My Third Classics Club Spin

2nd March

On March 1st the latest Classics Club spin was announced.  This will be spin number 17 for the club and my third.  It’s a year since I last participated – in part because it took me almost all that time (with gaps) to read my last spin choice, which was J. B. Priestley’s The Good Companions.  That book finally finished (though not yet reviewed – no great surprise there), I’m ready for the next spin.  Details of how it works can be found here.

I’ve taken a different tack this time and chosen my titles by picking twenty numbers at random – a bit like the lottery – and then matching them against the list of what’s left to read.  This is what transpired:

  1. Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon
  2. Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter
  3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  4. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  5. The Astonishing Story of Troy Town by Arthur Quiller-Couch
  6. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  7. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  8. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  9. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  10. Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson
  11. Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
  12. On the Art of Reading by Arthur Quiller-Couch
  13. Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  14. The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
  15. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  16. A Month in the Country by J L Carr
  17. Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
  18. A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep by Rumer Godden
  19. The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier
  20. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

It’s a pretty good balance from across the various categories within my list, and from the centuries and from around the world.

I’ll be pleased to get nos. 1, 2, 6, 10, 16, 17, 18, or 19.

And I’m quietly hoping I won’t get nos. 3, 9 and 20.

So the odds are in my favour that I’ll get one I’m wanting 🙂


10th March

I’ve waited until the spin has been spun before posting – I seem to be posting a lot these days.  And now we know that the chosen number is…….


Which means I get to read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar – one of the three that I was really hoping NOT to get!

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into serious depression as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take her aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath’s own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic.

Sigh……  It’s at times like this that I ask myself why I put certain titles on the classics club list at all.  I may be pleasantly surprised but given the subject matter, I have my doubts.

And please take note of my honesty: I could have just tweaked the list a little.  But I didn’t!  😉

35 thoughts on “My Third Classics Club Spin”

  1. I love Plath’s poetry collection Ariel. The Bell Jar is a decent read. I prefer her poetry but I did enjoy The Bell Jar (if that’s the right word, given its subject matter.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Aw! I’m sorry! It’s one I am happy I read. It’s the favorite book of a great many intelligent people. It might turn out to be yours! Ariel is brilliant. By the way. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Sandra, I forgot to mention: there’s a film out on Sylvia Plath called Sylvia, starring Gwyneth Paltrow & Daniel Craig. I enjoyed it. It might add to your read. 🙂

            “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” – from The Bell Jar

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Jillian, thank you! I hadn’t known about this film and I will certainly look for it. It will definitely add to the experience 🙂


  2. I have read eight of your titles, and not all of them with pleasure. Of those, the ones I’ve most enjoyed were: Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man; Alone in Berlin; A Month in the Country. The ones I haven’t read but should, include: If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller; The Loving Spirit; The Astonishing Story of Troy Town. The one I know I won’t get round to reading is Dr. Zhivago. Film and TV will have to do here!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Margaret, I’m also looking forward to the three you enjoyed. I am asking myself at the moment why I included books that I really don’t want to read: I suppose because they are titles I feel that I ought to have read. And to be fair, there have already been some in that category which have been very nice surprises. I live in hope for The Bell Jar!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh dear, Sandra! I did not enjoy The Bell Jar. It was my book group choice a couple of years ago and we were split over this book. Some people loved it, others like me did not – at all. I wonder what you’ll make of it?

    I’ve some of the books on your list and absolutely loved A Month in the Country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, thanks Margaret! I’m looking for a positive and have decided perhaps it’s just as well it came up on the spin as I doubt I would ever have picked it up voluntarily. And maybe I’ll be in the group that loved it. Maybe…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The subject matter is rather grim, but actually it’s not that depressing – it’s a coming of age story written with quite a bit of pep. Not as good as her poetry, but quite readable.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I wish I could be more positive but, much though I love Plath’s poetry, I found The Bell Jar… OK. I quite liked it, but I never really get what it is about it that makes so many other people think it’s so wonderful. But hopefully you’ll be one of those other people… and look on the bright side – at least you didn’t get Dr Zhivago! *shudders*

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Just my own thoughts—“The Bell Jar” is not that long; nor is it very good. It is a book most often appreciated by depressed teenagers. Plath has written some poetry that I admire. I think that there are two Plaths: the accomplished poet whose best poems are ignored in favour of the ‘Ugh ugh ugh ugh” poems which the reading public can eat up.

    I would say that your number 8, “The Age of Innocence” is the only book on your list that I personally would call a “must read” but of course we are different people.

    I was utterly absorbed by “Sophie’s Choice” but I have not reread it. I would most certainly consider rereading it if I had the time. It’s a long book, but not one to dread.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for these thoughts, Gubbinal. Are you able to recommend some of Plath’s poems that you admire? I’d appreciate the guidance.


    1. That’s encouraging, Katrina, on both counts. After all this discussion I find myself quite looking forward to it. I really want to have my own opinion on the book now!


  7. I haven’t read The Bell Jar and it’s not a book that sounds appealing to me, so I can understand why you’re not looking forward to it. If it’s any comfort, I have been disappointed with the results of previous spins and ended up enjoying the books more than I expected to, so you never know!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, Helen! I wasn’t overly keen on getting The Good Companions but actually really enjoyed the book. I’ve come round to realising that it’s a good thing The Bell Jar has come up on the spin. It’s quite likely that I would have left it until the last moment and then probably quietly removed it from the list and replaced it with something more ‘palatable’. 😀


    1. My track record on getting reviews out is very poor, Uma, but I think when I have read this book I shall want to produce my thoughts on it. I suspect it will be a book that generates strong emotions.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. lol – isn’t that just the epitome of sod’s law in full action! I seem to be very good at picking ‘worthy’ books up at the library, only to get them home and wonder why on earth I thought I would want to spend my precious reading time on them. I guess we all like to embrace the notion of pushing boundaries when it comes to reading so bravo to you for coming up with a list that includes stuff you are wary of and good luck with the Plath. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! I may well need that luck, Liz! Although after the discussion on this thread I do find myself curious about the book – who knows, it may be right up my street!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I read The Bell Jar several years ago but I remember liking it. I can unerstand why you’re a bit wary but hopefully it won’t be as bad as you imagine. (Just felt the need to defend it as it doesn’t seem to get much love!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your comment has been languishing behind the scenes here for some reason – my apologies! And thank you for waving the flag for The Bell Jar 🙂 Funnily enough, since it came up as my spin choice I’ve come across a number of short extracts from Sylvia Plath – without looking for them. Not necessarily from The Bell Jar, but each one was wonderful, and each one has made me feel that little bit better about tackling the book. (Just have to wait for my turn in the library queue!)


        1. That sounds like a very special edition; I love old books as artefacts in themselves. The Sassoon is one on my list which I was originally not looking forward to but so many people have told me how wonderful it is that my attitude has completely changed. I’ll get to it eventually though I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to read a copy such as yours 🙂


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