I’ve decided to start a readalong of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. This follows two book-a-month readalongs hosted by Calmgrove that I have greatly enjoyed: the Narniathon in 2022 and LoveHain in 2023. As he’s not hosting another such event next year, I know I’m going to miss this part of my reading life, so I decided to start one of my own. I am delighted to announce that The Book Stop, home of a fellow Oz fan, will be joining me as co-host.
The Oz books were central to my reading life as a child, and I’m interested to look back at how they shaped me then and what they might say to me now. There are 14 books, and the plan is to start in December and read in published order through January of 2025.
If you’re not up for such a commitment, though, there will be a stopping point at the end of the first six books. Baum actually tried to end the series here — he wanted to write other things — but his fans wouldn’t let him, so he reluctantly went back to writing an Oz book a year till the end of his life. The later books have some good parts, but the first six are probably the strongest. You’ll get a good taste of Oz that way, even if you don’t go further.
It’s not necessary to read all of them, or read them in order. Feel free to dip in as you wish.
Otherwise, I just have one recommendation: Read an illustrated edition! When I read an ebook without illustrations, I realized how much the artwork had contributed to my experience of these books. The first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a landmark of book design and illustration and has gone through many revisionings since then. The rest of the series was illustrated by John R. Neill in a distinctive style that I think greatly enhances Baum’s sometimes pedestrian writing. I’m sure his pictures were integral to the books’ initial popularity and success.
What about films and adaptations? No doubt these will come into the discussion, too, so bring whatever you’ve seen into the mix.
There will be a monthly post on each book, here or at The Book Stop or both, and a roundup of any posts that are shared with us. #Ozathon24 is the hashtag for sharing.
Here is the proposed schedule:
Part I: Essential Oz adventures
- December, 2023: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- January, 2024: The Marvelous Land of Oz
- February, 2024: Ozma of Oz
- March, 2024: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
- April, 2024: The Road to Oz
- May, 2024: The Emerald City of Oz
Part II: Further journeys in Oz
- June, 2024: The Patchwork Girl of Oz
- July, 2024: Tik-Tok of Oz
- August, 2024: The Scarecrow of Oz
- September, 2024: Rinkitink in Oz
- October, 2024: The Lost Princess of Oz
- November, 2024: The Tin Woodman of Oz
- December, 2024: The Magic of Oz
- January, 2024: Glinda of Oz
I do hope you will join us for this exciting adventure.