Back to the Classics Challenge 2015

For the second year in a row, Karen from Books and Chocolate is hosting the Back to the Classics Challenge.  This is probably my easiest challenge; as I read so many classics, my categories fill up quickly.

Here are the categories and rules:

1.  A 19th Century Classic — any book published between 1800 and 1899.
2.  A 20th Century Classic — any book published between 1900 and 1965.  Just like last year, all books must have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify as a classic.  The only exception is books that were published posthumously but written at least 50 years ago.)
3.  A Classic by a Woman Author.
4.  A Classic in Translation. As in last year’s category, this can be any classic book originally written or a published in a language that is not your first language.  Feel free to read it in its original form if you are comfortable reading in another language.  
5.  A Very Long Classic Novel — a single work of 500 pages or longer.  This does not include omnibus editions combined into one book, or short story collections.  
6.  A Classic Novella — any work shorter than 250 pages.  For a list of suggestions, check out this list of World’s Greatest Novellas from Goodreads.
7.  A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title.  First name, last name, or both, it doesn’t matter, but it must have the name of a character.  David Copperfield, The Brothers Karamazov, Don Quixote — something like that. It’s amazing how many books are named after people!
8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic.  Humor is very subjective, so this one is open to interpretation.  Just tell us in the review why you think it’s funny or satirical.   For example, if you think that Crime and Punishment and funny, go ahead and use it, but please justify your choice in your post. 
9.  A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic that nobody reads any more.  If you look on Goodreads, this book will most likely have less than 1000 reviews.  This is your chance to read one of those obscure books from the Modern Library 100 Best Novels or 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Books published by Virago Modern Classics, Persephone, and NYRB Classicsoften fall into this category.  
10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that’s considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.  You’d be surprised how many classic authors dabbled in nonfiction writing — I have nonfiction books by Dickens, Trollope, Twain, and Steinbeck on my shelves. 
11.  A Classic Children’s Book.  A book for your inner child!  Pick a children’s classic that you never got around to reading.  
12.  A Classic Play.  Your choice, any classic play, as long as it was published or performed before 1965.
And now for the rest of the rules:  
  • All books must be read in 2015.  Books started prior to January 1, 2015, are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2015. 
  • All books must have been published at least 50 years ago; therefore, 1965 is the cutoff date.  The only exception is books published posthumously, but written before 1965. 
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible!  Books may also count for other challenges you may be working on.  
  • Books may NOT cross over categories within this challenge.  You may NOT count the same book twice for different categories in this challenge.  One book per category — otherwise, they won’t count.  
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicy accessible online format.  
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE MARCH 31, 2015.  If possible, please link to your sign-up announcement post, if possible or applicable.
  • You do NOT have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it’s more fun if you do!  You can always change your list at any time.  Books may be read in any order.
  • Please identify the categories you’ve read in your wrap-up post so that I can easily add up your entries for the prize drawing!  Adding links within the post would be greatly appreciated.
  •  The prize will be awarded the first week of January, 2016.  All qualifying participants will receive one or more entries, based on the categories completed, and will receive a $30 (US) gift card from or The Book Depository, as long as they live in a country that can receive shipment.  See herefor list of countries.  

As usual, I don’t have particular books planned for each category but I have a few in mind:

  1. The Plague – Albert Camus
  2. Orlando – Virginia Woolf
  3. one of Jane Austen’s works
  4. Ulysses – James Joyce (we’ll see — it makes me quake ….)
  5. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6. Framley Parsonage – Anthony Trollope
  7. Confessions – Jean Jacques Rousseau
  8. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

It’s entirely possible that my list will be completely different at the end of the year, but it will be fun to compare!


  1.  Persuasion – Jane Austen
  2.  East of Eden – John Steinbeck
  3.  Orlando: A Biography – Virginia Woolf
  4.  The Plague – Albert Camus 
  5.  Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6.  Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
  7.  The Narrative of the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
  8.  Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
  9.  The Club of Queer Trades – G.K. Chesterton
10.  Meditations – René Descartes
11.  The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
12.  Hamlet – William Shakespeare

22 thoughts on “Back to the Classics Challenge 2015

  1. Thanks ……. I'm fairly certain I'll read all the ones listed, except Ulysses. I'll give it a try, but I think it's about a 50-50 chance that I'll actually get through it.

  2. Thanks for joining! From your list, I've only read Framley Parsonage, which I loved, and the works of Jane Austne. Persuasion is my favorite but of course Pride and Prejudice is wonderful too. Happy reading!

  3. Glad to be back, Karen. I'm so happy to hear of another Persuasion-lover as I'm doing a read-along of it next month and I haven't read it before.

    Thanks so much for hosting the challenge!

  4. Oh…Notes from Underground. That was one novella that felt like a long novel! I didn't get what it meant before the last chapters. Really a tough reading. Hope you'll be more succesful than me.

    For Camus, I could not decide between The Stranger or the Plague, but as The Stranger is in WEM list, I picked it first. Can't wait to read your thoughts on The Plague, I have a feeling I might like it.

    Good luck for your challenge!

  5. Waiting with baited breath to hear which of your challenges you have chosen for me. What kind of Christmas present will I get?

  6. I've been thinking, don't worry! So much pressure! 🙂

    I think the Jane Austen project would hem you in too much and while the Pre-Printing Press challenge would force you to read more in an area that you wouldn't naturally choose, I also want you to enjoy the challenge and not feel burdened.

    So I guess it's between this challenge (Back to the Classics) and Reading England. Would you like to choose between the two, or shall I take all the responsibility and pick it myself? Aw heck, I'll do it ……….. Back to the Classics Challenge it is! Merry Christmas, Nancy!

  7. Dostoyevsky is hard, isn't he? I still don't feel like I know him yet.

    I am so looking forward to Camus. He gets labelled as an existentialist, but he disagreed and said he was an "absurdist". To me, he sounds like someone who didn't really believe in hope but nevertheless was still searching for it. So interesting! Here are a couple of great posts on him, if you want to learn more:

    Thanks for the wishes! I can't wait for 2015!

  8. I will be joining this year as well. I am quite happy with the number of classics I've read this year, and if this challenge will help me keep up in 2015, then I will be quite happy. (Ulysses makes me shiver, too.)

  9. Oh good! I'll keep an eye on your blog for your post. I'm so interested to see what you'll choose.

    Ulysses is quite a terrifying undertaking, isn't it? I hope I get through it and won't feel like I've wasted my time at the end. Time will tell!

  10. Ahhh I do like the idea of keeping your challenges open ended like this. Strict lists were just made to be ignored (like my 2014 lists)!!

    I'm joining in this one too…but just spotted the Jane Austen one in your sidebar….temptation is calling already :-/

  11. This sounds like a fun and feasible challenge.

    Interesting list! Ulysses, huh? It is one of those love-it/hate-it kind of books, but I do hope you'll give a try :-).

  12. Oh good, another list-hater like myself! 🙂 Well, Austen's books are certainly comfort reading so if you join, it will be a challenge you'll probably gravitate to and certainly one you'll enjoy. Have I talked you into it yet? 😉

  13. I think I'll be able to get through Ulysses if I stick to a schedule. The audiobook of it should help too. I just finished Le Morte d'Arthur, so I think any book would feel short after that one!

  14. I made a deal with you last year: "Cleo may select the challenge I will join for 2015.
    Happily she has decided upon Back to the Classics." Happy to announce that the challenge is completed! Thanks for selecting it for me!

  15. Way to go, Nancy! Woo hoo! I'm almost finished as soon as I complete my Hamlet review.

    It's funny that I finished most of this challenge in the first three months of the year and then it took to the end of the year, to cover the last two books. :-Z

  16. Same here…. big surge reading classics Jan – April 2015, then I lost my focus.
    My last books took me Aug – Dec to complete! (book by woman author Gone with the Wind, and play, Shakespeare)

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!