More Classics


Yesterday, I finished my 2015 Back to the Classics challenge, which is hosted by Karen over at Books and Chocolate. Here’s what I’ve read:

1.  A 19th-century Classic: The Jew’s Beech Tree, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
2. A 20th-century Classic: The Country Girls, Edna O’Brien
3. A Classic by a Woman Author: Summer, Edith Wharton
4. A Classic in Translation: Naomi, Junichiro Tanizaki
5.  A Very Long Classic Novel: Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
6. A Classic Novella: Call of the Wild, Jack London
7. A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title: Dracula, Bram Stoker
8. A Humorous or Satirical Classic: Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
9. A Forgotten Classic: After the Divorce, Grazia Deledda
10. A Nonfiction Classic: West With the Night, Beryl Markham
11. A Classic Children’s Book: Emil and the Detectives, Erich Kästner
12. A Classic Play: The Short Plays of Thornton Wilder

I really enjoyed reading most of these books; I can’t even pick a favorite. The Country Girls brought me to the Ireland of a few decades ago; Call of the Wild transported me to the wilderness of Alaska. West With the Night introduced me to a wild woman in Africa, and Gone With the Wind—well, what can I say?! Thanks to Dracula, I now understand most vampire references. Emil and the Detectives let me travel back to my childhood. And Edith Wharton is Edith Wharton. Period.


I am very happy that Karen is bringing back the challenge for 2016. The categories have changed a bit, and once again, I will try to fill all 12 of them. As an added challenge, and in line with the Women’s Classic Literature event hosted by the Classics Club, I will try to read only female authors. I don’t want to commit to any particular books, but I have some ideas already.

1. A 19th-century Classic: Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
2. A 20th-century Classic: In a Lonely Place, Dorothy B. Hughes
3. A classic by a Woman Author: The Seventh Cross, Anna Seghers
4. A Classic in Translation: I’m thinking Selma Lagerlöff or maybe something French; perfect for the next Women in Translation month.
5. A Classic by a Non-white Author: I have both Dorothy West and Alice Dunbar-Nelson on my classics list.
6. An Adventure Classic: I could read the travel writings or letters of Gertrude Bell, or maybe Dervla Murphy’s Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle.
7. A Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Dystopian Classic: It’s definitely time to read Frankenstein.
8. A Classic Detective Novel: Appointment With Death, Agatha Christie
9. A Classic That Includes the Name of a Place in the Title: Assignment in Brittany, Helen MacInnes
10. A Banned or Censored Classic: The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall, perfect to read during Banned Book Week.
11. Re-read a Classic You Read in High School or College: Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor
12. A Volume of Classic Short Stories: The only one currently on my shelf is The Awakening and Other Stories, Kate Chopin

Are you participating in this challenge?



  1. Naomi is such a good book. I read it this fall for the Japanese Lit Challenge 9, and was suprised (although I shouldn’t have been) by the very subtle writing which justly accuses American influence in the lives of the Japanese. I suspect you’ll like it.

  2. Congrats on finishing your classic reads for 2015. What a nice list. I’m a big Markham fan but maybe I should Edna O’Brien too?

  3. My book review blog on publishers reviews of books by women, so I wonder if I can help you out with some recommendations!

    1. A 19th-century Classic: Try Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. The 17-year-old main character is a tomboy looking to be the heroine of her own story in this Gothic tale!

    2. A 20th-century Classic: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath if you haven’t read it.

    4. A Classic in Translation: A lot of humor and mystery in here Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby by Lyudmila Petrushevskay

    5. A Classic by a Non-white Author: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

    6. An Adventure Classic: Marie Belloc Lowndes’s psychological thriller The Lodger. Is the new lodger actually the Grim Reaper??

    7. A Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Dystopian Classic: If you don’t want to do Frankenstein, definitely go for Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower. She’s also a black woman in Sci-Fi–a total pioneer.

    10. A Banned or Censored Classic: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. One of my favorites!

    11. Re-read a Classic You Read in High School or College: Did you read To Kill a Mockingbird?

    12. A Volume of Classic Short Stories: Doris Lessing is the powerhouse of women writers. Her collection African Stories are about her early life in South Africa.

    *All of these books should be at your local library. Cheers!

    • Thanks, Jane. I think I really do better with challenges where I don’t have to pick books ahead of time. This year, the categories almost filled themselves, so I hope that that will happen again next year.

  4. Well done for completing this challenge – it looks fun but quite tricky to fill all the categories. I am pleased to see you read Dracula and now get most vampire references. Good luck with this challenge next year. I hope you’re able to Frankenstein as it is one of my favourite, spooky classics.

  5. Congratulations …Back to the Classics Challenge is complete! You’ve read some very good books!
    Call of the Wild: I always meant to read Jack London, now I know I should!
    2016? You already have a great list filled in! I don’t like to re-read…but now I’ll have to!

      • They should create a challenge “Books you have to push me to read”. Call of the Wild, Robinson Crusoe and Pickwick Papers are right there on the top! I’ll see what I can do in 2016!

  6. Congratulations for finishing the challenge, and what a great list for next year — I’m so impressed that you’ve listed all female authors. Good luck, and thanks for signing up again!

  7. You’ve had a great reading year! I’ve only read four of those, I think, but all excellent. And two or three of the others are ones I’d like to read sometime. Good luck with next year’s challenge – interesting categories. 🙂

  8. What a great idea: to do women’s classics for this event. 🙂 Also, YOU CAN SAY MANY THINGS ABOUT GONE WITH THE WIND! 😉

  9. Congratulations on finishing the challenge! I also posted my last review today (for Saplings by Noel Streatfeild). I really enjoyed all the books I read and the different categories. I’m undecided whether I will participate next year, as I’m trying to read as many books as possible for my own Reading New England challenge and I don’t want to get too overwhelmed. I will look forward to others’ reviews even if I don’t participate.

    • I know what you mean. I was a bit hesitant, too, because I am doing 12 Germans in 2016, but since I like reading the classics and I don’t have to fill every category, this challenge seems to suit me. I’ll give it a shot, and if it doesn’t work out, then so be it.

  10. You picked a great selection of books this year, and it sounds as though you’ve got some good ideas for 2016. I must take a look at the Women’s Classic Lit event as I’m sure I’ve got a few books that would fit the bill nicely.

  11. I didn’t even realize you were doing this challenge, but I remember reading most of your reviews for these books. I like that she gives you categories to work from.
    As usual, this looks like a lot of fun and I’m very tempted by it. Thinking about the reading possibilities would probably be half the fun for me. I could put a further twist on it and make it Canadian, so that I wouldn’t be straying too far from my own focus – I wonder how hard that would be…

  12. Congratulations on a great year of reading classics! I’m thinking of joining this challenge because my reading of classic books has gone out the window. I really liked Frankenstein and the history behind the book is interesting too.

      • I definitely think I’m going to jump in and join! I borrowed Romantic Outlaws, but ran out of time to read it and had to return it to the library. But this is a good reminder to put it on hold again.

  13. I’m not taking part in the challenge but I do love classics – in fact I mostly tend to read older books! Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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