I’m Joining The Classics Club

The Classics Club


April 2019

I originally put this list together a little over five years ago. I recently looked it over and decided it no longer reflects how I want to allocate the remainder of my life’s reading time. 

I have therefore put together a brand new list, which you can find here.

If you’re interested, you can also see there the 20 titles from the original list that I did manage to finish over the past five years.

Having reached a certain age, I’ve realized that now is the time to make and start to whittle away at my list of literary classics. Discovering The Classics Club online was the final push I needed to get started. The point of the club is to make up a list of at least 50 titles and commit to a time period for reading them. Fortunately, the club is pretty lenient, so both the list and the reading time will always be in process, which means that there may be periodic changes. But here’s my beginning:

Start date: March 1, 2014
Completion date: March 1, 2019

As I read each work, I’ll post a review, or at least comments, on this blog. I’ll hyperlink the title on this list to the new entry. My working goal is one classic per month. (Hey, I already have a huge TBR [to be read] list, and it grows every day. And yes, I did the math, and there’s no way I’ll get through the 58 works on this original list in a mere 5 years at the rate of one per month. Since some of my choices are long and difficult, while others are short and easy, I hope to have at least a few months when I get through more than one. But it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s important, and all that.)

My list contains three categories of selections:

  1. Books that any well-read person should have read and that I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t yet (think Ulysses)
  2. Books that I’ve read before but want to reread (e.g., Middlemarch)
  3. Books that fill in the gaps of my knowledge of American literature and 19th century English literature (the majority of works on this list)

Here’s my classics reading list, arranged alphabetically by author:

Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams
Adams, Richard. Watership Down
Agee, James. A Death in the Family
Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility
Brink, Carol Ryrie. Caddie Woodlawn
Burns, Olive. Cold Sassy Tree
Cather, Willa. O Pioneers!
Cheever, John. Collected Stories
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes from the Underground
Eliot, George. Middlemarch
Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!
Faulkner, William. Light in August
Faulkner, William. Sanctuary
Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Hardy, Thomas. Far From the Madding Crowd
Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway, Ernest: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Howells, William Dean. The Rise of Silas Lapham
James, Henry. What Maisie Knew
James, Henry. The Beast in the Jungle
Joyce, James. Dubliners
Joyce, James. Ulysses
Koestler, Arthur. Darkness at Noon
Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook
Lewis, Sinclair. Babbit
Lewis, Sinclair. Main Street
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. One Hundred Years of Solitude
Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology (1915)
Miller, Walter M., Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables
Morley, Christopher. Parnassus on Wheels (1917)
Morley, Christopher. Kitty Foyle (1939)
Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire
Nabokov, Vladimir. Pnin
O’Connor, Flannery. Everything that Rises must Converge
O’Neill, Eugene. The Iceman Cometh
Pym, Barbara. Excellent Women
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea
Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle
Smith, Dodie. I Capture the Castle (1948)
Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row
Steinbeck, John. Tortilla Flat
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men
Styron, William. Darkness Visible (1990)
Styron, William. Lie Down in Darkness (1951)
Tarkington, Booth. The Magnificent Ambersons (1918)
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five
Wharton, Edith. Ghost Stories
Wilder, Thornton. Our Town
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire
Williams, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Wilson, Sloan. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955)
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway
Wouk, Herman. Marjorie Morningstar (1955)
Yates, Richard. Revolutionary Road (1961)

Total: 58

Later additions to the list:

Jackson, Shirley. We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
March, William. The Bad Seed (1954)

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