Back To The Classics Challenge 2019

Here it is again, the Back to the Classics Challenge where we are challenged to read a number of classic books during the year!  I’m very scared to attempt any challenges after the reading year I had in 2018, but I’m sloughing off my failures and having a very positive, sunny attitude towards my reading in 2019!  With that in mind, I’m going to join Karen at Books and Chocolate‘s Back to the Classics Challenge!  Here are the categories and possible book choices for them:

Categories & Books:

  1. 19th Century Classic: The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
  2. 20th Century Classic:  The 39 Steps by John Buchan
  3. Classic by a Female Author:  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. Classic In Translation:
  5. Classic Comedy:
  6. Classic Tragedy: The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  7. A Very Long Classic:  The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  8. Classic Novella:  Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
  9. Classic From The Americas: The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  10. Classic From Africa, Asia or Oceania:
  11. Classic From A Place You’ve Lived:
  12. Classic Play:

The Magdalen Reading ~ Rogier van der Weyden (Public Domain) source Wikimedia Commons

While the books listed are not set in stone, I’m going to try to stick as closely to them as I can.  I think I’m most looking forward to the comedy category ….. I definitely need some comedic relief lately! 😉  I’m also excited about reading another Greek play and perhaps getting back into sync with my ancient Greek challenge, and I do need to read another Shakespeare to get me going on the Bard again.  So many classic books, so little time!

If you’d like to join this challenge too, just hop over to Books and Chocolate and sign up.  It’s truly one of the best challenges of the year!

Previous Back to the Classics challenges:


59 thoughts on “Back To The Classics Challenge 2019

  1. Woohoo, our wish came true! You are extremely brave to put Moby Dick on the list. I have no intention of ever reading Moby Dick, ever. Maybe if I were bedridden and it was the only book in reach? Anyway, I guess I’d better start doing my signups — I haven’t done any at all yet.

    • Oh, come on, Jean! What if you actually enjoyed it? 😉 I’ve read some very positive reviews in the last couple of years which have prompted me to read it. I’ll let you know how it goes before you feed yourself to the sharks …… uh, whales ….. 😉

      • I enjoyed Moby-Dick when I read it in college, but possibly that was mainly because I also had to read Tristram Shandy at the same time and I absolutely detested it. Ahab and the whale were a relief by comparison. No idea what I would think now as I’ve not read either one again since!

      • I like scheduling stuff as much as anybody, but most of my scheduling is around series or an author, not just individual titles. So it is kind of hard to get excited.

        But on the other hand, whatever it takes to get more of those classics read is a good thing…

        • Actually reading all the works together of one author is a great idea. I more or less did that with C.S. Lewis and it allows you to find out much more about the person and what he/she is trying to communicate because threads of ideas are much more obvious than if you read the works spread out. But I do tend to get tired of reading from one or two exclusively …. it’s probably a mental block with me too as I don’t want to finish all an author has written because then I wouldn’t have more to read! But perhaps when I’ve read ALL the classics, I can cycle through again and do it that way. I’d better get reading, ha ha! 😉

          • Reading one or two authors exclusively is exhausting. That’s why my reading rotation is about 25’ish. I still get to any particular series/author within a 6-8week period but I don’t burn out on them.

            And re-reading is the best!

  2. an eclectic selection(love that phrase), i must say… i just acquired a copy of Garden Party: i’ve never read anything by her: it’ll be an adventure… maybe…

    • I’ve read some of Mansfield’s short stories a long time ago and I remember enjoying them. It’s the best I could do given the limitations. I’m very pleased with my selections this year which is why I plan to stick with them. We’ll see how I do.

    • Thanks, Ruth! Yes, I remember that you liked Moby Dick so you were one of the ones who encouraged me to read it. Even though I don’t particularly like existentialists (although Camus denied being one) I do like Camus. He has some interesting ideas.

    • I just read such a wonderful review of Kidnapped, I just had to add it to the list! Are you another Moby Dick lover? I’ve heard so many good things about it lately that I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    • Thanks for hosting again, Karen. You sound very busy so I really appreciate that you’re offering it again this coming year and all the work you do for it. It still is my favourite yearly challenge!

  3. Great list! I’ll finish the 2018 challenge with Sir Gawain & the Green Knight (if I finish it in time). Then I will figure out my 2019 list. I think Troilus & Cressida will probably be on it. (I plan to read at least 3 Shakespeare plays next year.)

    • Let me know when/if you read Troilus and Cressida and perhaps we could do a buddy read! I loved Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I’ve read it at least twice. I’ll be waiting for your review! 🙂 BTW, I wanted to let you know that I can’t comment on your blog. It’s set up for Google comments only and for some reason, Google is not recognizing when I’m signed in. I think you can change it in your settings to let other non-Google people comment too. But just so you know, I’ve been visiting your blog but unable to say hi!

    • Thanks! I will wait for your Kidnapped review. I have high expectations for the book. I’ve really enjoyed most Stevenson books I’ve read with the exception of The Black Arrow which was adequate. I’d really like to read his Travels with A Donkey in the Cevennes. It sounds like fun! 🙂

  4. Great list….I have only one suggestion:
    think of reading Our Mutual Friend instead of Great Expectations by Dickens. (reviews on blog)
    Believe me…you won’t regret the switch!

    • Really?! It was that good? I’m going to go have a look at your Great Expectations review too. I’m wondering if Our Mutual Friend is so good that I should save it until last or last-ish. I still have Nicolas Nickleby to read as well. I’m so happy to hear that OMF is going to be worth the work put into a Dickens tome. Like you, I’ve sometimes preferred less-popular titles, such as Martin Chuzzlewit. I’m not sure if it was my mood when reading it but I really liked that one and you hardly ever hear of anyone recommending it. We’ll see how it goes with Our Mutual Friend. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

    • I have the perhaps overly optimistic hope that we can do a read-along of Tristram but we’ll see. Let me know when you’re going to start it.

      I’ve been waiting and waiting for that promised list! 😉 I’ll keep an eye out!

    • Hmm. There does seem to be movement in favor of Tristram Shandy. Perhaps I shall have to wind up the clock! Though Tom Jones is awfully good.

      By the way, thanks Cleo, for cluing me in about the comment settings. Now changed!

      • Three Tristram Shandy-iers would be awesome! 🙂 Yes, I have heard Tom Jones is funny which I never expected.

        Oh great! Now I can comment to my heart’s content!

          • It’s so long that I’ve been hesitant to read it but some good recommendations lately have made me more willing to read it. I can’t see getting to it in 2019 but perhaps 2020 ….

          • I’ve read Tom Jones a couple of times now. I even like the essay parts, which is maybe a little weird of me. But it’s been at least five years so it would be practically like new again.

          • Oh, more buddy reads! I have a feeling 2019 is going to be fun!

            It sounds like you’re like me; for the most part, I really enjoy digressions. I loved Victor Hugo’s digressions in Les Miserables and Tolstoy’s in War and Peace. However, they drive many people crazy so it’s nice to meet another like-minded person! 🙂

          • I loved the bits about history in War and Peace; tell me more, M. Hugo, about thieves’ argot; but I will admit the first time I tried Moby Dick (in high school) I punked out at the stuff about whaling. But that was then! Now I can’t get enough of it, and loved Moby Dick the second time I tried.

          • So many people have mentioned that they disliked Moby Dick on the first read and loved it on the second. I hope that doesn’t mean that I have to read it twice! ;-P

    • Well, it’s nice that lists are changeable and I know what you mean; reading other lists have put me on to other books. I’m so looking forward to reading in 2019!

    • I’m happy to hear that because I’ve really been looking forward to Great Expectations. I’ve read that it’s a little odd though. Brona from Brona’s Books has agreed to do a Moby Dick read-along in 2019, so you might want to consider joining us. It’s good to have bookish friends along for the tough reads! So keep an eye out!

  5. Awesome list…..if you read Tristram Shandy I will give you company. I will also do a re-read if Great Expectations when you get there! Happy Reading and finally this is starting to feel like old times!

  6. What a lovely list. I tackled Moby Dick last year (for the classic that scared me). It was terrifying and great to come to the end of, but also rewarding for all the layers. You’ll know a lot more about whales by the end 🙂 Great Expectations is my favourite Dickens novel so far, but I’ll be reading Our Mutual Friend this year, which readers speak highly of. And I’ll be reading Mary Barton, since I loved Wives and Daughters so much last year.

    • Hi Paula! That’s wonderful to know that Moby Dick was so rewarding. I’m really looking forward to it! I’ve heard Our Mutual Friend is excellent so I have two Dickens to look forward to. Gaskell is such an excellent writer, isn’t she? Enjoy your reading year for 2019!

    • Sorry I missed this! I don’t have any idea how many I’ll complete either but I’m just going for it in hopes I’ll read more that way. Not a very well-thought-out plan but hopefully successful! 🙂

  7. No matter how lousy my reading year is, I always find the turn of the year and the abundance of challenge choices inspires optimism for the coming year – after all, if the past year was a poor reading year, it can only get better, right?

    This is one of my favorite challenges, and I need to get my act together to sign up again next year. I’ve never actually completed it, but someday… I love your list of options – most I haven’t read (except Mary Barton, which I found enjoyable and Great Expectations which, unfortunately has not been a favorite). Enjoy!

    • You’re so right, Amanda. It can only get better!

      I think I’ve completed this challenge a couple of years but a couple I didn’t complete it. But complete it or not, it’s fun to attempt. I hope you get your list together soon so I can see your choices!

  8. Love the list! I’ve always been curious about Tristram Shandy but haven’t quite dared tackle it; ditto for the Camus. As for the great white whale — I really think Moby Dick is perhaps the greatest novel of them all (even Middlemarch, which is really saying something). I think people come to it in their own time — when you’re ready, you’ll read it (a few years after my second, unsuccessful attempt, I just picked it up and started reading, surfacing days later). It’s such a profound work and stylistically so far ahead of its time. Of your other picks that I’ve read, I really enjoyed Kidnapped; Alan Breck Stewart (“not the royal stewarts, mind you”!) has got to be one of the most Romantic characters in literature — he almost steals the show!
    On a different note: I see we share a taste for Dutch and Flemish painting! I love Rogier van der Weyden (although I like Jan van Eyck even more). And who is the artist who painted that wonderful Dutch winterscape? Jan van Goyen?

    • Thanks so much, Janakay! Ah, another good report for Moby Dick; I can’t wait to read it! I love how you describe the reading experience .. it rings so true.

      I think my favourite Dutch painter is Jan van Eyck too although I’m by no means an expert and probably like Jan because of what I learned about his life as well as his paintings/sketches. The Dutch winterscape is by Charles Leickert, I believe. I think he was Belgian but the landscape is Dutch. Ooo, you’ve made me remember how much I’d like to get back to studying art. Perhaps I need to throw a few art books in for 2019!

      Have a great reading year, Janakay! 🙂 And thanks for your long comment!

    • What if I read both?! G&P is supposed to be really funny. Somehow I have a hard time believing that. I’m very curious about it.

  9. Not to be difficult, but I don’t think any of Shakespeare’s tragedies should count to satisfy the “Classic Tragic Novel” category. His “Troilus and Cressida” would qualify as a “Classic Play”, of course, but that would displace Sophocles . . .

      • Hi! I had put _The Nibelungenlied_ (an epic) on my list but I am not sure that it counts; it’s not a play but it’s not a novel either. Maybe I should check with Karen at Books and Chocolate. Or, I might read one of Thomas Hardy’s books.

        • It’s so much easier to find tragic plays, isn’t it? You probably should check with Karen to see if it will fit. Oh my goodness, yes! Hardy is so dreary, isn’t he? That’s perfect for a tragedy and since I’ve only read two of his novels so far, perhaps I should use this as an excuse to read another. Thanks, Beth!

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