Back To The Classics Challenge 2020

Back to the Classics Challenge

My goodness, I was starting to get nervous.  I’d participated in this challenge since the beginning of my blog, which means approximately 6 years.  I was worried that it wasn’t happening this year but Karen posted the sign-up post yesterday and I’m thrilled.  It’s one of my favourite challenges, even though I haven’t done splendidly with it the last couple of years.  However, this year is a new year and I will try again!

Books Got Her

Books Got Her (1872) Ivan Kramskoy
~ source Wikiart

So, without further ado, the categories ….. I’ll list possible reads, knowing that they’ll probably be completely different at the end of the year 😂:

Categories & Books:

  1. 19th Century Classic: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  2. 20th Century Classic:  A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
  3. Classic by a Female Author:  The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge
  4. Classic In Translation:  The Iliad by Homer
  5. Classic with a Person of Colour: Pathar Dabi by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
  6. A Genre Classic:  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  7. A Classic With a Person’s Name in the Title:  Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. A Classic With A Place In The Title:  The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  9. Classic With Nature in the Title: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  10. Classic About A Family:  One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  11. Abandon Classic:  Deal Souls by Nikolai Gogol
  12. Classic Adaptation:  Bleak House by Charles Dickens

I’ve read Kidnapped before but not for years and I remember it being good fun.  A Canticle for Leibowitz would be a re-read too but it was just excellent and traced how actual happenings could evolve into myth over the centuries.  I’ve only read a few Goudge books and The Dean’s Watch is supposed to be one of her best.  The Iliad, of course, I’m reading for my read-along.  Pathar Dabi is a follow-up to my read of Home and the World and was recommended by Cirtnecce.  War and Peace is for Nick’s read-along.  Mary Barton helps me continue to read the works of one of my favourite authors, as does The Mill on the Floss.  The Wind in the Willows I haven’t read for ages and is due for a re-read.  One Hundred Years of Solitude is for Silvia and Ruth’s read-along in March.  Dead Souls is for my Russian Literature Challenge and Bleak House I started last year with much distraction but I want to give it another try this year from the beginning.

Reading A Book

Reading A Book – James Tissot
~ source Wikiart

This is my seventh year participating in this challenge and I’ve enjoyed it so much each time!  Here is a list of past challenges:

I must admit that I’m not that inspired by my 2nd Classics Club list, but I’ll attempt to knock a few off of it.  Perhaps it needs to be revamped entirely.

In any case, I’m excited about this challenge.  Wish me luck!


51 thoughts on “Back To The Classics Challenge 2020

  1. Good luck with Goudge. I read a few hers back in the early 2000’s, just enough to realize she wasn’t for me in any way.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on Dead Souls. I’ve got it on my Russian shelf (not IN russian mind you) and while I enjoy russian lit, somebody else enjoying a book always helps encourage me to get going 🙂

    • Goudge is definitely different. Do you remember which ones you read?

      When I originally started Dead Souls, I couldn’t get into it but it was probably the headspace I was in at the time. I’ll give it another shot. And plus, I find with Russian lit that often you have to finish it before the light bulbs start to go off. 💡

      • I didn’t remember, but thanks to my handy dandy list, I do now 😉

        Child from the Sea
        Scent of Water
        Green Dolphin Street
        Castle on the Hill
        The Dean’s Watch
        Gentian Hill
        The White Witch

        They ranged from 3-1 stars 🙂

        • Wow, you certainly did give her a try! I’ve read Island Magic and that’s it. I quite enjoyed it … not high literature but I would have given it 3.5 stars. I started The Dean’s Watch and it seemed better. But I’m probably more naturally inclined to this type of writing than you would be. I applaud you though for giving it a thorough shot!

  2. #1 is a huge favorite of mine! And I’m super curious what you will think of This Side of Paradise. It took me two tries, but the second time I thought it was really great–maybe not holistically but portions/vignettes from it.

    • Well, I don’t know what happened to my post. I’d originally put This Side of Paradise but changed it to Dead Souls. I guess something didn’t save but I’ve now fixed it. I just wasn’t sure I could do This Side of Paradise again. It was too depressing as I find many of Fitzgerald’s novels. But perhaps if I have time at the end of the year.

  3. I’m reading Mill on the Floss this year, too. I think it is my 19th c. choice.

    Glad to see you may join us for 100 Years.

    Wind in the Willows is actually on my personal cannon. (LOL!) I find parts of it reflective and quieting – in between all of Toad’s restless antics! I just adore it.

    Good luck tackling War & Peace and Bleak House all in the same year. ; )

    • I’ve noticed The Mill on the Floss on a number of lists!

      I will TRY to join you for 100 years as it’s between The Iliad and The Odyssey read-alongs. But it will be nice to have Silvia along to help us understand it, lol!

      Taking a whole year to read War and Peace should work, especially considering I’ve read it before. So many people love Bleak House so I’m determined to too!

  4. Ditto Kidnapped as being fun. I read it aloud to my whole family in car trips. Those were the days!

    A Canticle is a favorite of mine, it’s in my all time favorites list. As is The Wind in the Willows.

    I’m thrilled about OYS. I hope it goes well and up to expectations.

    In your list you mention This Side of Paradise, which I may end up reading instead of one of my possible picks, but in your blog you mention Dead Souls.

    I have never heard of Pathar Dabi. I am very intrigued.

    Gaskell and Goudge I have read one and three books respectively. I loved them but I don’t know, I got a bit out of touch with them and similar. I’m a bit in a funk trying to find my thread with the shorter reads. I need to submit to the fact that I can’t read it all, and leave space for what calls me the most and non fiction.

    • You’ve read A Canticle! Why am I surprised? It’s such a great book and on my top lists!

      I’m going to TRY for OYS but, as I said to Ruth, it’s between my two read-alongs so I’ll have to see if I can fit it in. I will try my best!

      For some reason my change didn’t save, but I had changed This Side of Paradise to Dead Souls. I tried This Side of Paradise years ago and found it so depressing that I didn’t finish. I just didn’t want to read another depressing “The Good Soldier”-type book so Dead Souls it is!

      You must read Gaskell! You would love her books. My especial favourite is Ruth …. such an excellent read. Sort of a The House of Mirth from but from a spiritual standpoint and full of forgiveness.

      I always have so much I want to read. I hope we can still read in heaven! 😇

      • Yes to that last thought!

        Canticle is amazing, worth a reread.

        As much as I would love you to join, I respect you if you don’t. I’m giving “you” permission, hahaha, in an attempt to give myself permission to not try to cram everything in what looks a beautiful reading year ahead of us.

        Thanks for the explanation about This Side… I have vowed to be mercilessly protective, and not to hesitate to abandon any of those depressing books.

        I read The Headmistress and loved it, but Ruth is now in my special books to read. I will get there, my friend.

        I’m glad to know more on books that you cherish. You are a good guide for me. Thanks for that.

        Why is Hera called the one with ox’s eyes? Is that a compliment? As the woman in Ecclesiastes, with -I forgot the animal’s- teeth?

        • Well, I would love to read 100 years with you because I know I’d gain an appreciation for it which I probably wouldn’t get on my own. I’ll order a copy of it from my library.

          I will read a depressing book (that is hopeless and meaningless) once every three to four years. So I’m good for awhile, hee hee!

          Hey, I just received Fortunata and Jacinta today! And in English! Thanks for the gift, my friend! 🙏 You’re awesome! Now I just have to carve out some time to read it!

          • I’m glad it arrived. No pressure. Please, put it away until the right moment presents itself. I just wanted you to have the right book.

            100 years is longuish. I’m here for whenever you read any and both 100 years and Fortunata.

  5. my mother loved Goudge but i’ve never tried it… i’ll look for the dean’s watch, wherever he might have lost it.. i’l be interested in what you made of “100 Yrs of Solitude” i read it years ago and quite liked it at the time… i’ve heard some opinions say that it was boring, tho…

    • You’re a hoot! I’m not sure if Goudge would be up your alley but you might develop a slight appreciation for her, watch and all! 😉

      I’m glad to hear good things about 100 years as I’m somewhat hesitant about it.

  6. The Pathar Dabi is the one that really has me intrigued! I’ve never heard of the book or the even the author. Otherwise a lot of fun stuff.

    I should reread The Mill on the Floss. I remember really liking it but it’s been a long time & I’ve read a bunch of other Eliot novels recently.

    Good luck with War and Peace! I loved it. I was really tempted by Nick’s readalong, but I thought a year was just too long. I’d get into the story and end up wanting to finish it sooner.

    • Pathar Dabi is another viewpoint which revolves around the political and cultural issues that were addressed in Home and the World. I should actually give H&tW a re-read before I start this one. Or read it after.

      I chose to read War and Peace because it’s only a chapter a day. I thought I could manage it but look at me, already a chapter behind! I might finish it sooner if I get the time.

  7. ooohhh!! Let me know when you want to read Pather Dabi and i will join you….I have not read that one for ages and may be we could do a read along like H&W ….different approaches to the same issue …..I love Gaskell and I admire your diligence in not giving up on Dead Souls….may be I will also pick it up! Let me also know when you read Bleak House….its one of my favorite Dickens and I could for sure join you for a re-read!

  8. Good luck, it looks like an interesting selection. I’ve been ploughing through the Homer’s The Odyssey for about a year now. I think I’ve chosen the wrong translation, so I’ll be interested to see who you chose for The Ilyad.

    • For The Iliad, I would hands down choose Lattimore’s translation. So far I haven’t seen anything that can compare to it. Who has translated your Odyssey? I’ve read Lattimore’s translation of The Odyssey which is great, but not quite as good as his one for The Iliad. I’m going to try Fitzgerald for comparison when I host The Odyssey read-along in April. Will you join us?

  9. Hm, should I join in this challenge once more? I’ve eschewed challenges for the last couple of years but I’m feeling the urge again…

    I hope you like The Dean’s Watch. It is one of my favorite EG books, anyway. But that’s a matter of personal taste, evidently!

    • If there’s only one challenge I could do, it would be this one. I do hope that you decide to join in!

      I’ve heard that The Dean’s Watch is the favourite of many so you’re in good company. I can’t wait to read it!

    • You are one of the people who inspired me to read Goudge! I can’t believe that you haven’t read Mary Barton. I’ll perhaps check in with you when/if I get to it.

  10. I’m so impressed you plan to read Bleak House as well as War and Peace. We share Eliot on our lists, though I plan to read Middlemarch. <3

    I'm sorry you're not inspired by your club list. 🙁

    • I’m only doing it because War and Peace is going to take the whole year. Spread out, it’s manageable …. I hope ….. Oh my goodness, I just loved Middlemarch!! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!

      Ya, I think it’s because I compressed my list to 50. The last list was over 70 so I had more to choose from. And I must admit that I’m so bad at sticking to lists. I kind of like to just blow with the wind. Silvia mentioned being a social reader in one of her posts and that’s it! I like to read with others and then, the occasional time, I’ll see a book recommended and REALLY want to read it. So lists don’t really work well for me. But I still try!

  11. Oh, Cleo, there’s so much I want to say about your wonderful list! It won’t all fit in one response. But I will say I so much would like to read Bleak House, though it seems daunting. And I LOVED The Mill on the Floss. Not a trial to read at all even if it is long–it’s a marvel. I’ve also read Dead Souls, and it is interesting and quite unique, I found. Well worth the trouble.
    I still haven’t read The Wind in the Willows. I’m getting so many ideas, and I do have a copy in the house.
    Best wishes to you.
    And I am doing The War in Peace Readalong, the Pevear and Volonkhonsky translation.

    • I’m so glad to hear that about The Mill on the Floss; I’m looking so forward to reading it! And another vote for Bleak House! Excellent! That’s wonderful that you’re enjoying War and Peace!

  12. Oh….I really liked The Wind in the Willows….That brings back memories of reading it aloud and of watching the movie made of it. Kidnapped, on the other hand, we tried that as a read-aloud last year and we had to stop reading it because it was just too much for my daughter. I ended up not even finishing it on my own. Sometime I should try to finish it myself.

    • I remember really liking Kidnapped. I’ve liked most of R.L. Stevenson’s work except The Black Arrow and he didn’t even like that himself, lol!

  13. Well, I must admit I am not familiar with about half of your books. These book read-alongs sound like fun, but I just pull a book out of my shelves as the spirit leads me. I can never commit myself to a specific list. Oh, well.

    • Oh my! And I here I thought I was going more mainstream with my list instead of my usual scholarly choices, lol! I like choosing books as the spirit leads too and lists don’t usually work well for me. But I think it’s valuable to challenge myself in areas where I’m weak so I TRY to stick to lists at times. I do REALLY enjoy reading with others though.

  14. Wonderful list!

    I second Sylvia: A Canticle for Lebowitz is really good.

    If want to watch an adaptation of Bleak House, I recommend the one from 2005 starring Gillian Anderson and Anna Martin. I found it very faithful to the book and perfectly cast, in my opinion.

    • Oh, you’ve read A Canticle too?! That’s wonderful … I thought at times that I was the only person who has read it!

      I’m waiting to watch that adaptation until I finish the book. I can’t wait!

  15. Excellent. Bleak House is now my 3rd favorite Dickens – behind A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield. Have fun!

    • I really enjoyed David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities is such a different Dickens that I loved it too! Glad to hear that Bleak House is a close third! Thanks for the wishes, Joseph!

  16. When I first started my blog four years ago and quickly found the Classics Club, I made a list. But after a year or so of reading, I realized my list wasn’t made up of books or authors I really wanted to read. I was going by what I thought I ‘should’ read. Now, I do have some ‘shoulds’ that as a classic literature lover I feel the need to be familiar with…Pride and Prejudice, for example, that I’ve put down twice and am using it for this Challenge’s Abandoned Classic, but I digress :)…So I redid my list and I think that is ok.

    Secondly, I am reading Mary Barton this year, too. And I love The Wind in the Willows, which I keep saying I need to reread. I am also looking forward to the 100 Years of Solitude readalong.

    I wish you well this year, Cleo <3

    • You know, I really loved my first Classics Club list, but I’m not really that thrilled with my second. I’m not sure why although I had 70 books on my first list and then pared them down to finish, so perhaps it was simply because I had more choice. I’m thinking about changing up my list too. But I’m going to get through these read-alongs first before I devote much thought to it. It also just occurred to me that I seem to be unintentionally doing quite a few re-reads, which doesn’t help me get to books on my list at all. Oh well … at least I’m reading.

      Maybe we can read Mary Barton together in the second half of the year. Oh, I can’t wait to get to The Wind in the Willows. I need a read like that right now.

      You have a great year too, Laurie!!

  17. Nice list! Although I totally understand how intentions can change over time. Gaskell is a favorite of mine (I’m tempted to say I might try Wives and Daughters this year, but I’m not sure I actually want to commit…), and I quite enjoyed Mary Barton. I was thinking about it just the day, recalling the opening chapter and its illustration of the working classes in a bit of leisure time. I should reread The Wind in the Willows; I barely remember it! (Technically, I’m not I’ve ever read it, I think my mom read it to my brother and me when we were little.) I loved, loved, loved One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was in school and I fully intend to reread it with Ruth and Silvia this spring. (I just hope my memory doesn’t disappoint!) I’ve never read Bleak House (yet…), but the TV mini-series a few years back was excellent, if you’ve not seen it.

    I wasn’t planning on participating in this challenge this year (given my no-challenge stance), but the new categories are so tempting. And if I DO read the books I’m anticipating reading, so many books would fall into place nicely. Must think about this…

    Good luck and enjoy!

    • I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude because I’m scared of it. A read-along is just what I need to convince me to read it.

      I hope you do the challenge, Amanda. You always choose such interesting books and I’d love to see your list. Here’s hoping! 🙂

      • I can understand why people find One Hundred Years of Solitude scary – it’s a big novel with repetitive names, and the magical realism can be off-putting to some. But at the time I read it, I didn’t find it scary at all – I was just completely immersed in it. I’m actually really looking forward to the read-along!

  18. The Mill on the Floss is one of my favorites. It’s actually one of the two books that inspried me to continue my English/Literature education into graduate school. War and Peace is also amazing, kind of breathtaking, really. I almost put Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude on my list, too, but I’m already reading Love in the Time of Cholera this year, so I thought I’d hold off on another Marquez until later.

    • I’m hearing such good things about The Mill on the Floss and such a good association for you! It’s my second time with War and Peace and I’m so enjoying it. I do hope Marquez is good. I have a first edition of Love in the Time of Cholera and have never read it, lol! In any case, it’s nice to hear from you, Adam!

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