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
- The Orestia Aeschylus (1/23/19)
- Histories by Heroditus
- The Republic Plato (if anything changes, it’ll be this one)
- The Aeneid Virgil
- Confessions St. Augustine
- The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
- Revelations of Divine Love Julian of Norwich
- The Mabinogion
- The Romance of the Rose
- L’Morte d’Arthur Thomas Malory
The 17th and 18th Centuries
- The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
- Evelina by Frances Burney
- Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne (8/16/19)
- Pamela by Samuel Richardson
- Weiland by Charles Brockden Brown
- Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
- Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
The 19th Century
- The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
- Romola by George Eliot
- Felix Holt, the Radical, by George Eliot
- Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
- Tess of the D’Ubervilles Thomas Hardy
- Villette by Charlotte Brontë
- The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper
- David Copperfield Charles Dickens
- The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
- The American by Henry James
- The Bostonians by Henry James
- Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
- Aurora Leigh Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Writings by Washington Irving
- Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (5/29/19)
- Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
- Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac
The 20th Century (to 1969)
- The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
- Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset.
- Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Read, review coming)
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
- Light in August by William Faulkner
- Howard’s End by E.M. Forster (technically a re-read)
- The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsinay
- The Worm Orobouros by Eddison
- Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
- Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
- Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge (Read, review coming)
- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
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.]