The Classics Club was created to inspire people to read and blog about classic books (their words). In high school, I relied on SparkNotes to help me ace my tests and never read any of the required classics until Frankenstein, or the last assignment.
I learned about The Classics Club from This Tangled Skein and, as someone wanting to work classics into my reading, see it as a great challenge for myself. Having a community and as long as five years to complete my list makes this a practical challenge for myself, so I’m giving it a shot.
My list of 50 classics to read by January 7, 2024
Links to my reviews will be added as applicable.
- “Affinity” by Sarah Waters
- “Annie on My Mind” by Nancy Garden (1/20/20)
- “Animal Farm” by George Orwell
- “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
- “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
- “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
- “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell
- “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
- “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
- “Cold Sassy Tree” by Olive Ann Burns
- “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
- “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- “Dracula” by Bram Stoker
- “Emma” by Jane Austen
- “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
- “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway
- “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley (reread)
- “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin
- “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread, sort of)
- “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
- “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
- “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett
- “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” by Italo Calvino
- “Inferno” by Dante Alighieri
- “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
- “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
- “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
- “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
- “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville
- “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf
- “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck (reread, sort of)
- “The Picture of Dorian Grey” by Oscar Wilde
- “The Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James
- “The Price of Salt” (or “Carol”) by Patricia Highsmith
- “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown
- “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
- “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
- “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
- “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston
- “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
- “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith
- “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare
- “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins
- “Ulysses” by James Joyce
- “Vanity Fair” by William Makepeace Thackeray
- “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson
- “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
- “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
My criterion for creating the list
- Diversity: Variety is important, whether expressed via genres, page counts, themes, author demographics, etc.
- No repeat authors: Because of the wide array of classics out there, I opted out of repeating authors so I cansample various classic authors without having to commit to them.
- Woman writers: 21/50 books on this list were written by women. I tried to find books that interested me and that I generally wanted to read for pop culture reasons, and titles written by women that I figured I could read off the list would suffice in favor of adding a book that I need a little more motivation to read to the list instead. Otherwise, half the list would be books written by women.
I used the list provided by The Classics Club, books commonly shelved #theclassicsclub on Goodreads, and Book Riot’s “Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books” list for assistance in creating my own.
In my review posts, I’ll be including why I selected a particular book if it’s one I selected for more than sampling reasons.
Banned and/or challenged books
From my list, a handful of books are banned/challenged:
- Animal Farm
- Brave New World
- The Color Purple
- A Farewell to Arms
- The Great Gatsby
- Gone with the Wind
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Lord of the Flies
- Of Mice and Men
Reading banned/challenged books has been a dream of mine for awhile, so I’m excited about this!
Milestones & rewards for myself
I initially had non-monetary/non-food rewards here for myself, but as I’ve practiced self-care and made a habit of it, those rewards have been redundant. I do them already, when I have the spoons.
Thus, instead of setting up milestones/rewards, I’ll consider the reward to be reading the books and completing however much of this list I complete.
Sharing my progress
I’ll be sharing my progress as I review the books! I selected many of them with deeper reasons that I think might interest certain people, i.e. those who like my book reviews already, but even more so when I get a little personal in them. I’ll a roundup of books I finish in monthly updates. I’ll also be tagging posts accordingly.
Fifty books comes out to, roughly, one book per month. As there are 60 total in five years, I should have 10 months leeway. I tend not to take one month to read a book, however, unless my mood causes me to jump around to different books.
If you loved this post, please share or buy me a pretzel:
I have read a few books from your list: Gone with the Wind, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Help, The color Purple.
Now I see they are all on the banned list LOL what does that say about myself???
I hope that I’m a nonconformist 🙂
I hope you love them as much as I did 🙂
We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a DFN for me
I DO want to read all the books on your list with the exception of Lolita! Classic Literature and all, pedophilia is where I draw the line 🙂
I remember visiting that club’s page and wanting to join but then I decided not too because I’ve already have way too many goals 🙂
Maybe I’ll try to add one to my TBR every quarter .
Since your list is so awesome I’ll choose from it. Let’s seeeeee…. Which oneeeeeee….
AHA! got it… I think I go with Wuthering Heights! I’ll go and add it to GR right now before I forget 🙂
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
This is a great idea! How funny that you used Spark Notes in high school but now you want to read those classics after all. 🙂
😅 I think required reading in school doesn’t work as well as the education boards think they do, although my issue was less the reading and more that I either didn’t have time for it (because my mom and stepfather always had me watching my half-siblings so they could go out) or I didn’t like how the majority of the books hadn’t any female main characters, and the female characters were almost always the villains because they didn’t like the male protagonists. I couldn’t relate to much of the books, either, save for The Diary of Anne Frank, because I was in the small percentage of children living in an abusive, neglected environment—which was not portrayed in more than maybe one or two stories.
Lots of good stuff on your list and lots I haven’t read too! I love Vanity Fair and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and strongly recommend you dump Moby Dick and Lolita… 😉 Have fun and welcome to the club! 😀
Thank you! 😅 Those two are definitely on the list due to specific reasons that I’ll reveal once I review them on my blog.
Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts
Ooooo good luck on all of these! I haven’t read many of them, but I LOVED To Kill a Mockingbird for the issues portrayed in the novel and hope you’ll enjoy it as well! The only time I used SparkNotes was for The Great Gatsby, but only because we got asked detailed questions in quizzes.
This sounds like so much fun! I’ve been wanting to pick up a few more classics this year, so I’ll do this challenge with you and buddy read the books on your list! I’ve only read five of them, one of which I plan to re-read this year (The Handmaid’s Tale) because the sequel is coming out in September and also because I could never write a proper review for it which I want to do. I’ll re-read the five that I’ve read with you since I haven’t written reviews for any of them, and it’s been quite a few years since I have. Let me know which ones you pick up!
I also joined a Banned Books club on Goodreads that has a very active twitter chat. The chat is a little overwhelming for me to keep up with, but I figure it’ll be fun!
Awesome! I don’t know which book I’ll be starting with yet…probably Frankenstein, considering I have it handy? I spent a bit of money this month because groceries and lifing material. 😅 But I also don’t know when I’ll be starting it because ugh…this new year is starting off long and busy.
Good on you! I’m ashamed to say I’ve only read 6 of the ones you list. Some of the authors I’m familiar with for other works, which is maybe worth a minor something? Hehe. If I manage to actually finish one book this year I will feel like I’ve achieved something. There are many reasons why I find it so difficult to read an entire book these days, whereas in the past I reguarly got through at least 200 books a year. I miss those days.
I used to find it difficult to read books, but don’t so much anymore. I’ve never read 200 books in a year, though!
I recognize several names because pop culture—one of the reasons I’m doing this book club—or because they were assigned reading in school. I never actually read them, though, in full, because I was so over assigned reading since it removed all the fun of reading. 😅