Classics Club Spin Result and 20 Books of Summer Check-In

So the big Classics Club spin number is… drumroll… number 9! Which means I’ll be reading Beryl Markham’s 1942 memoir West With the Night. Here’s a summary I found on Amazon:81yAt9aNOEL

Beryl Markham’s West with the Night is a true classic, a book that deserves the same acclaim and readership as the work of her contemporaries Ernest Hemingway, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Isak Dinesen.
If the first responsibility of a memoirist is to lead a life worth writing about, Markham succeeded beyond all measure. Born Beryl Clutterbuck in the middle of England, she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a girl, and she grew up with a zebra for a pet; horses for friends; baboons, lions, and gazelles for neighbors. She made money by scouting elephants from a tiny plane. And she would spend most of the rest of her life in East Africa as an adventurer, a racehorse trainer, and an aviatrix―she became the first person to fly nonstop from Europe to America, the first woman to fly solo east to west across the Atlantic. Hers was indisputably a life full of adventure and beauty.
And then there is the writing. When Hemingway read Markham’s book, he wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins: “She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer . . . [She] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers . . . It is really a bloody wonderful book.”

I decided I wanted to read her memoir after I read Megan Mayhew Bergman’s short story about her in Almost Famous Women called “A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down For Lunch.” If you haven’t read that collection, by the way, please do so, it’s awesome!

In other news, I thought I’d take stock of my 20 Books of Summer experience so far. I’ve read fifteen of the twenty so far – YAY! It’s a new personal record for the three summers I’ve attempted this challenge. I consider it a total success at this point, even if I don’t read any others. I’m in the middle of George Saunders’s short story collection CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and I definitely will read my July Book Group book (we meet week after next to discuss, and I like to wait as close as possible to the discussion to read the book so it’s nice and fresh in my mind.) It’s The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, a graphic memoir about the author’s experience escaping Vietnam in the 1970s and trying to adapt to their new life in America. So that is at least 17/20.51UDKhEnEXL

I’ve only reviewed nine of the 15 I’ve read, so I’m quite a bit behind. I just can’t seem to make myself sit down and do these reviews in a timely fashion. I’m not sure what’s up with that. And the longer they go, the less I want to do it. I see some more five-sentence reviews in my near future! But I will do a full post on Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin because it was BRILLIANT and also a Classics Club pick  -which is also true for Shirley Jackson’s The Bird’s Nest (good but not brilliant.)

How are you doing with 20 Books of Summer? If you’re a member of The Classics Club are you happy with your book number 9? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned above?


29 thoughts on “Classics Club Spin Result and 20 Books of Summer Check-In

  1. I just brought my copy of West with the Night back from the States recently. Maybe I could read it at the same time as you. Are you starting it soon? In addition to the Bergman story (great book!), there’s a whole wonderful novel about Beryl Markham: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve wondered about the McLain novel. I don’t read historical fiction enough. I should add that to my list.

      I will probably start West with the Night next week. I need to finish the novel I’m reading now and also read the graphic memoir for my book group. But then I can start the Markham. It would be lovely to have some reading company – although I suspect that you will finish it faster than I will! 😉


      1. Well, I think you read fewer books at a time than I do, so you may actually finish it sooner! But I will put it on my up-next pile and also start it next week, and we can check in on Twitter or whatever. (If I write it up for my blog at all it would probably just be for part of a roundup later in the year.) It’ll be interesting to see what you think of her portrayal in the novel, if you read it, after reading her memoir. Some Goodreads reviews don’t think McLain got the voice right.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds interesting! I’m pretty sure my blog buddy Lady Fancifull read and loved it a few years back and I suspect your taste is pretty similar to hers, so I hope you love it too. Twitter tells me today is James Baldwin’s birthday, so get that review written! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Her first collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, is a fave of mine too. I’ve been kinda saving the collection you’ve mentioned but, by now I could probably even reread Birds, so I just need to read the “new” one, don’t I. What’s with this “saving” thing anyway. (Good luck with Markham…she’s been on my TBR for a couple decades or so.)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! Your pick looks amazing – can’t wait to see what you think about it. I hear you on how hard it is to sit down and write up a post on the book you’re reading – but I see it as more reading time!!

    I hope you’re enjoying your summer – you’re making great progress with all of your challenges!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations!!! This is wonderful news. Keep up the great work reading. Personally, I don’t write reviews for all the books I read; no where near! I have ambitions of writing those reviews someday, but, well, we shall see what happens. I’m just glad you’re reading. 🙂

    I read The Best We Could Do last year and really enjoyed it. It’s an easy read about complicated topics with beautiful coloring. I hope that you enjoy it too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had other bloggers tell me that they don’t write reviews for everything they read, and it makes me feel better – thank you. I’m gonna try not to be so hard on myself.
      I’m reading The Best We Could Do – I’ll probably finish it tonight, actually. It’s really interesting – I’m learning a lot!


  5. After you’ve read West with the Night, I’d recommend picking up Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, which is a novelization of Beryl’s life. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about Giovanni’s Room!

    Liked by 1 person

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