ArmchairBEA 2013: Introduction & Classics

Posted May 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 54 Comments

armchairBEAIt’s here again for another year; while most book bloggers or book lovers in America get to spend the next week at BEA, we sit here being green with envy and wishing we were there. BEA is the Book Expo of America, held in New York, where all the bibliophiles of America get to be enticed with new books from publishers. While us poor Australian book bloggers don’t have this kind of opportunity we can still participate with Armchair BEA. This is a virtual conference for people that can’t make it to BEA. Over the next few days I will be joining in with this event and their daily blog post topic suggestions.

I participated in Armchair BEA last year and found it to be a great success for finding great book blogs and for my little blog which was only just starting out. Now I’m older (maybe wiser), I hope this will be another successful event for both me and my blog. Day one is a general introduction, like last year we are given a choice of some questions to answer as a way to introduce ourselves and our blogs. Also today’s genre discussion will revolve around classic literature which I will talk on quickly after the questions.

  • Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I think I answered this question last year as well but I wanted to answer it again for any new readers and because I think I have had an interesting reading journey. My name is Michael and before 2009 I wasn’t a reader but then suddenly something clicked and I started becoming obsessed with books. I started this blog a little over a year ago as a way to document my literary explorations and talk about my new addiction.

  • Which is your favourite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

I think this would be My Experience with the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List, the reason I love this post so much is because it serves as a good introduction to me as a reader and blogger. I talk about starting out as a reader and my hunger to discover great literature and also talks about my long term goal of reading the entire list.

  • What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

I would love to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and adopt a book just like Daniel Sempere did, and if you tell me this place doesn’t exist you are only shattering my dreams. In all seriousness there are many places I would love to visit but I think I would have to say Lake Geneva, the birth place of my favourite novel of all time. If I had a choice, it would be during that dark and stormy night in 1816; those romantics are nuts but they are also really interesting people.

  • What is your favourite part about the book blogging community?

I just love the community behind book blogging, I follow some great book bloggers and I hope to discover some more during Armchair BEA. I love reading new reviews and chatting to other bookish people via twitter and comments, it’s just the highlight of blogging. But there is a huge negative that comes with the book blogger community  and that is the way my TBR suffers, I think it grows faster than I can read, I have no idea how I’m ever going to catch up and get it under control.

  • Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?

I’d love to see more male book bloggers; it’s hard to find them. I’m not sure if it reflects on the amount of male readers out there; I hope not but I would love to know there are more men out there that share a passion for literature. I’d also like to more bookish opinion posts rather than just book reviews and interviews; there are a lot of things we can talk about on our blogs and I think we fall into the trap of just writing reviews. I know I fall into this trap.

Now that I’ve answered these questions, it’s time to move on to talking about classic literature. As part of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list I will be reading a lot of books that are considered western cannon and I’m looking forward to them most of all.  There are so many books out there I want to read and I feel like I’m still playing catch up with all the ‘must read’ novels. For people starting out with classics I would recommend picking which ever one looks the most interesting. There are classics in all genres and if you love Science Fiction maybe try Philip K Dick or Isaac Asimov, Fantasy try J.R.R. Tolkien or even mysteries I recommend Raymond Chandler or James M Cain.

It’s hard to recommend books to non classic readers, you just have to take your own reading journey and try books that interest you. I’m sure once you experience the joys of reading classics you will want recommendations and I recommend joining something like The Classics Club to challenge yourself to more classics. I don’t want to say too much about classics, I want to take to the conversation to the comments but I’d like to ask some questions of the readers to help the conversation along;

  • What is your favourite classic?
  • Which classic would you like to read but are dreading?
  • Are there any classics that you were presently surprised by?
  • Finally are there classics that just seem too hard and why?

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Banner by Nina of Nina Reads and button by Sarah of Puss Reboots

54 responses to “ArmchairBEA 2013: Introduction & Classics

  1. Cameron Yeager

    What is your favourite classic?

    Hmm, this is a challenging question because I have many favorite classic novels. Anything by Jane Austen is an automatic read multiple times for me. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is another, along with Jane Eyre and Les Miserables.

    Which classic would you like to read but are dreading?

    I’d have to say Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. I really want to read it, but there’s something about the writing that makes me hesitant. Dracula is another one…I’ve tried five times to read it and can never get past the first few chapters. 🙁

    Are there any classics that you were presently surprised by?

    Last Christmas I read Dickens’s, A Christmas Carol for a book club I’m a part of. It was a fun read, but I was surprised how dry his writing was in that book. For some reason I had always thought his novels would be easy too get into, but I know realize that is not the case and his books require a lot of focus. They are not quick reads.

    Finally are there classics that just seem too hard and why?

    See the above two responses. lol I don’t know what it is about Tolstoy, Dickens, and Stoker, but I really have a hard time trying to focus with their books. And as an English major, it pains me to admit this. Sigh

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts during Armchair BEA! =^.^=

  2. Hi Michael 🙂 Nice to meet you!

    I think the classic I really would like to read, but just can’t get into is the whole Lord of the Ring series 🙁 I have all the books (and The Hobbit) and I have started them several times. I just can’t get past the beginning with all the names…

    One of the things I like about classics is that there are both fun poems and what we call novels today 🙂 I really love Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. It’s the beginning of stories about deals with the devil, and I find it really funny.

    I hope you’ll continue to have fun with Armchair BEA – and I look forward to getting to know you better.


  3. Charlene Cruz

    So great that you caught the reading bug! It gives me hope for my friends who aren’t readers – maybe they just haven’t found the right books!

    My fave classic is Jane Eyre – the story and the characters just resonates with me. And probably the novel I’m most dreading to read is Les Mis – just because of the length and the slow beginning (or so I’ve heard). And for me, the classics that haven’t really captured me are some of the American ones like Grapes of Wrath or Catcher in the Rye. I know it’s just my personal preference though, they are excellent books.

    • Michael @ Literary Exploration

      Hope they find the reading bug soon; they don’t know what they’re missing

  4. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a good choice! I haven’t read the book yet, but I have heard it is amazing.

    Don’t feel too bad about not going to BEA because you are in Australia. I’m in the States and I can’t go either. 🙁 Next we will have to deal with all of their Instagram photos of their stacks of books. Oh, the envy.

  5. serifinaxxx

    Hello. I notice your Other Posts thing shows up Dorian Gray and Stephen King *follows* Dorian Gray is one of my favourites. I also really like Les Mis, because emotions and things. I really need to get started on HP Lovecraft.

  6. Kaylee E


    It’s such a treat to come across a guy running a blog, because like you say there aren’t too many guys with book blogs. And a new(ish) reader on top of that! I can’t wait to read some of your reviews and posts.

    my intro post

  7. tanya boughtflower

    Michael, you are completely right in saying that there should be more male book bloggers. Most of my friends are guys and I find it very weird that in the bookosphere the population seems to made up of almost entirely female bloggers. Look out for The Indiscriminate Critic. He is another male book blogger but I don’t know if he is participating in the Armchair BEA.

  8. Dana

    I wish there were more male book bloggers too. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a great choice! If I had thought of that answer, I would have picked that question to answer too.


    2013 ArmchairBEA Cheerleader
    Little Lovely Books

  9. a barmy bookworm

    I agree that you have to take your own reading journey and read books that interest you. But I’m all for lists: books to read before you die, 100 top classics, etc etc. I find the challenge leads me to books and authors I may have avoided in the past because I thought them too difficult (too intellectual, too stuffy, etc) or to authors I’d never even heard of. I’m hugely into Russian writers at the mo: Turgenev, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn; as well as German writers: Goethe, Thomas Mann, Böll. I think sometimes the term “classic” is enough to put people off. Whereas they are often more accessible than we could ever have imagined! :0)

  10. Kelly

    I’d love to see more male bloggers! I can only imagine the fresh perspectives that might be brought in to general bookish discussions.

    I am not a classics reader, which is part of my admission on my Intro Post haha. There’s a bunch that I’d love to read – 1984, Catch 22, The Catcher in the Rye, to name a few – but they’ve all been so hyped up, I’m worried they wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

    I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Pride & Prejudice, which is one of the few classics I have managed to finish. It took me a while to get in to the story and to get used to the writing style, but I found the story beautiful!

    As for hard classics, Atlas Shrugged. That thing is a GIANT.

  11. Sam_TinyLibrary

    You’re right about male bloggers, I wonder why that is? I don’t think it reflects on the ratio of male:female readers, all the men in my life certainly love reading.

    I love the community of book bloggers too, and to be honest, I’m past worrying about my TBR. I’ve accepted that I’ll never get to read all of the books on it!

    Happy ABEA!

  12. V Taylor

    Michael, nice to meet you. I agree, we need more male book bloggers. I haven’t read Cemetery of Forgotten Books but you’ve piqued my interest. One of my favorite modern classics is To Kill a Mockingbird.

  13. Stormy C

    So cool to meet a book blogger who wasn’t always a life-long reader! And my TBR suffers greatly due to the blogging community, but hey, it’s a good trade-off.
    It’s surprising there aren’t more male book bloggers–I feel like the split of readers is pretty even as far as I see(though I could be off–just my observation), with just maybe a few more females reading, but I can only think of two male book bloggers I follow.

    I really enjoy most classics(love Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, and The House of Mirth to name a few), but I think I get intimidated with classics by Russian authors. I think I have it in my head that all this Russian literature is SO much smarter than I am and I would never be able to understand it.

    • Michael @ Literary Exploration

      It would be nice to have more, we need more of the male perspective on books.

  14. Andi @ Estella's Revenge

    That’s awesome that reading “clicked” with you one day!! I was a big reader in school and then tapered off but rediscovered my passion in college. It’s been bibliophilia ever since. 🙂 Happy Armchair BEA!

  15. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    I wish their was more male book bloggers too. Its amazing how gigantic my TBR is too. I hope you enjoy Armchair BEA this year!

  16. Historical Fiction Notebook

    Glad I discovered your blog through Armchair BEA. Your quest to read the 1,001 books sounds great. Wish I was committed enough to do the same!

  17. Chrisbookarama

    I’m intimidated by Virginia Woolf (I’m not afraid of her! ha!) Some can be a challenge but manageable and usually worthwhile reading. Except for Henry James- not a fan.

  18. I would be interested to know more about what “clicked” for you – where did the inspiration come from? A recommendation from someone? A particular book that caught your attention and caused you to start looking for more? Curious!

    • In Australia there is an awesome radio station called Triple J. They use to have a little radio segment called the Culture Club by Craig Schuftan where he talked about modern music and how they are similar to different movements in the past. I found it really interesting and wanted to learn more so I read his book “Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone!: The Romantic Movement, Rock and Roll, and the End of Civilisation as We Know It” and wile reading that it clicked. The book took me a year to read because of all the research I wanted to do; reading the romantics, Frankenstein, Dracula and then I was hooked

  19. Welcome back to Armchair BEA. You really don’t see near as many guys in the book blogging community, so it’s nice to “meet” you. Have you found it difficult to find bloggers to follow who read the same genres that you do? Most of the bloggers I come across like YA, chick-lit type of stuff (because they’re girls). I’m assuming that’s not exactly your preferred genre–of course I could be wrong. 🙂 Good luck with the rest of Armchair BEA.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

  20. Shan

    I’m also hoping to work my way through the 1001 books as well as I can. And I agree with you, it would be nice to see a lot more male book bloggers! There are tons of male readers so why are they hiding from us? Hope you enjoy Armchair BEA

  21. Jennifer Hartling

    I wish there were more male bloggers too. It would be fantastic to hear about books from a male perspective more often. How can we make this happen?? Hmmm.

  22. Liss Thomas

    Welcome to the armchair! It would be nice to get reviews from a male stand point. I’ll have to check out your reviews so I will know what boys like. I wouldn’t want to just right for the girls! 🙂 Welcome!

  23. Nicole Thorsen

    It’s lovely to meet you. 🙂 Funny enough, I haven’t read Isaac Asimov or Philip K Dick, but my entrance into classic sic-fi is relatively new. So that’s my “excuse.” My favorite classic is Jane Eyre, but my favorite author is Jane Austen. I’ve dreaded reading anything Russian. They scare me a little, but I’ve started Anna Karenina and am hoping to finish by the end of the summer. I actually like it.

  24. Giraffe_Days

    Hi Michael, it’s great to meet another Aussie blogger – and a male one to boot! You’re so right, there aren’t very many, I can name just a few that I follow: Simon of Savidge Reads in the UK, Daniel of The Indiscriminate Critic in Canada (I think you’d like him), my friend Chris at Eclectic Indulgence (another Canadian who reads mostly classics, but I think he’s distracted by life these days; he hasn’t blogged much). There are some YA bloggers who are male that I know of, but it doesn’t sound like you’re interested in YA blogs? Um, gosh, is that it? Oh, there’s Adam at Roof Beam Reader but I confess I haven’t been following his blog. Maybe you know of others to recommend?

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