The Classics Club: Intro Post and Book List

November 20, 2014

I've decided to take the plunge and join The Classics Club. Fifty classic novels (at least) to be read over five years. Just looking at that sentence fills me with adrenaline—equal parts fear and excitement about committing myself to such a daunting (but, hopefully, rewarding) task.

Brainstorming my book list and writing this post, I couldn't help but think, "Oh, great, Shaina. As if you didn't already have enough piles of reading to do and/or feel bad about not doing." But then I remember that these are stories and essays I want to get around to at some point or another, and what better way to make that happen than to give myself a time frame in which to do it?

I tried to put together a good mix, including diverse content and authors (still a woeful ratio of authors of color/female authors to white dudes, but what can you do?). Some are teeny, some are whoppers. The club considers these to be "living lists," so it's possible some of these could change before I'm through.

As I read and review, I'll be updating each book with a link to its own post.

So, here we go. 50 books by November 20, 2019. (God help me.)

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (completed 8/11/15)

2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

3. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

4. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

5. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

6. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo

7. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

8. The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri

9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey (completed 09/09/15)

10. A Separate Peace, John Knowles

11. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak

12. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

13. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (completed 2/11/15)

14. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

15. Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin

16. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (completed 8/31/15)

17. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

18. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

19. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

20. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

21. The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

22. Walden, Henry David Thoreau

23. Dream of the Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin

24. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

25. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

26. The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir

27. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

28. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

29. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck (completed 1/31/15)

30. The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann

31. Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott (completed 12/26/14)

32. The Monk, Matthew Gregory Lewis

33. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

34.  The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce

35. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

36. The Iliad, Homer

37. Macbeth, William Shakespeare

38. The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather

39. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

40. All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

41. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham

42. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

43. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol

44. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

45. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

46. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton

47. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft

48. The Trial, Franz Kafka

49. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

50. The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

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  1. I totally need to change my Classics Club challenge to have a set list. That would be so much better than the way I'm doing it now! You have some great ones here (Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite books). You also have a couple of scary ones. I read Les Miserables last year and that thing nearly killed me. It's super, crazy long. Good luck to you! I need to step it up and get moving on my own progress on this one.

    1. Yeah, Les Mis is definitely one of the ones that makes me most nervous on this list! I've had the unabridged copy on my shelf, staring me down, for years now...

      How are you currently doing your challenge? We definitely ought to do a read-a-long for one of these! :)

  2. Great list! I'm glad to have you for the Ivanhoe read-along :)

  3. Great and challenging list! You have two of my all-time favorite classics on here, The Age of Innocence and The Count of Monte Cristo. I read The Old Man and the Sea earlier this year and was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. Have fun reading!

    1. It's funny—I've sat down with The Old Man and the Sea before, and I think I quite like 15-20 pages from the end. Why? I couldn't tell you. I'm excited to revisit it!

      I'm especially pumped for The Count of Monte Cristo! I've heard uniformly good things. :)

  4. I should look into this challenge. I read a lot of classics anyway since I'm a member of a 19th Century Literature group and also a French Literature group which often chooses older books. In fact, I'm reading two 'classics' even now.

    Thrilled to see The Count of Monte Cristo on your list. It is one of my all-time favorite books. It has something for everyone - love, false imprisonment, buried treasure, revenge, bandits, the works.

    1. Definitely check it out! It seems very much up your alley, if you spend a lot of time in the 19th century anyway.

      Like I said above, I'm majorly excited for TCoMC. I don't think I've heard a bad word about it!

  5. Walden is such a good one. Lots of great books on this list. Best wishes! :)

    1. Thanks so much! I'm excited for Walden, and I was happy to read how much peace Thoreau brought you. :)

    2. Thanks! Wollstonecraft is also excellent! I see a lot of her influence in Austen's work. :)

  6. LOVE your list. You'll be blown away by #3. (and I really don't *know* you! ha, but it really blew me away so I'm sure you'll have the very same experience. :) ) My post on your #10 is one of my top most read/stats posts "eveh" but that's probably because schools are assigning it? BEST to you.

    1. You love reading and tweet about baking, so I'm gonna go ahead and assume we're the same person, so I bet your prediction holds! A bunch of other people have told me it's fabulous, too.

      Nice to meet ya! :)

  7. Ooh, ooh, ooh...The Grapes of Wrath, just reread this for Classics Club after many many years. It is one of the best books ever written, in my opinion. Move that one up on your TBR list! :)

  8. Roger that! I adored East of Eden when I read it last year, so I'm thrilled for more Steinbeck.

  9. Thanks! On both counts. :D x

  10. PS - I turned the comments back on. Too quiet!! :P And then I made another club list. Yes -- 80+ classics in two years. :)

    Have you ever read Gone with the Wind, & have I asked you this before? I've asked too many people! Pardon me if this is repetitive, but I wanted to let you know a few of us are going to be reading Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell May 1 through August 1. It's a long book, so we're making it leisurely. It's also an EXCELLENT story about a girl in the American Civil War. You're very welcome to join! I don't see it on your club list, but you might love the book. Lots of people do!! As in, it's so good all other books on your list would bow in its wake and say, "Please, you first."

    Details in my sidebar. Cheers!!

  11. Hiya! So glad you've turned comments on - I'll have to add your blog to my Feedly. :)

    And oh, that sounds like such a good read-along. It isn't on my list and I haven't read it yet. I feel like I have no excuse not to join in, with a three-month time frame... I wonder if it isn't TOO leisurely. :P

    I'll let you know soon!

    Oh and WHOA to another classics list! That's dedication.

  12. Oh! I'm doing the CC too. I love finding fellow challenge-doers, haha. I'm also supposed to read Mrs. Dalloway, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Clockwork Orange, Dorian Gray, and Count of Monte Cristo.

  13. Hooray! I do, too. :) The only struggle is balancing my backlist reading with all the new (and awesome) books coming out each week!

    That's an awesome selection. I can't wait to see what you think of them!