The Classics Club: Completed!

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Five years ago, I decided to join an online challenge called The Classics Club, the goal of which was to read fifty classic novels in a five-year period. For the purposes of this list, I defined a classic as any book written mid-century or earlier. I always enjoyed reading classics in school, but I went almost my entire twenties without reading anything older than a decade or two, outside of university assignments.

I didn’t really expect to finish this, or even still be blogging by this time, but here we are. I actually read the fiftieth book about half a year ago, but I decided to carry on to the five-year mark, ending with 56 novels read and reviewed. I’m so glad I took part in this. I can’t say I was very active in the community, but having that little goal in the distance really did spur me on to pick up more classics, and after five years of doing that it’s permanently changed my reading. It’s no longer a conscious decision to pick up a classic novel; they’re just naturally a part of my to-read queue now.

Here’s the final list:

  1. The Trial and Death of Socrates: Four Dialogues by Plato (~399 B.C.)
  2. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (1623)
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
  4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1817)
  5. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (re-read) by Mary Shelley (1818)
  6. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin (1833)
  7. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)
  8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
  9. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)
  10. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
  11. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)
  12. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard(1885)
  13. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  14. She by H. Rider Haggard (1887)
  15. Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (1889)
  16. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
  17. A House of Pomegranates by Oscar Wilde (1891)
  18. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
  19. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895)
  20. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)
  21. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  22. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898)
  23. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)
  24. In the Ravine and Other Short Stories by Anton Chekhov (1900)
  25. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)
  26. The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle (1913)
  27. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)
  28. The Great Gatsby (re-read) by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
  29. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
  30. Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov (1932)
  31. The Hobbit (re-read) by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
  32. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
  33. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
  34. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
  35. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)
  36. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1945)
  37. Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (1949)
  38. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)
  39. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (1952)
  40. The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (1953)
  41. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (1955)
  42. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
  43. Have Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein (1958)
  44. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)
  45. Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham (1960)
  46. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
  47. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961)
  48. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)
  49. Solaris by Stanisław Lem (1961)
  50. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
  51. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
  52. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
  53. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (1966)
  54. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)
  55. Chocky by John Wyndham (1968)
  56. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

I’m pretty happy with the list, despite completely dropping the ball on reading at least one Shakespeare a year. I’ve discovered so many new authors during this time and returned to a few old favourites that I’d forgotten. I loved The Chrysalids in high school, but I didn’t even realize John Wyndham had written anything else. I finally read some Mark Twain, Vladimir Nabokov, Graham Greene, and John Steinbeck, and now I’m excited to read the rest of their work. I hadn’t even heard of Jerome K. Jerome, and Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) was one of my favourite novels I read during this.

I started with quite a different list and swapped out novels as I went. Here are the novels I wanted to read originally but didn’t get to:

  1. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (1623)
  2. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1623)
  3. King John by William Shakespeare (1623)
  4. Othello by William Shakespeare (1623)
  5. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)
  6. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)
  8. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (1888)
  9. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1920)
  10. Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre: The Best of H. P. Lovecraft by H. P. Lovecraft (1921 – 1936)
  11. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (1924)
  12. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (1933)
  13. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1934)
  14. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
  15. The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler (1949)
  16. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut (1952)
  17. Moonraker by Ian Flemming (1955)
  18. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (1959)
  19. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (1964)
  20. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine by Kurt Vonnegut (1965)

So now there’s the question of whether I should start a new list and start again. I do like making lists…

11 thoughts on “The Classics Club: Completed!

  1. J.E. Fountain

    Congrats Rob. I’ve enjoyed your reviews and enjoyed comparing where we overlapped. I re-upped after completing my original 50 a few books back. Whether you re-up with the challenge or not, I’m sure we’ll continue to see each other’s review. Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Rob Post author

      Thanks Joseph! I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of all this as well. I plan to start building a couple of lists to run through actually, inspired largely by your 100 Greatest Novels quest.

      I think I will probably make another Classics Club list to run through, mainly because I really feel like compiling the list itself, heh.

      Reply
      1. Silvia

        You are right about Nabokov, (I have his biography, Speak Memory, which is considered a great non fiction book, and he has many books to enjoy).
        Thanks for replying to my comments.
        I am glad that I have found your blog. I enjoy your reviews and I am getting a lot of book ideas.
        I have some books reviewed here, https://silviacachia.wordpress.com/book-lists/, and it is funny to hear that you won the Back to the Classics (that’s the only challenge I am doing since 2015, but I am considering this one you have just completed).
        See you around (I have subscribed to the blog), and have a great week.

        Reply
        1. Rob Post author

          I didn’t know about Speak Memory, but I’ve been itching to read more author autobiographies, so I’ll be seeking that out for sure.

          Back to the Classics is a fun one as well. It was a nice surprise to win it last year. These and a Foodie Reads challenge are the only ones I’m doing right now, as they fit my habits the best. I don’t want too many rules getting in the way of my reading.

          Subscribed to you also, really enjoying what I’ve read so far.

          Reply
    1. Rob Post author

      Thanks! Yeah, I imagine there’s often a lot of crossover. It’s a great excuse to pick up those popular classics finally!

      Reply
    1. Rob Post author

      Thanks! I’ve already created a new list, actually. Just going over it still and will probably be posting it tonight. I couldn’t help myself. I’m just a sucker for lists.

      Reply

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