Thursday, January 3, 2013

Back to the Classics Challenge 2013

I did say I wouldn't sign up for any more challenges. . . but this is another great way of working on my Classics Club reading list, and finishing some more books from my TBR shelf!   It's Sarah's Back to the Classics Challenge 2013, hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much. Finish all six categories and blog about them, plus a wrap-up post, and you're entered into a drawing for a $30 gift card from, or a choice of book(s) from The Book Depository!  There are also five optional categories if you want to increase your chances.

Here are the categories:

1.  Any 19th century classic
2.  Any 20th century classic
3.  Any classic from the 18th century, or earlier
4.  Any classic related to the African-American experience
5.  Any adventure classic
6.  Any classic about an animal, or with an animal in the title

Anyone who completes all six of these is entered into a drawing at the end of the year.  Plus, there are five optional categories:

1.  A reread of a classic work
2.  A Russian classic
3.  A non-fiction classic
4.  A children's or young adult classic
5.  Classic short stories -- three or more works by the same author, or by connected by the same genre or time period.

So, here's my tentative list of reads for the challenge:

1.  19th century classic -- Can You Forgive Her?  by Anthony Trollope.  I'm nearly done with the Barsetshire series and I really want to start on the Pallisers novels.  Plus, my library now owns the audiobook, which will make it go faster.  Of course, half the books on my to-read list of classics is from the 19th century, so I have plenty from which to choose.

2.  20th century classic -- A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.  A big fat book, and one from the Modern Library's Top 100 Novels.  Another series I'm hoping to finish someday.

3.  18th century (or older) classic -- probably Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, because I'm looking for an excuse to buy another of the beautiful Penguin clothbound classics!  Or maybe Moll Flanders, because it's fairly short. 

4.  African-American classic -- Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin.  Been on my to-read list forever. 

5.  Adventure classic -- Kim by Rudyard Kipling, which has been on the TBR shelf for awhile.  Or maybe A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs -- last year I saw the movie adaptation, John Carter, which was much better than I expected.  (Sadly, it was an incredible box office flop, so no chance of a sequel).

6.  Classic book about an animal -- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.  I'd like to read more books in translation, and classic sci-fi.  I also own Journey to the Center of the Earth, so that's also a possibility.  (Could switch these to the adventure category as well, if I find another book about an animal).  Or maybe Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau, if I'm in the mood for a long Victorian.

And some optional books, if I can get to them:

Classic reread  -- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.  One of my all-time favorites.  I'm definitely rereading this one in January because I chose it for my library's book group. 

Non-fiction classic -- I have a couple of choices here.  Probably The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, but I also have some classic travel books -- Letters from Hawaii by Mark Twain; In Morocco by Edith Wharton; and Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens.  Or maybe The Flame Trees of Thika, since I'm fascinated by Africa.

Children's Classic -- The Railway Children by E. Nesbit.  I read The Story of the Treasure Seekers last summer and I absolutely loved it, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Classic short stories -- I have stacks of these as well.  I have unread volumes by Edith Wharton, Evelyn Waugh, and W. Somerset Maugham on the TBR shelves, so I'll probably choose one of these authors.

I'm not even going to try and choose a Russian to read -- all the Russians on my to-read list are incredibly long, such as Crime and Punishment.  I'll have to finish all the other books for this challenge first! 

Any suggestions regarding the list -- any real clunkers?  Which are must-reads?  And who else signed up for this challenge?  What books are you hoping to read?


  1. I read Can You Forgive Her? for this challenge in 2012. I really enjoyed it and hope you do too.

    1. I'm really looking forward to starting the Pallisers! I'm nearly finished with the Barsetshire Chronicles -- I hope to read all of Trollope someday.

  2. Deerbrook is lovely, I read it a couple of years ago. No animals beyond the name but a wonderfully gossipy look at unrequited love and village gossip in Victorian England. :)

    1. That sounds like exactly my kind of book! I read about it on someone's blog and found an inexpensive copy so I couldn't pass it up.

  3. Hello,

    are you friends with Amanda from The Zen Leaf-what happened to her blog-I fell off the earth with reading other peoples blog and cannot find it anymore.
    thank you

    1. She stopped writing under the Zen Leaf and started a new blog called Reading and Running. However, she recently told me she'll probably stop blogging soon and focus on writing.

  4. One of my personal goals this year is also to read all 12 books in the Dance to the Music of Time series, so I look forward to your reviews on that.

    I recently listened to 20,000 Leagues on audio. I first read it as a child. I wonder now if I read an abridged version back in the day, because I found the audio version to be kinda dull. Then again, maybe it was the narrator or the fact that listening isn't quite the same as reading. Maybe I should try listening to Mysterious Island, another Verne book (with Nemo!) that I recall enjoying 30 odd years ago to see if it still holds up.

    1. I'm really hoping to get to A Dance to the Music of Time! It's been on my list for about 7 years, since I found the Modern Library Top 100 list (I've only read 46 so far -- though that's not bad; when I first found the list, I'd only read nine!)

      I've read Around the World in 80 Days and that's the only Verne so far. I've heard there seem to be lots of names and descriptions of sea life -- could be really interesting or seem like a marine biology course!

  5. Oh I liked the Maxine Hong Kingston. I'm always interested in the Chinese American immigrant experience. Acutally I'd quite like to re-read The Woman Warrior.

  6. You aren't being easy on yourself by putting the Powell series on your list. The Baldwin is wonderful and totally readable. You can knock that one out in a weekend easy.

  7. I loved the Railway Children as a child. I'll put this on my TBR list for this year.

  8. Ha! Thanks for joining up! I LOVE those Penguin clothbound books... so I wouldn't blame you for choosing a book just to collect another beautiful book!

  9. Welcome to the club! I found this challenge to fit in nicely with what I was thinking about reading this year anyway. You have some great option listed for the classic non-fiction--that one had me stumped, and I could only come up with The Prince, but I might borrow some of your ideas. In particular Dickens' and Twain's travel books, that later which I know to be very readable.

  10. If you can make modifications to your list you could still read some of 'The Russians' without wading through a huge brick of a book.
    Tolstoy - Hadji Murat (fantastic novella, only 160 pages)
    The Death of Ivan Ilyich and other Stories (288 pages)

    Turgenev - Fathers and Sons (240 pages)
    First Love (112 pages)

    There are many other short story collections/shorter works to choose from which leave a lasting impression without taking an age to read. I am rather biased though, as I love all the Russian Classics apart from War and Peace, which put me off for a while until I read Anna Karenina and fell in love.