Back to the Classics Book Challenge


A Family Challenge

So, in my last post, I bemoaned the fact that I don’t read enough anymore, and vowed to make it a bit more of a priority in 2019. I particularly want to catch up on some massive gaps in my reading, namely The Classics. I was discussing this with my Mum (whom I have long acknowledged to be the font of all book knowledge) and she challenged me to read 10 Classics of her choosing this year, which doesn’t seem unmanageable, on the face of it. After a couple of days of deliberation and discussion over what I had already read, this is what she came back with:

  • Middlemarch – George Eliot
  • Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  • The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  • The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson – Mark Twain
  • The Warden – Antony Trollope
  • The Go-Between – L.P Hartley
  • The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  • The Prairie – James Fenimore Cooper
  • The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Not so scary, aside from the fact that Bleak House is about a million years long and Middlemarch would also make an efficient door stop. In fact, according to Goodreads, there’s a total of 5471 to read. Best get a move on.

In exchange, Mum said she felt like she should read some more modern ‘classics’, so I came up with a list for her too…

  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
  • I Capture the Castle – Dodi Smith
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  • The Princess Bride – William Goldman
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
  • Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
  • Wait Until Spring, Bandini – John Fante
  • Us – David Nichols
  • The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros

It will be interesting to see which (if any!) she enjoys. I have to say, I think she has a much better chance of finishing than I do, since they are considerably shorter on the whole – a total of 3407 pages. That and the fact that she’s retired.

Back To the Classics Challenge

In reading a few other blogs, I came across the Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Books and Chocolate. There are 12 categories of books which vary each year, and it’s up to you which books you read for each. You can aim for 6, 9 or 12 in the year, and finishing these gives you entry into a prize draw. Bonus! Books must have been written before 1969, and you must have a different book for each category. So, after a quick glance, I managed to fit the majority of the Family Challenge books into the categories, so I thought it was worth signing up for this one too. Sadly, The Mote in God’s Eye is too recent to qualify, but the others will all do nicely. The categories are:

1. 19th Century Classic. The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
2. 20th Century Classic. The Go-Between (1953)

3. Classic by a Woman Author. Middlemarch

5. Classic Comic Novel. The Warden
6. Classic Tragic Novel. For Whom the Bell Tolls
7. Very Long Classic (over 500 pages). Bleak House
8. Classic Novella (under 250 pages). The Tragedy of Puddn’head Wilson
9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean). The Prairie
11. Classic From a Place You’ve Lived. The Secret Agent (London)
That only leaves 3 categories, which I’m filling with:49552
4. Classic in Translation. L’Etranger – Albert Camus (I may even attempt the French if feeling brave)
10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin (Australia)

12. Classic Play. The Importance of Being Ernest.

Twelve books over the years seems achievable, surely?! We’ll see how we get on. I may even extend this challenge and join The Classics Club, where you have to select at least 50 classics to read in 5 years. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…



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