Tuesday, 1 December 2015

December, my second year bloggiversary, and a wrap-up of some 2015 challenges.

December! How fast this year has gone! Here it's a rather bleak first of the month - light rain, thick mist, and a sharp chill. I was up at half seven - not quite dark but certainly a good half an hour before the hens get up so I had a quiet breakfast in front of the fire before the day really began. Now there's a pause and I'm thinking of what's past and what is to come. Today is the second anniversary of my blog - Behold the Stars is now two years old! I've got nearly 400 posts, and I think I'm coming up to about 300 reviews! My most popular reviews are Romeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareHard Times: for these times by Charles Dickens, My Brother's Keeper by Stanislaus Joyce, and The Russian Point of View by Virginia Woolf. The least popular I think is Anelida and Arcite by Geoffrey Chaucer. Poor Chaucer - I feel bad about that! Thank you, though, to everyone who reads and comments - I appreciate that so very much - thank you ♡

While I'm thinking of times past I'm going to take this opportunity to write a wrap-up of my 2015 Challenges. This is the first time ever that I'm close to completing them all! The first time ever! I still have some left: I've just started reading The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter for Fanda's Literary Movements Challenge and I'm aiming to write a post for that in the next few days, and round it all up this weekend hopefully. For the Deal Me In Challenge: I've read Priests and Sinners by Émile Zola for this week and I'll write about that at the end of the week. What remains: Electra by Sophocles, Jane Austen by Virginia Woolf, and On Contentment by Plutarch. I can't account for how I've only got three left when there are four weeks of the year to go, and I know I haven't accidentally blogged about two in one week. I think because I've tended to do them on Fridays there must be 53 Fridays in 2015. Only possible explanation! I hope On Contentment isn't my last title - I'm dreading it, I struggle with Plutarch! As for other challenges - I'll be writing a master post for Reading England 2015 tomorrow so I'll think about then. The rest: 

Adam's TBR Challenge:
  1. Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford.
  2. Rob Roy by Walter Scott.
  3. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
  4. Virginia Woolf by Michael H. Whitworth.
  5. The Golden Bowl by Henry James.
  6. Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope.
  7. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford.
  8. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Robert Tressell.
  9. Sybil, or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli.
  10. Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes.
  11. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot.
  12. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
I'm glad, after four years of participating, I finally completed this! 2015 was also the last year Adam was hosting this challenge so happily I managed it. 

  1. A 19th Century Classic: Daniel Deronda by George Eliot.
  2. A 20th Century Classic: Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford.
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author: Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf.
  4. A Classic in Translation: Home of the Gentry by Ivan Turgenev.
  5. A Very Long Classic Novel: Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope.
  6. A Classic Novella: The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.
  7. A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title: Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser.
  8. A Humorous or Satirical Classic: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.
  9. A Forgotten Classic: Paris by Émile Zola.
  10. A Nonfiction Classic: Letters on England by Voltaire.
  11. A Classic Children's Book: Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes.
  12. A Classic Play: Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare.
I loved this one - I do like finding classics to fit with categories! It was great fun, and of course I have to thank Karen for hosting!

Finally, The Victorian Reading Challenge:

1837 - Fairy Tales Told For Children. Third Collection. by Hans Christian Andersen
1838 - Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
1839 - The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
1840 - Columba by Prosper Mérimée
1841 - The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
1842 - Poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
1843 - New Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
1844 - The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe
1845 - Sybil, or The Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli
1846 - Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens
1847 - The Princess by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
1848 - Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
1849 - Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
1850 - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
1851 - A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens
1852 - Basil by Wilkie Collins
1853 - Villette by Charlotte Brontë
1854 - Walden by Henry David Thoreau
1855 - North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
1856 - Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
1857 - Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes
1858 - Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot
1859 - Home of the Gentry by Ivan Turgenev
1860 - The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
1861 - Silas Marner by George Eliot
1862 - Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
1863 - Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope
1864 - Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1865 - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
1866 - Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
1867 - Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
1868 - Linda Tressel by Anthony Trollope
1869 - Letters from My Windmill by Alphonse Daudet
1870 - The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
1871 - Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
1872 - Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
1873 - A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy
1874 - Lady Anna by Anthony Trollope
1875 - The Adolescent by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1876 - Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
1877 - L'Assommoir by Émile Zola
1878 - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
1879 - Cousin Henry by Anthony Trollope
1880 - Nana by Émile Zola
1881 - The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford by William Hale White
1882 - Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
1883 - The Ladies Paradise by Émile Zola
1884 - Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans
1885 - Germinal by Émile Zola
1886 - The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome
1887 - The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
1888 - The Aspern Papers by Henry James
1889 - Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
1890 - Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
1891 - Diary of a Pilgrimage by Jerome K. Jerome
1892 - The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
1893 - A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
1894 - Lourdes by Émile Zola
1895 - The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
1896 - Rome by Émile Zola
1897 - The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
1898 - Paris by Émile Zola
1899 - The Amateur Cracksman by E. W. Hornung
1900 - Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
1901 - Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov

This one was the one that surprised me most! I aimed to read about 15 or 20 titles this year, greatly underestimating my love of Victorian literature. There is not one other time period that I could read like this from! It was mainly straightforward, picking titles and reading them, but there were some years where I couldn't find any books at all I wanted to read! 1840, 1844 and 1875 were particularly tough ones! But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, like everyone else I'm thinking ahead to 2016 challenges. I've seen a few that have caught my eye but I want to wait before I finally decide. Plus, I'm hoping for some certain ones to reappear this year around!

Until then, I have December to get through! I certainly want to re-read The Snow Queen this year, and a Christmas story by Dickens. Other plans - I've just read Beaumarchais' The Barber of Seville and I want to read his Marriage of Figaro this month so I'll be writing about those at some point. I also really want to read Paradise Lost again - it just popped into my head a few days ago and yes, I'd like to revisit it. I'm also thinking about reading Aeschylus' The Oresteia (I really wanted to read this in 2015!) and, on the Greek theme, I'll also be reading Sappho for the Classic Club's Women's Classic Literature Event. Finally, I'm also joining the Emma read-along hosted by Bellezza. All that, preparing for Christmas, and picking out 2016 challenges! I do love December!

As ever, I hope everyone has an excellent month, and thank you once again for a happy two years of blogging here! :)


  1. Goodness, what an impressive list! How fascinating to go through the years of Victorian literature in that way. I had no idea you had only been blogging for two years (same as I have), you have always seemed such an authoritative presence. I hope your next year turns out to be as fruitful as this one!

    1. I've been blogging longer, but it's two years for this blog :) And thank you! :)

  2. Happy two years, & excellent work with those challenges! You're incredible. :)

  3. As usual I'm in awe of what you manage to do. Whenever I get into reading ruts, which is all too often lately, I come to your blog and it ignites my passion again so thank you :)

    1. Ah, thank you! Reading blogs so helpful to get out of a reading rut - I won't read so much if it wasn't for other people's blogs :)

  4. truly an amazing accomplishment! so many on the list i'd like to read... you have what used to be called a very large gland of sticktoitiveness! congratulations!

    1. "sticktoitiveness" - LOL! I love that! :)

  5. I am particularly impressed, and enticed, with your Victorian Reading Challenge. I would surely like rondo that one myself. So glad that you are reading Emma with me and others, and I, too, am feeling the thrill of December. What a lovely time, if one can remember to be peaceful and joyful rather than rushed and harried. :)

    1. The Victorian Reading Challenge was so much fun - I was surprised I managed it in a year, but as I say I couldn't have done anything like this for any other time period - absolutely no way!

      I'm looking forward to starting Emma! I'm just going to finish reading The Professor and then I'll make a start :)

  6. Amazing challenge and you are so impressive!!

  7. Always spectacular and inspirational! Happy anniversary, too!

    1. Thanks Ruth :) I don't think I'll be going for quite as many challenges for 2016, though! :)

  8. Only two years! Well done all around.

    1. Just two years for this blog - I had another one but I never got anywhere with it. After all these reviews on this I can't see me ever deleting this one, though! :)

  9. I am so envious. So do you read ALL day long, or are you just a fast reader? ;-)

    Seriously though, such an impressive accomplishment. I'm trying to catch up on posts, and your Reading England 2015 blew me away until I got to your Victorian challenge. Wow! Just, wow! I can't wait to see what you come up with in 2016!

    And happy anniversary, BTW!

    1. I wish I could read all day long! It's a combination of being a quick reader and spending any time I have mainly reading (I rarely watch TV, just Law and Order and the Kardashians). As for blogging - there is not one single blog post I've written in one go. It's very rare to have more than ten minute blocks! :)

      2016 will be far less ambitious I think!

  10. You continue to amaze me with all that you read and then write about. I have really enjoyed your posts this year and look forward to more next year. All the best for Christmas and New Years and may Santa be good to your birds.

    1. Thank you - and all the best to you, too :)

  11. Wow! I just finished the last review for the Back to the Classics Challege. I, too loved this challenge - forced me to read some books I wouldn't naturally choose.

    1. Yes, same here! I'm glad there's another one for next year :)

  12. I'm a bit late, but... Happy blogoversary! :) It's always a pleasure to read your posts.

  13. Impressive list of books....congratulations!
    This post is a great reference for me to search for classics I might have missed. Thanks for doing so much research for all of us!

    1. No problem - I love researching these kinds of things :)


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