The challenge is fairly simple. There are 12 categories of classic books. If you want to join, you pick books for each category, read them throughout the year, and write a review about each one. At the end of the year, if you’ve completed the steps for at least six categories, you’re eligible to win an Amazon gift card.
I’m excited about this. I feel like it’s a fun, attainable goal that will help me achieve a separate personal goal of…reading more classics! Can anyone honestly say that they’ve read enough of them? I always wish I read more of them, but when deciding between The Count of Monte Cristo and the newest Maggie Stiefvater book, contemporary beats classic every time.
Hopefully, this is the year I change that! (By reading more classics, not by NOT reading the newest Maggie book. That would be outrageous.)
My Back to the Classics Challenge Selections
Category 1: 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
My choice: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Explanation: I know all the words to Oliver & Company, I might as well read the source material
Category 2: 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969. All books in this category must have been published at least 50 years ago. The only exceptions are books that were published posthumously but were written at least 50 years ago.
My choice: Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
Explanation: This was an assigned read in one of the most interesting college classes I took, which happened to be during the second semester of my senior year. I had checked out from academia and I SparkNoted (is that still a thing) the whole book. It seemed interesting and the discussion was fascinating and I’ve regretted not reading it for a long time.
Category 3: Classic by a Woman Author
My choice: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Explanation: This was assigned to me in high school, as the first book of my senior year, but I read the beginning and erroneously assumed the entire book would be in letter format and SparkNoted it instead (why is there a weird trend happening here). Again, the discussion was interesting and I’ve regretted it for awhile.
Category 4: Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a novel other than your native language. You may read the book in your native language, or its original language (or a third language for all you polyglots!) Modern translations are acceptable, as long as the book was originally published at least 50 years ago. Books in translation are acceptable in all other categories as well.
My choice: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Explanation: Nothing fancy, it’s been on my to-read list for quite some time
Category 5: Classic Comic Novel. Any comedy, satire, or humorous work. Humor is very subjective, so if you think Crime and Punishment is hilarious, go ahead and use it, but if it’s a work that’s traditionally not considered humorous, please tell us why in your post.
My choice: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Explanation: My biggest problem with this one was there are a lot of books I want to read that MIGHT qualify, but since I haven’t read them I’m not sure. Catch-22 is a favorite of mine, it makes me laugh a lot, it’s a satire, and I get something new out of it every time I read it. And re-reads are allowed! So I went for it.
Category 6: Classic Tragic Novel. Tragedies traditionally have a sad ending, but just like the comedies, this is up for the reader to interpret.
My choice: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Explanation: Suffice it to say, an episode of Friends has me dying to read this one
Category 7: Very Long Classic. Any classic single work 500 pages or longer, not including introductions or endnotes. Omnibus editions of multiple works do not count. Since page counts can vary depending on the edition, average the page count of various editions to determine the length.
My choice: Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
Explanation: I’m a King Arthur buff. I’ve read Le Morte before but really, it’s so long and nuanced, reading it a second time hardly counts as a re-read. I figured if I needed to read a book that’s more than 500 pages, I should pick one that I know I’ll like.
Category 8: Classic Novella. Any work of narrative fiction shorter than 250 pages.
My choice: “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
Explanation: I can write a whole blog post about why I want to re-read this novella without actually reviewing it, but suffice it to say that I was severely misled about this story when I read it in high school and I want to re-read it now that I know the truth.
Category 9: Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean). Includes classic set in either continent or the Caribbean, or by an author originally from one of those countries.
My choice: Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
Explanation: I’ve been a fan of Mark Twain ever since I watched the movie Tom and Huck, and I’m only halfway kidding.
Category 10: Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). Any classic set in one of those contents or islands, or by an author from these countries.
My choice: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Explanation: I read this one time, in middle school, and it had an intense, profound effect on me. I want to re-read it again through the eyes of an adult.
Category 11: Classic From a Place You’ve Lived. Read locally! Any classic set in a city, county, state or country in which you’ve lived, or by a local author.
My choice: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Explanation: At first, I woefully thought I was going to have to dredge up some boring, previously undiscovered story to fit the criteria for this classic. Then I remembered I used to live in New York.
Category 12: Classic Play. Any play written or performed at least 50 years ago. Plays are eligible for this category only.
My choice: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
Explanation: A combination of binge-watching Shakespeare in Love on repeat and reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness has convinced me that I need to become more familiar with Marlowe.
That’s my list! You have until the end of March to sign-up for the 2019 challenge, so if you’re so inclined, feel free to join in. I’ll be updating this list with links to the reviews as I write them.
What’s a classic YOU regret not reading?