Tag Archive: Vintage Classics

the-hound-of-the-baskervillesTitle: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Date Finished: 27/03/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Sorry for the silence on the blog recently, I have been reading but I have been (as usual) very busy and although I finished Big Bang by Simon Singh, I didn’t post because I don’t normally write about science books on here.  Anyway, here I am finally on holiday (although revising of course) and I am ready to read!

As normal with Holmes stories, it took me a few days to get into this book, as the scene was set and the plot started to form but once I did I really enjoyed it.  It was interesting to compare this original Holmes writing with that of Horowitz in The House of Silk, which I read back in January.  I also loved reading the Vintage Classics edition (on the right).

The plot is so unique in this story – it really is unlike anything I have ever read before, even though it follows the usual Holmes structure.  I enjoyed the extended feel of the novel compared to the usual short stories that are over so quickly.  I thought the plot twists were quite ingenious whereas sometimes they have seemed a bit silly and contrived for me in the past.  When Holmes revealed himself I was totally surprised!

The characters are vivid as ever in this story – Holmes and Watson are up to their usual antics trying to sniff out a sinister plot but other characters leap out of the pages too, most notably the entomologist Stapleton and noble Sir Henry Baskerville.  I was pleased that there weren’t too many characters flying around to confuse me as sometimes happens.  It always seems slightly more insidious when there are only a few characters and we know one of them must be behind the whole thing.

The setting on the moors is ridiculously spooky so no wonder they are all terrified of this hound!  Dark, lonely, cold,  foggy…there is a lot of pathetic fallacy that helps darken the mood of the story.  I liked the style of writing a lot and I think that writing from the point of view of Dr Watson is one of the reasons why the Holmes stories have been so successful over time – we always feel very involved.

Overall, this was a great read that I would highly recommend, however, I think it is best to experience some of the Holmes short stories first, as there is very little explanation of his queer methods and characteristics.  Another title crossed off my Classics Club list too! 🙂

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Date Finished: 20/07/12

Re-Read? : Third time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

As many of you may know, To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite book!  I first read it back in 2010 when we studied it in school (and I fell in love with it), then when it came to exams in summer 2011 I re-read it again and listened to the audiobook countless times.  I have to say it was a pleasure to study.  I usually aim to leave at least 18 months before I even think about re-reading a book, but I made an exception for this special book.  My sister had spilt ink and doodled in my original copy so I had bought another copy (a very nice Vintage Classics edition that you can see to the right) and I was very excited to read it.

The plot in To Kill a Mockingbird is really fantastic and it is a very well thought-out story.  The pace seems the perfect balance of a very slow old town with the exciting adventures of Scout, Jem and Dill.  The first volume deals with the children playing infantile games and just generally being kids.  This is when they try to make Boo Radley come out.
The second volume depicts a more grown up Jem, even though Scout says ‘He ain’t that old.  All he needs is somebody to beat him up and I ain’t big enough‘ which I think is just brilliant.  This is when Scout and Jem have to cope with Atticus, their father defending a black person in racist 30s Alabama.

The symbolism in TKAMB is stunning.  There are so many motifs and themes.  The main ‘Mockingbird’ motif covers many characters, such as Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, even Mayella Ewell to an extent.  Also there are the strong themes of sexism (which Scout has to contend with), prejudice, racism, courage (notably Mrs Dubose), justice/injustice and many more.  I think it is a book that people can learn so much from.

In terms of characters, I think TKAMB is easily on a par with Dickens – the characters are sublime!  Each resident of Maycomb is so unique and interesting, you can never get bored whilst reading.  There is wise Miss Maudie, gossiping Miss Crawford, firm-but-fair Calpurnia all supporting the main characters.  I could write whole posts on each character individually! (Don’t worry, I won’t!)

I love Harper Lee’s prose and the way she uses Scout’s voice as the narrator makes the book have such a massive impact on you – a child can see what is wrong so why can’t the adults?  This aspect is so powerful, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t be moved by it.
Also, the setting is really interesting, as we’ve all heard stories about how racism was still in full flow not long ago, but this makes it real.  We can see for ourselves the awful conditions and treatment black people had to suffer.  One of my favourite quotations from the book reflects this: ‘the hell white people give coloured folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people, too‘.  Some of the events in this book really bring that quotation to life.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough: I think EVERYONE should read it.  Ok, I may be a little very biased, but this book has so much to say, and says it so well, that you absolutely have to read it.  Even aside from the books political/historical/social significance, it is still an amazing story with amazing characters, so what is not to love?

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’

This week is a free week for us to decide on a category for ourselves.  I saw that Jillian had picked the top 10 books she was looking forward to reading from The Classics Club and I thought this was a great idea, so I have ‘borrowed’ it!

For my full Classics Club list and details about the challenge, click here.

  1. Villette – Charlotte Brontë:  I am most looking forward to this because everything I’ve heard about it suggests I will love it – I loved Jane Eyre, really enjoyed Wuthering Heights and people have said it’s ‘full of French’ which is a language that I love!
  2. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens:  I have been looking forward to re-reading this for a long time, as I didn’t really get it the first time (I was too young).  On top of that, I bought a stunning edition the other day (a new Penguin English Library edition!) so I can’t wait to get into it.
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee:  This is (possibly) my favourite book of all time so I can’t wait to read it again and see if I enjoy it even more (or maybe less).
  4. King Lear – William Shakespeare:  I saw this play at the Tobacco Factory Theatre in Bristol in February and it was absolutely amazing.  I really loved reading Much Ado About Nothing, so I am anticipating my next dose of Shakespeare.
  5.  The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins:  I don’t seem to have read a negative word about Collins recently and it’s so exciting to get into a new author – especially if there is a great mystery to look forward to!
  6. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons:  Again, I am going by recommendation – I have heard this book is hilarious.  It is not too long, hopefully not too hard to read and I have a feeling it will be a pleasure to read.
  7. Middlemarch – George Eliot:  I am just as scared of reading this mammoth volume as I am excited!  It is so long I might have to stagger reading it through the summer, although I did plan to do that with David Copperfield and loved it so much I just powered through!  I am excited about getting into a new author and considering it is number 1 on Daily Telegraph’s list of ‘100 novels everyone should read’, I have great expectations for it (see what I did there?!).
  8. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens :  As I’ve already mentioned, I loved David Copperfield so can’t wait to get stuck into another massive Dickens!  This one is meant to be quite funny too (I think?) so I should enjoy it.
  9. Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky:  This book is all about Nazi occupied France and I think I’ll find it really interesting.  Also, I bought a lovely edition (Vintage 21) in Vienna so it looks amazing on my shelf!
  10. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen:   I recently read Emma and really enjoyed it, so I am looking forward to getting stuck into some more Austen – I have bought Pride and Prejudice and plan to read it next Christmastime.  Also, I will finally be able to say I have read this iconic book!

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’s category.

This week the category is ‘Top Ten Favourite Covers’, with the advice to be ‘as specific or general as you want‘. Therefore I have decided to post my top ten covers of books that I currently own (not in any order – that would be too difficult!)  The covers here are the versions that I actually own.

1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë (Vintage Classics).  The Vintage Classics series is known for stunning covers – ‘jacket design is integral to our vintage classics’ and each book in the series has a pertinent and beautiful cover.  I love the way they hint at something in the book’s plot, like the key signifying the locked up secret in Jane Eyre.

2. Saraswati Park – Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate).  Unfortunately, the best part of this book was actually the cover as the story was rather disappointing! However, the cover is very well designed and a pleasure to look at – one of those books you are very careful with, as you don’t want to damage or spoil it!

3. The Man In The High Castle – Philip K. Dick (Penguin Modern Classics).  Again, a book that I didn’t particularly enjoy (although it is very unique) but a cover that I will never forget.  The reason it made this list is because of how shocking the cover is – it immediately perplexes you and really gets your mind thinking.  I did have to be a bit careful as to where I was reading it though!

4. 1984 – George Orwell (Penguin).  This is such an iconic book and the cover is striking and memorable too – both in the book and on the cover you can’t get away from the idea that ‘big brother is watching you‘!

5. The Number 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus).  This series are possibly THE books I most enjoy reading, on account of their being so funny, interesting and cheerful.  Lovely happy, bright covers which perfectly match the books they are surrounding.

6. Matilda – Roald Dahl (Puffin Modern Classics).  I have always loved Roald Dahl’s books, especially Matilda and The Witches and I have chosen the cover of Matilda for this list.  My version is very pink, but has a large illustration of Matilda by Quentin Blake on the front.  I think Roald Dahl’s words and Quentin Blake’s illustrations and both just as important for these childhood books so that is why this cover is so important to me.

7. The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo – Stieg Larsson (Quercus).  This book is one of my favourites and the whole series keeps me reading through the night.  I especially like this cover of the first book because it shows Noomi Rapace (who plays Lisbeth in the Swedish films) who I think portrays Lisbeth perfectly.

8. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (Point).  I love the original (back in my day blah blah…) covers of the His Dark Materials Trilogy and I think Northern Lights is my favourite of the three, probably because my favourite colour is blue and that is the main background of this one!!

9. One Day – David Nicholls (Hodder).  There is so much to love about the cover of this book: its design is unique, the orange is amazing, the actual feel of the book is great … I could go on.  A great book with a really novel idea and a really novel cover to match.

10. Emma – Jane Austen (Vintage Classics).  I started this list with a Vintage Classic and I’m ending it with one too; rather appropriately, I think, because in my opinion this series of classics has the best covers that I have come across and they are always the ones that catch my eye when I’m browsing in bookshops.