Sunday, December 4, 2016

2017 Back to the Classics Challenge

So, I suppose it's obvious that I enjoy participating in challenges, since my first three posts on this blog are all about the different challenges I'm planning on completing. This won't be the last, either -- I'll most likely also participate in next year's BookRiot Read Harder challenge, and I always set a reading goal on GoodReads, so there's another one. What can I say? I like setting goals, even if I don't always accomplish them. :)

I intended to participate in Books and Chocolate's Back to the Classics Challenge in 2016, but I only got one book from my challenge finished (Frankenstein) so I'll try again next year. Here is what I plan on reading for this challenge:

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017


1.  A 19th Century Classic: Pride and Prejudice, Austen

2.  A 20th Century Classic - The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck

3.  A classic by a woman author: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe

4.  A classic in translation: Madame Bovary, Flaubert

5.  A classic published before 1800: Beowulf


6.  A romance classic: Jane Eyre, Bronte


7.  A Gothic or horror classic: The Phantom of the Opera, Leroux

8.  A classic with a number in the title: 1984, Orwell

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title: Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hugo

11. An award-winning classic: The Good Earth, Buck (Pulitzer)


12. A Russian Classic: Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky

This should be fun, and there's quite a bit of crossover with my Classics Club challenge as well. Can't wait to get started!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Reading the Histories Challenge

In addition to my Classics Club challenge (which I posted about here) I'm also joining A Great Books Study's "Reading the Histories" challenge, working my way through the histories listed in Susan Bauer's The Well-Educated Mind. I am giving myself five years to work my way through these thirty books. That seems do-able, amid all of the other reading I do (not to mention the writing and the blogging and the homeschooling and the cat wrangling...)

Ruth at A Great Books Study has a list over at her blog as well, but I'm adding it here so I can easily reference it when I need to. The histories (in chronological order) are:


  • The Histories, Herodotus
  • The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
  • The Republic, Plato
  • Lives, Plutarch
  • The City of God, Augustine
  • The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bede
  • The Prince, Machiavelli
  • Utopia, More
  • The True End of Civil Government, Locke
  • The History of England, Vol. V, Hume
  • The Social Contract, Rousseau
  • Common Sense, Paine
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Wollstonecraft
  • Democracy in America, De Tocqueville
  • The Communist Manifesto, Marx
  • The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Burckhardt
  • The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois
  • The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber
  • Queen Victoria, Strachey
  • The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell
  • The New England Mind, Miller
  • The Great Crash 1929, Galbraith
  • The Longest Day, Ryan
  • The Feminine Mystique, Friedan
  • Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World Slaves Made, Genovese
  • A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Tuchman
  • All the President's Men, Woodward & Bernstein
  • Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, McPherson
  • A Midwife's Tale, Ulrich
  • The End of History and the Last Man, Fukuyama
There are several quite challenging reads on this list, so I'm not going to be too hard on myself if it takes longer than five years. Life is, after all, an endless education. I'm looking forward to getting started!


The Classics Club Project

I first saw a mention of The Classics Club over on A Great Books Study and it sounded like a great challenge to participate in. The idea behind the club is to work your way through those classics you've just never gotten a chance to read, or to re-read classics you may not have read since high school or college.

I'm a big fan of Susan Bauer's The Well-Educated Mind, in which she provides lists of books that every educated person should read, with a slant toward obtaining a true classical education. I'm also going to be working my way through some of those books (which I'll address in another post) so there will be plenty of overlap between my Classics Club list and my Well-Educated Mind list.

The nice thing about the Classics Club is that it's very flexible. You pick the books, you decide how many you want to read, and you pick your own timeframe/deadline (though the organizers recommend a time frame of no longer than five years.)

With all of this in mind, I have developed my Classics Club program.

Classics Club Reading List

(January 2017 - December 2020)

1. Don Quixote, Cervantes
2. Pride and Prejudice, Austen
3. Oliver Twist, Dickens
4. Jane Eyre, Bronte
5. The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne
6. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe
7. Madame Bovary, Flaubert
8. Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky
9. Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
10. The Portrait of a Lady, James
11. Heart of Darkness, Conrad
12. Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf
13. 1984, Orwell
14. The Confessions, Augustine
15. The Book of Margery Kempe, Kempe
16. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
17. Walden, Thoreau
18. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Douglass
19. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
20. The Epic of Gilgamesh
21. Beowulf
22. The Inferno, Alighieri
23. The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer
24. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare
25. The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare

This is a decent mix of novels, biographies, poetry, and plays. Some, I've read already, but most of these will be first-time reads for me. I'm looking forward to this challenge, and it doesn't seem too daunting -- if I read 5 - 6 books from this list per year, I'll complete it by the end of 2020. I'm excited to get started, and I'll blog here about my experience reading each book.