Back to the Classics Challenge 2019


I’ve decided to participate in Karen @Books and Chocolate’s Back to the Classics Challenge 2019, it seems like a good idea as it’ll be a way of concentrating on unread books that I already have in the house. There are twelve categories – see below – and I intend to read one from each category, just for a wee bit of fun – I know, it takes all sorts! See my reading choices below the categories.


1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
1. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

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.
2. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

3. Classic by a Woman Author.
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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.
4. The Earth by Emile Zola

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. Some classic comic novels: Cold Comfort Farm; Three Men in a Boat; Lucky Jim; and the works of P. G. Wodehouse.
5. An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer

6. Classic Tragic Novel. Tragedies traditionally have a sad ending, but just like the comedies, this is up for the reader to interpret. Examples include The Grapes of Wrath, House of Mirth, and Madame Bovary.
6. The Trial by Franz Kafka

7. Very Long Classic. Any classic single work 500 pages or longer, not including introductions or end notes. 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.
7. Is He Popinjoy? by Anthony Trollope

8. Classic Novella. Any work of narrative fiction shorter than 250 pages.
8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean). Includes classic set in either North or South America or the Caribbean, or by an author originally from one of those countries. Examples include Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (United States); Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Jamaica); or One Hundred Years of Solitude (Columbia/South America).
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia). Any classic set in one of those continentss or islands, or by an author from these regions. Examples include Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt); The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (Japan); On the Beach by Nevile Shute (Australia); Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria).
10. Pied Piper by Nevil Shute

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. Choices for me include Giant by Edna Ferber (Texas); Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (Chicago); and Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (Germany).
11. Waverley by Walter Scott

12. Classic Play. Any play written or performed at least 50 years ago. Plays are eligible for this category only.
12. The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Have you read any of these ones? It isn’t too late to join in with this challenge – go on, I dare you!

26 thoughts on “Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

  1. Hurray for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! It is such a wonderful book. I can’t wait to find out what you think of it. I am not sure I would call An Infamous Army a comic novel. It is much more serious than Heyer’s other novels and includes huge swathes of information about the battle of Waterloo. It is very good though.

    • Jennifer,
      I’m really looking forward to reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was clutching at straws with An Infamous Army as I’ve read all of the obvious comical classics. Can you suggest anything else? I’m going to read An Infamous Army soon anyway.

      • Eeveryting I can think of you have probably read already. The Diary of a Nobody, Three Men in a Boat, anything by P. G. Wodehouse? Hmmm, this is surprisingly hard.

        • Oh! What about Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock? Or Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner? That makes me laugh out loud every time I read it and I have read it many times.

          • Jennifer,
            Thanks for those suggestions. My library doesn’t have either of them though so I’ve reserved Stephen Leacock’s Dry Pickwick – it’s the only book by him they have, I hope it’s comical. Wodehouse would have been the only other possibility, but I’ve read all the ones I have here.

    • Lisa,
      Can you suggest another comical classic? I’m really stuck as I’ve read all of the ones I know about. I’m glad to know you loved Popenjoy.

  2. This looks great fun! I’m eager to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn too and I could find titles for almost all of the categories very easily. I am toying with getting back to blogging, this is another thing to add to list of temptations!

  3. I’ve read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Tempest – and seen a couple of productions which brought the play to life for me. I never find reading a play as satisfying as seeing it performed. One Hundred Years of Solitude has been on my Classics Club list for several years now – I hope to get round to it soon!

    I’m trying not to get too involved in challenges this year, but if I can use books from my CC list maybe I’ll join in too.

    • Margaret,
      One Hundred Years of Solitude has been on my bedside table for months now after I gave up on it after one chapter, most unlike me. Jack says I should persevere though so this is my way of ensuring I do – sometime. I believe you can use your CC list.

  4. I’m not planning to take part in this, but it does sound like an interesting challenge with a good range of categories. I’ve actually just read An Infamous Army (review coming tomorrow, hopefully) and although it’s not as humorous as a lot of Heyer’s others, I did enjoy it. Apart from The Tempest I haven’t read any of your other books, but I would like to read most of them.

    • Helen,
      I’m never even sure if Heyer’s books can be described as classics, but I’m stuck for another comical classic to read. Any suggestions are welcome.

      • Kurt Vonnegut??? Have you read him? Even his most serious novels have lots of comedic elements. I loved Slaughterhouse Five, but I’m sure you must have read that. Cat’s Cradle?? He’s an absurdist writer, that’s for sure, which counts for comedy.
        I found the Humor Category to be the most difficult and think it would be difficult for me to find a book two years in a row.
        I have Catch-22, a World War II novel (semi-autobiographical) by Joseph Heller, who was in the Army Air Corps (U.S.)
        I remember my father reading it when I was about 8 years old. He would sit in his “Dad’s Only” armchair and read, chuckling and occasionally, very occasionally guffawing. But I think that was because he had been in the Army Air Corps, too.
        I’m dying to find out what he thought was so funny. I think it’s probably tragi-comedy.
        I imagine you’ve read all of Mark Twain, or at least all you want to read.
        This is indeed very difficult!!! Oh, and I think Georgette Heyer is a classic author. Absolutely. She is the penultimate classic writer of her genre. So even if the book has not been proclaimed as a Heyer “classic,” she is a classic author, so go for it!!
        That’s what I did with the Du Maurier play. The play is not a classic, but she is a classic author, so…

        • Judith,
          I think I’ve settled on Stephen Leacock now – or maybe Wodehouse. One of our sons read Catch 22 as a set book for school, he enjoyed it too, it’s a chunkster as I recall. Yes I have read just about all of Mark Twain I think. I read Slaughterhouse Five decades ago, I don’t think I read Cat’s Cradle though Jack will definitely have a copy. How I remember ‘Dad’s chair’

          • Stephen Leacock–I don’t know him but will look him up. One never knows when I might need to read a humorous book for a challenge. I thought probably you had read all of Twain. And yes, Catch-22 is a real chunkster. I’ve got my work set out for me this year. So glad you connect with “Dad’s chair.”

  5. Gosh, Katrina, I’m really excited about your list. In fact I have so many comments that I can’t write them all tonight but will have to return tomorrow. It will be so much fun to follow the books on your list with you this year. And I am reading One Hundred Years of Solitude as well. What fun.

  6. Katrina,
    Last evening I was so overwhelmed by the wonders of your list (I am NOT kidding), that I could only respond to your quest for a humorous work.
    It seems I could go on forever about your list, but you have great books there.
    One I haven’t read and must is the Ursula Le Guin undeniable classic. What a great choice.
    Kafka’s The Trial I simply loved (when I was 18). Very dark, but so different, so interesting. I must read it again.
    And, I think I mentioned this (did I?) I’m also reading 100 Years of Solitude. I’ve wanted to read it for years and years.
    And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! I haven’t read that and so many people have told me that I would love it.
    And Kate Chopin. I’ve read it and Yellow Wallpaper, and will be intrigued to hear what you think. A fascinating list!

    • Judith,
      It’s going to be very interesting to see what we both think of 100 Years of Solitude, I started it a few months ago and gave up after one chapter – something I hardly ever do. Jack has read it and says the beginning is strange but I should persevere. When will you be reading 100 Years do you think?

      • Katrina,
        I’m so glad you asked when I might read 100 Years of Solitude. I would like to read it in July or August. I love to be challenged by lots of books during those horrid months of heat and humidity. But if these months are not good for you, I would certainly consider another time. It might be fun to tackle it at the same time. If it’s difficult, we could commiserate, at the least.
        It looks like I need to cave in to the doggie plan for 2019. Both Ken and I really need a dog to be truly normal people. The dog is always the sanest being in the family. It’s our glue.
        I just hope and pray and pray that we don’t have to get a PUPPY. We have raised many a puppy in our marriage and it’s not dissimilar to having to raising an infant and toddler, in quick succession.
        We want to adopt a 9-month old or older Golden.
        But whatever road is chosen, books will be an important part of this year.

        • Judith,
          Just let me know when you begin to read 100 Years of Solitude and I’ll begin then too. I suspected that you would end up getting another dog sooner rather than later. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a suitable one turns up for adoption soon. Presumably that means you don’t get to name the dog yourself.

          • I’ll say, if it’s okay with you, let’s start July 1st.
            One thing I didn’t realize until today–Would you prefer to read the same translation together? I’ll scout out translator possibilities on my end soon, trying to look for one that will be available to you as well.
            You know it’s quite absurd. “British” translations of Russian works and “American translations.” Absurd. I will write about it in a post, but I don’t like the American translations that are available. Maybe I read too many UK books or something, but the American translations of Dostoyevsky seem dumbed down.

          • Judith,
            The 1st of July is fine for me. I’ve put it on my calendar. My copy of the book is translated by Gregory Rabassa, published by Penguin. Hmm, Jack has just said that this translator is actually American, but he has read it and enjoyed it.

  7. Pingback: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez | Pining for the West

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *