Sunday, March 19, 2017

Victorian Reading Challenge

I thought that two challenges this year would be enough, but the other day I stumbled upon this  Victorian Reading Challenge from Becky's Book Reviews and I don't think I can resist. The goal is to read at least four Victorian books, which will be easy for me -- I've already completed two lovely fat Victorian novels this year. Including nonfiction and translated books, I read 14 Victorian books in 2016, so I'm sure I can read that many in 2017, if not more. Here are the challenge categories, with the books I want to read for each (books with hyperlinks are already completed). 

  1. A book under 200 pages: The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott; The Rector & The Doctor's Family by Mrs. Oliphant
  2. A book over 400 pages: Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau
  3. A book that REALLY intimidates you: Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.
  4. A book you REALLY want to reread: Oliver Twist or Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  5. A new-to-you book by a favorite author: The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon 
  6. A book with illustrations 
  7. A book that was originally published serially: A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott.
  8. A book published between 1837-1849: The Kellys and O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope
  9. A book published between 1850-1860: The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope
  10. A book published between 1861-1870: The Belton Estate by Anthony Trollope
  11. A book published between 1871-1880: The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens; Kept in the Dark by Anthony Trollope
  12. A book published between 1881-1890: The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner
  13. A book published between 1891-1901: Who Is Lost and Is Found by Mrs. Oliphant
  14. A book published between 1902-1999 with a Victorian setting: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters;  To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  15. A book published between 2000-2017 with a Victorian setting: The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
  16. A book by Charles Dickens: The Mystery of Edwin Drood;  Pictures from Italy
  17. A book by Wilkie Collins: Basil
  18. A book by Anthony Trollope The Prime Minister, Kept in the Dark
  19. A book by Elizabeth Gaskell: Cousin Phillis
  20. A book by George Eliot: Adam Bede
  21. A book by a new-to-you male author: Esther Waters by George Moore
  22. A book by a new-to-you female author: Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondely
  23. A book translated into English: Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane
  24. A fiction or nonfiction book about Queen Victoria: Magnificent Obsession by Helen Rapport or Serving Victoria by Kate Hubbard
  25. A book that has been filmed as movie, miniseries, or television show: The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott
  26. A play OR a collection of short stories OR a collection of poems: A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde, After Supper Ghost Stories by Jerome K. Jerome
  27. A Biography, Autobiography, or NONFICTION book about the Victorian era: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin
  28. Genre or Subgenre of your choice (mystery, suspense, romance, Gothic, adventure, western, science fiction, fantasy) The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells; The Fixed Period by Anthony Trollope
  29. Book with a name as the title: The Claverings by Anthony Trollope
  30. Book You've Started but Never Finished: Daniel Deronda by George Eliot; The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.
  31. A children's book: The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit
  • Fiction or nonfiction.
  • Books, e-books, audio books all are fine.
  • Books and movies can be reviewed together or separately.
  • You can create a reading list if you want, but it's not a requirement 
  • If you do make a list, consider adding a list of five books you'd recommend to others
  • If possible try to try a new-to-you author! I know it can be really tempting to stick with familiar favorites.
  • Children's books published during these years should not be forgotten! 
  • Rereads are definitely allowed if you have favorites!
  • A blog is not required, a review is not required, but, if you don't review please consider sharing what you read in a comment with one or two sentences of 'reaction' or 'response.' 
  • Any qualifying book reviewed in 2017 counts towards the challenge. If you're like me, perhaps you try to schedule posts a week ahead of time. So if it's reviewed in 2017, it counts. Even if you finished the book the last week or two of 2016! 
There are more than 30 categories and I know I can't possibly finish that many Victorians but I'm making good progress on both the European Reading Challenge and my own Back to the Classics Challenge, and some of them can cross over. I'm also in an online Trollope reading group so I can count some of those for this challenge.

Bloggers, have you read any of these Victorian novels? Which are your favorites? And is anyone else signing up for this challenge?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I've just linked up my list to your post. Looking forward to reading lots of great Victorians!

  2. Portrait of a Lady is SO GOOD. I just finished it. I had no idea I'd like it so much; I was also intimidated. Hope you love it! :)

    1. I'm terrified of Henry James -- I absolutely loathed The Turn of the Screw but I've heard Portrait is good. I've also heard good things about The American, so I'll give James another try.

    2. I've heard great things about The Bostonians. It's about the suffragist movement in America. I've heard Henry James gets ridiculous later in his writing :) but this book is really gorgeous and straightforward.

    3. The Portrait of a Lady, I mean. The Bostonians is the one about the suffragist movement. I haven't read The Bostonians yet. :)

  3. 'To Say Nothing of the Dog' is one of my favourite books. If you've not read Connie Willis before, you are in for a treat!

    1. I haven't read Connie Willis! But it's been on my TBR list forever so I am determined to read it this year.

  4. Wow, this is a very thorough way to cover the Victorian period. I would love to do this but I think I need a year without other challenges!

    I second the recommendation for To Say Nothing of the Dog. And for the biography/nonfiction I recommend Period Piece by Gwen Raverat, if you haven't already read it. She was a granddaughter of Charles Darwin and also an artist, and her memoir is hilarious as well as very illuminating about the era. Also How To Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman, in which she actually tries out certain features of daily life like wearing a corset.

    Better stop now or I'll end up making a whole list. Enjoy the challenge!

    1. I've never read of the Gwen Raverat, it sounds great. I have read How to Be a Victorian which I really enjoyed. My book group is reading How to Be a Tudor in a couple of months and I'm looking forward to that also. Thanks for the suggestions!

    2. You have a treat in store with Period Piece then! How To Be a Tudor was excellent too.

  5. This looks like fun! Think I'm going to get on board


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