Back to the Classics Challenge – 2014

A couple years ago I tried to participate in a “Back to the Classics” challenge, and I sort of…fizzled out somewhere in the middle of the year. I might have gotten engaged (slightly distracting in the best way), which cut down on plans to plow through classic works of literature. I think that is a pretty good reason to set aside a challenge. In any case, I’m married now, and not planning anything big, so I’m going to try again.

If you’re interested in participating, go here to see the details from the host, “Books and Chocolate.” Here are a few of the guidelines:

I am defining a classic as a book that was published at least 50 years ago.  Therefore, any book published after 1964 is ineligible. 

Here are the rest of the guidelines:

  • All books must be read in 2014.  Books started prior to January 1, 2014 are not eligible.  Reviews must be linked by December 31, 2014.
  • E-books and audiobooks are eligible!  Books can count for other challenges you may be working on.  However, books may NOT crossover categories within this challenge.  You may NOT count the same book twice for different categories in this challenge.  
  • If you do not have a blog, you may link your review from Goodreads or other publicly accessible online format.
  • Please sign up for the challenge using the linky below BEFORE MARCH 1, 2014.  Please link to your sign-up announcement post (if possible/applicable).
  • You do not have to list your books prior to starting the challenge, but it is more fun that way :).  You can always change your list at any time.  You can read the books in any order (including mixing in the optional categories at any time).
  • You can decide to attempt the optional categories at any point (you can also bow out of the optional categories at any point as well).
  • Please identify the categories you’ve read in your wrap-up post so that I can easily add up your entries for the prize drawing!

And to clarify, you have to read different books for each category — you can repeat authors or genres, but no fair using the same book multiple times within this challenge! The only book that you can repeat is in the movie/TV adaptation review.

Ok, so here are my picks (which are subject to change, and probably will not be read in order):


  1. A 20th Century Classic – My Antonia – Willa Cather
    [I read this in school and was, I must admit, bored. Too much description! Not enough action! My mother tells me I should give it another chance.]
  2. A 19th Century Classic – The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author – something by Jane Austen for a book club–we haven’t picked one yet, so I’ll update when I know what we’re reading
    ***we’re reading Emma!***
  4. A Classic in Translation – The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky (Pevear/Volokhonsky translation).
    [I have tried to read this twice, and got bogged down, last time during the life story of the monk whose name I forget — I’m going to start with this book in January because A) I think Russian novels ought to be read in the winter and B) I want to start while I’m still enthusiastic about this challenge.]
  5. A Wartime Classic – War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You – Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
    [I missed this one in school, somehow. Guess you can’t read everything.]
Optional Categories:
  1. An American Classic – Still thinking about this one. Suggestions welcome.
  2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller – The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton
    [I got this for Christmas 2 years ago and it’s been sitting on my nightstand. It is time.]
  3. A Historical Fiction Classic –  A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens??
    Suggestions welcome here too. I’m having a hard time thinking of a classic that’s historical fiction.
  4. A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series –  North & South – Elizabeth Gaskell??
    Also subject to change.
  5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4 –North & South, or whatever I end up choosing.
    [The 2004 version of North & South reminds me that Richard Armitage is actually pretty tall in real life, unlike his recent role.]

Anyone want to join me in the challenge?

4 thoughts on “Back to the Classics Challenge – 2014

  1. Thanks for signing up! You have some of my favorite books on your list of possible selections — I loved North and South, love Jane Austen (Persuasion is a particular favorite). Edith Wharton is one of my favorite American authors — Ethan Frome is excellent and it’s rather short, also House of Mirth.

    A Tale of Two Cities is a great historical novel. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is also historical, Kidnapped by R.L. Stevenson; plus a lot of Dumas. Elizabeth Gaskell also wrote some historical novels. From the 20th century, there’s I, Claudius; Gone with the Wind; Death Comes to the Archbishop; also some of the works of Georgette Heyer and Daphne du Maurier would qualify. I hope you can find one you like.


    • Thanks so much for the suggestions! I’ve actually never read any Wharton — Age of Innocence is in my Stack of Books to be Read Someday, so maybe I’ll try that for my American Classic.

      Dumas intimidates me a little because of sheer length of his books, but we’ll see how I’m getting on with the other books and I might give him a try. 🙂

      Looking forward to January 1!


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