Friday, January 5, 2018

Old Books Yet Unread

Allo, everyone! As I mentioned earlier this week, one of my goals for the year is to read more old books- at least one for every three new books I read. Some of these I'll be revisiting; for instance, it's been far too long since I reread The Lord of the Rings all the way through, and I rather want to revisit some of the classic adventure books I used to enjoy. However, I also have a reasonably long list of older books that I keep intending to read but never get around to, and I'd like to try to clear it out a bit this year. More or less all of these can fit into one of four categories: 1) Lewis and Tolkien, 2) books that influenced Lewis and Tolkien, 3) miscellaneous classics I got away with not reading, and 4) random books that somehow appeared on my TBR, probably on a friend's recommendation. Hopefully I'll finish the year by reading a fair sampling of each category. And today, I thought I'd share some of the highlights of what I intend to read, in no particular order.

Old Books Unread (Until Now!)

  1. The Pilgrim's Regress and 'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. Or, more accurately, everything Lewis ever wrote, with the possible exception of the Oxford History of English Literature (referred to by Lewis as his "O HEL project," for good reason!). These two are my top priority, though, the first because it relates somewhat to some of my classes last year and the second because people keep telling me how amazing it is. The fact that those two are novels and the rest of Lewis's work tends to be either scholarship or theology (with a few exceptions) also helps.
  2. Something by G.K. Chesterton. I'm not actually sure what, since I'm really not at all familiar with Chesterton; all I know is that he's fits in the "influenced Lewis and Tolkien" (or at least Lewis) category, that he's apparently very good, and that he's often quoted in relation to fairy tales and dragons. So, I asked a friend for recommendations and now I've narrowed my choice down from "something" to six different books, and . . . yeah. I'll probably end up reading either some of the Father Brown mysteries or The Man Who Was Thursday, but I don't know for sure.
  3. Either The Iliad or Beowulf. Or, better yet, both. The Iliad is one of the few books that doesn't neatly fit into any of the categories I mentioned earlier; it's not so much that I got away with not reading it as that I didn't realize I wanted to read it until I read The Odyssey in Fall 2016 and fell a little bit in love. I suspect I'll still prefer The Odyssey to The Iliad, mostly because Odysseus, but y'know. Beowulf, on the other hand, I read a portion of in Brit Lit a few years ago and enjoyed, but I never got around to reading the full poem. If anyone has a translation they particularly like, please let me know; otherwise I'll probably go with Tolkien's version, because Tolkien.
  4. Shakespeare's Hamlet. NoIhaven'treadityetpleasedon'tkillme. People keep telling me to read Hamlet, I keep saying "Yes! I plan to soon!" with the very best intentions . . . and then I don't read it, making it a classic Category 3 "book I got away without reading." Shame on me- but I will fix that this year! There are a few other Shakespeare plays I want to read, like The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice, and maybe a reread of MacBeth, but Hamlet is definitely top priority.
  5. The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris. I thought, when I noticed this on my TBR list, that it was part of Category 4 (random books from who-knows-where). However, while I still don't know how I found out about it, further investigation has revealed that Morris was one of the more influential pre-Tolkien fantasy writers and that both Tolkien and Lewis enjoyed his works- this one in particular. I also heard that apparently the language makes it a bit difficult to read, but, y'know, if I can manage Shakespeare I can probably manage this as well.
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I enjoy Pride and Prejudice- who doesn't?- but after Sense and Sensibility dragged on for ages and I DNF'ed Emma, the rest of Austen's works became Category 3 "Classics I got away with not reading." But this year seems the perfect time to try to jump back in, especially after I basically reread P&P back in October, and Northanger Abbey seems a good place to start- mostly because a heroine determined to make her life into the stuff of her favorite stories sounds thoroughly relatable.
  7. A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. This is most definitely a Category 4, as I can't even recall where I first heard of it and only rediscovered it quite recently. From the description, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it; it sounds like it'll either be delightfully subtle satire or dreadfully depressing and cynical. Obviously, I'm hoping for the former.
What classics do you keep meaning to read or reread? Any suggestions of old books that I should add to my list for the year? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  


  1. I remember reading Beowulf many years ago, and enjoying it! But I don't remember which translation. Northanger Abbey was a book I started, but never finished.
    I intend to read through many of the classics in my TBR tower this year with Karen @ Books and Chocolate's Classics Challenge
    I'm especially looking forward to reading At the Back of the North Wind, Gulliver's Travels, Hans Brinker, and a Dorothy Sayers mystery!
    Best of luck with your list!

    1. Huh. Do you remember why you put it down?

      Ooooh, cool. Maybe I'll join in; a lot of the categories fit books I'm already going to read. We shall see. But that sounds like a good lineup of books you've got!

      Thank you!

    2. No real reason. It just didn't interest me much at the time. I hope you enjoy it, though!

  2. WHOAH. REDESIGN. AH. *squeal* It's looking so awesome! I was a bit confused at first to whose blog this was when I arrived, but it suits your writer-theme. :D

    1. YEP! And thank you; I'm glad you think so! I still have some work to do on it (still not sure how I feel about the header, y'know?), but I like how it's turning out so far.


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