Thursday, January 9, 2014

Classics Club challenge

I decided, at the New Year, that I wanted to attempt the Classics Club 5-year challenge, and picked the 75-book level for the challenge.  Fifteen books each year should be a manageable amount, and won't make it feel as though the entire reading year has to focus on the challenge only.  My goal is to finish several 19th-century novels, as well as a couple of massive 18th-century novels like Clarissa and Tom Jones.  I've wanted to get to both of these, but it's easy to put down a 1,500 epistolary novel when there is nothing to hold you accountable.  I'm long past grad school, where there might be some accountability in, say, preparing the book for oral exams, so this challenge seems like the next best thing.

I've put Joseph Conrad on the list because I haven't ever read any of his novels.  I was supposed to have read Nostromo during the summer before my junior year in high school, but that never really did seem to have happened, did it? It seemed awfully boring to my hormone-addled 15-year old brain.  Now, of course, Conrad is fascinating to me because he was born near Kyiv in Ukraine and lived in Lviv.  I lived in Kyiv for a year, and visited Lviv twice, and so I'm curious about his writing and the ways in which Eastern Europe influences, or is woven into, his novels.

So here's my list of 75 books for the challenge:

Balzac, Honore Lost Illusions
Balzac, Honore Louis Lambert
Balzac, Honore Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
Boswell, James The Life of Samuel Johnson
Bronte, Anne Agnes Grey
Bronte, Charlotte Jane Eyre
Bunyan, John Pilgrim's Progress
Cather, Willa O Pioneers!
Cervantes, Miguel Don Quixote
Conrad, Joseph The Secret Agent
Conrad, Joseph Under Western Eyes (finished 3.2.14)
Darwin, Charles The Origin of Species
Defoe, Daniel Moll Flanders
Dickens, Charles Great Expectations
Dos Passos, John Manhattan Transfer
Dostoevsky, Fyodor Demons
Dumas, Alexandre The Count of Monte Cristo
Eliot, George Adam Bede
Eliot, George Romola
Eliot, George Felix Holt
Eliot, George Mill on the Floss
Faulkner, William Absalom! Absalom!
Faulkner, William Go Down, Moses
Fielding, Henry Tom Jones
Flaubert, Gustave Madame Bovary
Forster, E. M.  A Passage to India
Gaddis, William The Recognitions
Gissing, George New Grub Street
Goethe, Johann Sorrows of Young Werther
Gogol, Nikolai Dead Souls
Greene, Graham The Quiet American (finished 3.30.14)
Hardy, Thomas Tess of the D'urbervilles
Hardy, Thomas Jude the Obscure
Hardy, Thomas Return of the Native
Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Marble Faun
Heller, Joseph Catch-22
James, Henry Sacred Fount
Jerome, Jerome K. Three Men in a Boat
Lessing, Doris The Golden Notebook
Mahfouz, Naguib Palace Walk
Mahfouz, Naguib Sugar Street
Mahfouz, Naguib Palace of Desire
Mann, Thomas Magic Mountain
Melville, Herman The Confidence Man
Musil, Robert The Man without Qualities
Nabokov, Vladimir Pale Fire
Richardson, Samuel Clarissa
Roth, Joseph The Radetzky March
Scott, Walter Ivanhoe
Scott, Walter Bride of Lammermoor
Scott, Walter Heart of Midlothian
Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath
Stendhal Charterhouse of Parma
Stevenson, Robert Louis The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide
Stevenson, Robert Louis Kidnapped (finished 5.13.14)
Stoker, Bram Dracula
Thackeray, William Pendennis
Thackeray, William The Luck of Barry Lyndon
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Two Towers (finished 1.9.14)
Tolkien, J. R. R. Return of the King
Trollope, Anthony Barchester Towers
Trollope, Anthony Doctor Thorne
Trollope, Anthony Framley Parsonage
Trollope, Anthony The Small House at Allington
Trollope, Anthony The Last Chronicle of Barset
Turgenev, Ivan Virgin Soil
Twain, Mark Innocents Abroad
Verne, Jules Around the World in Eighty Days
Waugh, Evelyn Brideshead Revisited
Woolf, Virginia Mrs. Dalloway
Zamiatin, Yevgeny We
Zola, Emile Therese Raquin
Zola, Emile Fortunes of the Rougons
Zola, Emile La Curee
Zola, Emile The Belly of Paris


  1. Welcome to the club! Jude the Obscure was my first Hardy novel, it's intense!

  2. Finished Two Towers last week so I'm off and running.