Monday, December 31, 2018

Reading Challenge for 2019: Back to the Classics

For one of my reading goals in 2019, I'm going to participate in the Back to the Classics Challenge organized by Karen from the Books and Chocolate blog. You can sign up through March 2019, and the rules are on her blog. There are 12 categories but you get to choose how many you want to accomplish. I found potential titles for each but my actual goal is 6, and if I do more than that, even better.

Some of the possibilities from my own collection

I learned about this challenge when chatting with Ruth(iella) on Episode 134 of the Reading Envy Podcast. Ruth is an inspiring reader because of how many classics she reads!

I will indicate if I own these books. I tried to start with books already on my shelves, or books that would intersect with my other reading goals for 2019.

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
(I went with titles on my TBR list.)
Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane
The Woman in White or The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Middlemarch by George Eliot

2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969. All books in this category must have been published at least 50 years ago. The only exceptions are books that were published posthumously but were written at least 50 years ago.
Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (Hoopla)
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (own)
The Fire This Time (1963) by James Baldwin
Manservant and Maidservant (1947) by Ivy Compton-Burnett (own)

3. Classic by a Woman Author.
Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (Hoopla)
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (own)
Manservant and Maidservant (1947) by Ivy Compton-Burnett (own)

4. Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a novel other than your native language. You may read the book in your native language, or its original language (or a third language for all you polyglots!) Modern translations are acceptable, as long as the book was originally published at least 50 years ago. Books in translation are acceptable in all other categories as well.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (because I’ve never read it)

5. Classic Comic Novel. Any comedy, satire, or humorous work. Humor is very subjective, so if you think Crime and Punishment is hilarious, go ahead and use it, but if it's a work that's traditionally not considered humorous, please tell us why in your post. Some classic comic novels: Cold Comfort Farm; Three Men in a Boat; Lucky Jim; and the works of P. G. Wodehouse.
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (own)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
All About H Hatterr (1948) by G V Desani (would fit reading Asia goal)
A Handful of Dust (1934) by Evelyn Waugh (own)

6. Classic Tragic Novel. Tragedies traditionally have a sad ending, but just like the comedies, this is up for the reader to interpret. Examples include The Grapes of Wrath, House of Mirth, and Madame Bovary.
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (own)
The Man who Watched Trains Go By  (1938) by Georges Simenon (own)

7. Very Long Classic. Any classic single work 500 pages or longer, not including introductions or end notes. Omnibus editions of multiple works do not count. Since page counts can vary depending on the edition, average the page count of various editions to determine the length.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (own)
Middlemarch by George Eliot

8. Classic Novella. Any work of narrative fiction shorter than 250 pages.
The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling (goes with Asian reading goals)

9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean). Includes classic set in either continent or the Caribbean, or by an author originally from one of those countries. Examples include Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (United States); Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Jamaica); or One Hundred Years of Solitude (Columbia/South America).
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (Kindle)
The Fire This Time by James Baldwin (1963)
The Popul Vuh (new translation by Michael Bazzett)

10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). Any classic set in one of those contents or islands, or by an author from these countries. Examples include Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt); The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (Japan); On the Beach by Nevile Shute (Australia); Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria).
All About H Hatterr by G V Desani (1948)
The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason (1957 - Hong Kong)
Love in a Foreign City by Eileen Chang (1943 - Taiwan/China)
Old Filth by Jane Gardam

11. Classic From a Place You've Lived. Read locally! Any classic set in a city, county, state or country in which you've lived, or by a local author. Choices for me include Giant by Edna Ferber (Texas); Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (Chicago); and Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (Germany).
Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe

12. Classic Play. Any play written or performed at least 50 years ago. Plays are eligible for this category only.
A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen (I have the audio too!)


  1. You have alot of great possibilities here. Middlemarch is one of my top favourites and Three Men in a Boat is absolutely hilarious!! Have fun with this challenge and all the best to you in 2019!

    1. Thanks Cleo! I'm still side-eyeing Middlemarch but maybe I'll get up my nerve. :)

  2. Hi Jenny! I enjoyed your list. This year I decided to be a little more organized about my reading, so I decided to participate in the Classics Challenge as well. It's been really fun to see what everyone plans to read. Your selections that I've read are things I very much enjoyed in the past (Lolly Willows and Middlemarch especially) and there are several exciting things I've thought about reading as well (I put an Ivy Compton-Burnett on my own list (haven't made up my mind which one yet, but Manservant & Maidservant are in the running). I almost selected an Eileen Chang novel (Little Reunions) for the "Asia" category but ultimately went with something else. In short, looks like we have similar taste as far as classics are concerned! I'll look forward to reading your reviews, esp. Lolly Willows (it's a book that's just a little bit different from anything else, as far as I'm concerned). Best of luck on the Challenge!

    1. Lolly Willowes sure went somewhere I wasn't expecting!

  3. Yay! So glad you are joining in Jenny. 6 categories is very reasonable. I am sure you will prevail. You've got some great titles ahead of you. :D

    For the 2018 Challenge I managed to read all of the categories with books I already owned so it was a real win/win.

    1. I had many of the categories already at home but bought a few for fun too. :)


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