Daily Archives: July 27, 2008

Reading the 20th Century

(First, and as an aside: I am winning over knitting. The socks are 90% complete and all they need is a Sunday afternoon movie and they will doneski. Take that, knitting ennui! You are not the boss of me!)

Once upon a time there was a group blog called ‘Knit the Classics’, a project in the shape of a virtual book club where participants would read a ‘classic’ book each month and have the option of doing a crafting project to accompany that read. Then, something happened in the Blogger brand of internet and the KTC blog got nixed. The KTC project was revived in part by a Knitting 19th Century Novels group on Ravelry (Ravelry link there), which I’ve been happily participating in (I’d never read Alice in Wonderland before and am excited to read Dracula).

And then I got to thinking that the 20th Century could use a companion group. I started thinking about it months and months ago, and finally now that I’m using my brain to think thoughts again post-thesis I have had enough wherewithal to start on this. Naturally every project needs co-conspirators, so I enlisted the help of my friend Liz who is both a Ravelry user and a knitter, avid reader, and generally friendly and all-around groovy person.

To get this party started we have to come up with a half-dozen or so titles to put on a reading list (I’m sure we’ll end up soliciting suggestions as the group continues, but hey, we gotta start somewhere), so we each went off and tried to come up with a list of 20 titles and are planning a chat this afternoon to start whittling them down. She’s posted her list and since all’s fair in knitting and Reading List Elimination Death Matches, I figured I’d do the same and post mine. Impressively, our lists are almost 100% different, which should make this all the more interesting to choose the first few. Do we go with the most widely-known? Even balance between male and female authors? Alternate late-20th C with early-20th C? A mixture of genres? Short ones? Long ones? Prize-winning ones? Obscure rarely-read ones? Oi with the poodles already.

I don’t know who’s going to survive the bloodbath of the selection process, but by tonight we should have a starting selection. Even a short list of 20 was hard enough that we both copped out and added extra. Here’s mine:

20 from the 20th Century

Lord Jim (1900), by Joseph Conrad
Mrs Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf
The Great Gatsby (1925), F. Scott Fitzgerald
All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), by Erich Maria Remarque
The Maltese Falcon (1930), by Dashiell Hammet
Rebecca (1938), by Daphne DuMaurier
Nineteen Eighty Four (1949), by George Orwell
The Wicked Pavilion (1954), by Dawn Powell
Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller
Slaughterhouse Five (1969), by Kurt Vonnegut
Watership Down (1972), by Richard Adams
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), by Douglas Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces (1980), by John Kennedy Toole
The Name of the Rose (1980), by Umberto Eco
Midnight’s Children (1981) by Salman Rushdie
The Color Purple (1983) or Meridian (1976), by Alice Walker
In the Skin of a Lion (1987), by Michael Ondaatje
Oscar and Lucinda (1988 ) or The True History of the Kelly Gang (2000), by Peter Carey
The Remains of the Day (1989), by Kazuo Ishiguro
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (1991) or Girlfriend in a Coma (1989), by Douglas Coupland
A Fine Balance (1995), by Rohinton Mistry

But first, I’m going to finish these socks.

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