Classics Club: The List

I found out about the Classics Club recently, and I think it is such a fabulous idea. You can find out all the information in the link above, but basically you commit to reading at least fifty classics over a five-year span, reviewing the books along the way. There are other fun community things you can participate in (or not), to give you a reading boost and to connect with other readers.

One of the things that happens when you pursue a lit PhD is that your reading gets more and more narrow, first to a specific time and place (early modern England, for me – that’s roughly 1530-1775), then to the works specifically related to your dissertation.

Although that narrowing hasn’t quite happened yet as I’m still taking classes, I’d like to forestall a future in which the only classics I read are early modern; this seemed like a great opportunity. I have a year or two to settle into the project before classes end and the serious specialization begins.

Anyway, that is a long introduction to my list of 50 classics. You’ll notice that part of this list is my Back to the Classics 2019 list, because you better believe I’m hardcore doubling up.

I will add read dates and links to reviews as they happen.

Start date: 26 December 2018

End date: 26 December 2023


  1. The Orestia Aeschylus (1/23/19)
  2. Histories by Heroditus
  3. The Republic Plato (if anything changes, it’ll be this one)
  4. The Aeneid Virgil
  5. Confessions St. Augustine
  6. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
  7. Revelations of Divine Love Julian of Norwich
  8. The Mabinogion
  9. The Romance of the Rose
  10. L’Morte d’Arthur Thomas Malory

The 17th and 18th Centuries

  1. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
  2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  3. Evelina by Frances Burney
  4. Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (8/16/19)
  5. Pamela by Samuel Richardson
  6. Weiland by Charles Brockden Brown
  7. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  8. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

The 19th Century

  1. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  2.  Romola by George Eliot
  3. Felix Holt, the Radical, by George Eliot
  4.  Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6.  Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  7. Tess of the D’Ubervilles Thomas Hardy
  8. Villette by Charlotte Brontë
  9. The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper
  10. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
  11. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  12. The American by Henry James
  13. The Bostonians by Henry James
  14. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  15. Aurora Leigh Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  16. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Writings by Washington Irving
  17. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  18. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (5/29/19)
  19. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
  20. Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac

The 20th Century (to 1969)

  1. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  2. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset.
  3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  4.  Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Read, review coming)
  5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  7. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  8. Light in August by William Faulkner
  9. Howard’s End by E.M. Forster (technically a re-read)
  10. The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsinay
  11. The Worm Orobouros by Eddison
  12. Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
  13. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  14. Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge (Read, review coming)
  15. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

My Rationale:

I’ve avoided early modern English books (like Shakespeare) because I know I’ll be reading them for school and I want this to be my non-school reading.

I have a whole Classics TBR shelf that got automatically added to this (about 30 books).

I’ve restricted the list to 50 books because I think 10 books/year to read and review is manageable. If I find my pace is faster, I may add to the list (or finish early and start a new one!).

I may swap works as time passes. I’d rather read a classic I’m excited about than slog through one I’m not.

[12/19 update: I’m adding new books I’d like to get to, and will probably add more as I go. I’ll cut the list back to 50 when I get closer to the end of the challenge and have a better idea of what I’m really just not interested in reading anymore.]


Back to the Classics 2019 Challenge

Books and Chocolate is hosting an awesome read-the-classics challenge for 2019, and as one of my reading goals is to continue to read more classics, I thought this would be a fun way to encourage myself to continue to read broadly.


There are twelve challenges, so one book/month, roughly. I’m going to aim for all of them, but if I can get to half, that would be great!

Here are my (tentative) books:

  1. A 19th century classicThe Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1860).
  2. 20th century classicThe Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961). I’ve been meaning to read this for ages.
  3. A classic by a female authorRomola by George Eliot
  4. A classic in translation: Either The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, or Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. I’d like to read both next year, but they are Very Large, so we’ll see which one I’m in the mood for. Or maybe I’ll unearth something shorter.
  5. Classic comic novelCold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  6. Classic tragic novelJude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  7. A Very Long classicDaniel Deronda by George Eliot (around 750 pages). You’ve noticed there’s a lot of George Eliot on this list? It’s because of another 2019 goal of mine.
  8. Classic novella: A Dickens Christmas story. I’ve been reading one each year, so my 2019 story will count for this challenge.
  9. Classic from the AmericasWide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I keep intending to read this novel and never getting around to it.
  10. Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceana: The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata.
  11. Classic from a place you’ve lived: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (Georgia!)
  12. Classic PlayTamburlaine by Christopher Marlowe

And that’s it! Since I know my selections will change, I’ll come back and update as I go, and will write a review of each book here. I’ll also review and discuss these on my YouTube channel, so go and check that out (*shameless plug*).

In fact, if you are interested in my thoughts on classics and all sorts of books, definitely check out my YouTube channel. School has kept me very busy, so I’ve not been as active as I’d like to be in either place, but I’m more active there than here.

That said, stay tuned for some 2018 wrap-up and 2019 reading goals posts!


** updated 19 April — changed #10 from The Tale of Genji, 11 from ??, and 12 from “something by Shakespeare idk.” Still not sure about the “classic in translation” choices.