Back to the Classics 2014

Participating in Sarah's Back to the Classics Challenge is now a tradition for me, but Sarah is currently too busy with library school and the rest of life to keep hosting, so Karen at Books and Chocolate is taking over!  Yay Karen! 

At the official sign-up post (which you should read and join), Karen says:
The challenge will be very similar to the way Sarah created it.  Like last year, there will be six required categories that all participants must complete.  Everyone who reads and reviews six eligible books and writes a wrap-up post will automatically be entered into the drawing for an Amazon gift card for $30 (U.S) or a choice of book(s) from The Book Depository.

There will also be five optional categories.  Participants who finish three of those will also get an additional entry into the prize drawing;  those completing all five categories will get two more entries, for a total of six.

I am making one slight change, other than varying the book categories.  I'm a little stricter than Sarah regarding the definition of a classic.  In my opinion, a classic is a book that has endured for some reason ; therefore,
I am defining a classic as a book that was published at least 50 years ago.  Therefore, any book published after 1964 is ineligible. 

Here are the rest of the guidelines:

  • All books must be read in 2014.  Books started prior to January 1, 2014 are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2014.
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible!  Books can count for other challenges you may be working on.
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicly accessible online format.  
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE MARCH 1, 2014.  Please link to your sign-up announcement post (if possible/applicable).
  • You do not have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it is more fun that way :).  You can always change your list at any time.  You can read the books in any order (including mixing in the optional categories at any time).
  • You can decide to attempt the optional categories at any point (you can also bow out of the optional categories at any point as well).
  • Please identify the categories you've read in your wrap-up post so that I can easily add up your entries for the prize drawing! 
And finally. . . . The 2014 categories: 

  1. A 20th Century Classic -- The Makioka Sisters.  Then I'll have to read it!
  2. A 19th Century Classic -- Mill on the Floss?  Little Dorrit?  Small House at Allington?  So many choices...
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author -- Hm, I'm thinking The Custom of the Country, by Edith Wharton.
  4. A Classic in Translation  If English is not your primary language, then books originally published in English are acceptable. -- Russian challenge = no problem.  Dead Souls, for choice.
  5. A Wartime Classic  2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  Any book relating to a war is fine -- WWI, WWII, the French Revolution, the War of the Worlds -- your choice. -- August 1914, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, maybe?  Scary...
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You  -- How about Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh?  I've never read Waugh.
Optional Categories:
  • An American Classic -- Maybe a play!  Our Town, or Glass Menagerie, something like that.
  • A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller -- I'm sure I'll come up with something...
  • A Historical Fiction Classic.  This is any classic set at least 50 years before the time when it was written.  For example, Margaret Mitchell published Gone with the Wind 70 years after the end of the Civil War; therefore, it is considered a historical novel.  A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Letter are also historical novels.  However, older classics set during the period in which they were written are not considered historical; for example, the novels of Jane Austen. Goodness, that will take some thinking.
  • A Classic That's Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series.  Any period, any genre!  This is practically a free choice category.  Yes indeed!  That will be easy.
  • Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4.  This can be any adaptation -- does not have to be adapted before 1964.  For example, if you chose Pride and Prejudice, you could review any adaptation -- 1940, 1980, 1995, 2005, etc.  However, this must be a separate blog posting -- no fair just mentioning it in the book review!  Sounds fun!
I plan to do all the categories and have listed my possible books (or puzzlement about what to read) in black.  Don't hold me to it, though!


  1. I'm so glad you've signed up!! I hope the historical fiction category isn't too difficult for people -- there are lots of great historicals that are also classics. Dickens wrote a couple of historicals, also Daphne du Maurier, Willa Cather, R. L. Stevenson, Dumas, etc. I'm looking forward to reading your posts!

  2. Obviously, this is a challenge in which I am not allowed to participate. It does not count if I do it by default. I even routinely read wartime classics, including three this year; admittedly one of them starred Moomintrollls.

    I am glad so many other people are doing this one, though. I will enjoy the posts.

  3. Great list, Jean! Have fun working your way through it!

    @ Tom - the Moomintrolls are my favourite creatures ~~ I think I like them better than people!

  4. Have you tried Jansson's adult novels? Her people are a lot like Moomintrolls.

  5. I read The Summer Book this summer. While I enjoyed it, I was not blown away. The interaction between the grandmother and granddaughter was somewhat edgy at times ….. bordering on rude on the child's side. I loved the descriptions of island life though ……. since I was vacationing on an island at the time, it was very apropos!

    If you have any recommendations, please bring them on!

  6. I am also a big Moomintroll fan (two families converted this year, woo), but I've never set eyes on any of Jansson's adult novels. I should track one down.

    Tom, this one is practically a freebie for me, but I usually do have to put in some thought and effort. This year I had a terrible time coming up with an 'animal' theme book. I think you should join! :)

  7. I read The Jungle Book and Just So Stories last year! Even the animal category just automatically fell into place.

    The granddaughter in The Summer Book was edgy and rude because her mother had just died.

  8. Yes, I did realize that. I was speaking about a more subtler edginess that seemed to affect many of the characters. But the less said, the better.


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