Five years of the Classics Club

Posted June 23, 2019 by Lory in challenges / 36 Comments

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since I joined the Classics Club, with the goal of reading 50 classics from my self-defined list in that time.

Well, it’s been a wonderful part of my blogging life and I am so grateful for all the books I’ve encountered through this project. I did not quite make it to fifty, and I still have a lot more to go (I ended up naming 100 books to choose from), but I am going to let go of my “official” goal and just keep reading from my list if and as I please.

For those who may be interested, here are all the books I’ve read, in order of their review date:

  1. Smith – Leon Garfield June 2014
  2. Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollope July 2014
  3. A Solitary Blue – Cynthia Voigt August 2014
  4. Le Grand Meaulnes – Alain-Fournier October 2014
  5. Sapphira and the Slave Girl – Willa Cather December 2014
  6. The Brandons – Angela Thirkell December 2014
  7. The Home-Maker – Dorothy Canfield Fisher December, 2014
  8. Bliss and Other Stories – Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand) January 2015
  9. The Towers of Trebizond – Rose Macaulay March 2015
  10. The Aspern Papers – Henry James June 2015
  11. The Mark of the Horse Lord – Rosemary Sutcliff July 2015
  12. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf July 2015
  13. The Matchmaker – Thornton Wilder July 2015
  14. An Old-Fashioned Girl – Louisa May Alcott July 2015
  15. Armadale – Wilkie Collins August 2015
  16. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (Russia) October 2015
  17. The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse (Germany) November 2015
  18. Saplings – Noel Streatfeild December 2015
  19. A Separate Peace – John Knowles January 2016
  20. Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House – Eric Hodgins February 2016
  21. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton July 2016
  22. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis July 2016
  23. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome August 2016
  24. Three plays – Eugene O’Neill November 2016
  25. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury November 2016
  26. The Makioka Sisters – Junichiro Tanizaki (Japan) December 2016
  27. Diary of a Provincial Lady – E.M. Delafield December 2016
  28. A Fugue in Time – Rumer Godden February 2017
  29. Troy Chimneys – Margaret Kennedy February 2017
  30. Scaramouche – Rafael Sabatini March, 2017
  31. My Cousin Rachel – Daphne DuMaurier April 2017
  32. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl May 2017
  33. The Fledgling – Jane Langton July 2017
  34. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley August 2017
  35. The Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy August 2017
  36. Excellent Women – Barbara Pym September 2017
  37. Season of Migration to the NorthTayeb Salih December 2017
  38. East of Eden – John Steinbeck December 2017
  39. Don Quixote, Part I – Miguel de Cervantes January 2018
  40. Herland – Frances Perkins Gilman – February 2018
  41. The Ghost of Thomas Kempe – Penelope Lively March 2018
  42. The Shuttle – Frances Hodgson Burnett June 2018
  43. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison June, 2018
  44. Uncle Silas – Sheridan Le Fanu July, 2018
  45. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin October 2018
  46. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller March 2019

Among these, there were a few weaker works by authors whose other writing is more worthy of the “classic” designation (The Shuttle, A Fugue in Time). And not all of them were to my personal taste (Lucky Jim, Diary of a Provincial Lady). But every single one was worth reading, and some were outstanding: East of Eden, Invisible Man, The Mark of the Horse Lord, Mrs Dalloway, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, Scaramouche, and My Cousin Rachel being among my personal favorites. I might not have read them without this incentive, and I’m so glad I did.

Have you read any of these, or do you want to? What are you looking forward to on your Classics Club list?



36 responses to “Five years of the Classics Club

  1. You’ve done extremely well, according to my lights at any rate! I’ve only read four of these—the Bradbury, Shelley, Le Guin and the Henry James—but I have read titles by a handful of your other authors (Rumer Godden, for example). I’m trying to get a few more of my classics read this summer, but it’s slow going.

    • I’m reading super slowly at the moment but I just have to go with the flow. I hope whatever you do get to from your list will prove to be worthwhile.

  2. That looks like a very good list of books! And I’m going to have to hunt up the Rosemary Sutcliffe, that looks like a lot of fun.

  3. Well done, you’ve certainly experienced a mix of books in the last five years. I missed the ‘deadline’ but am only 6 away from the magical figure of 50.

    • I’m not going to bother about that. I had five years of great reading and that’s what matters. And yes, it was quite a mix!

  4. Well done! My list is ridiculously huge, but I also decided to take a more loosey-goosey approach on this second go-round. I’m not going to worry about a deadline, just maintain the list for ideas.

    My 16yo is currently reading and hating East of Eden.

    • I’m pretty sure I would have hated it at sixteen too so I’m glad I left it till now. I am more and more questioning the practice of forcing teenagers to read certain “classics” in school.

  5. I have only read 7 of those, my favorite of all times being Le Grand Meaulnes. I only need 5.5 to go to reach 50, I should be done before my deadline, end of 2020. The one I’m most looking forward is The Baron in the Trees, by Italo Calvino

    • I’ve not read any Calvino. He should go on my Around the World list if I ever get back to that.

  6. Great list. I’m just about to read My Cousin Rachel, so I’m hoping over to look at your review now.

  7. Congratulations on getting within striking distance of finishing your 50–I’m pretty much in the same boat, with a handful left to read this year (though there are some long ones on my tbfinished list). We had some of the same titles (Anna Karenina, Barchester Towers, Excellent Women, Frankenstein, among others), and a lot on your list I haven’t even heard of).

    I’ve have to read your review of Towers of Trebizond as I got it in order to read it, and then something put me off it.

  8. I enjoy being part of the Classics Club, but about a year in I started revising my list when I realized I preferred some authors over others and wanted to read more of them. I had to remind myself my list isn’t a school syllabus and I get to choose what to read. Also, when I participated in your wonderful year of Reading New England I was introduced to authors I had never read and really liked and that also affected the revision.

    I think you have done very well. It’s a wonderful accomplishment.

    • I think revising one’s list is part of the fun. It’s definitely not a school syllabus, thank goodness!

  9. Good on you, doll! Five years is one heck of a commitment, and you’ve done SO well! I feel the same about my own personal list challenge – not all of them have been to my taste, but all of them have been worth reading, and my eyes have been well and truly opened by it. Looking forward to following more of your reading adventures!

  10. 46 is nothing to sneeze at! I’m too commitment-phobic to sign up to the club. So many great titles, some I have read, some I need to read.

    i just read Three Men in a Boat last month and thought it was a hoot. I was really glad to finally get to it. 😀

  11. Well done 46 is a great amount and that you enjoyed it is the most important thing 🙂 From your list Frankenstein, My Cousin Rachel and Something Wicked Comes This Way are favourites of mine.

  12. Wow! You might not have quite made it to 50, but what an accomplishment. This seems like a fun long-term goal and I think it’s great you have a group to pursue it with.

    • The interaction and support of the group has been great. That’s why the club has lasted so long I think.

  13. This is quite a list! East of Eden is one of my favourite books. I found it to be an emotional read for me. How do you balance reading classic books with blog? I read many books for review but I find that that takes up a lot of my time, which makes me slack on reading for the classics club.

    • It’s hard to fit everything in! After a few years I nearly gave up on doing new book reviews. I found that there was much less interaction around those posts and that reviewing classics or backlist books generated more comments and discussion. So I decided to focus my time more on those. But I do occasionally still enjoy reviewing something new, especially if it gives a chance for a book I really liked to find more readers.

      For me the main thing is not to get overly excited about all the new books and review opportunities and overcommit myself. I have to hold back and stick to just the few I know I’ll have time for.

  14. That’s an impressive list! I’m embarrassed by how few of these I’ve read: An Old-Fashioned Girl, Man’s Search for Meaning (though I’m not sure I finished it… I attempted it in high school), and The Story of My Life, and one or two others. I should probably challenge myself to read more classics. There are some I truly would like to read, but just haven’t gotten around to, and others I know I ought to read, but can’t muster the will to start.

    • Setting some kind of goal can help, as with any challenge. Focusing on the ones you really want to read and fitting in even one per year can be a motivating factor. Maybe eventually you’ll get to the ones further down your list.

  15. Monika

    I’ve read: Sapphira and the Slave Girl, The Home-Maker, I think all of Katherine Mansfield’s stories, Mrs Dalloway, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Anna Karenina, Saplings, A Separate Peace, Ethan Frome, Diary of a Provincial Lady, Frankenstein, Excellent Women, Don Quixote, and The Shuttle.
    I want to read: Le Grand Meaulnes, The Mark of the Horse Lord, The Makioka Sisters, and My Cousin Rachel. Mrs Dalloway is on my list for a re-read.

  16. Well done! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen someone write about this challenge. I think the only book I’ve read from your list is Frankenstein. I went through a phase many years ago where I thought I needed to read ‘the classics’, but gave that up when I realized I didn’t enjoy most of them. Perhaps when I am older.

    • I don’t think it’s worth forcing yourself to read anything you don’t enjoy. But there’s a lot of variety in the classics, my list is pretty eclectic and I’m pretty sure there are some that you might like. Time will tell.