Monday, March 27, 2017

Reading Charlotte's Web as an Adult

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Date: 1952
Format: B&N collectible edition (omnibus)
How did I get this book? purchased
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlotte's Web is one of the (many) classics I can't believe I never read as a kid. In fact, there are A LOT of classic children's books (chapter books, novels, and picture books) I "missed" growing up. Even some I may have read, I unfortunately don't recall very well. But instead of looking at them as missed chances, I'm taking the opportunity now to enjoy them as an adult -- and hopefully someday share them with my son. With that in mind, some months back, I revised my Classics Club list to focus on children's classics. Finally reading Charlotte's Web confirms this was a wise decision for me at this stage in my life.

Sure, there are plenty of more "difficult" classics I aspire to tackling someday, but that really isn't where my head is at right now. It's not just that children's classics are "easier" or shorter, though they often are -- and my tired mommy-brain is grateful! Wanting to focus on children's books is more about my frame of mind and priorities right now. Diving head first into picture books with my son as an infant, baby, and now toddler has reminded me how rich and engaging good children's literature can be. So many of these stories (and their artwork!) can be enjoyed by people of all ages, even if they aren't the first thing we might gravitate to as a "grown-ups."

My son may still be too young to appreciate a lot of the books I've been picking up lately, but that's not really the point. The point is that the more I learn about children's books, the more I want to experience them for myself and fill in some of the gaps in my own childhood reading. I know my parents took me to the library and read me picture books, but mostly I just remember reading Nancy Drew, The Babysitters Club, spooky books by Mary Downing Hahn, and the occasional school assignment I actually enjoyed, but that was later in my childhood. I remember my highschool reading vividly, but my younger years are understandably a bit foggy. So why not read those children's classics now? There is no good reason not to read them now, so that is exactly what I am doing and I'm really loving it.

The only (sort-of) downside to reading these childhood classics now is that there isn't any of the nostalgia factor. Charlotte's Web likely would have gotten 5 stars if I had read it as a child, but it was still a very well-written, engaging, and enjoyable story about friendship, determination, and loss. I never was much a fan of spiders, but this fictional tale has helped this scaredy-cat look at them a bit differently and reminded me of their purpose in the natural world. I appreciated that this story didn't sugarcoat some of the harsher realities of life and death on a farm, but it is ultimately a hopeful and uplifting book. It didn't turn me into a vegetarian, though at times I was wondering if the author was trying to! More E.B. White books are on my TBR for sure, namely Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan -- both of which are also in the omnibus edition I read Charlotte's Web from.

In addition to the story, the illustrations for Charlotte's Web are just wonderful and I am fast becoming a fan of Garth Williams' work. Our bookshelves and library basket are filling up with his many picture books and we've found a few new favorites. My son and I have both enjoyed My First Counting Book and Home for a Bunny in particular and look forward to exploring more of this prolific illustrator's books.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

And the winner is...

A tie!

Charlotte's Web had been in the lead almost the whole time my Classics Club (sort-of) Spin poll was open, but The Borrowers slowly gained votes to tie things up in the end. I was ready to start a new book last night, so I closed the poll after two weeks and plucked Charlotte's Web off my shelf. Since there was a tie, I actually still had a bit of choice here, but I decided to go with the early favorite. Also, I think I'll want to continue with the rest of the Borrowers series, so I figured it would be better to go for the stand-alone title first.

Thank you to everyone who voted! I really appreciate your help and enthusiasm on this little project of mine. The fact that I've already read three chapters goes to show this works better for me than a traditional Classic Club Spin. I was a little surprised Wizard of Oz got zero votes, but that's OK, I still plan to get to it eventually (and that series has 14 books, so maybe it can bide a while longer!) I will definitely try this again in the future, but for now I'll be reading off this list in the order you guys voted :)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Classics Club Spin #15 (sort of): A Poll

If you're not familiar with The Classics Club's Spin events, basically you list 20 books from your list and then read whichever one corresponds to the randomly selected number for that round. I've attempted to participate in two previous rounds and both times, I never ended up reading my chosen book. I do want to pick up a classic as one of my next reads though, so I thought I'd do my own spin on the Spin!

Last summer I participated in a Make Me Read it Readathon and it really worked for me in terms of choosing my next book and actually sticking with it. So I thought I'd do a version of that by putting 6 of my Classics Club titles up for a vote here on the blog. With only 6 choices instead of 20, I can focus just on books I realistically want to read next. By leaving the final decision up to you guys, I think it retains a bit of the Spin's element of surprise. And best of all, I know hearing what book YOU are most excited about will provide an extra boost of motivation and encouragement. So, help a bookworm out? I'll keep the poll open for a week or two -- or until there have been at least a few votes and I'm ready to read :)

UPDATE: Voting is now closed! THANK YOU to everyone who voted :)

What children's classic should I read next?

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
The Borrowers
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Charlotte's Web
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Bedknob and Broomstick

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Take Control TBR Challenge: Sign-Up Post

I'm supposed to be reading more from my own shelves this year, so this month-long challenge is perfect for me! Any book with 100+ pages (or the equivalent on audio) published prior to March 1st counts. Though I do want to read from my own collection, that isn't actually a requirement for the challenge, so reading from my library stack is OK too. The challenge officially started yesterday and there is plenty of time left to sign-up if anyone else wants to join in. This will be my fourth time participating since 2013 (I skipped when I was 8 months pregnant -- haha!) Thanks to Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer for hosting again! 

I'm not making a TBR list for this challenge because I always end up changing my mind anyway. But I will post again once the challenge is over to share what books I ended up reading. Happy reading everyone :)