again, I definitely recommend it.
  • I also finished Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. It’s her follow-up to Writing Down the Bones. I’ve been reading a chapter or so of a writing-related book every morning for a while now.
  • I made a good start on Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne and read a couple other short stories as well.

Currently Reading


Reading Notes, 5/3/21

Spring Into Horror Wrap-Up

Spring into Horror Readathon banner

I didn’t finish many books in April, but I did keep (happily) focused on horror. I read to completion The Phantom of the Opera (which was my Classic’s Club pick) and Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren. I also read volume one of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. I’m not counting that as finished because it’s a three volume collection and I do intend to read the rest. I started The Ceremonies by T. E. D. Klein and I’m in the middle of Nightmare Movies by Kim Newman.

Deal Me In

8♣️: “Let Shadows Slip Through” by Kali Napier
Our narrator is a nervous mother, traveling with her young son in Australia. When they stop at the Hampton Arms tea room, her past catches up to her. A short, atmospheric piece with a haunting sense of place.

Reading Challenge Check-In

Didn’t I just do this? I guess April went by fast-ish, which is a change from any month since February 2020.

Classics Club Icon

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 4/10

✅ Read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I’m on track!


A pic of a bookshelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#ShelfLove

Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: 1 pre-order, 3 free books, 1 very cheap book by an author I love, 1 ARC; 3/21+

❌ Yes, somehow I managed to not finish reading any of my own books…


I Read Horror Year-Round banner

I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 2/6

Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren counts for the prompt: Written by a woman! I decided not to count The Phantom of the Opera for “Monster or monsters” despite the OG being one of Universal’s classic movie monsters. The OG (Opera Ghost) is a guy with some issues.


Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s 6 Dune books by October.
Progress: Finished Children of Dune and started God Emperor of Dune. The chapter-a-day method is working well. ✅

Nonfiction

Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: I slipped down to 27%. And then decided to right the situation by starting a 640 page book. I’m pretty sure I’m totally doing this correctly. 👍‍‍

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week and Cather Reading Project each month.
Progress: Doing fine here. ✅

Reading Notes, 4/27/21

Finished Reading

I participated in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon on this past Saturday. I started more books than I finished, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I did read, cover-to-cover, Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren. It’s a horror novella that has been getting quite a bit of award nomination notice. Dora, who has recently lost her two children to a tragedy, becomes a resident at The Angelsea, a boarding house for people who have a hard time sleeping. It’s a grimy, skeevy place full of ghosts and opportunists.

I also read/listened to a few short stories, including Lovecraft’s “Colour Out of Space” and the delightful “The Tree’s Wife” by Mary Elizabeth Counselman. I’m not familiar with Counselman, but I find it delightful that she wrote for both Weird Tales and Good Housekeeping.

Deal Me In

J♦️ – “Dotty” by Horacio Quiroga
This story by Uruguayan writer Quiroga was translated by Nina Zumel. Zumel includes a link discussing the translation and adaptation: how to include the word-play of the original story when a fairly straight English translation doesn’t allow for that. I think she does a darn good job. This story is a little weird and a little unsettling as we contemplate the many meanings of “dotty.”

Willa Cather Short Story Project

This month’s story is “The Son of the Celestial,” in which Cather indulges in Oriental exoticism. On one hand, it’s Cather stretching her writing muscles. It’s imaginative and has some fine imagery. On the other hand, the depiction of Yung Le Ho is very stereotypical for the time (and for a long time to come). Ponter is his good friend, a white man who is on the outs with academia due to his propensity for drinking and pool playing. It should be noted though that Yung is still a member of his community while Ponter is not really a member of white society.

Currently Reading


One of the books I started on Saturday was Nightmare Movies: Horror on the Screen since the 1960s by Kim Newman. It’s big. I’ll try to finish it by the time my loan ends. Still doing a chapter-a-day of God Emperor of Dune (which reminds me, I haven’t read today!). And I’ve jumped back into the world of ARCs with P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn.

Reading Notes, 4/18/21

Finished Reading

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Growing up in the 80s, even in Omaha, NE, it was pretty much impossible to not be aware of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, but my first girlish infatuation with The Phantom of the Opera was due to a 1990 mini-series with Charles Dance as the Phantom. Ah! the romance! Ah! the creepy opera house full of secret passageways and hidden doors. (Also being a makeup effects fan, I of course knew of Lon Chaney in the 1925 movie.) But, I hadn’t read book. Translations are particularly a classics hurdle for me.

Leroux was a journalist and a mystery writer, with particular reverence for Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Alan Poe. Had I known that, I probably would have read his works sooner. And I’ll probably be inclined to read more of his straighter mysteries. As is, The Phantom of the Opera is very much a serial novel of the time and almost more toward the adventure genre, at least toward the end of the book. I don’t know what I think of the romance angle. The Opera Ghost (as he’s known in the novel) is manipulative and overbearing; Raoul is jealous and easily wounded. Poor Christine has her hands full trying to juggle them. There are definitely some creepy moments, but also a sub-plot or two that plod along.

A Classics Club pick and very #SpringHorror appropriate, but, ultimately, not suitable for the I Read Horror All Year “monster” prompt. The O. G. (as he’s also referred to in the book, which is amusing considering the current slang use) is more of a man with problems than a monster.

Classics Club Spin #26

And the random choice is… 11!

The next Classics Club book I will be reading is Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m excited for this one, but I realized looking over the table of contents that I’ve read quite a few of this collection’s stories. For example, I just read “Egotism, or, The Bosom Serpent” a couple months ago for Deal Me In. I didn’t do a good job cross referencing my lists, obviously.

Deal Me In

8♠️: “The Pipers of Mallory” by Henrietta Dorothy Everett
Another story from Multo’s Women Writers of Folklore series. Henrietta Dorothy Everett often wrote as Theo Douglas and is one of so many fine writers who is little known now. This story is nicely done, set during WWI with harbinger ghosts.

Currently Reading

Saturday (April 24th) is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. I plan on taking part and knocking out some extra #SpringHorror reading.