Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Classics Club Challenge

I recently came across the Classics Club--I'm not even really sure where I saw it anymore--and I thought the idea of selecting a list classics to read and discuss was exactly what I needed. There are a whole bunch of books that easily qualify for classic status around here that I haven't read and should. And want to, too! But a little motivation, like a publicly announced declaration to do so, never hurts.

I've been doing mystery and TBR challenges this year, but while the TBR challenge might be a motivation, the temptation is to read nothing but detective novels--not that I find anything wrong with that!--and with this I'm hoping to balance the motivations a little.

So here's my list. I've selected fifty books* and limited myself to books that 1.) I already had, and 2.) I had not yet read (were on my TBR pile). I went through the suggested list of classics at the Classics Club website, those old Modern Library lists of fiction and non-fiction, problematic as they were, plus a few others that seemed pretty clearly classics. (Romain Rolland, Henryk Sienkewicz, Hermann Broch.) There's been a lot of good, improving intentions on my part over the years, with inadequate follow-through. (Though not no follow-through, mind you! Though you might very well think it from this list of unread books I've just posted.) I also decided to aim for a mix of fiction and non-fiction, English and works in translation. Some short works, but also some really long ones, just to keep me honest. There were easily more than fifty available by my criteria, but I'll re-up as needed. It is now the 22nd of November, 2017, so that means by this same day in 2022, I'll have finished them all. Really!

English Language Fiction

1.) Margaret Atwood/The Handmaid's Tale
2.) James Baldwin/Giovanni's Room
3.) James Baldwin/Go Tell It On The Mountain
4.) Samuel Butler/The Way Of All Flesh
5.) Willa Cather/A Lost Lady
6.) Willa Cather/One Of Ours
7.) Daphne du Maurier/Rebecca
8.) George Eliot/Adam Bede
9.) George Eliot/Romola
10.) George Eliot/Scenes of Clerical Life
11.) George Eliot/Silas Marner
12.) William Faulkner/Light In August
13.) John Galsworthy/The Forsyte Saga
14.) Oliver Goldsmith/The Vicar of Wakefield
15.) Thomas Hardy/Wessex Tales
16.) Henry James/The American
17.) Henry James/Wings of the Dove
18.) Malcolm Lowry/Under the Volcano
19.) W. Somerset Maugham/The Razor's Edge
20.) Toni Morrison/Song of Solomon
21.) Sylvia Plath/The Bell Jar
22.) J. F. Powers/Morte D'Urban
23.) Sir Walter Scott/Count Robert of Paris
24.) Robert Louis Stevenson/Black Arrow
25.) Bram Stoker/Dracula
26.) Edith Wharton/The Custom of the Country
27.) Edith Wharton/House of Mirth
28.) Virginia Woolf/The Waves

Fiction in Translation

29.) Anon/1001 Nights (Richard F. Burton translation)
30.) Honore de Balzac/Cousin Bette
31.) Giovanni Bocaccio/The Decameron
32.) Hermann Broch/The Death Of Virgil
33.) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe/Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
34.) Yasunari Kawabata/Snow Country
35.) Giuseppe di Lampedusa/The Leopard
36.) Romain Rolland/Jean Christophe
37.) Henryk Sienkewicz/Quo Vadis
38.) Jules Verne/20000 Leagues Under The Sea
39.) Yevgeny Zamyatin/We

Non-Fiction

40.) James Baldwin/Notes of a Native Son
41.) Frederick Douglass/Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
42.) Edmund Gibbon/The History of the Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire
43.) Plutarch/Lives
44.) Bertrand Russell/A History of Western Philosophy
45.) Barbara Tuchman/The Guns of August
46.) Mark Twain/A Tramp Abroad
47.) Edmund Wilson/Axel's Castle
48.) Edmund Wilson/Patriotic Gore
49.) Mary Wollstonecraft/The Vindication of the Rights of Women
50.) Virginia Woolf/A Room Of One's Own

Plays

51.) George Bernard Shaw/Major Barbara
52.) George Bernard Shaw/Pygmalion
53.) Richard Brinsley Sheridan/The School for Scandal

Poetry

54.) Thomas Hardy/Complete Poems
55.) Edmund Spenser/The Faerie Queene

*Whoops. I ended up with 55. I could trim it, but they're all such good books...


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