Classics to Read, A Shorter List

January and February turned out to be even busier than I had anticipated (and I knew they might be a bit), as I found myself dumped into an unexpected (but surprisingly educational) work deadline that of course led to a domino effect of other difficult deadlines, and so forth. All that to say that I’m not even close to having my “chunkster” Classics Spin read finished. Just not enough reading time (sad face)…or maybe too much Netflix and knitting. Oops. (On the other hand, my sweater is finally coming along swimmingly…only been working on that for a year!)

I realized late last year, though, that I don’t actually have a proper, registered with the club, list. I have A List: 125 titles long, I’ve been reading from it, using it for Spin title selections. But after my first list expired and I posted a second list, I never actually informed the Club. So. Looking at my list—and at reality—I decided it was time for Classics Club v2b. I’m finally ready to acknowledge the truth of my reading habits, so it’s been pared down to just 50 titles. Although it’s now March (where does the time go?!), since I started reading in January, I’ll say my reading dates are January 1, 2019-January 1, 2024.

My priorities in selecting my 50 titles (all of which came from the previous list) were:

A) Books I was already planning to read this year / next year
B) Books already on my shelves
C) Books I feel every other classics lover has read but me
D) Books that bring diversity of authorship or thought

The bonus, of course, was where any of these priorities overlapped! A couple rereads sneaked in because they were already on my read-soon pile, but otherwise, I avoided those as well.

  1. Anonymous: The Epic of Gilgamesh (Sumerian, c. 2150-1000 BCE)*
  2. Homer: The Iliad (Greece, c. 8th century BCE)
  3. Homer: The Odyssey (Greece, c. 8th century BCE)*
  4. Carson, Anne, translator: An Oresteia (Greece, 5th century BCE)
  5. Virgil: The Aeneid [Aeneis] (Rome, 29-19 BCE)
  6. Boethius: The Theological Tractates and Consolation of Philosophy (Rome, 523)
  7. Anonymous: Beowulf (Anglo-Saxon, between 8th-11th centuries)*
  8. Anonymous: Njal’s Saga (Iceland, 13th century)
  9. Anonymous: Nibelungenlied (Germany, 13th century)
  10. Anonymous: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (England, 14th century)
  11. Chaucer, Geoffrey: The Canterbury Tales (England, 1380s)
  12. Camões, Luís Vaz de: The Lusiad (Portugal, 1572)
  13. Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de: Don Quixote (Spain, 1605, 1615)
  14. Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de: Three Exemplary Novels (Spain, 1613)†
  15. Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver’s Travels (England, 1726)
  16. Radcliffe, Ann: The Italian (England, 1797)
  17. Poe, Edgar Allan: Tales of Mystery and Imagination (U.S., 1830s-40s)
  18. Stendhal: The Charterhouse of Parma (France, 1839)
  19. Brontë, Anne: Agnes Grey (England, 1847)
  20. Dickens, Charles: Bleak House (England, 1853)
  21. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford (England, 1853)
  22. Trollope, Anthony: Barchester Towers (England, 1857)
  23. Hugo, Victor: Les Misérables (France, 1862)
  24. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Wives and Daughters (England, 1865)
  25. Eliot, George: Middlemarch (England, 1871-72)
  26. Hardy, Thomas: Far From the Madding Crowd (England, 1874)
  27. Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina (Russia, 1877)
  28. James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction (U.S., 1878-1908)‡
  29. James, Henry: The Portrait of a Lady (U.S., 1881)
  30. Zola, Émile: Germinal (France, 1885)
  31. Tolstoy, Leo: The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories (Russia, 1886-1912)§
  32. Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth (U.S., 1905)
  33. Lawrence, D.H.: Sons and Lovers (England, 1913)
  34. Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway (England, 1925)
  35. Kafka, Franz: “Metamorphosis” and The Trial (Bohemia, 1915, 1925)
  36. Cather, Willa: Death Comes for the Archbishop (U.S., 1927)
  37. Faulkner, William: The Sound and the Fury (U.S., 1929)
  38. Faulkner, William: Light in August (U.S., 1932)
  39. Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World (England, 1932)
  40. Bromfield, Louis: The Farm (U.S.-Ohio, 1933)
  41. Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls (U.S., 1940)
  42. Wright, Richard: Native Son (U.S., 1940)
  43. Ellison, Ralph: Invisible Man (U.S., 1952)
  44. Steinbeck, John: East of Eden (U.S., 1952)
  45. Baldwin, James: Go Tell It on the Mountain (U.S., 1953)
  46. Tomasi di Lampedusa, Giuseppe: The Leopard [Il Gattopardo] (Italy, 1958)
  47. Borges, Jorge Luis: Ficciones (Argentina, 1962)
  48. Cortázar, Julio: Hopscotch [Rayuela] (Argentina, 1963)
  49. Morrison, Toni: Beloved (U.S., 1987)
  50. Bolaño, Roberto: 2666 (Chile, 2004)

Now, just to get reading!

* Indicates a reread.
† Vicente Llorens, ed., 1964. Includes El Licenciado Vidriera, El Casamiento Enganoso, and El Coloquio de los Perros
‡ Includes The Turn of the Screw, Daisy Miller*, Washington Square, The Beast in the Jungle, and The Jolly Corner
§ Includes The Prisoner of the Caucasus, The Diary of a Madman, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Kreutzer Sonata, The Devil, Master and Man, Father Sergius, After the Ball, The Forged Coupon, Alyosha the Pot, and Hadji Murat

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Back to the Classics 2019

Button: Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

They say (whoever “they” is?) that success breeds success, so in the spirit of having finished 8 books for this in 2018, I’d say it’s only appropriate to join in on Back to the Classics for the fourth year in a row. Right?

Hosted by Karen from Books and Chocolate, the categories this year are (all books must be at least 50 years old):

1.  A 19th Century Classic
2.  A 20th century classic
3.  A classic by a woman author
4.  A classic in translation
5.  Classic Comic Novel
6.  Classic Tragic Novel
7.  Very Long Classic
8.  Classic Novella
9.  Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean)
10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia)
11.  Classic From a Place You’ve Lived
12. Classic Play

(More details/rules at Karen’s original post.)

I have some ideas (based largely on my TBR list), but most likely selections will be determined as I finish books. 19th and 20th century classics will be whatever I read first that doesn’t fit another category. A Classic by a Woman will most likely be something by Elizabeth Gaskell or Edith Wharton. I have sooooo many translations planned for next year, that #4 will be whoever’s first up!  On the other hand, #10 will definitely require planning (nothing on my shelves at the moment fits the bill) and I may have to do some thinking for the comic and tragic novels. The one book I know for sure – Place I’ve Lived. I’ve been working on an Ohio-reading project off and on for a few years, and next up on the list is The Farm by Louis Bromfield. (Really, “Ohio” is too easy to find books for this challenge–if I wanted to make it difficult, I’d have to narrow it down to my hometown or its general region. That might be hard to find!)

Thanks again to Karen for hosting. Now what to read first…?

My participation tracking page.

2019 TBR Challenge

Have I ever mentioned how many times I have tried and failed to complete a TBR challenge? I actually got off to a really good start last year and then let my attention wander… But having an official TBR list, as Adam requires really is very beneficial in getting me to read books I’ve been “meaning to get to.” Of course, this year, I realized that I not only had too many books on the TBR stack, but too many of those I want to read NOW. Or otherwise fit in with my intentions for 2019 reading. Meaning, it turned into a very lengthy process, relatively speaking, to narrow my list down to 12 books + 2 alternates. I had some very heated arguments with myself, let me tell you! 🙂

Listed from shortest book to tallest (seems a reasonable order, right?), with two alternates at the end.

2019 TBR Challenge PileThe list

1) Three Exemplary Novels (Miguel de Cervantes)

Some short fiction (the three together are less than 200 pages) from Spain’s golden age that’s been on my shelf since high school. Shouldn’t be too hard, except…my copy’s in Spanish! At least it’s a version meant for students, so there are end notes for the more tricky translations.

2) The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton)

I don’t know much about this one, but I was struck by the whim to pull it off the shelf and include. I believe it’s a bit of a thriller?

3) An Acceptable Time (Madeleine L’Engle)

A holdover from last year’s list, the is the only title left for me in the Time Quintet. (Well, except Many Waters, but see “Rejects” below.)

4) Njal’s Saga (Anonymous) and 5) The Nibelungenlied (Anonymous)

I have been struck by the desire to read some of the books that may have influenced J.R.R. Tolkien. These happen to be the two already on my shelf (and have been there for a while). Looking forward to these, rather.

6) The Death of Ivan Ilyich & Other Stories (Leo Tolstoy)

Will this be the year I finally read Russian lit? I’m especially looking forward to Hadji Murat, which I’ve read some really good things about.

7) Ficciones (Jorge Luis Borges)

I started this story collection quite a few years back, but only finished a couple. I was inspired to include it on this year’s list when I saw a copy on a coworker’s desk recently.

8) Cranford (Elizabeth Gaskell)

An alternate from last year; this year, really, I’m going to read it! (Please ignore how many years I’ve been saying that.)

9) The Farm (Louis Bromfield)

On last year’s list, and I sadly never read more than two or three pages. A classic by an Ohio-native author, I’ve been wanting to read this since I started my Ohio reading project a few years back, but somehow other Ohioans kept jumping ahead.

10) 2666 (Roberto Bolaño)

I almost started this in the spring of 2018, but other books popped in ahead. This year.

11) The Aeneid (Virgil)

Somehow, it seems as if this needs to be read the same year I try out Nordic lit. Not sure why.

12) The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)

Why haven’t I read this yet?! I’d previously started it. Loved what I read. And it got re-lost on my bookshelf when something else sneaked in ahead of it. It was on my 2018 list, but unfortunately  nothing about that changed in 2018, so here’s hoping 2019’s the year.


Considering how difficult it was to choose my fourteen books, picking which two were only alternates was rather easy. Of course, I’m hoping to read these on top of all the above 12. What’s life without a little over-ambition?!

13) The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)

I’ve heard so many good things about this one! However, someone had to be an alternate.

14) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Jane Austen + Seth Grahme-Smith)

Truthfully, while I do want to get this read, it’s mostly here to provide a light-weight alternate just in case (ha! guaranteed, pretty much…) my ambitious plans above go awry.


(AKA, I’m intend to read these in 2019 anyways, but someone couldn’t make first string.)

2019 TBR Pile "Rejects" - Beowulf, Many Waters, Iliad

A) Beowulf (Anonymous, J.R.R. Tolkien translation)

Technically, a reread (of Beowulf, not this particular translation), so I’m thinking it wouldn’t have qualified under the no rereads rule.

B) Many Waters (Madeleine L’Engle)

Another reread, one I’d hoped to finish in 2018. Ah well, best laid plans. January?

C) The Iliad (Homer)

This one was sooooo close to making the official list – since I’m “supposed” to read it for the current Classics Club spin by the end of the January. But when  I was picking my books, there was still the off chance that I would get started in December…that and someone had to miss the cut.

I’ve seen plenty of other lists around, so I know I’m in good company. Good luck and happy reading!

My official participation page.

Back to the Classics 2018 – Wrap Up

Will you look at that…I not only read six titles for the 2018 edition of Back to the Classics, I posted about them too! Actually, correct that, I finished books 7 and 8 in the past week, but I’m not sure when I’ll get anything written up.

However, six books is all it takes to be considered successful for this challenge (a number I really appreciate), equivalent to one entry in the drawing.

Books finished and their categories/post links:

  1. A 19th century classic: The Warden (Anthony Trollope)
  2. A 20th century classic: The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  3. A classic by a woman author: Lady Susan (Jane Austen)
  4. A children’s classic: A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)
  5. A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction: Crooked House (Agatha Christie)
  6. A classic by an author that’s new to you: Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons)

(Master list is HERE.)

Karen asks that we include a contact email: simplerpastimes at gmail dot com.

Back to the Classics 2018

Back to the Classics Challenge 2018

So…I did okay in 2016 with the Back to the Classics reading, I just didn’t post on most of the books. And in 2017. Whoops. I guess I read two or three books that qualified, but, again, didn’t write about any. So I wasn’t going to sign up for this (or really any year-long challenge except the TBR challenge)–but–when I looked over my TBR list, I realized that if I finish all my TBR Challenge books I will have completed the basic level (6/12 books) for this challenge. And if I read the two alternates, I will be 1 away from the middle level (9/12). So…third time’s the charm?

Hosted by Karen from Books and Chocolate, the categories this year are (all books must be at least 50 years old):

1.  A 19th century classic
2.  A 20th century classic
3.  A classic by a woman author
4.  A classic in translation
5. A children’s classic
6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction
7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction
8. A classic with a single-word title
9. A classic with a color in the title
10. A classic by an author that’s new to you
11. A classic that scares you
12. Re-read a favorite classic

(More details/rules at Karen’s original post.)

I will admit, even assuming success with the TBR list, I may not get much further–there are a few categories I’m not sure at this moment what I’d do with, especially if I try to stick with books off my own shelves. At least there’s plenty of time to decide!

Thanks again to Karen for hosting. Now what to read first…?