Classic Challenge: The Thirty-Nine Steps

This wasn't my intended novel for the Classic with a Number in the Title category and I'm not normally a bit fan of the thriller, on-the-run, spy type adventure novel. But it was mentioned somewhere (a Circe podcast I believe but don't quote me on that) and I realized I had it on my kindle already. So off I went. I do still hope to read Fahrenheit 451 which was my original selection for this category. 

Now, here is where I feel a bit guilty because this really is a classic. It's well written and included on lots of Top 1000 Books or the 118 English Novels you should read before you die type of lists. But it was sooo boring! I don't like spy novels. Mysteries yes, but spy novels, no. The main reason for this is because I like the mental challenge of figuring out the crime but I don't like suspense. But this didn't really have too much suspense for me. In fact, it didn't have enough. The main guy, I can't remember his name and don't want to bother looking it up, was on the run, a lot. People wanted to kill him. Specifically a creepy man with hooded eyelids. You'd think I would have cared more. I wasn't on the edge of my seat but rather the edge of my pillow because I had to fight to keep the kindle in front my face and not fall asleep.

 And it's a bit ridiculous. I'm willing to overlook a bit of a coincidence or some lucky situations. As a fan of mysteries, you have to be, but this was really pushing the limits. Maybe if you're a fan of Jack Reacher or that sort of adventure/spy novel, this would be interesting to you, both for its own sake and for its importance as one of the beginnings of its genre. But it was not my cup of tea. At least it was short.

The Thirty-Nine Steps was my Classic with a Number in the Title Selection for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge over at Books and Chocolate. 


  1. Aw, I'm sad you didn't like it. I enjoy the Hannay hijinks myself. ;)

  2. I've never read "39" but I have read its Hannay sequels, Greenmantle (1916) and Mr. Standfast (1919). The former is more adventure story than spy fiction and the latter is a war novel. Greenmantle is a rocker and has a femme fatale which pus Hannay in a pickle since he has zilch experience with females. And poignant is the loyalty Mr Standfast has for Hannay. Both have a mix of action and idealism that would appeal to a certain kind of 13yo boy. Both call for making allowances - lots of them - on the colonialism/imperialism/color prejudice side of things....