Back to the Classics 2014 challenge

Updated 1/2/14

Back to the Classics, hosted by Karen

This is challenge is themed on books published during or prior to 1964.  For some of the categories, I will be overlapping with other challenges (because I’m not terribly ambitious!), but there are new to-read books on this list that I’m also looking forward to.


  1. ✓  A 20th Century ClassicThe Castle (1926, Kafka).  Alternative: 1984 (1949, Orwell) or The Great Gatsby (1925)  The Old Man and the Sea (1952, Hemingway)
  2. ✓  A 19th Century ClassicThe Masterpiece (1886), Zola  Lord Jim (18991900, Conrad)
  3. A Classic by a Woman AuthorA Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Wollstonecraft)
  4. ✓  A Classic in TranslationThe Brothers Karamazov (Dostoyevsky)
  5. A Wartime ClassicFor Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway) – Spanish Civil War
  6. A Classic by an Author Who Is New To You:  Beneath the Wheel (Hesse) – subject to change, though I’ve been wanting to read Hesse for a while now
Optional Categories:
  1. An American ClassicThe Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne) – being a Hawthorne fan who hasn’t read Scarlet Letter is just awkward
  2. A Classic Mystery, Suspense or Thriller: does Frankenstein count?
  3. A Historical Fiction Classic:  Mutiny on the Bounty (1932).  I read the Bounty Trilogy many years ago and enjoyed it – high time for a re-read!
  4. A Classic That’s Been Adapted Into a Movie or TV Series: The Last of the Mohicans (Cooper) – set in 1757, pub. 1826
  5. Extra Fun Category:  Write a Review of the Movie or TV Series adapted from Optional Category #4 must be a separate blog posting from #4

2014 Books & Challenges

Getting next year’s reading mapped out has been fun in itself – mainly because I’ve read so few books this year.  It hasn’t been a matter of less time or different priorities, just neglect.   That really has to change.  Approaching graduation, I want to keep the studying momentum that has been my frenemy for the past four years and transfer it to my own reading/studying in the future.


  • Lord Jim – by all accounts, Joseph Conrad’s best long novel. High time to read it!
  • The Magician’s Nephew (Spanish trans.) – for a beginner’s attempt at multilingual reading.  I know most of this book practically by heart, so this shouldn’t be too hard.

Lesser priority:

  • Empty my “to-finish” list – include Bleak House.  Decide whether to finish or not finish each book.
  • Steampunk/Sci-Fi Reading List – any book(s)
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Complete Hornblower series – Hotspur and everything chronologically afterwards
  • The Little White Horse
  • Out of the Silent Planet (C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy)
  • Fairy tales collections – Andersen, Grimm, Russian fairytales, etc.



This is just the motivation I need to resume studying history!  Being a slow reader, I’m going for the Student level (1-3 books).  The first book is a must, the second a goal, and the other books are maybes:

  1. Eyewitness to History (Carey) – a collection of primary sources from many eras of history. 
  2. The Collapse of the Third Republic (Shirer) – how France fell to Germany in WWII. 
  3. *A People’s History of the United States (Zinn) – famous US history textbook
  4. *A Patriot’s History of the United States (Schweikart and Allen) – alternative perspective to Zinn’s history.  

*I have taken many history courses and come to various conclusions about U.S. history in particular.  I’m eager to see how these books approach the same topics in contrasting ways, but hopefully one of them is focused on the facts and gray areas, not political bias/agenda.


For this, I would love to read For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway) and The Autumn of the Patriarch (English trans.; Gabriel García Márquez).  These are both authors I’ve recently wanted to read, so it’s a win-win situation!

Personal challenge: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Series, in chronological order.

I have probably said it a millionty-one times, but Sherlock Holmes is my favorite character of all time. I’ve actually never done a comprehensive re-reading, nor read the series in chronological order (a big deal to me)!  It has to be done.  I will be blogging about this challenge on Tumblr, and perhaps occasionally here – more info to come…

Eugene Onegin Read-Along

Tanglewood’s first book event!  I’m so excited to read one of my favorites with you guys.  🙂