Monday, February 15, 2021

Victorian Reading Challenge 2021

It's never too late to sign up for another challenge, is it? Once again, I'm signing up for the Victorian Reading Challenge at Becky's Book Reviews. Last year my Victorian reading was surprisingly low -- only ten altogether, including two rereads, two neo-Victorians, and two non-fiction. Hopefully this challenge will increase my Victorian reading this year. 

There are two participation levels. I'm signing up for the advanced level, four to six books over eleven months. There are themes every month and I'm sure I can find books to fit most of them. Ideally I'd love to read mostly books from my own shelves. I still have more than a dozen unread Victorians, below.

Here are the monthly themes:

January/Feb: Adaptations: Any book that's been adapted to movies or TV, or that should be adapted. (Will probably skip this one as I'm running out of time.)

February/March: Love & Marriage: The Doctor's Wife by Mary Elizabeth Braddon -- I've already finished this one, review to follow this week!

March/April: Journeys and Travels: Something by Isabella Bird, a renowned Victorian woman traveler. Or The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope. He also wrote some travel nonfiction, so that's a possibility too.

April/May: Second Chances. Give a book or an author a second chance. Something by Mrs. Oliphant, or The Real Charlotte. Might also read one of Trollope's Irish novels.

May/June: Favorite Author, New-To-Me Book. Again, Mrs. Oliphant, Trollope, or Hardy.

June/July: Nonfiction: Period Piece by Gwen Raverat, or A London Family by Molly Hughes.

July/August: Names as Titles: Marcella by Mrs. Humphrey Ward, or one of several books by Trollope: Ralph the HeirThe MacDermots of Ballycloran; The Kellys and the O'Kellys; Harry Heathcote of Gangoil. 

August/September: Back to School: something you were assigned at school, or think should be assigned. I wasn't a lit major so the only Victorian novels I read in school were Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, and The Mill on the Floss. I loathed The Mill on the Floss so maybe I should give it another go and see if I appreciate it more as an adult? 

September/October: Crime or True Crime: Lots of great true crime stories about the Victorian period! I have at least seven or eight on my TBR list. Maybe Murder in the First-Class Carriage by Kate Colquhoun or Murder by the Book by Claire Harman.

October/November: Home and Family: East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood; The Clever Woman of the Family by Charlotte Yonge; or A London Family. 

November/December: Comfort Reads: A London Family or Trollope.

Super-Bonus Theme: Bearded Victorians. I suppose this means read anything by a bearded Victorian?

Charles Dickens

Wilkie Collins

Anthony Trollope

So - those are my possible reads. Any suggestions for other Victorians? And which author has the best beard? 


  1. Charles Darwin's Autobiography or The Voyage of the Beagle or On the Origin of Species would all fit into several categories. He also had a pretty impressive beard some of the time.

    1. I've never read any Darwin, thanks for the suggestion! And he did have quite the beard!

  2. Welcome to the challenge! You asked if you could read non-British authors for the challenge and you can.

    1. Thank you! I have lots of 19th century books to read, mostly British but I might throw in a few Americans and French too.

  3. Isabella Bird is one of my heroes. I first read A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains when I was probably 15 or 16, and was enthralled. I’ve read it a couple times since then, and I’ve been thinking of doing a reread because it’s been awhile. I grew up in Colorado Springs and have lived my entire life in Colorado, so the places she visited were all ones that I know very well and love.

    1. I've been wanting to read her forever so I am determined to do it this year. I'm also really interesting in Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, since I was lucky enough to live there, though I was definitely on the beaten track!


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