The Classics Club

The Classics Club exists to “unite those of us who like to blog about classic literature, as well as to inspire people to make the classics an integral part of life.” (--the founder, who is now anonymous)  We each made out a list of (at least 50) classic titles we intend to read and blog about within the next five years. Response was unexpectedly enormous, so the Club now has its own site and blog where we collect reviews, discuss, and have fun.

At your own blog, list 50, 100, or 200 classics that most interest/scare/excite you, alongside your goal date for finishing this list. You can either make a straight list of titles (what I’ll be doing), or explain next to each title why you’ve chosen it. You could also explain a few of your chosen titles, but leave the others explanation-free. It’s up to you. Rereads are encouraged. When you link your list in the comments here, please pick one title from your list that you are most excited to read, so it can be included on the participant listThe goal? To read every classic on your list at your blog, and write about each one at your blog. Each time you write about a classic from your list, hyperlink the discussion post at the main classics list on your blog.

March 2012: It's going to take me a very long time to compile a list of 100 books, so I will be adding to it over time--I would like more literature from certain places that I haven't figured out yet (Australia/NZ, Poland, various spots in Africa, etc., so give me some suggestions).   This project has a five-year timeline!  So I suppose my goal date is March of 2017.  That's a very long time away, so I guarantee nothing, especially that I will even be blogging about books in five years, but what the heck.

Oh, and I'm not going to count my Greek lit challenge books in this, but all others are fair game!

May 15, 2012: OK, I now have a total of 136 books on this list.  I really doubt that I will get them all read, but it's nice to have ideals, right?

September 23, 2012: Um, now we're really getting out of control.  It must be up to 150...

Current score as of April 2013:  37.5 /150  -- July 2013: 46/150 -- August 2014: 75/150

December 2014: 89/150
June 13, 2015: 102/150  must read faster!!
November 2015: 115
November 2016: 139/150
February 2017: 146/150

American Works  (I have always neglected my own country's literature, so there is a lot to catch up on!)

James Fenimore Cooper, 1826, The Last of the Mohicans.
Edgar Allen Poe, US, 1839. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables
Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.
Henry James, 1881, Portrait of a Lady.
Henry James, 1902, The Wings of the Dove --a failure

Willa Cather, My Antonia. (reread)
Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country.
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth.
Edith Wharton (1920), The Age of Innocence.
Mark Twain, 1884. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (reread)
Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery.
W.E.B. DuBois, 1903, The Souls of Black Folk.
James Weldon Johnson, 1912, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. 
Selected poetry of Robert Frost
William Faulkner, US, 1929. Light in August.  (DNF)
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
“Our Town,” Thornton Wilder (1938).
Modern Plays: Death of a Salesman, Streetcar Named Desire, Glass Menagerie
Baldwin, James, 1953,  Go Tell It On the Mountain.
“The Crucible,” Miller (1953) (spin title!)
Ernest Hemingway, US, 1953. A Farewell to Arms.

Jack Kerouac, US, 1957. On the Road. (reread)
Jack Kerouac, US, 1958, Dharma Bums.
“Why We Can’t Wait,” Martin Luther King Jr. (1964)
Chaim Potok, 1967, The Chosen.
Chaim Potok, 1972, My Name is Asher Lev.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five.

English Language Works

Venerable Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
William Langeland, Piers Plowman.
Marlowe: Faustus and Tamburlaine.
The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser
Shakespeare: King Lear, Henry V, Richard III, Winter's Tale, The Tempest, and Love's Labour's Lost
Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, John Donne 
John Locke,  Second Treatise on Government.
Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews.
Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, England, 1818. Frankenstein.
George Eliot, 1860, The Mill on the Floss.
Anthony Trollope, 1861, Framley Parsonage.
Anthony Trollope, 1864, The Small House at Allington.
Anthony Trollope, 1865, Can You Forgive Her?
Anthony Trollope, 1867, The Last Chronicle of Barset.
Charles Dickens,  Bleak House.
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit.
Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters.
Fergus Hume, 1886, Mystery of a Hansom Cab (Australian!) (reread)
'Picnic At Hanging Rock', by Joan Lindsay,
'My Brilliant Career' by Miles Franklin

Thomas Hardy, England, Far From the Madding Crowd.
Thomas Hardy, England, The Return of the Native.
Bram Stoker, Dracula.
H. G. Wells, 1896.  The Island of Dr. Moreau.
WB Yeats, Ireland, 1917. Selections from The Wild Swans at Coole , plus others
Selected Poems of WWI Poets
Virginia Woolf, England, 1927. Mrs. Dalloway.
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.
“Murder in the Cathedral,” T. S. Eliot (1935)
Eliot: Waste Land and Prufrock and Hollow Men

Western European Works

Marcus Aurelius, Rome, 180. Meditations.
The Little Flowers of St. Francis
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.
Voraigne, The Golden Legend. 
Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks
Reynard the Fox
Boccaccio, Decameron.
Voltaire, France, 1759 Candide.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 1775. Sorrows of Young Werther.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany, 1808. Faust.
Stendhal, France, 1830. The Red and the Black.
Marx and Engles (1848), Communist Manifesto.
Gustave Flaubert, France 1856. Madam Bovary.
Berthold Brecht, Germany, 1928. The Threepenny Opera and The Life of Galileo.
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha. 
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice.
Rilke, Malte Laurids Brigge.
Night, Elie Wiesel.  
Italo Calvino, 1979, If on a winter's night a traveller

C. J. L. Almqvist, 1834, The Queen's Diadem.
Moa Martinson, Women and Appletrees.
Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne.
Isak Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales.
Isak Dinesen, Winter's Tales.
(Once upon a time in college, I studied Scandinavian literature.  These are some of the titles that I remember enjoying but which now need refreshing in my mind.  I might even get really crazy and re-read H. C. Andersen's gigantic and not-terribly-good novel, The Improvisator.  Poor HCA, he so wanted to be a great poet and novelist, not a spinner of children's stories.  But his accidental fame has lasted much longer than it would have if he'd gotten his way.)

Lessing, Nathan the Wise 
Hartmann von Aue, Poor Heinrich
Grimmelhausen, Simplicissimus
(These last ones were suggested by my brother, the German expert.  I have yet to investigate them.)

Russian/Eastern European Works

Alexandre Pushkin, Russia, 1837. Eugene Onegin
Nikolai Gogol, Russia, 1842. Dead Souls.
Ivan Turgenev, Russia, 1862. Fathers and Sons.
Feodor Dostoevsky, Russia, Brothers Karamazov. (reread, not that I understood it the first time)
Short stories by Nikolai Gogol

Leo Tolstoy, Russia, 1877. Anna Karenina.
Leo Tolstoy, Russia, War and Peace.
Bołeslaw Prus, The Doll.
Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1895, Quo Vadis
Anton Chekhov, Russia, 1898. Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard.
Anton Chekhov, Short Stories.
Ivan Vasov, Bulgaria, Under the Yoke
Jaroslav Hasek, 1923, The Good Soldier Svejk.
Franz Kafka, Czechoslovakia, 1925. The Trial., The Castle.  
Margita Figuli, Slovakia, Three Chestnut Horses.
Pasternak, 1957, Doctor Zhivago. 
Solzhenitsyn, 1958, In the First Circle.
Solzhenitsyn, 1974, The Gulag Archipelago. (Abridged edition, because ack.)

African Works

Albert Camus, Algeria, 1943. The Stranger.
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. (reread)
Mark Mathabane, Kaffir Boy.

      The following titles are taken from a list of the 100 Greatest African Works. I don't know anything about them.

Mia Couto, Sleepwalking Land
Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions
Assia Djebar, Fantasia, A Cavalcade
Naguib Mahfouz, Arabian Nights and Days
Thomas Mokopu Mofolo, Chaka
Wole Soyinka, Ake: The Years of Childhood (spin title!)
Leopold Sedar Senghor, Ouevre Poetique

Asian Works

Confucius, China, 551-479 BCE. The Analects.
Lao Tzu, China, ca. 550 BCE. The Tao Te Ching.
Kalidasa, India, ca. 410. The Cloud Messenger.
Kalidasa, Sakuntala.
Unknown, Japan, 630. The Kojiki
Murasaki Shikubu, Japan, ca. 990.The Tale of Genji.
Omar Khayyam, Persia, ca 1100. The Rubaiyat. (sort of)
The Conference of the Birds

Nizami, 1188. The Story of Layla and Majnun,
Falling in Love: Stories from Ming China, collection, trans. Patrick Hanan
Natsume Soseki, Japan, 1906. Botchan.
Mohandas Gandhi, India, 1928. My Experiments with Truth. (re-read)
Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World.
Kawabata Yusunari, Japan, 1949. The Sound of the Mountain.
RK Narayan, India, 1935. The English Teacher.
Junichio Tanizaki, Japan, 1943. The Makioka Sisters
VS Naipul, Trinidad, 1979. A Bend in the River.
A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth 

Latin American Works

The Underdogs, by Mariano Azuela
Mario Benedetti, Little Stones at My Window
Pedro Páramo, by Juan Rulfo
Poems of Octavio Paz
Jorges Luis Borges, Argentina, 1964. Labyrinths.
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me Ultima.  (reread)

Bonus Material

Children's classics recommended by Arenel:

Krylov, Ivan Andreyevich: fables
Pogorelsky, Antony: Black Hen, or Living Underground (1829)
Pushkin, Alexander Sergeyevich: Fairy Tales
Yershov, Pyotr Pavlovich: The Little Humpbacked Horse (1834)
Tolstoy, Lev Nikolayevich: Childhood (1852)
Aksakov, Sergey Timofeyevich: The Scarlet Flower (1858)
Olesha, Yury Karlovich: Three Fat Men (1924)
Kassil, Lev Abramovich: The Black Book and Schwambrania (1933)
Kataev, Valentin Petrovich: A White Sail Gleams (1936)
Gaidar, Arkady: The Blue Cup (1936), Chuk and Gek (1939), Timur and his Gang (1940),
Lagin, Lazar Yosifovych: The Old Genie Hottabych (1937)
Bazhov, Pavel: The Malachite Casket (1939), The Mistress of the Copper Mountain,
Volkov, Alexander Melentyevich: The Wizard of the Emerald City (1939) (plus the rest of the Magic Land series: Urfin Jus and his Wooden Soldiers (1963), The Seven Underground Kings (1964), The Fiery God of the Marrans (1968), The Yellow Fog (1970), The Secret of the Abandoned Castle (1982))
Rybakov, Anatoly: The Dirk (1948), The Bronze Bird (1956)
Gubarev, Vitali Georgievich: Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors (1951)Nosov, Nikolay Nikolaevich: The Adventures of Dunno and his Friends (1954) (plus the rest of the series: Dunno in Sun City (1958), Dunno on the Moon (1966))

These are titles that seem interesting taken from Reading Pleasure, a blog by Celestine.

Tales of Tenderness and Power by Bessie Head
The New Tribe,
by Buchi Emecheta
Contemporary African Short Stories,
edited by Chinua Achebe and C L Innes
Not Without Flowers,
by Amma Darko
Tuesday’s Child,
by Mary Ashun
Mistress of the Game,
by Asabea Ashun
by Ama Ata Aidoo



  1. I like how you incorporated both Eastern and Western titles into your list.

    I see several that I will be reading this year. You've given me some ideas for titles to read when I'm finished with my list.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better through your blog!


  2. Awesome list! Love how you've included as many different countries and cultures as you can. For Australian classics, you could possibly try 'The Man Who Loved Children' by Christina Stead, 'Picnic At Hanging Rock', by Joan Lindsay, 'My Brilliant Career' by Miles Franklin or 'The Harp in the South' by Ruth Park. Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Jean! What a great list -- I'm glad you've joined us! And I love that you organized your titles by location. Have fun with this! :)

  4. A really interesting list here. I'm really intrigued by the Asian titles, as I know almost nothing about them, but would like to try them out someday. The only African novel I've read is Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, which I believe is one of the best known African works. He has several other novels as well.

  5. I learned about this challenge from your blog--thanks...

  6. Awesome list! So many book I haven't heard before. I need to follow your blog to widen my knowledge about literature.

    Happy reading!

  7. Your classic iist is wonderful! I hope you don't mind..but I will read some of your suggestions.....
    At the moment I'm reading M V. Llosa Feast of the Goat is very good!

  8. I should have commented via my Wordpress link,,,,I'll do it now


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