Back to the Classics Challenge 2022

Back to the Classics Challenge 2020

If there’s one challenge I regularly participate in each year, it’s the Back to the Classics challenge.  I participate whether I complete it or not as it gets me reading more classics and often helps me with my Classics Club list.  I’m so glad that it’s back this year to give me more focus with my reading.

Back to the Classics Challenge 2022 is hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate. There are twelve categories and one must choose a book for each.

Here are the categories for Back to the Classics Challenge 2022 and my list of POSSIBLE books but they will probably change according to my whims.  I have too many whims, but there you go:

1. A 19th century classic:  Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
2. A 20th century classic: The Good Soldier Sjevk by Jaroslav Hasek
3. A classic by a woman author:  The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
4. A classic in translation:  Le Rêve by Émile Zola
5. A classic by a non-white author: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
6. A mystery/dectective/crime classic:  The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
7. Classic short story collection:  The Complete Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault
8. Pre-1800 classic:  Reveries of the Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
9. A non-fiction classic:  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
10. A classic that’s been on your TBR list the longest: The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Soltzhenitsyn  (I need to read this book to finish my WEM biographies)
11. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit: Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
12. Wild Card classic:  The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare or Ajax by Sophocles or Homeric Hymns


Fantasy Book
Each participant will get entries for completion of the list, or parts of the list, in a draw for a $30 book prize.  The entries are scored as follows:


  • Complete six categories, and you’ll get one entry in the drawing; 
  • Complete nine categories, and you’ll get two entries in the drawing; 
  • Complete all twelve categories, and you’ll get three entries in the drawing

So here I go!  I’m hoping to finish all twelve categories this year but if I can read nine, I’ll be happy.  Please click on the link above to join the challenge!


Second image courtesy of Mysticsartdesign on Pixabay

53 thoughts on “Back to the Classics Challenge 2022

    • Oh, I’d love to see you do a challenge and see what you’d choose!

      I’m reading through The Chronicles of Narnia books a month at a time and still have Lewis’ letters to get through (I still have to find volume 3 to purchase), but I’d like to slot something by him in this year too.

      Hope you have a wonderful year!

  1. Hi Cleo–I enjoyed looking over your list, as it includes so many intriguing choices. The only ones I’ve actually read are Eliot’s Mill On The Floss and Dumas’ Three Musketeers, and that was quite some time ago. Like you, I love the Back to the Classics Challenge although I’ve yet to complete it! I’ll probably enter this year as well, just to structure my reading a bit.
    Good luck on the Challenge! I’ll keep an eye open for your posts!

    • I love when people join because it’s so interesting to see what others choose. I just have to make sure I don’t get distracted by those choices, lol! Even if you don’t finish, if nothing else hopefully it will inspire you read AND inspire you read GOOD books. And I will keep an eye open for your list!

      • Cleo — it’s a deal! I’m working on my list now. The hardest category for me this year is the pre-1800 classic; I’ve never been fond of literature from this period (probably a good reason to try it but energy is low — I’m doing the Reading Europe Tour as well, which is a stretch for me). I’m leaning towards an epic poem. Anyway, I hope to have my list up soon. Good luck to us both!

        • Can you read a play for this category? You could then use one of Shakespeare’s or one of the Greek tragedians’ which are very good. Plato’s Apology is short. I think you’d like Ovid’s Metamorphoses but it’s long. Also I have a feeling you’d like Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. One of Defoe’s novels would fit, like Robinson Crusoe. An Ann Radcliffe novel might squeak in there as well. If you go with an epic poem, you’d probably like The Odyssey over The Iliad (although I prefer The Iliad) or you could read Paradise Lost ….??? In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing your list. Good luck!

  2. It’ll be interesting to see what you make of Pirsig. My law teacher in College lent it to me and said it would change my life. It didn’t but I did find it an interesting if rather strange read! I managed 9 classics last year (after aiming at 3). I’m aiming for 5 this year.

    • I’ve started it and loved it at first but it is in its own class. I’m not quite sure about it now. I think it might change the lives of people who don’t think deeply, lol???!

      Well, based on evidence, if you aim for 5 you should manage to read 15 classics this year!

      P.S. What is your favourite type/genre of reading??

      • Fave non-fiction is History, although I will read almost anything if it looks interesting – Politics, Philosophy, Science etc.. I even really enjoyed reading about 1920’s Baseball recently!

        Fiction used to be almost exclusively Sci-Fi back in my youth. These days its heavily Historical but again I’ll read just about anything that looks interesting – Crime, Espionage, SF/Fantasy, Classics etc..

        • I would have guessed history but 1920’s baseball is surprising! ⚾️ Can you recommend a couple of history authors who are respected (ie. not sensationalists)? I love David McCullough and Christopher Hibbert but I’m always looking for others.

          • ‘History’ is HUGE – as you might expect. You’ll need to be much more specific. Or just pop over to my Blog and check out the ‘History’ label on the right-hand side of the screen. You’ve got over 250 entries to check out [grin].

          • A blog?! I tried to find if you had one earlier by clicking on your gravatar but it didn’t go anywhere and the address is not showing up when you post here, only your email. Would you care to share the link? I’d LOVE to visit!

  3. I’ve been telling myself for two months no challenges this year (especially since I can’t see to find time to write posts anymore), but this one is always so tempting. Especially with a classic mystery option. Although the classic on my TBR the longest is probably Don Quixote, and I’m not sure I want to commit to trying to read that this year!

    I have fond memories of The Three Musketeers (so fun!) and you should breeze through the Perault stories. Christie and Shakespeare are also good choices as well! Have fun!

    • I wish you’d do at least one challenge. I love your reading choices and always get some excellent recommendations.

      Don Quixote is a pretty easy read in spite of the length. I’m going to try to read Perrault in French, or at least some of it so it won’t go as quickly as expected. We’ll see how it goes. I really need to get back to Shakespeare. I enjoy him so much when I read him but for some reason it’s been hard to get back into a groove with him.

      Thanks for the wishes!

      • We’ll see about the challenges. I still have some time to (not) commit…

        With Don Quixote, I’m purely concerned about the length. I’ve actually read the first volume (arguably, I suppose, since it was original published as two novels, I’d only have to read one…), so I know it’s not difficult. But looking at my (anticipated) year, I’m not sure if I’d have time to fit it in. On the other hand, relooking at my shelves, I believe the Dickens and Dumas have actually been around longer. Options! 🙂

  4. The only one of these I’ve read is Notre Dame de Paris and loved it! I attempted this challenge last year and didn’t make it very far…but maybe this year I can try again. 🙂

    • I’m so glad to hear that Notre Dame de Paris is excellent. I notice that I have four French authors on my list which is completely unintentional but welcome. I do hope that you try again!

  5. Ajax, all right! We – some reasonably large “we” – will be discussing it on Feb. 11 at my blog, as part of a reasonable, barely at all challenging reading of all the Greek plays. If feasible, please join us.

    • I am joining in your Greek tragedian extravaganza but I’ve already read Aeschylus’s plays and the Theban plays so I’m not yet decided whether I’ll read them over again or join part way through. I just love the ancient Greeks so thanks for the push to get through the plays.

  6. The Gulag Archipelago is scary long–I read half the first volume once.

    The Mill on the Floss was the first Eliot I read & I remember really liking it, but it’s been a while. The Three Musketeers is pretty fun, and I liked Svejk pretty well, too, though I think not everyone does.

    Happy classics reading!

    • With The Gulag it will be the first time in my life (I think) where I’m going to read an abridged version. But I have two of the full length volumes (there’s a third too, isn’t there?) so if it captures my attention, I’m sure I’ll have plans to go back and read it in full.

      I started Svejk and didn’t like it but I’m willing to give it another try. This time I’m going to read it in small chunks and hope for a better result.

      Thank you and you too!

  7. I admire your resolution and consistency in always trying to read more classics and attempting to stick to a plan. If you get to Gulag I may join you. It is in my TBR list, calling me for a while!

    • I will let you know when I start. Probably not until March or April as I have some others on the go now. Even though I have less time to read now, I still want to focus and at least try to read as many classics as I can. Whenever I steer away from them, I realize how valuable they are with their depth and insights, and I long to return to them. I hope this year is a good reading year for me (and everyone!).

  8. Good to see a nonfiction classic on the list. I’m still wavering on whether or not to do any challenges this year but I’m always a sucker for classics. I’ve made a tentative list but that’s as far as I’ve gone.

    • Oh please do a challenge!! I love your lists!

      I would love to read more non-fiction. I have so many interests and so many books I’d like to read in that category. But I still seem to have so many mainstream classics to read that I haven’t been able to give non-fiction the focus I’d like. Soon, I hope …

    • Thanks, Joseph. I think it will be my type of book. I’ve been meaning to read it for decades and will finally get around to it. Yay!

      BTW, I’m having a hard time commenting on your blog. Both Blogger and WordPress are giving me grief but your blog in particular, nothing seems to go through. Just letting you know that I have been visiting and trying. Wishing you a great 2022!!

    • I’ve already started it once and was put off. Too much slapstick and it became … boring, lol! But I’m inspired to finish it. Now if only I could find it ….. 😏

  9. Ooooo! I want to read Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo and The Three Musketeers by Dumas! They are both on my Classics TBR/Classics Club list.

    • I’m not surprised that you want to read Notre-Dame de Paris, lol! The Three Musketeers is fun and then I’d like to continue with the rest of the series. So many books and …. you know …. 😉

      • I was looking up romantic classics on Goodreads for the Classics Club Dare for February and they listed The Three Musketeers as one! Too long for me to try to tackle for February, but I thought that was interesting!

        • The Three Musketeers under a romantic classic?!!! That’s weird. Certainly not Valentine’s Day romantic I would say. Someone is grasping at straws.

          I’m reading it now though, and it’s LOTS of fun. It’s a very quick read, Karen, due to its content.

  10. Good luck with this, you have a good mix of books which I find helps so much with any reading challenge. Are you reading all of the Zola books? I’m trying to but am not getting them read as quickly as I’d like. Always so many other choices that take my fancy

    • I have begun the Rougon-Marquart series in Zola’s recommended order. Zola is a fabulous writer but I get somewhat hung up on his books because ….. well, let’s just say, they’re not uplifting. So once I read one, it seems I don’t feel like reading the next for awhile, which of course, is not getting me through the series very quickly. Perhaps you have the same issue?? And, yes, I get distracted by other shiny books. Here’s hoping for more focus during 2022!

      • No one could ever describe Zola as uplifting!! About the least depressing one I’ve read so far is The Ladies Paradise. I should try to read them more quickly if only to keep clear in my head how everyone fits together but once I’ve read one, I do feel I need a complete change of style and tone

        • Have you read The Dream? I’ve heard a few say that it’s his least depressing, but it’s good to know that The Ladies Paradise falls into that category as well. Oh yes! That’s exactly how I feel, that I need a clearing of the mind and a different tone of book after I’ve read one of his, in spite of Zola being such an excellent writer!

  11. The Mill on the Floss is excellent! Very happy that it was my first classic for Karen’s challenge. Very interesting, well written and crafted story, but it wasn’t until the last third/quarter of the book that I began to appreciate it, and the ending is what synched it for me. I silently cried for minutes at the end.

    • Thanks so much for the rave review! I’m really looking forward to reading The Mill on the Floss although that’s one less George Eliot book to look forward to. I’m happy you enjoyed it so much and can’t wait to join you as one who’s read it!

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