Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Classics Club Reading Challenge

A Room of One's Own is hosting a classics book reading challenge. [UPDATE: The original blog this was hosted on has been deleted, and it's now being hosted at The Classics Club blog.] For people participating, it's a commitment to read at least fifty classic books (and other works) in five years. What's a classic? Good question. It can mean books with some measure of greatness, resonance or influence. Books that can or probably will withstand "the test of time." There's no settled definition, and expressions like 'greatness,' 'resonance,' and 'test of time,' are fruitful sources of discussion.

In any case, I came up with a list of fifty books. There was an option to include short stories but I don't think I'll add short stories to the list; I already read them regularly, and I'd like to use this challenge as an opportunity to get to more books in my to-read (and to re-read) list and share my thoughts with others. Most of these I've never read before; some I read when I was a teen, so I'd like to revisit them. Each time I read one I'll at some point write about it on the blog. This post with its list will be linked to in the "Reading Lists" tab above (under the Books and Plays section), so you can look it up in the future.

My personal deadline for the challenge is 3/13/2017. (Pausing to imagine myself five years from now.) The sign-up page also asks me to mention prizes or rewards (if any) that I intend to give myself on successfully completing the challenge. Reading great literature is its own reward, so I don't intend to supplement it with additional prizes. But if anyone wants to send me an Amazon gift card I won't object. Other deadlines have taken precedence over this one :) But I'm still planning to finish the list!

Here's the list:

S.Y. Agnon: A Guest for the Night
S.Y. Agnon: Only Yesterday

Louisa May Alcott: Little Women

Jane Austen: Persuasion

Honoré de Balzac: Old Goriot

Saul Bellow: Humboldt's Gift
Saul Bellow: Mr. Sammler's Planet

Anne Bronte: Agnes Grey
Anne Bronte: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Charlotte Bronte: Villette

Willa Cather: Song of the Lark
Willa Cather: A Lost Lady

Anton Chekhov: Uncle Vanya

Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone

Charles Dickens: Dombey and Son

Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The Idiot

Maria Edgeworth: Ormond

George Eliot: Adam Bede
George Eliot: Daniel Deronda
George Eliot: Silas Marner

E.M. Forster: A Room with a View

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust

Oliver Goldsmith: The Vicar of Wakefield

Lorraine Hansberry: A Raisin in the Sun

Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House

Sarah Orne Jewett: The Country of the Pointed Firs

Franz Kafka: The Trial

Kawabata Yasunari: Beauty and Sadness

Primo Levi: The Periodic Table

W. Somerset Maugham: Of Human Bondage

Molière: The Misanthrope

Elsa Morante: History

Lady Murasaki: Tale of Genji

Baroness Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel

George Orwell: Animal Farm

Fernando Pessoa: The Book of Disquiet

Sir Walter Scott: Ivanhoe

William Shakespeare: As You Like It
William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Italo Svelvo: Zeno's Conscience

Eudora Welty: The Optimist's Daughter

Dorothy West: The Living Is Easy

Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton: The Custom of the Country

Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Émile Zola: L'Assommoir


TBM said...

Great list. I've also joined the club. Happy reading and I look forward to your reviews.

naida said...

This sounds like a fun challenge. Have fun reading. I do enjoy a good classic book, I find them comfort reads. Great list. Persuasion and Little Women are two of my favorite classics.

Jillian said...

Hi! I just wanted to drop by to say "Welcome." Great list!! I am excited to see you'll be reading Villette -- it's an excellent book and one of my favorites. Cheers! :)

CHE said...

Wow! that's quite a challenge but I'm sure you're going to enjoy every minute of it. Zeno's Conscience is such an underrated classic. I'm glad you picked it. I look forward to your reviews on all of these books.

Lucy said...

Quite a few I've read here, quite a few I've long meant to, and quite a few I've never heard of!

Since getting the Kindle, I've formed something of a project to read a lot more out-of-copyright free classic stuff on it. I've been getting into Forster, Tolstoy, Thackery and others. I also really enjoyed re-reading 'Black Beauty'!

Happy reading.

John Hayes said...

Excellent list! There are quite a few I've read, as well as some I'd like to read--e.g., Daniel Deronda. Happy reading--you have your adventures well planned :)

Dave King said...

First thought: 15 seems a bit excessive to count as one book!
I suppose any list of 50 would have some interest, but yours seems particularly so.
It's a mighty undertaking. I do not think for me, but I'd be interested to hear how other folk make out.

Rebecca Emin said...

Good luck with this challenge, I hope you enjoy all, or at least most, of the books!

Amy said...

I'm so excited that you've got The Periodic Table on your list! Creative and heartbreaking.

Nancy Cudis said...

I will be making my list in the next hour. I think we share some same titles, such as Villette, The Moonstone, The Idiot, and Picture of Dorian Gray. Animal Farm and Ivanhoe are great stories. I borrowed Ivanhoe from the school library several years ago, and I loved it so much I read it one more time and returned it past due already. :-)

o said...

Great list :)