After the Sunday Papers #13

newspaper-clip-art-4 This week has been devoted to reading my Classics Club Spin book, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I admit that when my spin book was revealed on Monday, I didn’t feel very enthusiastic about it but decided to start reading it immediately as I anticipated it taking a long time to read. It actually took less than a week and I finished it last night! I’ve had mixed experiences with Dickens in the past…there have been some of his books that I’ve enjoyed and some that I struggled with, but this is the first one I’ve really loved and have found truly ‘unputdownable’. Definitely one of my books of the year!

Also this week I’ve been reading Quicksilver, the first in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, a historical fiction series set in the 17th and 18th centuries. I’ve been curious about this book for a while but have been putting off reading it because of the length. I’m enjoying it so far (despite not having understood half of what I’ve read) but at nearly 1,000 pages it’s going to be a long and challenging read and I’m hoping it will be worth it in the end.

Dunnett Companions With no other reading commitments at the moment (until Wilkie in Winter in the middle of December), I’ve taken this opportunity to start a re-read of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. It’s been nearly two years since I first read The Game of Kings and I know that if it wasn’t for blogging throwing other tempting books in my way I would probably have re-read the whole series as soon as I finished it. There was so much I missed on my first read and this time I’m armed with the Dorothy Dunnett Companions I and II and the new book by Laura Caine Ramsey, The Ultimate Guide to The Game of Kings, which will hopefully enhance the experience. I probably won’t post ‘reviews’ again as I did review them all in 2012, but I’ll give you an update in another Sunday post in a few week’s time.

Also this week, I’ve signed up for a reading challenge for next year: the What’s In A Name? challenge. This has been hosted for the last few years by Beth Fish Reads but has now been taken over by Charlie at The Worm Hole. I don’t sign up for many challenges anymore but I wanted to support Charlie’s first year of hosting and this is a fun challenge which I’ve taken part in once before. The idea is to read five books, each with a title that fits one of the five categories below:

challenge_2014whatsinaname A reference to time
A position of royalty
A number written in letters
A forename or names
A type or element of weather

I already have one or two books in mind for each category, but the challenge doesn’t start until January so I have plenty of time to think about what to read. To find out more please visit The Worm Hole!

Something else I’m looking forward to is starting my first course with FutureLearn tomorrow. The course is called England in the time of King Richard III, which, as followers of my blog will know, is a period of history I’m particularly interested in. FutureLearn is a new UK-based company offering free online courses from a selection of universities; this will be the first of their courses I’ve tried, so I’m not sure what to expect. I’ll let you know how I get on!

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18 thoughts on “After the Sunday Papers #13

  1. Iris says:

    I am glad to hear you enjoyed a Dickens! I might follow your example and decide on A Tale of Two Cities for my Dickens book for the Classics Club. Like you, I would be nervous getting that for the spin, but your strategy of starting right away seems to have paid off!

  2. mesetageresenfranglais says:

    Whaa!! That’s a result for you classic book! I don’t know this one and like you, my experience with Dickens is a bit mixed. Well done!

  3. Alex says:

    I’m starting the Richard III course tomorrow as well and I’m interested to see how it will compare to the Coursera MOOCs.

    I’ve always thought Stephenson’s novels had an element of fantasy about them. Am I mixing him up with someone else?

  4. piningforthewest says:

    I’ll be very interested to hear about your FutureLearn experience, and I’m so glad that you too have had trouble with Dickens in the past. If I ever give him another go I’ll try A Tale of Two Cities.

    • Helen says:

      I found A Tale of Two Cities quite different from the other Dickens novels I’ve read, so would recommend giving this one a go even if you’ve struggled with his books in the past.

  5. Lisa says:

    Has it really been two years since you first read Lymond? I have been feeling the pull of the Chronicles, and in fact I’ve been pulling them off the shelf to re-read favorite bits.

    I’ve seen the What’s In a Name posts before, and that does look fun. I’ll have to think about that one.

  6. Sam @ Tiny Library says:

    Congrats on getting through your spin book so quickly. I haven’t had quite as much with Les Mis, still a long way to go! I loved Tale of Two Cities when I read it, it’s the only Dickens that I have truly enjoyed. How sad was the ending?

  7. Charlie says:

    Happy you’re taking part Helen, and thank you for the link (I’m not sure how many realise it’s relocated). I believe it was from you I first heard of Dunnett and since then I’ve noticed she’s on many people’s lists. I’ve added her to mine though I’m finding the idea of reading her daunting, I think it’s the covers. Well done on A Tale of Two Cities, a week is pretty great!

    • Helen says:

      I hope you get lots of participants. It’s a fun challenge and I’m glad you’ve given it a new home! I think a lot of people are daunted by Dorothy Dunnett, but as you like historical fiction I would definitely recommend giving her a go.

  8. Alex says:

    I also want to get my hands on the Ultimate Guide.

    Can’t believe you’re already starting a re-read and I haven’t even finished Niccolo. I’m sure that as soon as I do finish them I’ll move straight to King Hereafter and then immediately to Game of Kings. I don’t think I’ll ever be not-reading-Dunnett ever again in my life.

    Aren’t you curious about her mystery novels?

    • Helen says:

      The Ultimate Guide is great because the references are in the order they appear in the novel, rather than in A-Z order like the two Companions. I hope there will be guides to the rest of the Lymond Chronicles eventually too.

      And yes, I would like to read the mystery novels! Maybe next year.

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