Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Xmas for 2015

Merry Xmas for my family to yours.

And a Happy New Year for 2016

I know I haven't read the 24 books I planned on reading this year, but I always had trouble getting all hyped up about reading fiction.

AS a Scanner I have had to learn to give myself permission to stop flogging a dead horse. If I am not going to complete the project, then dont keep trying to finish it, because I know I wont.  Just put it aside and leave it. It's now over and done with.

 Except Historical fiction. I can read that because it is based on history - usually.

Find something new to take its place - in this case NON Fiction Books.

So come look for me on my new NON FICTION Blog for the next 5 years - from 2016 to 2020.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Here's the thing...

Ever since I discovered the NON Fiction Challenge that I am starting in January, I have been less and less inclined to want to continue reading classical fiction.

This is not an excuse, but several years ago, I discovered that I have a Scanner type personality. We scanners are hard wired to always be learning.  We can't learn from classic fiction. Unless it's historical fiction. LOL

And besides that, I am having a devil of a time even trying to get into the Spin Book I am supposed to be reading - The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain.

If Mark had only written this book in 19th century english, I could have managed it. But no, its mostly written in this 16th century shakespeare type language which makes it devilishly hard to read.

So I have decide that I will do NO MORE Spins. I have failed at 3 out of 3 Spins. I always get the wrong number and the wrong books.

I will keep this blog open to read and review those classics on my list that I DO want to read.

I will also do the LHOTP readalong for next year since that is only one book a month. I shouldn't have too much problem with that.

So basically, starting in January 2016, I will be mostly reading NON fiction books for the NON fiction challenge.

Please see my NON Fiction blog for details.

Thank you.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Xmas SPIN Number 19

The wheel has been SPUN and we have our Number.

 The Number is 19!!!!!

And on my list 19 is - The Prince and the Pauper  - by Mark Twain!!!!!

Finally a Book I can actually READ!!!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Non Fiction Adventures Challenge

Today I discovered the NON FICTION ADVENTURES 5-year reading challenge - which I have joined. I have always preferred reading NON Fiction over Fiction. Which is probably why I am not doing so well on this Classics Challenge.

As you can see from the link above, I have made a new Blog for this NON Fiction Challenge.

Anyway I also now need to remove the few NON fiction books I have on this classics club  challenge - which will affect the Xmas Spin list as well - so it's a good thing I discovered this before the SPIN number is chosen.

Xmas Spin is here!!

SPIN Number 11 has been announced so I am going to try one more time.

We all know the rules. Make up a list of books you want to read - no more than 20 titles - and list them numbered from 1 to 20.

The deadline for posting a spin list is today since the spin number will be posted tomorrow!!! Once the number has been announced, we all have to read and review that number title.

The deadline for reading is by February 1st. which is 6-7 weeks away. 

So far I have had NO luck with the last  two spins I entered. The first spin I was able to swap out my title for another title by the same author so that was OK.

On the last spin I hated the book I ended up with. And I promise I DID try to read it. but who wants to read Middle English just for a challenge?? Certainly NOT me. So The Canterbury Tales was soon dumped from my list!!

Now I have to make up a new list and hope this time I get a book that I DO want to read!!!

Most of these have been on my previous lists. Some are new.

The Campfire Girls are an early form of Girl Scouts, but totally fictional. There were tons of Books written about them by various authors. You can read more here. Most of them are available on Project Gutenberg as well.

Below is MY Spin List for December

1 Richard Adams - Watership Down

2 Victor Appleton - A Tom Swift book

3 Frances Hodgson Burnett - The Secret Garden

4 CampFire Girls - Various Authors

5 Susan Coolidge - What Katy did at School

6 Agatha Christie -  A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery

7 Daphne Du Maurier - The Glass Blowers

8 F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

9 Arthur Hailey - Final Diagnosis

10 Laura Lee Hope - The Bobbsey Twins

11 Rudyard Kipling - Kim

12 Louis L'Amour - Sacketts Land

13 Gaston LeRoux - Phantom of the Opera

14 C S Lewis - The Magicians Nephew

15 Katherine Mansfield - The Garden Party & Other Stories

16 E Nesbit - The Railway Children

17 Anna Sewell - Black Beauty

18 James Alexander Thom - From Sea to Shining Sea

19 Mark Twain - The Prince and the Pauper

20 Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House on the Prairie

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Women's Classic Literature Event

And inside the Big Classics challenge we are today being introduced to a new smaller challenge.

The Women's Classic Literature Event. This will run from now until 31 December 2016

The idea is to read any classics WRITTEN BY WOMEN and published BEFORE 1960.

These are the details

There are no set number of books to be read. You can read one book and study it in depth or you can read several books all by one female author or you can read a mix of books by women authors.

I'm going to have to think about which female author or authors I want to read.

I'll get back to you on that one.

One Hour Later

Having looked over my E-books, I have 2 collections written by women that I would love to read - both of which are on my current classics list.

These are Katherine Mansfield of New Zealand who wrote a collection of short stories, and Agatha Christie who wrote numerous Detective mysteries.

Now while most people are familiar with Agatha Christie's most famous detective - the man from Belgium called Hercule Poirot, she also wrote several other detective series. One was Miss Marple which I never really got into precisely because the detective in question was an old lady and I am NOT THAT OLD. Not yet anyway!!

The other series was a short lived series called The Tommy and Tuppence Series. about a young couple who liked solving mysteries. This series I liked and I recently purchased the entire collection. I have never read the entire series so I think I will read these. Besides, this series is also set in the Golden age of the 1920s, one of the era's that I LOVE reading about.

So Yes I have decided to read the Tommy and Tuppence series by Agatha Christie.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Canterbury Tales - Woe is me!!

I really really did NOT want to have to be forced to read The Canterbury Tales.

But since there are no  other books by this author that I can swap out with, I have decided that I don't have any choice. I might as well get this over and done with and get this book off my lists.

I do this under protest however. As such, I will not be reading ALL of the tales. I will choose the 10 shortest tales, to read and review.

First I have to look for a decent PROSE version.  These are virtually impossible to find. I spent 2 weeks loking.

I really really detest poetry which is why I didn't want to read this book. Goodness knows why I even put this book on my list in the first place!!!  I really should not have done that!!

Right, That's one lesson learnt. Don't ever put a book onto any SPIN list if you really really do NOT want to read it.

I will be swapping out the Canterbury tales for another book to read - and removing Canterbury Tales from my lists altogether.

Monday, August 24, 2015

And the Lucky Number is...

The Classics Club Lucky SPIN number!

We promised you a spin number this morning, and here it is! Your Spin Number is –


If you joined the game last week, find number 5 on your Spin List! That’s the title you are challenged to read by October 23, 2015. We’ll toss a post up on October 23 to see who completed the game.
As always, the prize is the reading experience. Details Here
In case anyone asks — it would be awesome if everyone posted about their Spin book on October 23. But that’s not mandatory or anything. If you want to, though, have at it! :)
Check in below if you played. What’s your #5 title? Are you glad, hesitant, excited about your title? Do tell!


 Number 5 on my list is Canterbury Tales!!!

 Why do I always get the HARD BOOKS!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Literary Character Tag!

I found this post on another blog because the owner is doing the classic club SPIN, so I thought I would try it myself.

Feel free to do this yourself if you wish. 

Literary Character Tag!

The rules are: Randomly list any twelve literary characters, and then answer the following questions.

Make SURE that you list the characters BEFORE reading the questions! Or else you’ll miss the Mad-Lib fun.

My Characters: (mostly taken from books I have reviewed on my Bibliohistoria blog)

1)   Kurt Austin (NUMA)
2)   Hermione Granger
3)   Anne Shirley (Green Gables)
4)   Lady Emily Ashton (Tasha Alexander Books)
5)   Richard Sharpe
6)   Caitlyn Dexter (WWW series by Robert J. Sawyer)
7)   Robert Langdon
8)   Lara McClintoch (Lynn Hamilton series)
9)   Miss Mary Bennett (Colleen McCullough)
10) Diana Bishop (The All Souls Trilogy - by Deborah Harkness)
11) Thursday Next (Jasper Fforde)
12)  Man in the Iron Mask

The Questions:

1. Who would make a better college prof, 6 or 11?

I would have to go with the blind Teenager - Caitlyn Dexter. She is a tech whiz and would be far more comfortable teaching others. She would be more adaptable and flexible as well.  Thursday Next is a police office amongst book characters and has to work within the rules.

2. Do you think that 2 would win the “Cutest Guy of 2009?

Well, considering she’s a teenage girl with bushy brown hair,  I’d have to say NO.

3. 12 sends 8 out on a mission. What is it? Does it succeed?

Oh yes, Lara is the perfect detective to find out who the Man in the Iron Mask is, why he was dumped in a prison cell, and how he can be released. 

4. What is or would be 9’s favorite book?

Miss Mary Bennett has read every book in the Library, so I doubt it would be the Bible or Pilgrims Progress. But otherwise, I'm sorry I could not say for sure. 

5. Would it make more sense for 2 to swear fealty to 6, or the other way around?

That will never happen!!! Both of these two are teenage girls. One is a know-it-all bushy haired witch and the other is a blind american tech-whiz expert with computers.

6. For some reason, 5 is looking for a roommate. Should (s)he share a studio apartment with 9 or 10?

Richard Sharpe is the consummate soldier. He treats women as equals. But he still grew up in an age where witches are reviled. So I think he would prefer Muss Mary Bennett as his roommate.

7. 2, 7, and 12 have dinner together. Where do they go, and what do they discuss?

(Someone sure likes the #2).

Hermione Granger, Robert Langdon and the Man in the iron mask. Well first off, dinner would have to be at the Man in the masks prison cell since he cannot go anywhere. Secondly, Hermione and Robert would get into a wonderful discussion on Symbology, and what they mean in religion and how magic affected religion as well. The man in the mask would feel quite left out, I'm sorry to say.

8. 3 challenges 10 to a duel. What happens?

Anne Shirley knows nothing about duels other than what she has read in books. Diana Bishop on the other hand is a rather formidable witch and is some years older than Miss Shirley. I don't see Anne challenging anyone to a duel. But if Anne did get into a duel, I would have to say that she would NOT do well at all.

9. If 1 stole 8’s most precious possession, how would she/he get it back?

Lara doesn't have any specific favourite possession - except for her antiques shop. If Kurt Austin was commandeer her shop, that would NOT go down well with Lara at all.

10. Suggest a title for a story in which 7 and 12 both attain what they most desire.

Freedom From our Past

11. What kind of plot device would you use if you wanted 4 and 1 to work together?

A standard detective story since they are both detectives of a sort. This detective or mystery story would have to have some connection with water since that is Kurt's speciality area. Perhaps why and how the Mary Celeste disappeared?

12. If 7 visited you for the weekend, how would you get along?

Robert Lamgdons area of expertise is symbology in religion and I detest religions. While I would be happy to discuss the symbology. I would not be so happy discussing the catholic church.

13. If you could command 3 to perform any one task or service for you, what would it be?

I would probably tell Anne Shirley to stop being such an interfering busybody. She could end up turning into Mrs Rachel (whatever that old gossips last name is) if she keeps behaving like that.

14. If 2 had to choose sides between 4 and 5, which would it be?

I think Hermione Granger would take Lady Ashtons side over the soldiers side, because that is her nature. She is all for equality and Ms Granger detests all signs of women being treated so poorly.  Besides, Richard is a soldier. He is more than capable of looking after himself!!

15. What might 10 shout while charging into battle?

Matthew? Matthew, Where are you? Come and help me!!

16. If you chose a song to represent 8, which song would you choose?

A song for a detective? I dont think there are any.

17. 1, 6, and 12 are having dim sum at a Chinese restaurant. There is only one scallion pancake left, and they all reach for it at the same time. Who gets to eat it?

The man in the Iron Mask doesn't get anything to eat. His hands are shackled. So that leaves Kurt Austin and Caitlyn Dexter. Austin being the gentleman that he is, will allow Miss Dexter to take the last food item from the serving platter.

18. What might be a good pick-up line for 2 to use on 10?

Since Hermione Granger and Diana Bishop are both females, and they are both straight, there will be NO pickup lines spoken at all. However they ARE both witches so they do have that in common. 

19. What would 5 most likely be arrested for?

Probably assault on a senior officer. He's been promoted up through the ranks and some of the upper class officers just do not like that all. They tend to treat Richard Sharpe very badly indeed. Just ask Richard about Obadiah Hakeswill.

20. What is 6’s secret?

She’s a blind teenager but she sure doesnt act blind when she "chatting online". She can get around  the real world pretty much on her own as well.

21. If 11 and 9 were racing to a destination, who would get there first?

That's easy, Thursday Next will always get there first. She is a police officer and it is her job to get there fast!!. Miss Mary Bennett was raised to know that upper class ladies do not run. That is just so unladylike.

22. If you had to walk home through a bad neighbourhood late at night, would you feel safer in the company of 7 or 8?

Well, since I am a female, I would naturally feel safer with Professor Robert Langdon that I would with Lara McClintoch.

23. 1 and 9 reluctantly team up to save the world from the threat posed by 4’s sinister secret organization. 11 volunteers to help them, but it is later discovered that she is actually a spy for 4. Meanwhile, 4 has kidnapped 12 in an attempt to force their surrender. Following the wise advice of 5, they seek out 3, who gives them what they need to complete their quest. What title would you give this fiction?

Since there is NO quest to go after the Man in the Iron mask, I will have to call this - The Man that Time forgot!!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Spin Number 10

We have a new SPIN challenge.

Spin Challenge Number 10

Below are the rules. The same as the last spin.

Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.

    Try to challenge yourself:
list five you are dreading/hesitant to read,
five you can’t WAIT to read,
five you are neutral about,
and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

    Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday. (August 24th)

    Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.

    The challenge is to read that book by October 23, even if it’s an icky one you dread reading! (No fair not listing any scary ones!)

Below is MY Spin List for August

1 Richard Adams - Watership Down

2 Frances Hodgson Burnett - The Secret Garden

3 Rachel Carson - Silent Spring

4 Susan Coolidge - What Katy did at School

5 Geoffrey Chaucer - Canterbury Tales

6 Agatha Christie -  A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery

7 Daphne Du Maurier - The Glass Blowers

8 Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose

9 F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

10 Arthur Hailey - Final Diagnosis

11 Helene Hanff - 84 Charing Cross Road

12 Laura Lee Hope - The Bobbsey Twins at Home

13 Louis L'amour - Sacketts Land

14 Gaston LeRoux - Phantom of the Opera

15 C S Lewis - The Magicians Nephew

16 E Nesbit - The Railway Children

17 Gene Stratton Porter - Moths of the Limberlost

18 William Shakespeare- All’s Well That Ends Well

19 H G Wells -  The Island of Dr. Moreau

20 Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House on the Prairie

About half of this list is the same as Number 9.

And about half of these books have been changed.

This is the second SPIN challenge that I am participating in.

We must read the Chosen Spin Book by October 23 - That is 2 MONTHS away!!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Back to Billabong

Back to Billabong
Mary Grant Bruce
First Published - 1921

One of the best Australian book series I remember reading as a child was the Billabong series. These days Billabong is the name of a well known clothes line. But back in the 1970s or early 1980s, it was the name of a series of books written by Mary Grant Bruce. 

I also remember these books having bright yellow covers. These may have been specifically just for the New Zealand market (Since I was born and raised in New Zealand), because I cannot find any copies of these yellow covered books online at all.

Mary Grant Bruce was born in Australia in 1878 and died in 1958. She wrote a number of children's books but the most well known books is the Billabong series. These books are all about Norah Linton who was born and raised on a cattle ranch (or station as they are called in Australia) in the outback of the state of Victoria in Australia in the early 1900's.

There were a total of 15 books in the series, starting from when Norah was 11 years old, and going through her teenage years, to the years spent in England during World War 1, the return to Australia, Norah's eventual marriage to her brothers best friend and their children.

I happened to find one of these books online so I read it for this classics club. I need to catch up since I am already very far behind on my lists.  I also swapped out one of my books on my list for this one. So any books you see on my list with the strike through line will NOT be read for this challenge, but has been swapped out for another book.

Back to Billabong was published in 1921 and is set in 1919 as the Linton family plus Wally and two  others, return to Australia and the Billabong station after the Armstice. This book starts off with two new characters totally unrelated to the Lintons. We find Cecilia Rainham being employed as an unpaid governess for her younger half siblings by her "wicked" step mother. She does have free room and board and this is more than enough to cover Tommy's employment. This stepmother is referred to as the "she-dragon".

Cecilia and her brother Bob was raised by their maternal aunt after their mother died when the children were very young. They lived in England until their father eventually remarried and the aunt took the children to France.

On this particular day Cecilia, or Tommy as she is usually called, has a date to meet Bob in Hyde Park at 3 pm. Mrs Rainham, the she-dragon step mother, has a meeting set for 4 pm and she uses Tommy to fix her dress, look after the children, take them to their dance class and in general delay Tommy's meeting by any means possible. Tommy is still only 19 and therefore is NOT considered an adult yet. That wont happen until she turns 21.

Tommy has now been used as an unpaid governess for the last 2 years since the war began and she and her brother Robert (Bob) were forced to return to England from France where they were being raised by their maternal aunt. Bob enlisted in the army and so was out of reach, but 17 year old Cecilia who spoke fluent french was perfect to be an unpaid governess for the stepmothers very spoiled children. Their father is a whipped man and escapes to his office in London every day. He is aware that his eldest daughter is being abused and bullied but is unable to do anything since his wife would just refuse to do anything he suggested or demanded.

Eventually Tommy and Bob do meet up and Bob tells Tommy his good news - that he will is to be demobbed (demobilised or discharged) from army service later that month. Finally they can escape. The stepmother has told Tommy that until she is aged 21, her father has control of her and therefore she will be staying at their house and continuing her work as a governess. Bob has no prospects and no job, therefore he has no means of support. This turns out to be a lie.

Having spoken to the lawyer for the aunt's estate, Bob discovers that the aunt left a small legacy for her neice and nephew in the amount of 3000 pounds. Bob has been living and working with a number of Australians during the war, and he has plenty of contacts. An Australian Army General writes some letters of introduction for Bob to move to Australia and start up a new life. The General arranges transport for Bob and his sister in a transport ship named the HMT (His Majesty's transport)
Nauru. The money that the aunt left allows Tommy to escape from the house and for the siblings both to sail away and start a new life. 

As Tommy makes her escape from the house, the younger children try to stop her as they know their mother will be angry if the free governess leaves. The children call their father on the telephone and demand that he come home at once for an emergency. When the father reaches the area around the home, he finds Bob and Tommy leaving the house. He does NOTHING to stop them but bids them godspeed and farewell in his heart. He then returns to his office, knowing that he will probably never see his older children again. We do not read anything about how the she-dragon reacts when she returns home. All this is covered in the first eight chapters.

The last part of Chapter 8 includes Tommy running into a spot of bother near the Liverpool docks and being rescued by the Lintons who are also returning to Australia on the Nauru. She and Norah become very good friends on the journey to Australia. The route to Australia is not mentioned at all.

Chapter 9 starts with the arrival of the Nauru into Melbourne. The Lintons met up with relatives - David Lintons's brother Geoffrey and his family - for a few days before returning to Billabong.

Billabong is totally fictional. The local rail stop and township is called Cunjee, which is also fiuctional. Billabong is 17 miles from Cunjee. None of these names match any real name in Victoria and all we know is that Billabong and Cunjee are NORTH of Melbourne. Well, practically every place in Victoria is  north of Melbourne so that is adequately vague. 

The Rainhams do the rounds of Melbourne with the letters of introduction that Bob had been given. And yes one of those letters was for the Lintons whom they met even before boarding the ship. They eventually arrive at Cunjee, three days after the Lintons do and Jim picks them up in the car. Over the next few months Bob and Tommy learn everything they need to know on how to run a farm. Bob does the outdoor work, and Tommy learns the indoor work. I know this is sexist, but that is just how things were done in those days. Watch the Man From Snowy River movies, and you will see the same thing. The women do the indoors work and the men ride around on the horses doing the outdoor work.

Bob eventually decides to raise sheep, as opposed to the Lintons raising cattle, so he buys a small farm and with Jim and Wally helping, they renovate the cottage, repaint the old house, make furniture and a working bee of neighbours build fences and plough the fields to get the crops started.

Meanwhile Tommy and Norah spend several weeks in the Cunjee hospital kitchens doing all the cooking for the patients who are dealing with the spanish flu. (Remember the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 that killed off many millions of people in Europe??).  Noone dies in Cunjee and life eventually returns to normal.

The Rainhams however are tested like never before. On New Years Day while everyone is at the races, their lovely little cottage gets burned down. The animals save themselves by standing in the creek, and Wally rides like the wind to bust into their cottage and save some mementos brought out from England while the cottage burns around him. There is nothing to do but tear down the old burnt building and start over again,. The new house goes up bigger and better than ever.

Also with extra money coming from an unexpected windfall from the aunt's legacy in England, Bob and Tommy are able to recover, pay off their debts and finally purchase some merino sheep and really become a sheep station, just like they dreamed about.

Official website - Mary Grant Bruce

Wikipedia - Mary Grant Bruce

The list of Books in this series. The highlighted ones are those that I actually have saved as e-books

* A Little Bush Maid (1910)
* Mates at Billabong (1912)
* Norah of Billabong (1913)
* From Billabong to London (1914)
* Jim and Wally (1915)
* Captain Jim (1916)
* Back to Billabong (1919)
* Billabong's Daughter (1924)
* Billabong Adventurers (1928)
* Bill of Billabong (1933)
* Billabong's Luck (1933)
* Wings Above Billabong (1935)
* Billabong Gold (1937)
* Son of Billabong (1939)
* Billabong Riders (1942)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Secret Water by Arthur Ransome

Secret Water
By Arthur Ransome
First Published - 1939

Warning - this is a LOOOONG post!!!

A long long time ago, in a country far far away, I once read several books from a series of children's books. This series was known as the Swallows and Amazons series. That was also the title of the very first book. Now at the time I was reading these books, I'm fairly sure I only read about 4 or 5 of them. Certainly I did not read all of them. Apparently there are 12 in the series.

This year, it occurred to me to perhaps read one or two of the books that I have never read.

Going by the blurbs, I was sure that Secret Water was one that I have never read. 

Basically the entire series is about a family of 5 children and 2 parents, the father being an Officer in the Royal Navy (UK) and the 4 older children consequently growing up mad about sailing and all water activities. The youngest daughter was just a baby and really only shows up in one story of the entire series.

I have always been fascinated by the sea and stories of adventures on the high seas, and this series of books, Swallows and Amazons, may well have introduced me to the High Seas and created my fascination. 

All I know is that for most of my life that I remember (and I remember very little before my 8th birthday)  I have loved many many other books, TV series and movies set on or under the sea. Some examples include the Horatio Hornblower books, Seaquest DSV, Clive Cussler's Books (Dirk Pitt and Kurt Austin)  and Hunt for Red October.

But I digress.

 Let's get back to the Story of Secret Water.

The whole series of books centres around one family - RN Captain Walker and his wife Mary, and their 5 children - John, Susan, Titty, Roger and Bridget the Baby. The 4 older children call themselves the Swallows. Then there are 2 other girls who plan on being pirates and call themselves the Amazons. Their names are Nancy and Peggy Blackett. Titty is a girl and the name comes from some story about "Titty Mouse" according to the Wikipedia page.

Last Summer (the previous book) the kids had somehow ended up in a boat and drifted out into the North Sea on the tide. They ended up in the Netherlands. (This Book is entitled We Didn't Mean to go to Sea) As a "reward" the parents have the idea of finding a place the children have never been too, that has lots of water and islands and where one that can explore and map. They will learn how to use a compass, mapping skills and survival skills as well.

The family is staying in a place called Shotley, just out of Ipswich, and since I knew that Ipswich was a real place, maybe Shotley was as well. Sure enough it showed up on the Google Earth map.

Inside the front and back covers of this book, are maps of the harbour that the children will be exploring. So I spent several hours investigating Google Earth trying to find a place along the English coastline, near Ipswich that matched the map. Sure enough, I found it.

This is the Hamford Water National Nature Reserve, It lies on the North Sea a short distance south of Harwich and the Stour river and is located in Essex county. For the record, Hamford Water is not an estuary as it does not have a major river running into it. Instead it is classified as a coastal embayment that has been formed due to a natural dip in the underlying geology of the area. SOURCE

Anyway, in the story the plan was for the children and their parents to make a holiday of their time in this harbour, sailing around and mapping the place for themselves. Then the father is abruptly recalled to duty in London (Bloody Rude Navy for cutting short an officers family vacation - so not fair!!), and he decides that he can leave the kids "Marooned" on one of the islands where they can camp, and allow them to map the place on their own. They all know how to sail, they have all been camping and they have their own dinghy to sail around in.

Age wise, these children seem to run from ages 13 down to perhaps age 4 to 6, for Bridget. These children do not act like any child I have ever known. They kind of act rather grown up!!!

So the Captain sails the kids into the harbour, drops them off on the largest island with food, tents, along with mapping and camping equipment. He makes arrangements with the managers of the farm on the island to provide milk, and clean water for the children. Then he and his wife sail off again. They will back in a week to pick the kids up.

The place is literally nothing but mud flats and small islands. The tides are high and low and if you are stuck somewhere at low tide - in a boat - you literally cannot move until the next high tide comes in, to float you off.

The Google Earth Image of this area was clearly taken at low tide and is dated 2006. There are a number of boats clearly sitting on the mud.  I dont know how much of this map might be out of date. Nor I have seen any map images of this reserve at high tide. 

Arthur Ransome had a tendency to take some real places and alter them slightly, For this story, he generally keeps most things the same. He certainly kept the road!!!!  There is one additional creek added that is NOT on the real map.

Below is the blank map that the Captain drew. If you compare that to the Image above, you can see they are pretty close. Remember, the author did make some small changes.

 He marked three things on it - the farm on the main island where they were to get milk and water. the line at the entrance to this harbour beyond which they were absolutely FORBIDDEN to pass, and the place where he planned to drop them off. It would be the children's job to fill in the blanks - literally.

I LOVE maps. And the fact that I was able to locate the REAL place made this story so much more real for me. I was very involved with the story. For each new discovery the children made, I plotted them on my own copy of the map. LOL And yes, I will add both the children's completed map as well as my own, further down.

Back to the Story - again!!  LOL

After the children have set up their camp, they began exploring. Firstly they have to explore their own island. One of the first things they discovered was some very large and strangely shaped footprints in the mud. They follow these footprints until they abruptly disappear. So the first day on the island is spent mapping the island. They even used a Compass and there is a lot of compass directions mentioned.

On day 2 they spot a boy out on the mud in a small boat picking up fishing lines from the mud. So far he has caught just 2 small fish. He comes tot he island to talk tot he children, and by the end of the day The Walkers and this boy, whose name was Don, (which was promptly turned into the Nickname of Mastodon by Titty!!) are firm friends. Don mentions some other friends of his, which he calls the Eels.What is it with groups of children who insist on calling their group by some weird name?

 Later that afternoon the Amazons arrived to join the Walker children. Nancy is the leader and somewhat loud. She and tends to kind of take over things, often without meaning too. Her sister Peggy is fairly quiet,.

Don begins telling the Explorers (Walkers and Blacketts) all the secrets of the Eels. Their secret passwords, the secret of those large footprints, and he even shows them the boat where he is staying. He had even mentioned the blooding ceremony - where each child pricks their finger, allows a few drops of blood to be collected in a bowl and then some of the mixed blood is smeared on each child's cut skin - so that the Explorers would then be considered as Eels, and Don of the Eels would now be an explorer.

Bridget being the youngest had not wanted to prick her finger, but she provided the necessary few drops of blood after falling over and scraping her hand. Instead of Susan being allowed to put iodine on it and bandage it up,  Roger grabbed Bridget and began running to bring her back to camp to do the blooding while Bridget was still bleeding. Susan (the mother figure) was most upset. Nancy (being the most warlike person) was most pleased with Roger for his quick thinking.

The following day when the children meet with Don again, he is upset and not happy. He had received a note from the other eels. They had heard about 2 female savages being landed on their island and were demanding that Don do what he could to get rid of them.

What Don and the Eels called savages (strangers) and missonaries (family and friends), the Walker and Beckett kids called Natives. These words all indicate the colonial attitudes of the 1930's when the book was first written. 

At first there was state of war between the Explorers (Walkers and Blacketts) and the Eels. But once the Eels were made to understand that Don had blooded the explorers then all was right and the job of map making really took off.  Now with 11 children (4 Eels, 5 Walkers and 2 Blacketts) and 6 boats, the blank map could really be filled in.

One further adventure I must mention. The Walkers had gone to the Native settlement (the Town just south of the Red Sea) to get the rudder fixed (from one of their boats) and buy more food and supplies.

Titty and Roger and were charged with taking Bridget and the food back to camp while Susan and John made sure that the rudder got fixed in time before the high tide.

On the way back, Tittie, Bridget and Rogers detoured off the road  and explored a new creek. so they did not see Susan and John pass them on the way back to camp. By the time Tittie and Roger, and Bridget got back to the Red Sea, the tide was rising pretty fast. They tried to walk along the road across the mud flats, but didnt make it. The rising tide curt them off and they ended up having to sit up on the pilings that marked the road at high tide. There they sat until Don spotted them and came to rescue them in his boat.

When they got back to camp, John and Susan, naturally, were furious.  There had been a note left at the camp site by the managers of the farm and they had just 12 hours to pack up and be ready to ship out when Captain Walker would be collecting them all in the morning. John was upset because not all of the harbour had been mapped yet.

Earlu the next morning, Tittie, Roger, Nancy and Peggy all crept out of camp to go and explore that last part that was still blank on the map. They could not map the entire Arctic sea, but they did explore the North west and North east Passages and confirm that what they had previously called the Blackberry Coast, was in fact an island with the Arctic sea behind it.

The children were racing back to camp when they met the Captains ship also sailing in, and all 3 boats arrived at the pier at the same time. In the meantime, John, Susan, Bridget and Don had all packed up the camp so that  they were ready to load and board in a matter of minutes.

John was of course rather cross at the others for skiving off to go and do boat races, until Tittie showed him the map that they had now completely filled in. There were NO further blank spaces left. John was very pleased about this. But he never really apologised. 

And here is MY map of the harbour. I had a lot of fun doing this!!

I loved this entire story. Especially with all the map making!!! The yellow lines from the Red Sea to the Native Settlement mark the road. It really does exist and is called "Island Road" naturally!!!!

I did get somewhat frustrated with Susan for being so stuffy and constantly smothering young Bridget. Despite that young lady's constant proclamations of being old enough!!!!

But this was the 1930's and not the 21st century so I guess Susan can be excused.

The conflict with the Eels before things were all fixed up was interesting as well.

I also was not impressed with John's attitude towards Tittie, Roger, Nancy and Peggy on the last morning. He thinks they are out having fun and skiving off their duties of camp cleanup - well they were having fun!!!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jane Austen Resources

Just a few links to Websites, Texts and Blogs about Jane Austen

Jane Austen Centre, Bath, UK

Old Friends and New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen

The Letters of Jane Austen by Jane Austen

Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh

200 years of Jane Austen Anniversaries in 2015

Other Austen reviews I have written or posted

Old Friends and New Fancies

The Jane Austen Book Club (movie)

Darcy's Story

Which Austen heroine are you?

You are Anne Elliot of Persuasion! Let's face it; you're easily persuaded, particularly when friends and relatives try to use "the Elliot way" against you. But this doesn't mean that you don't have conviction. Actually, your sense of duty is overwhelming. And though you won't stick your neck out too often, you have learned to speak up when it counts. To boot, you know how to handle sticky situations. You love deeply and constantly.

You Are...Anne Elliot!

Feel free to post this placard, with a link to the main quiz page, on your webpage or online journal. You may direct link the image for the purposes of the quiz, just don't abuse the privilege, and be aware that the files may move.

Quiz Source - Which Austen heroine are you?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

SPIN substitute - Persuasion by Jane Austen

Since I refused to read that horrible book about the Dumb Blonde who does nothing but gossip all day, it occurred to me that perhaps I could read another novel by Jane Austen.

Up until this Spin challenge began, the only Jane Austen Book I was familiar with, was of course Pride and Prejudice.

Now I am familiar with 3 of Jane Austens Books. P&P, Emma and the novel I WAS able to read.

Title - Persuasion
Author - Jane Austen
Published - 1818

THIS Book I fell in love with.

I now claim Persuasion to be MY most favourite Jane Austen Novel!!!

There are several reasons why I LOVED this book.

1 - It only has 24 chapters compared to 55 of the Dumb Blonde Book.

2 - It was set in Somersetshire and I have ancestors from Somersetshire, although they were NOT from Bath.

3 - It started off in Chapter 1 with the Elliot family genealogy and I LOVE genealogy!!

4 - Anne is the middle of three daughters. So am I!!

5 - Anne loves to read. So do I!!

6 - Anne did not get on at with her older sister, but did get on reasonably well with her younger sister. The same for me. My older sister and I never got on at all. My younger sister and I get on very well indeed.

7 - This novel involves Officers from the Royal Navy, and takes place a few years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. (Persuasion is set in 1814). I have always loved the sea and the many Navies that fought battles upon the waves. I also love reading and learning about the Age of Exploration!!

8 - Like Anne, I too was persuaded to not follow a dream of mine (education rather than marriage). This is a decision I have not been able to rectify and which I still regret.

9 - Anne married late. Well, it was late for the Regency era anyway. She was 27 when she became engaged to Captain Wentworth. I too married late, I was 35 when I met him, and 36 when I got married. 

10 - In this novel Anne gets to travel. While she does not travel to London, she does travel from her home near Crewkerne in Somersetshire to Lyme Regis and to Bath. I don't think anyone from the other novels get to travel much. Certainly not Emma.

Lyme Regis is famous for dinosaur skeletons and Mary Anning who discovered them. Oh, but in 1814, Mary Anning is still just a teenager. If you know the riddle - She sells sea shells on the sea shore - this riddle is believed to refer to Mary Anning.

I have travelled and lived in 3 countries in my lifetime. New Zealand, Solomon Islands and Canada.

Frederick Wentworth has travelled all over the Mediterranean during the course of the Napoleonic wars.

There are of course plenty of differences between myself and Anne as well.

Anne's mother died when she was a child. Both of my parents are still alive - although my mother is currently ill with cancer.

Anne's older sister never married. Both of my sisters married in their twenties. I did not get married until I was 36 years old.

Both of Anne's sisters are still alive in this novel, although the oldest sister does not have a very large part to play. My older sister passed away more than 20 years ago. She left behind 3 young children. Those children are now well adjusted and happy young adults in their 20's. None of them married yet, although one is living with a partner.


That's enough, lets get on with it... (quote by Rolf Harris)

Eight years before the novel opens, Anne Elliot was persuaded by her godmother to NOT marry a young officer in the Royal Navy because he had no money and no prospects.

Anne deeply regrets making that decision but has not seen the young man since.

In the meantime, her father, Sir Walter Elliot, a Baron, has been living above his means and is now in debt. He is forced to leave his home and move to a smaller house in Bath and let out the family home of Kellynch Hall.

The new tenants turn out to be Admiral and Mrs Croft. Mrs Croft's brother is the young man whom Anne rejected. Only a very few people are aware that they did have plans to marry. Anne is terrified of meeting him.

Anne's younger sister Mary demands that Anne go and live with her instead of moving to Bath and Anne agrees. Because Mary still lives just three miles away from Kellynch Hall, there was always the chance that she and the now Captain Frederick Wentworth would eventually meet, which they do. By now the Captain has made a lot of money from the wars. It is rumoured that he now has 25,000 pounds, which is QUITE the fortune!!! 

 It is clear that Captain Wentworth has not forgiven Anne for her actions. He flirts with Mary's two young sisters in law - Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove.

Someone suggests a ride to Lyme Regis. so they all bundle up and make the 4 hour trek to Lyme.

Lyme Regis has this huge harbour wall called The Cobb. It is wide enough to easily walk 3 abreast. It has stairs along it every few hundred feet, leading down to the Lower Cobb (or lower wall).

Louisa Musgrove, being the teenager she is, jumps off the steps and into Frederick's arms. She runs back up the stairs to do that again. But Frederick gets distracted and there is noone to catch Louisa when she jumps the second time. She hits the ground and hits her head.

Henrietta and Mary both start screaming in panic thinking Louisa is dead.  Frederick doesn't know what to do either. Anne demands that Frederick's friend Benwick be sent to find a surgeon (doctor),  since he has lived in Lyme and would know where to find one.

Anne and Henrietta return home while Mary and Charles - Louisa's older brother and his wife - remain in Lyme.

Louisa ends up remaining in Lyme for a month during her recovery. Wentworth disappears to Shropshire to visit his brother. Noone notices his friend James Benwick who stays behind and visits Louisa every day.

Anne is eventually persuaded to visit Bath with her godmother Lady Russell. While in Bath, some distant cousins of Mr Elliot, the Dalrymples, who are slightly higher than Mr Elliot on the Nobility rankings, also visit Bath and Mr Elliot schemes to obtain an audience.

Around this time, the news is spread that Louisa has fully recovered and is now engaged to be married to James Benwick, the friend of Frederick Wentworth, Anne is thrilled to hear this news because she had thought that Louisa was rather overly friendly with Frederick in Lyme and that perhaps they would become engaged.

At the same time, another cousin of the Elliots, William Elliot, who is the heir to Mr Elliot, is making a play for Anne, in order to not only obtain the Baronet title, but also what little money there is left.  He starts a rumour that he and Anne are engaged. This has Frederick rushing to Bath to find out for himself. He has never stopped loving Anne. He eventually sends Anne a letter.

Tell me that it is not too late.

Anne runs after Frederick and when he proposes again, she accepts and tells him that this time she will NOT be persuaded to change her mind.


Jane Austen died in July 1817. Persuasion was published in December 1817, although the publisher placed the official date of 1818 on the book instead. 

This is another typical love story from Jane Austen. But this time while Anne's sister Mary was the one doing the whining, and everyone did the gossiping, Anne is portrayed the sensible one. Which is why I like her so much. In Lyme, while everyone was panicking over Louisa, Anne knew what to do. This is why Frederick notices her again.

At one point Anne described what she considered to be good company.

My idea of good company, is the company of well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation. 

I whole-heartedly agree. Well, about the well-informed people anyway. I do love a good intelligent conversation. I detest gossip.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Failed my first Spin - Emma by Jane Austen

OK I give up.

I announce it officially.

I cannot stand Emma!!!

I have not been able to get past Chapter 10. There is NO way I will be able to finish this book.

I will NEVER ever touch this book to read again. 

I don't know how ANYONE can read this novel.

Emma does nothing but whine and gossip and stick her nose into other peoples business all day, every day.

Sure she can dance and sing and paint and play the harpschicord, all very prettiily. But in modern vernacular, she is absolutely the epitome of a DUMB BLONDE!!!!

And the fact that the classic actress who plays Emma in the movie of the book, was Gwyneth Paltrow, who is also a blonde, and sometimes acts very dumb, just enforces the Dumb Blonde stereotype. 

And I cannot stand Dumb Blondes. Which is why I hate the movie CLUELESS.I could not watch Emma either.

It eventually occurred to me to read another Jane Austen Novel in place of Emma, so that is what I did.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why my Dad loves Jane Austen's books

I asked a question in my previous post about why my dad loves Jane Austen's books. So I sent my dad an email and asked him. This is his reply.

Emma is not my top favourite. I find Emma Woodhouse to be such a bossy, opinionated young woman, that she irritates me somewhat.

There are several reasons I like the Austen novels.

1. They are “old friends” – I have been re-reading them since I was introduced to “Persuasion” in English 1 at University. Must have been about 1959. (and yes this was before I was born)

2. I find her characters so vivid and  real. I know one or two “Miss Bates” in real life, who waffle on too much, and are really boring. Austen even manages to make Emma very vivid, so that she is like a real person, even if she is a slow learner.

3. My all-time favourite is “Pride and Prejudice”. It has a good caste of interesting characters. Rev. Collins is one of the most marvellous comic creations in all of English literature. The plot is very carefully mapped out, so that the families of the hero and the heroine, even though from differing social classes, are perfectly symmetrical.

4. The novels collectively are like a window on life in the middle classes in the era 1790 – 1810. The limitations placed on woman are amazing, and clearly delineated. About the only important decision a young woman of that time could make for herself was to accept or decline a marriage proposal. Of course, marriage was the only “career option” for middle class women. They could not take a job, and young women had nothing to spend their time on except in gossip, and approved crafts such as art, sewing etc. The social snobbery that was taken for granted is interesting. Work was somehow demeaning, and “to be in trade” was to mark one’s low level in the pecking order.

You need to remember that this is all very middle class. Most of our ancestors would have been “working class” who only appear fleetingly in Austen’s novels as “Cook” or “Gardener”.

I hope you enjoy “Emma”


BTW, Pride and Prejudice is the only other decent Austen novel that I have read as well. I really admire Elizabeth Bennet for being as strong willed and as intelligent as she is. She wants to be able to have intelligent discussions with her husband, instead of being a trophy wife. Good for her, I say.!!!

I commented back to Dad about his comments.

I totally agree with your point number 4, about the social snobbery.  It is just disgusting.I wonder of this snobbery influenced those who left England on the Mayflower to find religious freedom?

And he commented back to me.

The social snobbery is just how it was, and continued to a greater or lesser degree until the 1st world war. Everyone, except a few radicals, accepted it as normal. The Mayflower was much earlier than this. By Austen’s time, USA was independent and a serious challenge to England’s domination of the seas. Many of the middle and upper classes owned investments in West Indian sugar plantations, a subject that, together with its darker side – slavery -  pops up in at least one novel, Mansfield Park. Austen is a very accurate social commentator.

And one last comment from me - Mansfield Park is also on my classics club list to read.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reading the SPIN book - Emma by Jane Austen.

There are 55 chapters in Emma. So if I read 5 chapters per day, I should be able to read the whole book in 11 days. This is good, as the deadline is May 15, and that is 5 weeks from today. Plenty of time to read, write and recover.

I did read the first five chapters of Emma today, and made plenty of notes - mostly noting down all the passages that I thought were demeaning towards women or men!!!

Up until today I have not watched any movie or TV series named Emma. Although I have just discovered that the comedy movie CLUELESS is a modern day version of Emma.

I did not like Clueless at all. These teenagers were ditsy and dumb and all they cared about were clothes, makeup and boys.  They were not all blondes - although the leader named Cher was definitely a dumb blonde.

There are 2 movies based on the book called Emma by Jane Austen. Both movies were made in 1996. One was released on TV and other was released in the movie theatres.

The TV movie starred Kate Beckingsale and was filmed in very low lighting. I could not even watch it on Youtube, because it was just so dark!!

The mainstream theatre movie starred Gwyneth Paltrow. This movie was made several years before her Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love.

The Paltrow movie was much nicer in cinematography. Very light both indoors and outdoors.That is all I can say that was good about it. I am only referring to clips seen on Youtube.

But again, I refuse to watch ditsy girls talk of nothing about men and boys and gossiping about their prospects.

All these 18th century girls ever think of, is men and money. They do not wish to marry poor men. They are determined to marry only rich men or men who will inherit money or land.

There is nothing mentioned of feelings or of love.

I have also discovered a recent Mini-Series called Emma made in 2009. This one starred Jonny Lee Miller (from the 1995 movie Hackers) and Romola Garai (whom I have never heard of). I don't plan to be watching this either.

If I were born in 1764 instead of 1964, I guess I would have been considered an old maid by the time I was 25. I actually did not get married until I was 36 years old!!  In the late 1700's that is practically old age, Indeed, some women at age 36, could easily be grandmothers by that age!!!

My father adores Jane Austen's books. I need to ask him why he likes them. And which is his favourite.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spin Book - Emma by Jane Austen

I now have 5 weeks to read EMMA by Jane Austen. (Number 2 on my Spin List)

I will be reading the Project Gutenberg version.

And I think I will also read Final Diagnosis by Arthur Hailey as well. (Number 8 on my spin list)

I am behind on my book reading for this challenge and I do need to read 2 books per month so this will help.

Lucky SPIN Number

We promised you a spin number this morning, and here it is! Your Spin Number is -


If you joined the game last week, find number 8 on your Spin List! That's the title you are challenged to read by May 15, 2015. We'll toss a post up on May 15 to see who completed the game.

As always, the prize is the reading experience. In case anyone asks -- it would be awesome if everyone posted about their Spin book on May 15. But that's not mandatory or anything. If you want to, though, have at it! :)

Check in below if you played. What's your #2 title? Are you glad, hesitant, excited about your title? Do tell!

So am I challenged to read number 2 or number 8?? 
Number 2 is one of those books I really dont want to read. 
Number 8 is one that I DO want to read. 
Number 2 on my list is Emma by Jane Austen
Number 8 on my list is Final Diagnosis by Arthur Hailey

Number 8 was chosen for the last spin. 
So these moderators really need to be more careful when CUTTING and PASTING their old posts.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spin Number 9

Classics Spin Number 9

Source - Classic Spin #9

Choose 20 books from your list that you have NOT yet read
The selection can be -
- five books you are dreading/hesitant to read,
- five books you can’t WAIT to read,
- five books you are neutral about,
- and five free choices - these can be favorite authors, rereads, ancients, whatever you choose.

You have to post your list numbered from 1 to 20. The Spin club managers will choose a number from 1 to 20 and you MUST read the book next to that number before May 15, 2015.

Below is MY SPIN LIST .

1 Richard Adams - Watership Down


3 Rachel Carson - Silent Spring

4 Geoffrey Chaucer - Canterbury Tales

5 Agatha Christie - Murder on the Orient Express

6 Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose

7 F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

8 Arthur Hailey - Final Diagnosis

9 Helene Hanff - 84 Charing Cross Road

10 Kathryn Kurtz - Dernyi Rising

11 Louis L'amour - Sacketts Land

12 Doris Lessing - The Golden Notebook

13 C S Lewis - The Magicians Nephew

14 James Michener - Tales of the South Pacific

15 Orhan Pamuk - My Name is Red

16 Gene Stratton Porter - Moths of the Limberlost

17 Arthur Ransome - Secret Water

18 Amy Tan - The Joy Luck Club

19 H G Wells -  The Island of Dr. Moreau

20 Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House on the Prairie

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Back to the Classics Challenge

Just found another new challenge. This is called The Back to the Classics Challenge.

 Hosted by Karen, the main rule is to read 12 books (1 per month) from various different categories, but all of them MUST be classics. The categories are as follows.

1.  A 19th Century Classic -- any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic -- any book published between 1900 and 1965.  Just like last year, all books must have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify as a classic.  The only exception is books that were published posthumously but written at least 50 years ago.)

3.  A Classic by a Woman Author.

4.  A Classic in Translation. As in last year's category, this can be any classic book originally written or a published in a language that is not your first language.  Feel free to read it in its original form if you are comfortable reading in another language. 

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel -- a single work of 500 pages or longer, regular-sized print.  This does not include omnibus editions combined into one book, or short story collections.  Updated:  The 500 pages MUST be the actual text of the novel, not including endnotes, appendices, etc.  When in doubt, check more than one edition, and use an average page count.

6.  A Classic Novella -- any work shorter than 250 pages.  For a list of suggestions, check out this list of World's Greatest Novellas from Goodreads.

7.  A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title.  First name, last name, or both, it doesn't matter, but it must have the name of a character.  David Copperfield, The Brothers Karamazov, Don Quixote -- something like that. It's amazing how many books are named after people!

8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic.  Humor is very subjective, so this one is open to interpretation.  Just tell us in the review why you think it's funny or satirical.   For example, if you think that Crime and Punishment and funny, go ahead and use it, but please justify your choice in your post.

9.  A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic that nobody reads any more.  If you look on Goodreads, this book will most likely have less than 1000 ratings.  This is your chance to read one of those obscure books from the Modern Library 100 Best Novels or 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Books published by Virago Modern Classics, Persephone, and NYRB Classics often fall into this category. 

10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that's considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.  You'd be surprised how many classic authors dabbled in nonfiction writing -- I have nonfiction books by Dickens, Trollope, Twain, and Steinbeck on my shelves.

11.  A Classic Children's Book.  A book for your inner child!  Pick a children's classic that you never got around to reading. 

12.  A Classic Play.  Your choice, any classic play, as long as it was published or performed before 1965.  Plays are only eligible for this specific category.

I will be ignoring the 50 years publishing rule and staying with the 25 years rule. But otherwise I am sure I can find books that fit each of these 12 categories. I will try and finish these categories by the end of 2015, but since I do have 5 years, I am not going to hold myself to the time limit. I just want to be able to read a variety of classic books.