One of my favorite reading challenges is the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge that is run by Karen at Books & Chocolate. Every year for the past few years, she has assembled a list of 12 categories of books that were written before 1970.
Last year was the first time I participated. And though I did not succeed in finishing, I made sure to keep one book from the list by my bed at all times. And I did fairly well. Finishing at least 7 of the 12. You can read more about how I did in my post – Review – Back to the Classics Challenge 2019.
Because of this, I decided to move a couple of the books that I did not finish to this new list.
Now, the categories do not stay the same from year to year. Some of them change. But I have noticed that the books for the 19th century and 20th century have appeared both years. As well as the book in translation.
Which works well for me because two of those books I did not even get to last year.
So without further ado, here is the list of books I have chosen for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020.
19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
Lilith – George MacDonald (1895) 341 pages – I really wanted to read this last year. I just never seemed to get around to it. It sat on my virtual shelf all year long. Always pushed aside for a more urgent choice. I’m determined to finish it this year though.
20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1970.
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov (1967) 335 pages – This is a relatively unknown book to me. However, I did have it on my list of Russian classics to read. Though it wasn’t published until the sixties, it was originally written during the 1930s under Stalinist Russia.
The fact that it was basically banned and couldn’t even be published until many years after the author’s death, fascinates me.
And when I read the synopsis, I was even more intrigued. This may be one of the first books I tackle. I’m really looking forward to it.
Classic by a Woman Author.
Persuasion – Jane Austen (1818) 249 pages – I’ve read nearly every other book by Jane Austen. I figured that it’s about time that I read this one.
Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a language other than your native language.
Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880) 796 pages – This book is also from last year’s list. It’s a pretty long book so it may end up being one of the books I put off to the side. Until I find more time in my already overly busy life.
But I do really want to read it. It’s supposed to be excellent.
Classic by a Person of Color. Any classic work by a non-white author.
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston (1937) 219 pages – I have had my eye on this book since my university days. But for some reason have never gotten around to checking it out. It’s about time, don’t you think?
A Genre Classic. Any classic novel that falls into a genre category – fantasy, science fiction, Western, romance, crime, horror, etc.
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells (1895) 118 pages – Science fiction and fantasy are two of my favorite genres. It started when I was a preteen after I encountered the Pern stories by Anne McCaffrey. I was hooked. And I try to keep a fantasy by my bed at all times. But I seem stuck in the 20th century during the heyday of sci-fi.
But seeing as how H.G. Wells and his contemporaries of the 19th century kind of started the whole genre, it seems important to read them. Not that I’ve completely avoided them. But I don’t know that I have read any H.G. Wells, no matter how famous his stories are.
Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title. First name, last name or both.
My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier (1951) 352 pages – Rebecca is one of my favorites. Both the book and the movie. So when I heard that My Cousin Rachel was similar in tone, I just knew that I needed to read this book by Du Maurier. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Classic with a Place in the Title. Any classic with the proper name of a place (real or fictional) – a country, region, city, town, village, street, building, etc.
Main Street – Sinclair Lewis (1920) 454 pages – This was a hard one for me to choose. I have had Main Street on my to-be-read list for a long time. At the same time, I don’t know how excited I am to read it. This will probably be one of the books that I never get around to. Unfortunately keeping the book on my list even longer.
Classic with Nature in the Title. A classic with any element of nature in the title (not including animals).
The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence (1915) 544 pages – Having successfully finished Lawrence’s story of the Morel family last year for this same challenge, I decided to read another of his books from my list. I figured that I would probably enjoy this one as much, if not more. I had a good friend from the university who kept raving about this book. So now is my chance to check it out.
Classic About a Family. This classic should have multiple members of the same family as principal characters, either from the same generation or multiple different generations. Family members in the title are also acceptable.
Nancy and Plum – Betty MacDonald (1952) 288 pages – I have to admit that I have already finished this book. The kids and I had originally wanted to read this over Christmas break. But with the upcoming inspection at the beginning of January, we stuck to our school books more. So when January rolled around, we decided to finally dig in.
It was wonderful! The kids and I all loved it. In fact, I can’t believe that I had never even heard of it until recently.
It just goes to show that even a bookworm who has read thousands of books can still be pleasantly surprised by something new.
Abandoned Classic. Choose a classic that you started and just never got around to finishing.
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (1861) 505 pages – I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up this book. I know that I’ve checked it out at least twice since we have been in Calais. And I just can’t seem to get past the first few pages.
Dickens is one of those authors that I know I should read but can’t seem to. Which is odd considering A Christmas Carol is one of my favorites. Maybe this is the time I finally finish. Wish me luck!
Classic Adaptation. Any classic that’s been adapted as a movie or TV series.
The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy (1887) 420 pages – Hardy (like George Eliot) is one of my favorite Victorian authors. I have read many of his books and am always happy to include another on my to-be-read lists.
So I was happy to find out that one of his books (that I had not read) had been made into a movie. Yay! I could put this on my list AND get to see a movie with Rufus Sewell afterward (I loved him in Dark City).
So there it is! My list of books for the 2020 Back to the Classics Reading Challenge hosted by Books and Chocolate. I don’t know about you, but just researching the books I wanted to read and then writing them up for this post got me super excited to start reading. Too bad I can’t just take a break from everyday life and curl up for a couple of months to finish them all off!
If you would like to join me for this challenge, you can find out more at Books and Chocolate. There is even the possibility of winning a little bit of cash if you complete at least eight of the novels.
And to help you keep track of the books you’ve chosen, I’ve created a worksheet that you can fill out and put in your planner or bullet journal. When you sign up for my weekly newsletter below, you will also receive access to this worksheet and other subscriber freebies.