Classics Club

Yes, folks, I’m still here! I’ve been too busy/exhausted/ill/did I mention busy to write for absolutely ages despite my weekly self-imposed guilt trip about how I should be writing because I actually quite like it when I remember. However, I’m breaking the radio silence now to do something I’ve been toying with for a good few years now: I’m taking on the Classics Club Challenge.

The deal is as follows:

  • you pick a number of classic books, 50+, the definition of ‘classic’ being really woolly
  • you pick a date by which you want to finish them up to five years in the future
  • do lots of posting and linking to the original Classics Club blog as well as on your own blog (details on that here)

There aren’t really that many rules on what constitutes a classic; the easy one to pick is age (I’ve gone for a cut-off point of 1992 as that’s 25 years ago, and will be 30 by the time I’ve finished), but there are loads of other qualities in there too. In the end, I’ve gone with my gut feeling as to whether a book belongs on this list or whether it should be on the list of other things I want to read but don’t qualify for this one for whatever arbitrary reason.

So, I have chosen 100 books which I am hoping to finish by my 30th birthday on the 25th of November 2021. That’s exactly 4 1/2 years from now, so works out at about 2 books a month. I realise this is a pretty large number, but bearing in mind my propensity for audiobooks, the relative length of some of them, the fact that going home is a 4 hour train journey, and the fact that when I have deadlines (which, knowing of my plan to start my PhD in the next couple of years or so) I like procrastinating, I feel this is doable.

I’ll be writing about each book as I go (ideally), which should give me a good writing project as well as loads of interesting reading. The full list is below – you’ll notice a distinctly mythological bent to it all, but I’ve also tried to push myself outside my largely Western reading habits and get as far around the world as possible, as you can see in this handy map:

In 100 books, I couldn’t hope to represent every country in the world (there are, after all, nearly 200 of them), and there are significant gaps where the stories of some nations and peoples aren’t really written down. You’ll notice an absence of south-east Asian stuff (though lots of that was written too recently for this list and I’ll try to get through them anyway), Pacific-islander literature (which exists in a small-ish way, with a much greater amount of oral tradition that I’m interested in investigating), or eastern African literature, not to mention lots of Europe, Canada, and the western Indian subcontinent. I’m not intending to ignore these areas by any means, it’s just that including them on this particular list wasn’t going to work out, either due to the best books coming out recently, sheer lack of numbers of books, or pure lack of space. The stripy bits are where a collection of stories (such as the Thousand and One Nights) comes from a large area not really restricted to a country as such. There are minimal numbers of re-reads in there, although these are technically allowed. Lots of re-reads will happen in the next 4 1/2 years anyway, I’m sure.

Anyway, here’s the list in full, and it will eventually have links to whatever it is I write about each of the books as I go. I may be nuts taking on something of this magnitude, but screw it, books are good, and I won’t know without trying!

  1. Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart
  2. Akutagawa, Ryūnosuke, Rashomon
  3. Allende, Isabel, The House of Spirits
  4. Alighieri, Dante, The Divine Comedy
  5. Ananthamurthy, U.R., Samskara
  6. Bâ, Mariama, So Long a Letter
  7. Barker, William, West African Folk Tales
  8. Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People
  9. Boethius, The Consolations of Philosophy
  10. Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451
  11. Bradley, Marion Zimmer, Mists of Avalon
  12. Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  13. Campbell, Joseph, The Power of Myth
  14. Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyphus
  15. Cao Xueqin, Dream of the Red Chamber
  16. de Cervantes, Miguel, Don Quixote
  17. Chaucer, Geoffrey, Canterbury Tales
  18. Chretien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances
  19. Coelho, Paulo, The Alchemist
  20. Collins, Wilkie, The Moonstone
  21. Condé, Maryse, Segu
  22. Confucius, Analects
  23. Conrad, Joseph, Heart of Darkness
  24. Cynewulf, The Dream of the Rood
  25. Dostoevsky, Theodor, The Brothers Karamazov
  26. Eco, Umberto, The Name of the Rose
  27. Eliot, George, Middlemarch
  28. Esquivel, Laura, Como Agua para Chocolate
  29. Farmer, Penelope, Charlotte Sometimes
  30. Frazer, James George, The Golden Bough
  31. García Marquez, Gabriel, Love in the Time of Cholera
  32. García Marquez, Gabriel, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  33. Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain
  34. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Prophecies of Merlin
  35. Heller, Joseph, Catch-22
  36. Hesiod, Theogony
  37. Hesse, Herman, Siddhartha
  38. Homer, The Iliad
  39. Homer, The Odyssey
  40. Honey, James, South African Folk Tales
  41. Hulme, Keri, The Bone People
  42. Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World
  43. Ihimaera, Witi, The Whale Rider
  44. Ishiguro, Kazuo, The Remains of the Day
  45. Joyce, James, Ulysses
  46. Jung Chang, Wild Swans
  47. Kafka, Franz, Metamorphosis
  48. Kafka, Franz, The Trial
  49. Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching
  50. Lévi Strauss, Claude, Myth and Meaning
  51. Li Ruzhen, Flowers in the Mirror
  52. Lönnrot, Elias, The Kalevala
  53. Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  54. Mahfouz, Naguib, Palace Walk
  55. Malinke People, Epic of Sundiata
  56. Malio, Nouhou, The Epic of Askia Mohammed
  57. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  58. Melville, Herman, Moby Dick
  59. Milton, John, Paradise Lost
  60. Mofolo, Thomas, Chaka
  61. de Montaigne, Michel, Essais
  62. Narayam, R. K., Swami and Friends
  63. Nietzsche, Frederic, Beyond Good and Evil
  64. Orwell, George, Nineteen-Eighty-Four
  65. Ovid, Metamorphoses
  66. Ozaki,Yea Theodora, Japanese Fairy Tales
  67. Peake, Mervyn, Titus Groan
  68. Pirsig, Robert, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  69. Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar
  70. Plato, The Republic
  71. Rumi, Masnavi, book 1
  72. Rushdie, Salman, Midnight’s Children
  73. Salinger, J.D., The Catcher in the Rye
  74. Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book
  75. Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein
  76. Shelley, Percy Bysse, Prometheus Unbound
  77. Shikibu, Murasaki, Tales of Genji
  78. Spence, Lewis, Myths of Mexico and Peru
  79. St. Augustine, Confessions of St. Augustine
  80. Steinbeck, John, Of Mice and Men
  81. Sturluson, Snorri, The Prose Edda
  82. Sun Tzu, The Art of War
  83. Tagore, Rabindranath, The Home and the World
  84. Tahar ben Jelloun, The Sand Child
  85. Tennyson, Alfred Lord, The Idylls of the King
  86. The Buddha, Dhammapada
  87. Tolkien, J.R.R., The Silmarillion
  88. Unaipon, David, Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines
  89. Vyāsa, Mahabharata
  90. Wace, Roman de Brut
  91. Walker, Alice, The Color Purple
  92. White, T.H., The Once and Future King
  93. Sagas of the Icelanders
  94. Epic of Gilgamesh
  95. Tales of the Elders of Ireland
  96. The One Thousand and One Nights
  97. East of the Sun and West of the Moon
  98. The Mabinogion
  99. Tales of Joha: Jewish Trickster
  100. The Secret History of the Mongols

I haven’t decided which one I’m going to start with yet, but it will probably be one of the smaller ones to begin with (or one that I have on my e-reader, as I’m travelling a fair bit this summer!)

I’m really excited about all of these for different reasons, and I can’t wait to read them and write about them all! Stay tuned to see how I do. I’m hoping to carry on posting about my usual mental health/autism/academia/life rants in between as well, now that I’ve stopped underestimating/overestimating the amount of time needed to do my MA. Those things will start again post-deadlines (two more weeks!), but in the mean time, this will give me some writing purpose, as well as a few things I’m writing for other sites, which, of course, I will share with you all when they happen :)


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