Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

btcc berlin books
Sill Life, Books. Unknown Spanish artist, 1620-1640.
Old National Gallery, Berlin

I came to know about the ‘Back to the Classics Challenge’ hosted by Karen @ Books and Chocolate through Jane @ Just Reading a Book and I signed up immediately. Thanks Karen and Jane! The aim of the challenge is to encourage us to read 12 classics from various categories. Actually I am drawn to classics and I often tend to choose them over contemporary reads. So reading 12 classics is not a challenge for me. I like this particular challenge as it encourages us to choose classics from different genres and different areas of the world. I love classics for reflecting the universal human experience with lyricism and artistic finesse. They enlighten me about a past era and increase my knowledge of history in an entertaining way. They are generally written in flowery prose and help me improve my own vocabulary and writing. And last but not the least, they provide insights into human nature and teach me a lot about the world and about myself. So, without further ado, these twelve books are among the classics I intend to read this year:

  1. 19thcentury Classic: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  2. 20th century Classic ( written before 1969): The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  3. Classic by a Woman Writer: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  4. Classic in Translation: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  5. Classic Comic Novel: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome. K. Jerome
  6. Classic Tragic Novel: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  7. Very long Classic ( 500 plus pages): Middlemarch by George Eliot
  8. Classic Novella ( less than 250 pages): Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka
  9. Classic From The Americas ( including the Caribbean): One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
  10. Classic From Africa, Asia or Oceania ( including Australia): L’Enfant Noir (The African Child) by Camara Laye
  11. Classic From a Place Where You’ve Lived: Nirmala by Munshi Premchand
  12. Classic Play: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

These classics are from the 19th and 20th centuries. My list is not set in stone. As the year progresses, I may replace some of the works with books written in earlier centuries or add them to my regular reading list. For instance, as a medievalist, I’m dying to read Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf side by side with the Old English text.

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to read more books in languages other than English and this challenge will enable me to achieve this goal. There are three French books on the list which I’ll be reading in the original. For the classic from a place where I’ve lived, I chose Munshi Premchand’s Nirmala set in Uttar Pradesh, India, where I spent the early years of my childhood. I have an affinity for the language, the culture and customs of that region and I’m looking forward to reading the book in Hindi. I’m also going to attempt reading The Metamorphosis in the original and that is my most ambitious resolution as my German is quite rusty.

There are three books on the list that I’ve already read before but I’m eager to re-read them from the perspective of an older adult for if there’s anything better than reading classics, it’s re-reading them. After all, they are called classics for a reason. And at the risk of sounding smug, I have to say that when it comes to literature, more than anything else, I look for quality.

Do you like reading classics? What are some of your favorite classics and are there any classics that you’ve always meant to read but never got around to doing it yet? Do share your thoughts in the comments.  






8 thoughts on “Back to the Classics Challenge 2019

  1. That’s a lovely and fascinating list – I’ve read a good few of them but there are new ones which sound very interesting. Like you I’m more often than not drawn to Classics or books from the 20th century (which I still think of as modern classics, no doubt thanks to my age!) What’s lovely is that there are still so many I haven’t read – for example, a lot of the French classics are calling to me nowadays! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! I like books from the 19th century and the early 20th century. Isn’t it lovely that apart from the classics written in English, there are many foreign ones beckoning us too! There are many amazing French classics to choose from. And your blog has inspired me to read more Russian works.


  3. I, too, tend to stay away from challenges but this one had my name written all over it! I agree it’s hard to resist this temptation. I am reading Middlemarch right now. I found it very tedious in the beginning but I’m glad I persisted as I just can’t put it down now. As for House of Mirth, I can’t wait to read it. Edith Wharton is among my all time favorite writers.


  4. What a great list, I’m glad I helped to encourage you! I agree with you about Middlemarch, it took a while for me to get into it, but now I think it’s one of my favourite novels. Good Luck with your list!

    Liked by 1 person

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