The Classics Club

classics club logo 2The List

On 23/6/16, I joined The Classics Club. 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??

wind-in-willows-e-h-shepard-ratty-and-mole-in-a-boat

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.

1965

So here’s my list – 90 books which I “commit” to reading and posting about within the next five years. As I review them, I will update the titles to include links to the reviews.

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) replaced by Go Tell It on the Mountain
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)
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin (1953) – replacing Uncle Tom’s Cabin
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: A Romance of Exmoor 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: A Winter’s Tale 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)
The First Men in the Moon by HG Wells (1901) – added to replace The Stainless Steel Rat
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
We by Yevgeny Samyatin (1924) – added to replace Naked Lunch
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) Replaced by We
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison (1961) Replaced by The First Men in the Moon
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?

27 thoughts on “The Classics Club

  1. I would recommend John Steinbeck’s ‘East of Eden’! More than ‘Cannery Row’. East of Eden knocked my socks off it was so moving and powerful. Overall those are some great lists: you can really gather the difference in tone between the American and British stories, just looking at the titles.

    • Ah, I might change to East of Eden then – thank you! At the time I was thinking about which Steinbeck to add, I was still in recovery from reading The Grapes of Wrath, so chose Cannery Row because it might be a bit lighter. But I’m over the trauma now… 😉 That’s very true about the titles – I hadn’t thought of that. As a Brit I grew up with the British classics, but it’s only recently that I’ve read a lot of the American greats and I’m thoroughly enjoying them – they are very different. And don’t tell the Brits, but on the whole I prefer them…

  2. First time I’ve seen your list FictionFan 🙂 Your recent tbr post prompted me to take a peek and then go and look at my own list, which (a) needs updating; (b) makes me aghast at how behind I am on publishing reviews and (c) draws my attention to the fact that you actually commented on my list which still didn’t prompt me to look at yours…. (hangs head in shame) Ha! Now my head is full of: “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” 😀

    Moving on! Some great titles on your list: we overlap on several. I chose to put up the chronological version of my list but I have another version of the list (of course!) in which titles are categorised. I might just put that up as well one day, when I’m feeling particularly ‘listy’…

    Looking forward to more of your classics reviews – as always 🙂

    • I got off to a slow start because I’d allowed a huge backlog of review copies to develop, but I’m a bit more organised now and finally starting to read more from the classics list. Getting access to all the new shiny books is great, but actually I love reading classics, especially the big 19th century English novels, but I’m looking forward to reading more Scottish greats – I’m ashamed at how few of them I’ve read. And I’ve been enjoying getting to know the greats of American literature a bit more too. There are some books on here that I’ve been meaning to read for years… decades!!

      Oh, yes, do put up your categorised version! I love looking at other people’s book lists, especially of classics. I always end up counting how many I’ve read – and adding a few more to my TBR… 🙂

  3. Yes. Sorry. Buckling under the pressure, I am reaching for…..

    the chocolate! Really. I’d share it if I could.

    *savours pack of micro eggs intended for grandsons…*

    • Ooh, that’s just mean! Now I’m going to have to do an emergency chocolate shop! I haven’t started on the egg-related stuff yet this year… must make up for lost time…

  4. Like Jillian above, I love how you’ve organized the list. My son and daughter are always telling me to read Truman Capote so I’m anxious to see your review of his work when you get to it.

    • Nothing I enjoy more than making book lists! I think I maybe even prefer it to reading the books… 😉 I’ve been meaning to read the Capote for years, so hopefully putting it on my CC list will make me actually do it.

      Thanks for popping by and commenting! 😀

  5. I really love how you’ve organized your list into sections. I noticed John Steinbeck on your list and I have to agree on one of the other comments about East of Eden. I read Cannery Row a few months ago and couldn’t find the words for the review. I can’t help but notice Wilkie Collins on your list too. I have a few of his books I’ve been meaning to read and I think No Name might be next (currently rereading The Woman in White)😊

    • I really wanted to include some lighter reads among the heavyweights, so this seemed a good way to do it. I’ll definitely read East of Eden – I’ve actually got another challenge on the go now to read five books by five authors and Steinbeck is one of the authors. Were you lost for words over Cannery Row because it’s so good… or so bad?? I’m not a huge fan of Wilkie Collins so far, so I’m hoping No Name will change that. He’s an author I really feel I ought to love and I’m not sure why I don’t…

      • Not in a bad way at all. Do you ever feel like you read a great book by an author ranking it as a favorite and then find that you unintentionally hold all the authors other books to the standard of the book you ranked tour favorite? I try not to do that but can’t help myself sometimes. Cannery is really plot driven at all but Steinbeck just has a way with words that impresses me. Cannery left me feeling like something was unfinished. I am a huge Wilkie Collins fan, The Woman in White was probably the first classic book I read and loved surprisingly so maybe that’s one of the reasons I rave about him.

        • Ha – yes, I do! In fact, I loved Toni Morrison’s Beloved so much I feel sure her other books can’t possibly match up, and I keep putting off reading them – silly, isn’t it? 😀 I thought some of Steinbeck’s writing in The Grapes of Wrath was sublime – I enjoyed the writing more than the story really. So I shall look forward to Cannery Row even if it’s not his best, and hopefully get to East of Eden soonish too. I think my problem with Wilkie Collins is The Moonstone – I just couldn’t see why people love it so much. Hopefully reading more of him will help…

          • Glad it’s not just me. I did not initially like The Grapes of Wrath, it was slow at first until I did a bit of homework (the writing technique he used) and allowed myself to stop comparing it to East of Eden. I also read with a group which made for a much better experience and once the Joan family were on the cross country trek, we’ll let’s say it became an experience, heartbreaking but hopeful. I read The Moonstone and while it was angood read, it didn’t surpass The Woman in White!

            • I found the journey in that truck interminable and felt by the time they got there that I could have qualified as a motor mechanic for vintage vehicles! But I still vividly remember the descriptions of the dust storms and that poor little turtle… 😪

    • I’m hoping you couldn’t find the words for Cannery Row because it was so good – that was my experience anyway 🙂 (And your blog looks stunning – tea and books… almost better than chocolate and books. Of course, the very best combination has to be all three! 😀 😉 )

      • I did like Cannery but didn’t love it like East of Eden or The Grapes of Wrath although I do enjoy Steinbecks shorter books. I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say in a review but I plan to publish it soon since I’m behind on some reviews. (Thank you very much about my blog, if I were to tell you I figured out a way to combine all three would you be impressed 😊)

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