TBR Thursday 88 – Joining The Classics Club

classics club logo 2The List

As I wander round the blogosphere, I’ve often been tempted to join The Classics Club, so now’s the time. In fact, it won’t change my reading patterns much at all, since I routinely read a fair number of classics every year. Most of the items on my list are already on my TBR, wishlist or bookshelves, while many of the rest are part of the ongoing Great American Novel Quest. Many of them are also re-reads, since re-reading favourite classics is always a pleasure, and I haven’t done enough of it since I got distracted by all the shiny new books for review.

The rules of the club are relatively simple. Basically, a list of at least 50 books is required, along with a commitment to read and post about them within 5 years. The list part is no problem, and I guess no-one will throw me in a rat-infested dungeon should my commitment falter over the years. Will they??


The benefits of joining are primarily that it’s a good way to meet other book bloggers who enjoy reading classic fiction too.

In terms of defining what is a classic, I’ve decided quite simply that any book originally published more than 50 years ago counts, therefore my cut-off date is 1965.


So here’s my list – 90 books which I “commit” to reading and posting about within the next five years…

The American Section

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852) – re-read
The American by Henry James (1877)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair  (1906)
My Antonia by Willa Cather  (1918)
Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)
Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West (1933)
Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald (1934) – re-read
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (1940)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
Mildred Pierce by James M Cain (1941)
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (1945)
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946)
The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw (1948)
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) – re-read
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr (1964)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)

gone with the wind

The English Section

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (1814) – re-read
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) – re-read
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (1838) – re-read
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens ( 1841) – re-read
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1855) – re-read
No Name by William Wilkie Collins (1862)
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (1864)
Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore (1869)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens (1870)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891) – re-read
Nada the Lily by H Rider Haggard (1892)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1902)
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence (1913) – re-read
The African Queen by CS Forester (1935)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) – re-read
The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938) – re-read
Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp (1944)
The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (1948) – re-read
The Go-Between by LP Hartley (1953) – re-read
Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer (1955) – re-read

tess of the d'urbervilles

The Scottish Section

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett (1771)
Annals of the Parish by John Galt (1821)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)
The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott (1828) – re-read
The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson (1889)
The House with the Green Shutters by George Douglas Brown (1901)
Flemington by Violet Jacob (1911)
The New Road by Neil Munro (1914)
Children of the Dead End by Patrick McGill (1914)
The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1915) – re-read
Imagined Corners by Willa Muir (1931)
Cloud Howe by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1933) – re-read
The Gowk Storm by Nancy Brysson Morrison (1933)
Grey Granite by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1934) – re-read
No Mean City by Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long (1935)
Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie (1947)
The Bull Calves by Naomi Mitchison (1947)
The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins (1955)
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (1961)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961) – re-read

the prime of miss jean brodie

The Crime Section

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (1903)
The 39 Steps by John Buchan (1915) – re-read
The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett (1929)
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain (1934)
The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr (1935)
The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White (1936)
I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane (1947)
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (1950)
The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham (1952)
She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac (1952)
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)
Cop Hater by Ed McBain (1956) – re-read
4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie (1957) – re-read
Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver (1958)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré (1963)

strangers on a train

The Sci-fi Section

The Island of Dr Moreau by HG Wells (1896)
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
Earth Abides by George R Stewart (1949)
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951) – re-read
Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951) – re-read
Childhood’s End by Arthur C Clarke (1953)
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)
On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) – re-read
Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein (1959)
Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs (1959)
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison (1961) – re-read
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)
The Drowned World by JG Ballard (1962)
Way Station by Clifford D Simak (1963)

the day of the triffids

* * * * * * *

The list will undoubtedly change over time. But, meantime, what do you think (assuming you’re still awake)? Any there that you don’t think deserve a place? Or that you love? Or any different ones you’d like to see added?

70 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 88 – Joining The Classics Club

  1. This is ambitious, FF! I salute you and your efforts. Haven’t read 9 of those books in the American section, so I’ll see how you rate them first. Gone with the Wind never rated well with me, although it does capture a time and place epically. Catcher in the Rye is my favorite, but I hope Holden’s potty mouth won’t put you off, as well as his brooding. 😉 And the Scottish section is intriguing. Looking forward this! (Make time for tennis, of course!)


    • The vast majority of the American ones will be new to me, as will the Scottish! And yet loads of the English ones will be re-reads. Says something about cultural domination…! I’m not sure what I’ll think of Gone with the Wind – I loved the film when I was a young’un, but it might be a bit too saga-ish for my reading tastes now. Haha! Yes, I fear I may hate Catcher in the Rye – it’s been on my TBR for about 100 years, but has never yet made it to the top. Still, needs must, eh? 😉


  2. Wow, you’ve got your work cut out for you, my dear!! Sounds like you’ve gathered a worthy selection of books. Of course, I haven’t read all of your list, so I’ll be interested in reading your reviews when you get around to writing them. Why did you choose 90, when the “instructions” called for “at least 50”? Oh, I get it — you’re an over-achiever. Brilliant!!


    • Hahaha! Well, it may partly be that, but it’s also my burning need to make lists – once I start, I can’t stop! Plus, most of these are actually already on my TBR, so it was easier just to list them all than to decide which ones to include. And I wanted to include some crime and sci-fi for those times when a heavy novel seems like too much work… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like that list of yours, FictionFan! It’s varied in many ways, and treats all sorts of themes. It’ll be very interesting to follow your progress and see what you think of those choices. One of the things I like best about your list is that it spans a long period of time, so you’ll also be able to refresh yourself about the changes in perspectives and writing styles over the years. I’m looking forward to your reviews.


    • I do like a lot of variety in my reading, though I find I stick very much to the beaten track of English and American novels – even the Scottish ones will be a bit of a departure for me, which is rather sad! And I needed to have some crime and sci-fi in there to lighten the thing a bit – sometimes an 18th century tome sounds good, other times less so… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. At least every few months I am reminded about The Classics Club and more or less want to participate. My problem is the list of fifty books. Since I’m in my 70s, I’ve already read most of the classics that I know about and want to read – and I don’t have time for many rereads. 🙂 I still read quite a few classics – around 40-50 a year actually, thanks to various groups, blogs and friends who bring ones I’ve never heard of to my attention. But it’s an ongoing process, I doubt I could come up with more than twenty at any one time.

    I see you have The 39 Steps as a reread. Have you read the others in the Hannay series? I just finished the 5th one and have liked each one better than the one before. They’re all quite different though. It’s only the first two that I would class as spy stories. The rest are other mystery/thrillers, although with spies or former spies involved at times.

    One series I would definitely put on my list are the Lewis Grassic Gibbon books. I’ve been meaning to read that quartet (?) for years. Hmmm, I feel myself weakening again. Maybe with the help of your list, I can finally come up with fifty books! Thanks!


    • I know – I’ve been thinking about it on and off for ages, and it’s the list that put me off. I do have a TBR but planning five years ahead seems a bit extreme! However, to be honest, in the end I decided just to list everything on my TBR that counted as a classic and topped them up from various Best Of lists around the internet. Whether I stick to the list or not remains to be seen. Like you I read lots of classics anyway – not as much as you but easily 20-30 a year, if I include crime and sci-fi. So if I read things that aren’t on the list, I’ll just swap them in as I go along. Go on! The spins and things always look like fun…

      No, The 39 Steps is the only one I’ve read and so long ago my memories of it are very vague – I really know it better from the films. I should make an effort to read more of them – my sister is a big fan of the Hannay books.

      The Lewis Grassic Gibbons will be a re-read for me, though again from long ago. I re-read the first one, Sunset Song, last year, so that’s why it’s just the other two that are on my list – as far as I know, it’s a trilogy. I’m ashamed of how few Scottish classics I’ve read, though, so this should help to push me to do something about that…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! Not to mention Moby Dick, who turns up on every list I do, but still never quite seems to make it to the top of the pile! I can’t understand why I haven’t read In Cold Blood before – or you, for that matter! It seems like such an ‘us’ kind of book…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh him too 🙂 My brother keeps asking me if I’ve read it yet because he’s been telling me for years (decades) that I’d enjoy it and I always respond by saying I will soon – I really must because as you say it surely is an ‘us’ kind of read.


        • It very is a ‘you’ kind of book – I think both of you would hugely enjoy it! As I’ve said before Cleo, your brother’s got great taste. The thought of ‘a list of classics’ has always intimidated me, but there are a lot of books on this list that appeal to me, and not too many doorstops, thankfully! I may join you in your quest – in a couple of years!

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s taken me ages to decide to join ‘cos a 50-book list over 5 years seems too… I don’t know. Intimidating? Restrictive? But every time they do a ‘spin’ I always regret not being in it. And I was careful to include lots of lighter reads along with the weighty tomes. You should think about it…


        • Maybe whichever one of us reviews it first will convince the other one the time has come. Mind you, I’ve just counted up my outstanding review books and I don’t think I’ll be reading it till about 2027…

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Now I feel not quite as well-read as I did before I saw your post. I’ve only read TEN of these titles! Good grief! I think this is really cool. I commend you, FictionFan! I’ve been thinking about reading more classics lately. Since I’ll soon be finishing Middlemarch, I think I want to keep reading (or rereading) classic novels at the same leisurely pace of our readalong – along with all the OTHER books I’ll still be reading, of course! 🙂 I wish you well in your reading.


    • Haha! But I suspect I’ve had a few more decades of reading time than you! I love reading the classics, although I do tend to re-read the same ones rather than going for new ones all the time. But I always think it should be done for pleasure and not out of a feeling of duty, if you know what I mean – that can really spoil them. That’s why there’s lots of light stuff in my list as well as some of the heavier classics. Should be fun! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s a great list! I’ve read and enjoyed some of those books but there are also a lot that I know nothing about, so I’ll look forward to hearing more. I’m particularly pleased to see Dorothy Dunnett on your list as she’s one of my favourite historical fiction authors. 🙂 I joined the Classics Club when it first started, so am coming to the end of my own list now (but already thinking about making a second one).


    • I don’t know why I haven’t read Dorothy Dunnett before – my sister was a huge fan, and frequently urged me to try her, but somehoe I just never got around to it. Glad to hear you rate her highly too! Well done! Did you manage the 50 within the 5 years? It sounds fairly dramatic when you first think about it, but actually I easily read that many classics so in theory it should be no problem… in theory!

      Sorry about the delay in replying – for some reason WP isn’t notifying me of all comments at the moment and I missed yours. 🙂


  7. Wow! What a task but such a great one! Might you want to add ‘Passage to India’? Unless it’s already on the list and I’ve missed it?


  8. I was going to suggest EM Forster, too, for your list FF (Passage to India). Also a Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. I read Gone With the Wind multiple times during my misspent youth. I sometimes wonder how it would hold up years later.


    • I’ve read A Passage to India before, but all this talk of it is bringing on an urgent desire to re-read it – a great book! I haven’t read any Carson McCullers though The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is on the list. I’ll check A Member of the Wedding out, and maybe swap them over – thanks for the rec! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Naked lunch! What a title. The Jungle looks interesting, too. And I didn’t know African Queen was a book! I should’ve, tho. Makes sense. I’ve heard All the King’s Men is rather good.

    FEF, that is a lot of books!


    • Must be an American thing – too cold in Scotland to eat lunch naked! Yeah, I didn’t know African Queen was a book either, till I started checking for the book to film thing – I love that film so much!! Oh good – I don’t know anything about All the King’s Men, but it sounds good from the blurb.

      Haha! I was expecting you to at least faint! The bad news is I’ve decided to add them all to your TBR too – it’ll be good for you! *kind face*


      • It’s not an American thing at all! Leastways, I’ve never done it. Hey! I bet it’s an African thing. Warm enough there. Or Zion National Park! I’m going there soon, actually for a guitar camp, see. I love that film too! I know you like Humphrey. I only know bits about it. Little bits, here and there.

        Noooooooooooo! How could you be so cruel? However…I do want to do a readalong again…


        • You should! Start a new trend! But slap on some sunscreen… can’t be too careful! Oh, that looks stunningly gorgeous – I’m the teensiest bit jealous. If I ever went to America that’s the bit I’d like to got to – all those rocks and canyons and stuff. What does guitar camp involve? I do – and I love Katherine Hepburn too, such a great actress! Well, soon I shall know all about it – and the film too!

          *laughs* You do?? See, you should have worn a sunhat! But OK – after this awful 20 books of summer thing I’m dramtically behind on, if you still want to then? You can pick the book… *trembles fearfully*


          • Oh I’ve already been burnt, I think. Should be safe by now. I hope. I think. Maybe. Isn’t it something? Wow… You should come with me! But you’d have to visit the forests of Eastern US too. Well, there’s a performance, guitar orchestra, lessons, master classes, that sort of thing. I’m actually some sort of guitar orchestra assistant! I hate flying, tho. #help And you must review it, of course!

            Oh goody. Me, pick the book?! Why, I’m astounded. Hmm. I’ll start making a list.


            • Tut! Be more careful – burning cause wrinkles! Ooh, I wish I could! Yes, I’d like to see most of America really, but those rocks and things are something special. I reckon I should have been a cowboy. That sounds like loads of fun! You must practice looking stern – over the top of your glasses! How long does it last? Oh, just walk there then! I will, if it’s good!

              I wait with trepidation… I mean, anticipation… to hear what you choose… *quivers*


            • I bet I have thousands of wrinkles… #LoveWrinkles *laughs* Cowboys would be further south or midwest. Plains and whatnot. Not the mountains, see. I believe it’s a week in the beginning of August? I think. Yes, that’s it. I’ll give all the students a tough time, of course.

              I’ll make sure you’ll enjoy it, too, don’t worry!


            • Hahaha! I bet that’s the first time that hashtag has ever been used! But in the cowboy movies they often seem to have them among the rocks and canyons… *sticks out tongue* Should be great fun too – I hope!

              This will also be fun! *smiles*


    • Haha! Thank you! Let’s see if I’m still awe-inspiring when I fail spectacularly at the task! Goodness, I feel totally ashamed now that I’ve never even heard of her! It doesn’t matter how much we read, we’re never going to get through them all… which is a good thing, now I think about it… 🙂


  10. Some great books and I love the way you have separated them. I have a CC list too and have failed miserably to make the dent I want to in it. Good luck with yours. 😄


    • Yay! Do! Yep, I love lists – mine and other people’s. Of course, now I actually have to read the books… But really I joined because they do fun ‘spins’ and stuff from time to time, and when they’re happening I always regret not being able to join in.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve only read about 5 of these books (after a quick skim-through), but I can’t wait to hear about them all. Your list is huge (and I love the way it’s split up) – doesn’t it make you feel a bit faint?


    • More than a bit! But I’ll just make sure my chocolate supplies don’t run low and I should be fine… 😉

      Yes, I wanted some lighter reads in there, so a good excuse for some classic crime and sci-fi, and I’m frankly appalled at my own lack of knowledge of Scottish literature so time to try to fill at least some of that huge gap… should be fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Strangers On A Train is an amazing book that keeps you turning pages likes a lunatic.

    Might I recommend A Princess of Mars over Tarzan? It’s the same author, but A Princess of Mars is definitely sci-fi (laser guns and a little time travel and aliens), whereas Tarzan is more of the guy out of place in the jungle. And A Princess of Mars is super fun!

    I’m currently on Rebecca for the #20BooksofSummer and smile like an total idiot every time I read. I love the movie; the book fills in all the things I didn’t know belonged there. It’s amazing so far.

    You can totally do this challenge; it’s just 4.5 of Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer challenge! 😉


    • I really want to read Strangers in a Train – don’t know how I’ve missed it till now. It’s one of my top fave movies.

      Aha! Now I’ve spent the last couple of years with John Carter and the naked Martians and had loads of fun with them, and with the film! I always seem to be giving you links to my old reviews, sorry! But here goes… https://fictionfanblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/transwarp-tuesday-a-princess-of-mars-by-edgar-rice-burroughs/

      Oh dear! I really want to re-read Rebecca too – another absolute favourite movie! I’m so far behind now – all this political stuff has stopped my reading almost completely. I’ll need to get back to it soon or I stand no chance – thanks for the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome! The political system is definitely on my mind right now, too. It’s so scary that it can stop me from reading or thinking other thoughts only to be left afraid. I’m so glad that I’m loving Rebecca; that book is helping me get into a world that isn’t this one. I’m going to go read your John Carter review now! *excited!*


        • I haven’t read a word since last Thursday – obsessing over this disaster. It’s affecting my sleep, eating, everything, and that’s so not like me. Usually I enjoy politics as a spectator sport, but this is all making me feel sick. Reports of racist abuse have rocketed – what’s happening to my country? I must try to read something light or an old favourite to get me back to some kind of routine.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for understanding! I think things are hopefully calming down just a little so maybe we’ll start hearing some sensible voices soon rather than the rabid rabble rousers who’ve been dominating this last few weeks.

              Liked by 1 person

  13. Hoo boy!
    I’ve read 10 of your American,s, 18 of your English, 17 of your Scottish,12 of your crimes and 14 of your sci-fi.
    I’ve taken a note of what I haven’t read and I’ll give some of them a go.
    If I was recommending, I’d suggest:-
    J .Fennimore Cooper “The Last of the Mohicans”
    Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness”
    Neil Munro “The New Road”
    Erskine Childers ” The Riddle of the Sands”
    J.G. Ballard “The Drowned World”.



    • Haha! Is that all? 😉 The Neil Munro is on there as a result of your recommendation from before. And I suspect I’ve probably read several of the sci-fi that I won’t remember till I start reading them – at one point I read through most of the sci-fi section in my then library, but it’s all merged into one now. And I’m appalled at how much more English lit I’ve read than Scottish, though to be honest I’m also surprised at how little great Scottish fiction there seems to be. Even lists on the internet seem to struggle and pad themselves out with tons of Scott and Stevenson. Looking forward to them all, but especially the Scottish ones!


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