The classics challenge

By | 5 May 2014 | 7 Responses

A year-long challenge to read literary classics. Got any recommendations?

I don’t read enough serious books. Sure, I read books that don’t have happy endings. I read Booker Prize and Pulitzer prize winners, but not the kind of classics that you read about in school or that posh people always list as their favourite novels. I haven’t even read Jane Austen. (The movies all came out at the same time so I watched them instead!) I decided that I should read more Great Books Of Literature, and what better way to do this than to create a year-long challenge to kickstart my reading!

I’ve decided to ask you, dear readers, to pick what I should read. To make it easier, I have selected categories for each month. I have nominated blogger friends to select something for me to read, but where I haven’t please feel free to nominate yourself for one if you like—otherwise, Twitter will choose! I would prefer a novel I haven’t read, and in some cases will list down something I’ve already read in that category.

The Year of Classics

May — a classic classic aka: the classic you always wanted to read but never bothered to (from the 19th century backwards but please not Ulysses by James Joyce)
June — a travel classic
July — an Australian classic [chosen by Kat]
August — the great American Novel
September — Ancient classics (I have already read The Iliad)
October — a horror classic [chosen by Zja] PS: I have already read Dracula many times
November — Russians
December — a classic from the 20th century
January — your favourite classic
February — a classic romance
March — a Shakespearean classic (I have read Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado many times)
April — a children’s Classic

As with previous challenges I have attempted, let’s see how long we can keep this up! Suggestions welcome from everybody!

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Wandergurl

Wandergurl is a sometime traveller who spends her daylight hours making sure that things go the way they're supposed to with minimum bureaucracy (don't ask!). A firm believer that thirty is the new twenty, she will probably never look her age (or act it!). An enthusiastic football supporter (that would be soccer to you) she will get up at odd hours to watch a game, and of course it's not just because the players are hot. She loves history, geography and is pretty good at trivia, thanks to her propensity to remember random bits of celebrity gossip. When not reading or travelling, she can be found indulging in her other passion - eating - and can be found at http://wideawakeandhungry.tumblr.com.

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7 comments »

  1. Peter Eisler

    Hi

    Have you considered Beowulf as the ancient classic. Earliest written example of Anglo Saxon literature.

    There is a translation and commentry by J R R Tolkien being printed in Hardcover by Haper Collins in June this year.

  2. Tez Miller

    My favourite “classics” (your definition may vary):

    -Grace Metalious’s PEYTON PLACE
    -Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE
    -Robin Hardy’s THE WICKER MAN

  3. Kate

    Can I suggest Around the World in 80 Days for a travel classic? It’s not that long either, so it’s very doable.

    And my favourite classic (which works for 20th Century too!) is Slaughterhouse-Five. Amazing, amazing, amazing novel!

  4. Jen

    Can’t go past NORTH AND SOUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell for classic romance. Social/political commentary PLUS beautiful love story and incredible sexual tension! It’s a bit of an initial slog but really worth it by the end. Plus, then you can watch the BBC mini-series with Richard Armitage.

    For a great American / 20th Century classic, THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Poetic language, unreliable narrator, and the American Dream.

  5. Bona

    A very difficult challenge!
    It depends on how really ‘classic’ you want your ‘classic’ book to be.
    Here are my suggestions, trying NOT to choose English classics as they will surely be suggested by other readers:
    A classic classic.- I’d chose between (German) The Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann; (Italian) The Betrothed, by Manzoni; (French) Red & Black by Stendhal.
    The classic travels’ book is Marco Polo’s Travels but it’s very boring. The Bible in Spain by George Borrow (1803-1881) could be a good option.
    The great American Novel – Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.
    Ancient classics OMG! I found Gallic War by Julius Caesar very entertaining, but I admit I’m parcial to wars and soldiers and fighting and battles and so on, and to Caesar’s historical figure. So you’d better try any Plautus’ comedy or Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars. Or one of the first love stories in the history of literature, Daphnis and Chloe.
    A good Russian love story is Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.
    My classic from the 20th century is Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Heartwrenching.
    My favourite classic is The Quixote, because anything Life is, you can find it there. But it’s certainly very long and difficult for a 21st century reader. I’ve got the same problem with another of my favourite books, the Japanese classic Genji monogatari.
    A classic romance – Jane Austen’s Pride and prejudice, is there any other book in the world?
    A Shakespearean classic. Hamlet, I guess.
    And for a children’s Classic, I’d say Roald Dahl’s Matilda. It was published in 1988, but I think it’s already a classic.

    I’m not sure I would be able to read all of them, so I think it will be amazing if you could do half the categories. I hope you tell us in the future what book did you chose and how great/funny/boring some classics are.

  6. Bona

    I dind’t like how that sounded, -pardon my French, I mean, my English.- I mean I think its a very difficult task for anyone. Certainly, I could not read half the titles. Good luck with the challenge!

  7. catscats

    A children’s classic – how about “Tom’s Midnight Garden” by Phillipa Pearce?

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