Classics Club Spin Book

The number selected for the Classics Club Spin is #4, which means I will be reading The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow. augie

Description from Amazon:

As soon as it first appeared in 1953, this gem by the great Saul Bellow was hailed as an American classic. Bold, expansive, and keenly humorous, The Adventures of Augie March blends street language with literary elegance to tell the story of a poor Chicago boy growing up during the Great Depression. A "born recruit," Augie makes himself available for hire by plungers, schemers, risk takers, and operators, compiling a record of choices that is—to say the least—eccentric.

Doesn't tell me much about the book. Let's try Goodreads:

Augie comes on stage with one of literature’s most famous opening lines. “I am an American, Chicago born, and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted.” It’s the “Call me Ishmael” of mid-20th-century American fiction. (For the record, Bellow was born in Canada.) Or it would be if Ishmael had been more like Tom Jones with a philosophical disposition. With this teeming book Bellow returned a Dickensian richness to the American novel. As he makes his way to a full brimming consciousness of himself, Augie careens through numberless occupations and countless mentors and exemplars, all the while enchanting us with the slapdash American music of his voice.

Hmm. The "Call me Ishmael" of mid-20th-century American fiction, as if there is an iconic opening line in every phase of American literature. Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis both call The Adventures of Augie March the "Great American Novel." Somehow, all of the accolades and hyperbole aren't exciting me. Still, I'll read it. I have it on my bookshelf, in fact. No idea why.

It's good, then, that the non-fiction book is one I've long wanted to read: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.


A phenomenal #1 bestseller that has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly three years, this memoir traces Maya Angelou's childhood in a small, rural community during the 1930s. Filled with images and recollections that point to the dignity and courage of black men and women, Angelou paints a sometimes disquieting, but always affecting picture of the people—and the times—that touched her life.

Since I'm reading two from the lists already, I've decided to choose my September reading from The Classics Club and Non-Fiction Challenge lists. I have two books left on my bedside table for August and I haven't bought one book this month. It's a record!

The Classics Spin #3

From The Classics Club:

It’s time for another Classics Spin for any who are interested. What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, by next Monday, Aug 19, list your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list – in a separate post.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in August & September. (Details follow.) So, try to challenge yourself.

Below is my list.

  1. The Shining by Stephen King
  2. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
  3. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
  4. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
  5. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  6. The Third Man by Graham Greene
  7. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  8. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  9. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  10. They Shoot Horses Don't They by Horace McCoy
  11. The Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  12. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  13. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  14. Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
  15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  16. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  17. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  18. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  19. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  20. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Why not add 20 from my Non-Fiction Challenge List, too?

  1. Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
  2. Storm of Steel
  3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  5. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  6. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  7. The Best and the Brightest by David Halbersham
  8. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - by Dee Brown
  9. The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
  10. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  11. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  12. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L Shirer
  13. The Executioner's Song by Normal Mailer
  14. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  15. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  16. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  17. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  18. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  19. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  20. The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell