“The Classics Club” Five Year Challenge – taking the bull by the horns

It’s altogether too tempting to be led off the straight and narrow by all these exciting new novels that just keep appearing and calling for attention. In the meanwhile, am embarrassed to tot up the countless tomes that have gone down in the annals of time as fundamentally important works of literature that have never even skimmed.

Having just reluctantly put down “Middlemarch“, am pining to read more George Eliot – and keen to redress the balance – so am duly about to join The Classics Club. Created to galvanise people into reading and reviewing older literary books, the full list is more than impressive, as there are a few novels short of no less than 700 in total on the books.  Everyone signing up on the dotted line is encouraged to choose a ‘mere bagatelle’ of some 50+ unread titles, to be read within a very generous time span of five years. What a good game plan.

So – here’s my commitment to the first batch of 50 books, with an extra two – oops no, now 8 – thrown in for good measure :

List of (first) 58 Classics Reads to be tackled :

  1. Allende, Isabel: The House of the Spirits, 10/10
  2. Atwood, Margaret: The Blind Assassin
  3. Austen, Jane: Persuasion, 8/10
  4. Bronte, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  5. Cather, Willa: My Antonia
  6. Chopin, Kate: The Awakening
  7. Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone
  8. Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White
  9. Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness
  10. Dickens, Charles: Hard Times
  11. Dickens, Charles: Tale of Two Cities
  12. Dumas, Alexandre: The Count of Monte Cristo
  13. Eco, Umberto: The Name of the Rose
  14. Eliot, George: Daniel Deronda
  15. Eliot, George: Middlemarch, 10/10
  16. Eliot, George: The Mill on the Floss
  17. Eliot, George: Silas Marner (poor old Adam Bede, I’ll get there…)
  18. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: Tender is the Night
  19. Forster, E.M.: Where Angels Fear to Tread, 3/10
  20. Gaines, Ernest: A Lesson Before Dying
  21. Galsworthy, John- The Forsyte Saga
  22. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Wives and Daughters, 10/10
  23. Gibbons, Stella: Cold Comfort Farm
  24. Greene, Graham: Brighton Rock, 9/10
  25. Grossmith, George and Weedon: The Diary of a Nobody, 8/10
  26. Hardy, Thomas : Tess of the D’Urbervilles  all-time favourite, 10/10 (slipping in to reread)
  27. Hardy, Thomas: Jude the Obscure
  28. Hartley, L.P.: The Go-Between, 10/10
  29. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The House of the Seven Gables
  30. Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls
  31. Holtby, Winifred: South Riding
  32. Irving, John: A Prayer for Owen Meany
  33. James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw, 6/10
  34. Jerome, Jerome K: Three Men in a Boat, 7/10
  35. Kerouac, Jack: On the Road
  36. Kesey, Ken: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  37. Lawrence, D.H.: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 8/10
  38. Lawrence, D.H.: The Rainbow
  39. Lawrence, D.H.: Women in Love
  40. Lee, Laurie: Cider With Rosie, 10/10
  41. Leroux, Gaston: The Phantom of the Opera
  42. Maugham, W. Somerset: Of Human Bondage
  43. Nabokov, Vladimir: Pnin
  44. Pamuk, Orhan: My Name is Red
  45. Paton, Alan: Cry, the Beloved Country
  46. Proulx, Annie: The Shipping News
  47. Proust, Marcel: À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, Du Côté de chez Swann, 10/10
  48. Rand, Ayn: The Fountainhead (already wrinkling eyebrows at this…?)
  49. Rushdie, Salman: Midnight’s Children
  50. Seton, Anya: Katherine
  51. Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath
  52. Stoker, Bram: Dracula
  53. Thackeray, William Makepeace: Vanity Fair
  54. Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace, 10/10
  55. Trollope, Anthony: The Warden
  56. Waugh, Evelyn: Brideshead Revisited, 10/10
  57. Woolf, Virginia: Orlando
  58. Zola, Emile: Germinal.

READ : 16

TO READ : 42 !

Suitably overexcited and raring to go. Of course, the beauty of it is that once these have been struck off the list, there will be still be another 500+ to go. Good grief. Here goes…

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35 Responses to “The Classics Club” Five Year Challenge – taking the bull by the horns

  1. jenp27 says:

    Good luck. Some really good books on that list… And the Road which I hated (but everyone else seems to love).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, is a bit mortifying to realise I know so many of the plots or feel as though have read a fair few of them, but haven’t. There are a few I’ll have to have a stiff g&t before embarking upon, having said that… Do you mean the apocalyptic The Road? I thought it was really gripping but can’t bring myself to watch the film – did you see it?


  3. Denise says:

    Nice short books many of them too 🙂 Glad to see that Cold Comfort Farm is on there, not all po-faced and death in the classics world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, have done that anally retentive thing and lined them up like soldiers on the top shelf, and the slim ones are definitely blinking “Read Me First” from a great height. I should inflict an extra rule on myself like ‘thin book, thick book, thin book…’ or I can see I’ll be left with all the chunky ones four and a half years from now!


  5. whatmeread says:

    I agree with Jen that On the Road is awful, but you have some really good books on your list. You picked my two favorite Thomas Hardys. I have several of these books on my own list.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is very encouraging. We did Tess as one of my A level books a hundred thousand years ago and I really want to re-read now and see if I love it as much. Was a little bit underwhelmed with Far from the Madding recently, but am very optimistic about Jude, so is good to read that these are your favourite two.


  7. FictionFan says:

    Great list which includes some of my all-time favourites – Persuasion, A Tale of Two Cities, Vanity Fair (and the BBC dramatisation of it starring Natasha Little is not to be missed either – just brilliant!). And so, so glad to see Three Men in a Boat there – the funniest book ever written! (In my opinion, of course… 😉 )

    Looking forward to your reviews of the many ones I haven’t read too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad to read that you recommend the N.L. BBC adaptation – for I have it!! and so maybe that could be one of my first choices to crack on with. Don’t tell me you’ve read Barry Lyndon too, by any chance? Hesitated to add that, but by then was having to knock things off an ever bigger list. It’s actually a never-ending list…..


      • FictionFan says:

        Oh, dear – I did try to read Barry Lyndon once but didn’t get far. Admittedly that probably had more to do with me than the book – the classics and I parted company for a few years when I was under a lot of pressure at work and was too tired to concentrate on them properly, and I think it was around then I tried it. It may go back on my list at some point…

        Vanity Fair is great – and much lighter than the size of it makes it look. Hope you enjoy both book and DVD!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. TimPa59 says:

    I’ve been meaning to tackle War and Peace for so long… but then it is sooo long.

    The print in my paperback copy is sooo small.

    Feeble excuses.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll even get you a new Large Print copy for your birthday if you’ll take on a ‘Read War & Peace Before We Need New Glasses Again Challenge’ with me…
    Did you see that even the Epilogue has an Epilogue?
    Been meaning to ask, on a slightly different and much slimmer tack – have you read any Barbara Pym? was just writing up my blurble and that set me to wondering if I had already asked you that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TimPa59 says:

      Can we wait just a mo with W&P? I’ve finished Harold Fry and am on to Queenie… loving them, as I think you may have thought I would… My brother-in-law has given me a book called ‘The Boys in the Boat’ by Daniel James Brown: about 9 Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics… certainly not fiction, but my intrepid mother has read it, loved it and recommended it. So I shall do my duty and pull together with her!

      Liked by 1 person

      • !!!!! Sorry !!!!! W&P (War&Peace, Waive&Procrastinate, Wrap-up&Polish-off) is not on my immediate hit list either – was challenging you for a “if poss within the next five years” read. I am laughing out loud at your getting a sense of panic at feeling committed to sitting down to it sooner rather than later (‘How on earth did THAT happen?’)!
        Do you know, just flicking through my Wordsworth Classics charity shop copy and wondering how many pages long Waffle&Prolific is – and the last page says 548. Can’t be, I thought, and sure enough, it STARTS AGAIN after each Volume! so it’s actually 553 + 545 + 548 pages long. Oh.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. TimPa59 says:

    Haven’t read any Barbara Pym, but think I would like to. Do you like?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I LOVE. Reviewing v shortly and will see if can tempt you to stock pile post The Boys in the Boat. Fair bit of capsizing in her work too, but is sterling stuff and I want to join her Fan Club.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I read The Count of Monte Cristo for my list and it’s wonderful! Welcome to the club! – Melissa

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you – also happy to read of your pleasure in reading TCOMC, as that is definitely one of my more guilty additions and one of the biggest tomes, so secretly one of the ones I had been looking forward to the “least”. This is very reassuring!


  14. What a great list. Also, I recently bought ‘My Name is Red’ and here’s encouragement to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Istanbul most definitely on my bucket list!!


  16. Jillian says:

    A Tale of Two Cities made me cry tremendous tears! I hope you have lots of fun with these! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sarah says:

    What a fantastic list! There’re so many great titles on there, and so many I really really want to read. Looks like you’re in for some great adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m really glad to have bitten the bullet as it will force me to start going back to the classics more now. By the by, I am still chortling at your post with Marcel and Virginia, please say you are going to do a series on authors and some of their characters? Too absolutely marvellous for words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah says:

      I’ve started to build up quite a little collection of knitted authors which I will continue to add to. It does seem a shame to leave them stuck on my bookshelves all the time, so I will be taking them out for the odd jaunt as the occasion arises! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m pleased to see we share a lot of titles on the list, and there are some of my favourites there too – Cold Comfort Farm, The Blind Assassin, A Tale of Two Cities, Brideshead Revisited, A Prayer for Owen Meany… I hope the ones I haven’t read yet are as good as these!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I do feel as though I should have read many of these already, so am pleased you report only good things about the ones you mention. Did you see the Classics Club are doing a “Spin” on Monday (it’s a whole new world!) – will read whichever number comes up on their list next so could well be Atwood, Dickens or Gibbons – just secretly hope it’s not Number 11, which is the biggest book sitting on my shelf!


  21. Are these all new to you, or are some re-reads? I see some dear favorites there (The Count of Monte Cristo, Persuasion, Middlemarch…) and a bunch that are also on my TBR (and Classics Club) list (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Wives and Daughters, War and Peace…) Lovely list! Good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very embarrassing to confess that bar Tess all these are going to be new reads for me. Oh, except “Middlemarch”, which is the first of the Classics Challenge under my belt this month. I do feel as though I know some of them despite not having actually read them – so am very pleased to be tackling them now. We will have to mutually report back on our readings as we go and see if we agree on the ones we have on the same list once we have ticked them off the list…


      • I’m following your blog now, so I’m sure we will have some merry discussions of these!

        Actually, it’s cool that you are choosing to read almost all new-to-you books! My list has about 15 rereads on it, and I’m pretty sure that number will grow.

        And yeah, I know a lot about some books I haven’t read, either from reading about them or watching movie adaptations, etc. Always interesting to find out if my perceptions of a book I haven’t read were accurate or not.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Welcome to the club! My Antonia is a wonderful pick for your first spin. I love Willa Cather (and that was the first book I read by her, after senselessly avoiding her for many years). My classic read right now is Anna Karenina — I was ashamed never to have tried Tolstoy, but felt too intimidated by W&P to start out with that one. I’m loving Anna K and am now motivated to take the plunge…maybe next year. Enjoy your list.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you – Anna K is one of my favourite books and one of the few classics I have re-read in recent years, and got even more out of the second time around. Like you, feeling very intimidated by W&P and is also on my Hit List for the challenge – we will all get there and no doubt be suitably enriched by taking the plunge! Look forward to seeing your comments on A K over the forthcoming weeks.


  24. What a great list, I’m excited for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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