Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Very Close Race and Some Questions

Apparently I chose three very interesting books to decided between for April's book. By one vote the winner is:

Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne.

However, all three books received more than one vote, which has lead me to ask some questions that have been on my mind lately:

About 2 weeks ago, I started looking into the book choices for next years time frame, and to be honest I'm having a hard time coming up with enough classic novels, and I've been wondering how to remedy the situation.

Here are my ideas for fixes so far and I would appreciate your inputs.

1. We can have an assigned book, instead of voting. (for example we could say Jan. book IS the Odyssey, by Homer- no voting)

2. We can have both books and authors to vote on. (for example in Jan we can read the Illiad by Homer, however in Feb. the topic will be Plato and you comment on which ever of his works you found and read that month during discussion time. This is a much more you have to do some work alternative.)

3. We can combine the Ancient-400 time frame with the 400-1600 time frame. (getting through all of these books in one year instead of two.)

4. We can spend the first 3-6 months of 2010 continuing this years era and read some of the books that have narrowly escaped the votes, like: Great Expectations, Les Miserables, Bleakhouse, The House of Seven Gables, and others that I'm sure will come close later this year, etc. before moving on to the ancients the second half of the year.

I realize that you have all been very kind in letting me run the show since I took over for Mrs. Brooke, however, I really do want you to feel like this is YOUR book club too. So please let me know your feelings about how we should keep the group going next year.


Sharon in KY said...

I took a quick look through a couple of books I have - Invitation to the Classics and The Well-Educated Mind - to see how many titles might be in the Ancients to 400AD period. I see what you mean Shimmy Mom. I could easily whittle this down to 12 books.

I would prefer you just assign us a book for each month. Not that I expect to adore these ancient "classics" but I haven't read them; knowing a determined little group of folks was counting on me to have a few thoughts about these great works would spur me on to do it.

Here's the list I assembled, which you are welcome to use or toss, at your pleasure. I quickly checked the page numbers on the first book available on Amazon. Many included more than one work by the author. Anyway the page numbers are estimates and were for comparison only.

* The Epic of Gilgamesh (100pgs)

* Homer - The Iliad or The Odyssey (300pgs together)

* Aeschylus - The Oresteia or Agamemnon (350pgs for 4 works)

* Sophocles - Oedipus Rex (300pgs for 3 plays)

* Euripides - The Bacchae or Medea (400pgs for 10 plays)

* Aristophanes - The Birds or some other of his comedies (400pgs for 4 plays)

* Plato - The Republic (400pgs)

* Aristotle - Poetics (150pgs) or Nichomachean Ethics (360pgs)

* Horace - Odes (250pgs)

* Virgil - The Aeneid (450pgs)

The above would give 10 months of reading that comes in under 500 pages each month.

And then there were these longer works:

* Herodotus - The Histories (800pgs)

* Thucydides - The Peloponesian War (650pgs)

* Plutarch - Lives (Vol.1 - 800pgs)

Perhaps we could vote on a longer work to read over a two-month period?

Thanks for considering all of this!

Mrs. Mordecai said...

I'm fine with not having votes. It's fun when there are works about which I actually have an opinion, but I've never given much thought to stuff that old. I'm looking forward to becoming more well-rounded and well-educated by reading some of these older classics; I have read very few of them.

Sharon in KY said...

Shimmy Mom,

After a night of reflection, I like your idea #4 as well. Yes, I would like the group to spur me on to read more of these ancient classics than I would ever read alone, but I would also love to have the opportunity to discuss with you Great Expectations or Les Miserables. So, extending our current reading a few months into 2010 would be fine with me as well. Plus, by having fewer months to read the ancient classics, it might be fun to vote on which we want to read, even if we only had two works to choose between rather than three.

Truly, I'll be happy with whatever you choose. I'm still feeling great about having read Moby Dick. I can't imagine how "virtuous" I'll feel reading say, Homer or Euripides. Hah!

Mr. Mordecai said...

For my part, I'd be inclined to go with option 4.

Of the books mentioned by Sharon, I think the only ones I'd be likely to actually read are The Odyssey and The Republic. (Sorry, time is always a bit tight, so I have to pick and choose a bit.)

Although the ancient writings are interesting from a classical perspective, I think the more contemporary stories might be more worth the effort. I'd much rather read something like The Grapes of Wrath to get better understandings of the depression and our own contemporary heritage. (Which is also why I'd consider The Republic above many of the others.)

Magali said...

I love your imput, Sharon, so efficient!Titles and amount of pages! Thank you!!
I am very inclined to the Ancients. The Epic of Gilgamesh (Sumerian literature; probably written during Abrahan's lifetime, where there is a sumerian version of the Flood. Keep in mind that Seth, Noah's son, was still alive during this time!!) is very appealing to me for the reasons in parentesis. I've never read it, but would love to.
The Iliad hapened about the time the Israelites were conquering Jerusalen (That is the Troy's war; the Troy,s horse story is so interesting).
Les Miserables has true facts of History in its backdrop, in France, so I feel like it would give me more information about other parts of the world besides USA during this period of time.
Great Expectations sounds so interesting also, I love Charles Dickenson.
I think what I am trying to say is that I will go for whatever you all decide, I will enjoy and learn whatever selection the group decides to go for.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

Magali, I am also very excited to read The Epic of Gilgamesh. It's amazing to think how old it is.

Sharon in KY said...

This discussion group is so much fun for me. I love it that you, Magali and Mrs. Mordecai, are both eager to read the Epic of Gilgamesh. And thanks Magali for the biblical-historical anchors for both Gilgamesh and Homer.