Armchair BEA Day 1: Intro and The Classics!

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Hello, Armchair BEA folks (and everyone else)!  I’m excited to be participating in Armchair BEA again this year.  Today’s post includes both my introduction and also my response to today’s genre question.  Please do leave comments, ask questions, etc.  I look forward to talking with you all, and I can’t wait to visit your blogs, too!

Introduction:

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
      • My name is Adam AKA Roof Beam Reader.  I have kept a blog for well over a AdamRBRdecade, now, but I have been blogging about books, specifically, for four years.  I first got into blogging because it seemed a good format for creative expression.  Then, as I moved through college (English major) and onto graduate school (English/American Lit), I realized I wanted & needed a place to keep my thoughts on books.  Voila – book blog!
  • Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.
    • I’m blogging from Chicago, Illinois!  Random fact?  Despite popular folklore, there is no evidence that the O’Leary cow started the great fire if 1871.  That being said, there’s no real evidence to dispute it, either. After all, the fire DID start in their barn, on an unusually warm October day, after a hot and dry summer.
  • Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?
    • Yes!  I believe this is my third year.  I’ve not been able to make it to the actual BEA yet (maybe next year?), but I still like to be involved.  I always have fun, I always meet great, new (or new-to-me) bloggers, and I always love the topics. So, why not!?
  • What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
  • Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
    • I was born on Easter Sunday and the nurses put me in a little blue bunny suit.  The pictures continue to haunt me.
  • Name your favorite blog(s) and explain why they are your favorite(s).
    • This is tough. There are so many blogs that I love.  But, I really enjoy A Literary Odyssey and Delaisse.  Both Allie and O, the respective bloggers, are intelligent and engaging, and they, like me, consider reading to be a personal journey of sorts.
  • Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
    • Another impossible question!  As far as reviews go, I’m really proud of my review for War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  I also wrote a blog post about the 10 posts I consider to be most representative of me as person and blogger, which has a few links.  It is titled: 10 Posts to Get a Glimpse of Me!
  • If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
    Salinger (1919-2010)

    Salinger (1919-2010)

    • This is something I think about all the time, and my answer always changes.  If I had just one chance and one choice, though, I would sit down with J.D. Salinger.  It’s impossible for me to choose anyone else.
  • What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?
    • I would love to visit Edgar Allan Poe’s house and also the Globe Theatre.  The Irish pub where James Joyce used to write would be fun to see, too.
  • What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?
    • So many great, passionate people sharing a common interest.  I learn a lot from these folks, and I’m exposed to great books that I might not have otherwise taken a chance on.
  • Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?
    • I kinda wish e-readers would disappear. 😉

Genre Topic 1: The Classics

The Questions:

  • Today, tell us all the reasons why you love classic literature.
    • Well, that’s quite the undertaking!  Why do I love classic literature?  I suppose the easy answer is that “classics” are considered as such for a reason.  They have staying power, they speak to every new generation, regardless of how much time – decades or centuries- has passed.  The reasons for this are debatable, but I think classic literature is very human at its core.  It speaks to us because it causes us to be introspective, to reflect on situations in our life that were similar, but it also gives us opportunities to explore things we’ve always imagined.
  • What are your favorite classics?
    • Oh, another impossible question! Okay, then!  I really have no idea how to answer this.  Of course, I do have my favorites, but there are so many – and so many great classics that others love but aren’t my own personal favorites- that I’m not sure where to start.  To keep myself sane, I’m going to limit myself to three.  I will say, some of my all-time favorites and some of the best pieces of literature that I know, are: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
  • If you could give a list of classics to someone who claims to hate them to make them change their mind, what would be on it?
    • I feel that people who don’t read classics are probably intimidated by the idea of them more so than by any (or many) actual experiences with them.  I would recommend books by Willa Cather, Charlotte Bronte, and Thomas Hardy, among others.
  • How would you convince them to give classics a try?
    • I would also suggest reading them in groups, to begin with – it’s sometimes more fun, more informative, and less scary to classicsclubread classics as a group.  So, if this is you, perhaps consider starting a book club or, even better, join The Classics Club!  I’m one of the moderators and co-founders of The Classics Club, so don’t mind the shameless self-promotion, but to be honest, we have a great group of people, readers of all levels, who read at their own pace, participate in various events and challenges, all with the goal of reading more classics.  It’s quite the club! We are also on Twitter and Facebook!
  • And why do you keep coming back to those old favorites?
    • They teach me about myself, about others, and about the world around us.  There’s nothing more interesting, nor more important, than that.  Plus, the good ones are just so good.
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66 thoughts on “Armchair BEA Day 1: Intro and The Classics!

    • Thanks! Yes, it’s one of those “family favorite” stories. I think I even still have the suit around here, somewhere. Might have to give it to my nephew, who will be born this August. Let him carry the torch of embarrassment for a while. 😉

  1. I love that they put you in a bunny suit! What a story!

    I kind of highlighted you and your upcoming Beats of Summer event in my post about the Classics Club… thought you should know (as I’m sure you don’t mind, right?)

    Also, I am on a WAITLIST for Winger! Nothing like building up the anticipation, right?

    • That was great of you, thanks! And Winger is definitely worth the wait (although, I couldn’t & wouldn’t wait for it, myself). Hope you get your hands on it, soon! 🙂

  2. Theodore Dreiser. Interesting choice for early forays into the classics. And good luck with the Classics Club. I love initiatives like that.
    Happy ArmchairBEA
    Tanya

    • Oh, that’s funny – I was thinking about Sister Carrie, so accidentally typed out Dreiser where I meant to put Thomas Hardy! I changed it… Dreiser would not be my first recommendation! Lol

    • That’s great! I think it adds quite a bit to the experience – perspectives you wouldn’t have gotten as a solitary reader, and encouragement that we might all need with certain books.

  3. Why haven’t I ever followed your blog before? Oh, well, I took steps to remedy that.

    I must agree with Andi–the bunny suit is hilarious.

    I really enjoyed your discussion about the classics. I love talking with people who are just as passionate about the classics as I am.

  4. Nice post! I’ve bookmarked it so I can read everything in more detail. I don’t know if I have the time to really participate in this, but I’d like to do an intro post to… see how tonight goes.

    Just wanted to thank you for your tireless advocating for the classics… the world needs more people like you, who can talk intelligently about literature AND make it fun and accessible. That’s what I aim to do with my blog, and you’re an inspiration to me.

  5. I’m going on (and on) but methinks much of the problem with the classics is the very word: “classics”. Turgid and cold. I try and encourage those who are really intimidated to take up short stories by the big (scary) authors. Like Hardy. Brilliant short stories! Oh and The Classics Club rocks! :0)

    • See, I find the word “Classics” to be warm and comforting. I guess it’s all perspective! I do understand what you’re saying, though – it can be an intimidating “category” for folks who don’t tend to read non-contemporary (or non-YA, non-fantasy, etc., whatever is outside their usual niche). I agree, Hardy is a great way to go – such a page-turner kind of author! Even his lengthy works move pretty quickly.

  6. Salinger, wouldn’t that be an incredible meal! You’ll definitely have to she a Shakespeare show in the Globe when you go to London (I say when, not if, because everyone should!). Love the bunny story. I took a walking tour of Chicago last time I was there and they said the same thing about the old cow. Poor guy got all the blame!

    • Thanks for the optimism! I keep hoping to go, and two of my professors in particular keep asking me to go with them for a summer semester (to study at Oxford), but I just haven’t been able to afford it. I’m hoping for next year or the year after.

  7. I feel your pain…I was stuck in a duck costume one halloween as a baby, but it looks like a chicken. I really wish those photos would magically disappear, lol. I might read Winger soon since Pulse It just put it up as a free read for the week, it looks really good. Also this is the third time I’ve seen The Classics Club pop up! I’m starting to feel like I need to be included, so I’m definitely going to check that out.

    • Winger was so good. I’m a big fan of Andrew Smith, but even I was impressed by this one. Of course, it’s not a classic (though it might one day become a classic of young adult fiction). And, that’s great! I’m glad to hear The Classics Club is getting such love!

  8. You were put in a blue bunny suit?! That sounds so adorable. I’m actually sort of jealous.

    I am that awkward person who had never read any Jane Austen books. The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is so similar to the novel that I couldn’t get through the book (after watching the movie about 2 times in a week, I admit). I may have to try starting with a different one of her novels, though I’ve essentially been forced to watch all the movies already.

    • FORCED to watch the Austen movies?! I’d like to hear more about that – someone in your life who is obsessed? Haha. I’ve actually never seen any of the film adaptations, except part of the BBC version, which I hear is the most loved but also the longest. Shame on me? My favorite Austen is actually Northanger Abbey, but I have to admit that I’ve found much to love in all of her books, even her juvenilia and unfinished novels. I’m saving the last two (Emma and Persuasion) for this year’s Austen in August event, at which point I will have read the complete works.

  9. In re: classics, favorites, and today’s readers finding some staying power there, that ‘speaks to every new generation’, I highly recommend Willa Cather’s ‘Paul’s Case’, a short story of hers. (If you *do* have a dreaded e-reader you can find it for zero cost, although you can also find the full text at the online Willa Cather Archive)

    This one story, written in 1905, mirrors so many current day emotions of, and reactions to, those of us who seek escape and ‘something different’ in our adolescent lives, that the story seems more than timeless in its telling; it seems ‘now’.

    • E.J. – I couldn’t agree with you more! I just recommended this short story on another post, moments ago (for someone who enjoyed Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”). “Paul’s Case” remains one of my absolute favorite short stories and Cather is one of my favorite writers. I wrote an essay about “Paul’s Case” in college, which resulted in my professor asking me if I had ever considered graduate school. Needless to say, that essay and the subsequent conversation jump-started the next stage in my own journey.

  10. Thanks for sharing Adam. I did not take time to write about genre today. I also enjoy a lot Steinbeck [above all East of Eden], and all of Hugo: novels, plays, poetry, but I have to say I hate Austen!

      • sorry Adam, i hope we can still be friend, and maybe even meet one day in Chicago!
        I did not like the “précieusité” of the style. You know French, so I don’t hesitate to use that word that I think translates even better my thought than the English word. Plus I don’t like the social milieu her books are set in. My real name is Emmanuelle, so when my American friends started calling me Emma, I faced a real identity crisis. but then I discovered Emma who wrote the poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, so I’m reconciled with my Americanized first name

      • Bien sûr. Je comprends! In fact, I was turned off by the very same thing, at first. The “sweetness” of the prose and the very narrow scope of setting and characters; however, I’ve learned not to fault Austen for that, for two reasons: First, it was what she knew (in terms of characters, setting, and social strata); and second, because I discovered she is much more satirical and tongue-in-cheek than I originally realized. She’s extremely subtle and delicate, but she’s absolutely poking fun. This helped me – maybe it will help others (if not you!). 🙂

  11. When the classics topic was posted, I decided not to prepare a post for it because I’ve felt so distant from classics lately. But as I’ve been going around and commenting on everyone’s posts, I’ve gotten excited thinking about the classics I really love and I’ve been meaning to read. I guess I can’t leave them behind!

    Love your thought about Joyce’s pub!

    • It’s good, but it’s longer than it needs to be – at least, the first part is. I haven’t made it to the second part, yet, but I hear it is different from the first… more serious. Still, it is funny and Cervantes certainly knew his stuff. 400 pages of a delusional man mistaking every day occurrences for knight-worthy adventures gets a bit dull, though.

  12. I went through a period of reading nothing but Tolstoy and Dostoevsky…at other times, it was all about Daphne Du Maurier. I also enjoyed Catcher in the Rye, but only recently.

    There are a lot of classics that I’ve enjoyed over the years…..

    I’m amazed that you’ve been blogging for a decade….that’s a lot of posts!

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  13. Hi Adam. What a fabulous introduction post. I’m really enjoying learning a little bit about fellow book bloggers via these posts.

    My daughter was also born on an Easter Sunday. We tell her the Easter Bunny brought her to us 🙂

    I love your responses to the classics questions. I can’t believe I didn’t include The Grapes of Wrath in my list of favourite classics. I read it in high school and the story has stayed with me to this day. I really should consider taking part in the classics club, but I failed so miserably at the classics challenge I participated in a few years ago that I’ve stayed away.

    • The great thing about The Classics Club is that it’s so fluid and truly individualized. You get 5 years, for instance, to work off of your own list of 50 titles. But that 50 titles can change as you see fit (so if you put The Pilgrim’s Progress on there, for instance, then a year later decide to swap that out for something else – no big deal!). I think it’s one of the most personal yet group-oriented challenges out there. It’s a great community, too.

      I adore John Steinbeck. I’m actually working on a “Steinbeck Project,” where I read his complete works. I’m not very far into it, but I’ll get there. After him, maybe Willa Cather or Mark Twain? 🙂

  14. Aww, a bunny baby! I think that’s so cute! 🙂 I’ve been behind on my Classics Club post, but I look forward to the monthly posts and seeing what Classics people are reading!

    Thanks for stopping by my BEA post!
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

  15. Oh my goodness, the blue bunny suit is the best story I’ve read so far today! Even though I do read on a tablet from time to time, I kind of wish e-readers would disappear too.

  16. I really need to go to bed, but I keep clicking on one more Armchair BEA introductory post link after another! I don’t visit your blog as often as I should because I haven’t been keeping up with my TBR Pile Challenge again, but I always enjoy my visits, and this one was no exception.

    • Haha – Well, we’re only half-way into the year, there’s still time to make some progress! Plenty of time! But don’t let your being behind stop you from visiting, I don’t judge that harshly. 😉

      • I can attest to this, given how many times I’ve joined one of your events (or one of my own!) and wandered off never to return again. With the same name, anyway. 😛

  17. Hi Adam! thank you so much for dropping by my site and I like your answers.Very interesting indeed! I’d also like to read Le Miserables ,Virginia Woolf and so much more!

    I’ve never been to chicago though I might visit my friends hopefully soon it looks so nice is it really that windy over there?

    • Thanks, Kim! I wasn’t a big fan of Virginia Woolf at first meeting, but I’ve revisited her a couple of times more recently and really enjoyed her. I think I have much more respect for what she was doing, now that I know more about her and about literature and history in general.

      Chicago is a fantastic city but, yes, it’s really windy!

  18. Hooooray for the Midwest baby!

    I oohed and ahhed picturing you in the little blue bunny suit. That’s funny and adorable and I would pay to see the pictures!

  19. Visiting Poe’s house would be great. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Winger by Andrew Smith. The Classic Club sounds interesting, I’ll have to check it out 🙂

  20. Pingback: Armchair BEA, Day 2 – Blogger Development | Kid Lit Reviews

    • I definitely think they can be convenient, and they may have inspired a new, younger, tech-generation to read (even if I’m not such a fan of the majority of what they’r reading), but books, physical books, are a sacred thing to me. I’ll never be able to abandon them!

  21. Great bunny suit story! I wasn’t born at Easter, but my birthday sometimes falls in the Easter time.

    This is my third Armchair BEA too, I think. Do you think you’ll ever go to the real thing? I’d love to but I’m not sure I can handle those crowds.

    • I almost went last year, but couldn’t make it work. I really hope to go next year – the problem is, my partner and I go everywhere together and he really hates New York (even though he’s never been there! But he LOVES the pacific northwestern United States, and he’s never been there, either!). Lol We both hate crowds, though, so it would be a tough sell.

  22. I keep reading about the Classics Club today, and I really need to check it out. It’s true that sometimes reading with a group is helpful – especially for discussing stuff afterwards.

    Have fun with Armchair BEA this week 🙂

  23. I have Les Mis on my “to read” pile. I first saw it at the Cadillac Theater (I’m a Chicago native) and loved the story. Just haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet.

  24. I can’t believe you’ve been blogging for ten years, that’s awesome!
    And I agree that people who don’t like classics tend to not have much experience with them beyond whatever they had to read at school. Although I wouldn’t personally recommend Hardy to them, all that rural-ness is not for me!

  25. So I kind of missed out on some of the kid’s classics growing up (my dad read us Lloyd Alexander and Douglas Adams). Peter Pan is in my to read stack, though, along with an almost complete collection of Jane Austen’s works!

    • I didn’t get to read too many kids classics as a kid, either. Just a select few (Tom Sawyer, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Mostly, I read the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and Goosebumps!

  26. Even though you’ve posted your current photo, all I can see is a little blue bunny outfit! So adorable!

    I can’t imagine blogging for ten years!! I didn’t even know blogs existed that long a go, haha

  27. I cannot believe I waited this damn long to visit your blog. I have been following you on Twitter for a while…in a non creepy way. I swear.

    You really make me want to read classics. I want to, but I am kind of intimidated by them. I’m an English major for goodness sake. A terrible one, obviously.

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