Back to the Classics 2022, Book Club edition?

I wasn’t going to do Back to the Classics (hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate) this year. Nope, no way. No challenges at all. (Which is why I signed up for the 2022 TBR challenge, too, of course.) I just don’t get them finished. Technically, I read books for all but one category last year, but I didn’t write about most of them, which is really my biggest challenge. However, 1) I realized that the 2022 titles for the local classic literature club I’ve joined line up with quite a few of the categories and 2) I need to force myself to practice writing more. Somehow I’ve manged to get hung up on putting words to page, something that used to come at least somewhat easily, so I reason that means I need to do it more. So Back to the Classics Challenge it is.

I’m sure at least some of these possibilities will change. Quite a few of the books I finished by the end of 2021 weren’t on my radar at all at the start of the year; at least one I’d not even heard of. I’m sure the same will happen this year, and I consider that for the better. (Most of those read on a whim were great choices!)

Stack of books to be read.
Some possible Back to the Classics titles already on hand
  1. A 19th century classic – The best fit from book club is Camille (Alexandre Dumas, fils), although I imagine I’ll read other qualifiers as well.
  2. A 20th century classic – I’m sure there will be a number of possibilities. Just off my TBR: Brave New World (Huxley), The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner), and The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway). Also possible, Lolita (Nabokov) or Maurice (E.M. Forster), both with book club.
  3. A classic by a woman author – I’m late to signing up, so I’ve actually finished a title for this category already, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
  4. A classic in translation – we’ll be reading Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque, a reread), and The Magic Mountain (Thomas Mann) with book club, so plenty of choices.
  5. A classic by a BIPOC author The Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison) is book club’s July selection, and it’s been on my want-to-read list for a while, as a bonus incentive.
  6. Mystery/Detective/Crime classic The Blue Train by Agatha Christie has already made it home from the library.
  7. A classic short story collection Enter Jeeves (P.D. Wodehouse) should be fun, and is also on my TBR challenge list.
  8. Pre-1800 classic – many possibilities, since I’m planning on reading lots of Greek Plays, starting with The Persians (Aeschylus). We’ll also be reading Moll Flanders for book club, which I’m really looking forward to.
  9. A nonfiction classic – ordinarily, I might have trouble picking a title for this (I don’t read a lot of classic NF), but the book club will be reading The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (in August, of course).
  10. Classic that’s been on your TBR list the longest – my memory told me it was Don Quixote (technically, I’ve read Book 1), but my book shelves obligingly pointed out it was a different Quixote, The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox.
  11. Classic set in a place you’d like to visit – I’m really not sure on this. Tentatively The Farm by Louis Bromfield (I think I work this into every list I can!), but that feels a cheat because Bromfield’s real-life farm is only about and hour or so away, and not so different form farms I see on a regular basis. On the other hand, I DO want to visit Malabar Farm after reading The Planter of Modern Life last year
  12. Wild card classic – well that could be anything. Most likely one of the book club titles listed as a 20th century possibility above, but maybe it will be something I don’t even yet know I might read.

The only question that remains is where to begin?

Reading Classic Books Challenge

Erica at the The Broken Spine is hosting what looks to be a fun, low-stress classics challenge in 2020, the Reading Classic Books Challenge. Books may count for up to two categories, and merely have to be at least 50 years old (well, and fit one of the prompts!). Knowing that I already have at least two books lined up in the queue for January(ish), plus some other classics I hope to get to this year, I think it will play nicely with my low stakes reading plans.

The Prompts:

1) Read a classic over 500 pages
2) Read a classic by a POC and/or with a POC as the main character
3) Read a classic that takes place in a country other than where you live
4) Read a classic in translation
5) Read a classic by a new to you author
6) Read a book of poetry
7) Read a classic written between 1800-1860
8) Read a classic written by an LGBT author and/or with an LGBT main character
9) Read a classic written by a woman
10) Read a classic novella
11) Read a classic nonfiction
12) Read a classic that has been banned or censored

I could probably hit all these just off my bookshelves, but we’ll see where 2020 leads me! If you’re looking for prompting to read more classics in 2020, you should consider joining in!

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

List Page

More Classics Club

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.

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.