October is within striking distance, and I’ve been a terrible reader lately.
Okay – there doesn’t seem to be any connection between those two clauses. Let me explain. Recently, I haven’t read many books. I have a couple of books on the go – a non-fiction history book and a fantasy novel – but I haven’t really been finding time to sit and just read for a little while, and considering I’ve just spent the last three years getting an English degree with a heavy focus on literature, that seems a bit of a shame. I love reading, but after uni… I sort of took a break. Sometimes, you just need to let your brain rest and know that it’s okay to do that, but I’m ready to get stuck back in and I’ve decided that Victober is the perfect way to do that.
Victober, for those of you who don’t know, is basically “reading Victorian literature in October”. This year it’s being hosted by Katie of Books and Things, Kate Howe, Ange of Beyond the Pages, and Lucy of LucyTheReader. You can check out their announcement and recommendation videos on their respective YouTube channels if you’re interested in following along, learning more or joining in. They’re all linked there.
Despite never taking a module exclusively on Victorian literature, I did read my fair share across my degree. Some of the material I’ll be reading throughout October I’m familiar with, but I’ve mainly tried to selected literature I haven’t experienced before, and I’m looking forward to discussing it on here – you’ll get to see me actually put my degree to some kind of use. Don’t worry – I won’t make you read any full blown essays!
There are five challenges participants of Victober are encouraged to complete. These are:
- To read a Victorian book by a Scottish, Irish or Welsh author.
- To read a lesser-known Victorian book (less than 12k GoodReads ratings)
- To read a supernatural Victorian book
- To read a Victorian book recommended by someone else
- To read a Victorian book written by a female author
While I’ve selected five books (hey, I’m easing myself back in!), most of the books combine multiple challenges in some way. Here are the books I’ve chosen, along with a little bit about why I selected them!
In A Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
I am a big fan of Le Fanu. I first encountered him in my first year of my English degree when I took a minor in Irish literature (Irish literature is super interesting), and we studied ‘Green Tea’ and ‘Carmilla’ (both included in In A Glass Darkly). Then, in third year, I took a module on Gothic literature and film and ‘Carmilla’ was once again one of the texts we studied. I really like Le Fanu, but despite having owned this book for years, I haven’t read any more of it! I am really looking forward to seeing if I enjoy the other stories included in here as much as I enjoyed both of the ones I’ve already read.
This book will complete challenges 1 and 3!
The Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens
Despite what I said earlier about having read my fair share of Victorian literature, I haven’t actually read much Dickens. I feel like I sort of had to put some Dickens on here, purely because of that. I asked some of my friends from university what works they would recommend, and it was a toss-up between this and A Christmas Carol. I decided to save ACC for December, so The Old Curiosity Shop it is!
This book will complete challenge 4!
East Lynne, by Ellen Wood
I knew I would be taking a novel straight from Ange’s announcement video for her challenge, and this one piqued my interest the most. I don’t think I’ve really ever heard about it before – not enough to remember, anyway, and after having a quick look around, I decided to stick with East Lynne. I really have no idea what to expect going into this one, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.
This will complete challenges 2 and 5!
Now, you might have noticed that we’ve completed all the challenges, so maybe you’re expecting me to stop here. We’re not stopping here.
The Lifted Veil, by George Eliot
Deciding that I wanted more spooky entries to my TBR, I went back and added a couple more. I know I’ve wanted to read this in the past and never gotten to it, so onto the list it went! October is my favourite month for all things supernatural and spooky, and I also wanted to add more female authors to this TBR, so I am very much looking forward to reading this one. It will probably end up being read much earlier than you would think by its placement in this blog post.
This will complete challenges 3 and 5!
Gothic Tales, by Elizabeth Gaskell
This one is another collection, but I couldn’t narrow down the stories I wanted to read. I might not read them all, but this is definitely one I’m interested in picking up. Again, I wanted both more spooky entries and more female entries, so that’s why this one is here. I’m looking forward to it.
This will also complete challenges 3 and 5!
So, there you go. That’s my TBR for Victober, and I’m pretty excited. I’ll be sure to write up blog posts on each book I read (as per my desire to review the content I consume), so keep an eye out for those. I might even go into a little bit of history and analysis, but I won’t make any promises there because I’m not sure exactly how busy I’ll be throughout October.
Are you taking part in Victober? If so, what are you planning on reading? If not, have you read any Victorian literature before? Do you prefer other time periods? Contemporary? Let me know in the comments!