Wednesday 1 August 2012

The Classics Club - My List

I've been debating joining the Classics Club for a while.  I love the idea of it and definitely want to add more classics to my reading, but I tend to react negatively to pressure and having to read certain books in a specific time frame.  With that in mind, I've chosen the most generous time frame (5 years) and restricted myself to 72 books.  I wanted to make it 70, as I like a nice round number, but I couldn't think of two to drop!  I'm not going to beat myself up about this or think of the time frame, I'm just going to use it as a spur to read (or reread) these classics as soon as possible.

Without further ado, my list:
(Titles in bold will be rereads)

1. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
2. A Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
3. Emma - Jane Austen
4. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
5. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
6. Persuasion - Jane Austen
7. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
8. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen  
9. Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie
10. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte
11. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
12. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
13. Villette - Charlotte Bronte
14. The Good Earth - Pearl Buck
15. A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
16. O Pioneers! - Willa Cather
17. The Awakening - Kate Chopin
18. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
19. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
20. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
21. Hard Times - Charles Dickens
22. Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens
23. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
24. Out of Africa - Isak Dinesen
25. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
26. The Lost World - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
27. Rebecca - Daphe Du Maurier
28. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
29. Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
30. Tender is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald
31. The Beautiful and the Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald
32. Madame Bovary - Gustav Flaubert
33. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
34. King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard
35. Tess of D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
36. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
37. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
38. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
39. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
40. Goodbye to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood
41. Turn of the Screw - Henry James
42. The Portrait of A Lady - Henry James
43. Daisy Miller - Henry James
44. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
45. Kim - Rudyard Kipling
46. The Painted Veil - W. Somerset Maugham
47. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
48. The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
49. The Bell - Iris Murdoch
50. 1984 - George Orwell
51. Burmese Days - George Orwell
52. Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake
53. Gormenghast - Mervyn Peake
54. Titus Alone - Mervyn Peake
55. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
56. Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan
57. Anthony and Cleopatra - William Shakespeare
58. Othello - William Shakespeare
59. The Tempest - William Shakespeare
60. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
61. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
62. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
63. Dracula - Bram Stoker
64. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkein
65. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkein
66. The Two Towers - J.R.R. Tolkein
67. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkein
68. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
69. Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne
70. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
71. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
72. Orlando - Virgina Woolf

My list isn't attempting to be representative of different time frames, styles or countries, it's just a list of books that appeal to me.  There is a notable absence of George Eliot books and only one Thomas Hardy, because I haven't enjoyed these authors in the past.  Hemingway and I don't get along.

When putting this list together, I suprised myself with how many rereads I included.  I tend not to reread, but as I looked at my classics shelf I starting thinking "ooh, I want to read that one again" or "I wonder if that improves on a rereading".  I shall be rereading both old favourites (Dracula, 1984) and books that I read as a teenager that didn't set my world on fire (Crime and Punishment). I want to find out if experience and a bit more maturity will help.  Some classics I've read recently I won't be rereading, especially Anna Karenina.  I loved that book, but will probably wait more than five years before picking it up again.

I'm anticipating that Moby Dick and Les Miserables will take quite some time and effort to read, so I've tried to balance classics like these with shorter and more modern ones so the project doesn't feel like a slog.

Have you read any of the books on my list I've not read before?  Am I in for a treat?

The new classics club website can be found here


  1. You are in for a treat! Many on your list are books that I would want to read too. Good luck with Moby Dick, I have "Moby Dick in Half the time" - meaning Moby Dick in half the size of the original without losing the essence of it. Would that be cheating? :D

    1. Moby Dick is probably the one on this list that scares me the most, I've heard Melville goes off on tangents for whole chapters at a time. I might have to resort to Moby Dick in Half the Time! :P

    2. I loved Moby-Dick! I think the key is to treat each chapter as if it were its own story, rather than trying to piece it all together as you go (that make sense?). It's a wonderful book! :)

  2. Oh, I'm debating whether to join or not too... You're in for a treat with East of Eden, Lord of the Flies - and Rebecca. All great books. You're missing the (newly discovered) fourth volume of the Ghormenghast 'trilogy' - is that on purpose or?

    1. My husband's favourite author is Steinbeck, he was pleased to see I'm going to try some more of his books. The only one I've read so far is Of Mice and Men. As for Gormenghast, I stuck with 3 simply because I own the first three books in one volume. If I enjoy it, I will certainly read the fourth as an 'extra'.

  3. I have been going back and forth about joining the Classics Club,also. If I do it, I have to get my list together before school starts. You have some of my favorites on your list.

    1. Yep, I could not have put my list together during school time! I actually really enjoyed that part of it, on the classics club website they have a suggested reads page and I used that, my own shelves and books that I knew I wanted to read. It was hard to keep it to 72!

  4. Great list - I recognise some of the titles from mine. I really liked Anne Bronte's The Tenant.....and I'm sure you'll love Rebecca.
    I'm not worrying about numbers or finishing date either but I love being part of a classic reading community - it's very motivating.

    1. Cat, I loved Agnes Grey so I'm sure I will also enjoy Tenant. Rebecca is one of those books that I can't believe I've got to 26 without reading, feels like everyone has read it apart from me.

      I hope I find the community motivating too. I'm glad I'm not the only one not worrying about numbers or finishing dates, I don't want to turn this into 'work'.

  5. That's a great list. Some of those books are on my TBR list, but it's not a formal list. The classics club does sound like a good idea, but I have enough trouble with the back-to-the-classics challenge- breaking down the list of classics I want to read into smaller, seemingly more manageable chunks. I still fall behind. Good luck to you. You've got some wonderful reading ahead!

    1. Susan, I'm sure I will fall behind too but I'm not worried about making the finishing date. If I don't read all of them by August 2012, I will just continue without feeling bad about it. Good luck with your back to the classics challenge :)

  6. I haven't heard about the classic club, so will have to check it out. The Grapes of Wrath is a great book, although I wasn't as much a fan of East of Eden. I really liked Crime & Punishment, although I didn't agree with what the main character did of course but still enjoyed it. I was never a fan of O Pioneer or The Scarlet Letter. I haven't read all of the book Cranford, but they do have BBC series based on the book, and it is fantastic if you like period pieces.

    1. You should check out the website, there's over 100 people trying to read classics, very motivating. I really disliked Crime and Punishment, but I was only about 15 when I read it so think I might not have been ready for it. Hopefully I will like it more on the reread.

  7. I'm working on my list for the Classics Club right now! We have some of the same books on our lists; one that I've read and love, love, loved was Their Eyes Were Watching God. Crime and Punishment is one of my favorite books, but I started it three times before it *took*. Steinbeck is another writer whose books I love-both East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath are great reads....

    1. I'm glad you are joining up too :)
      I'm very excited about Their Eyes Were Watching God, I've read a few reviews of it and think I would really enjoy it. Hopefully C & P will 'take' on the second read, I read it when I was about 15 and I think I just wasn't ready for it.

  8. I'm so happy you joined in! We're hoping the new site will give us all a little more motivation. :) You have a great list of books. I already mentioned Moby-Dick in a reply up there, but I'm also a huge fan of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Portrait of a Lady! Both are WONDERFUL! :)

    1. Allie, the site looks wonderful. I could lose a couple of days looking at all of the reviews that are already on there, let alone the ones to come. I will take your advice when reading Moby Dick and take each chapter as it comes.

  9. Hurrah for you joining the challenge! I love the fact you have the Gormenghast books on your list, I really enjoyed those. :)

    1. Alex, I've wanted to read them for a while but I guess I needed the push of putting them in a list. I have a lovely edition too, I hope it's a pleasure to read them.

  10. There are so so so many books on your list that I love! Too many to even pick a few out really! I like your approach to reading them as well- not too much pressure and all. I feel the same way about it- I've just bought SO many classics over the years, and always overlook them to read things that are easier, so... NOW IS THEIR TIME!

    1. Indeed, now is their time. Actually, when I look back over the books I've read in the last few years, the classics are the ones that stand out and the ones that I remember. So they are worth the effort :)

  11. What a great list! I look through the 1001 Books to Read before you Die list every so often (a grand goal, I know). I have Ivanhoe on my desk out from the library, but all of those new releases that I requested keep coming in!
    I hope you find some new favorites over the next few years. :)

    1. Lindsey, I used 1001 Books to help me although there are books in there I have absolutely zero interest in reading some of the titles in that book. I've not read Ivanhoe, but I hear it is supposed to be fun :)

  12. That's an incredible list, Sam. I've read and loved most of the titles you included. I really hope you will too. I didn't see my best favourite Wives and Daughter or North and South by E. Gaskell, nor any George Eliot (Daniel Deronda? Middlemarch?). But you are so young! You've got plenty of time to catch up with the classics.
    Looking forward to your reviews for the club.
    By the way, I hate reading by deadlines, just like you!

    1. Maria, I've tried Eliot but couldn't get along with her books so that's the reason for the omission. I hope I have many years of reading classics ahead of me :)

  13. Amazing list! I wish I could go back in time and read Out of Africa for the first time again. And The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - so good!!

    1. These are two of the titles I am most excited to read, I've wanted to read Out of Africa in particular for years. It'll be one of the first from my list I try :)

  14. Oh yay you joined!:-) I love your list!! Peter Pan is amazing-one of my all time favourites. I also read Tender is the Night and East of Eden last year and adored them both so I hope you do to!

    I think the 5 year time frame is what I like most about the club, it doesn't make me feel like I'm constantly underachieving! I'm reading Agnes Grey next from my list. I was totally blown away by Tenant so I hope this one is just as good!

  15. Sam,
    You have convinced that I must participate. I'm building my list now.

    Best of luck! :)

  16. absolutely! you are in for a treat. i guess that goes for me too since some of your choices are also in my list
    happy reading! c",)

  17. I'm hosting a (very casual) group read of Gone with the Wind May 1 through August 1. Details are in my sidebar. You're be most welcome to join. We have a few readers as well as a couple new readers, so far. Only an offer. :)