In the High Peaks

Monday, December 31, 2018

My Back to the Classics Challenge List 2019 (Finalized)

I'm very excited about the Back to the Classics Challenge, which is being hosted by Karen of Books and Chocolate. And it's not too late to join up! Karen has extended the sign-up process an extra day, so you have until January 1st at midnight to join us if you wish.

I spent the last few days mulling over the categories that I hadn't decided on, and finally, after much searching and deliberating, I'm very satisfied with the final list. My personal goal is to read all 12 books and report on them. The only change in my list that possibly may occur is the book for the category "20th Century Classic." I feel very certain about the rest of the list.

19th Century Classic:  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

20th Century Classic: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Classic written by a woman: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Classic in translation: The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Very long Classic (500 pages +): The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Classic in comedy: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Classic in tragedy: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens 

Classic set in a place you have lived: The Last of the Mohicans by James 
          Fenimore Cooper (New York State)

Classic from the Americas: Central America, Canada, the Caribbean, or South America: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Classic from Africa, Asia, Australia, South Pacific:  Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) **See Turkey discussion below.

Classic Novella:  The Castle of Otranto by Horace Wallace (1764 English Gothic Classic)

Classic Play: The Years Between by Daphne du Maurier (1945)

I received Daphne Du Maurier's play in the mail today. It's a first U.S. edition, published in 1945, complete  with dust cover. Du Maurier wrote very few plays, and this one was first performed in November 1944. It is definitely a wartime piece.

I read a number of books this past year and in 2017 by authors writing novels during and about the war, and writing novels in the immediate aftermath. I have been fascinated by the viewpoints, the day-to-day tumult and malaise of life in wartime and in the depressingly spare times post-war. People so happy to have a poached egg for lunch, with maybe half a small tin of beans on the side. Really! (Of course the egg had to be poached, because the "fat  ration" was so minuscule.)

Notice that my "Asia" choice is a novel by a Turkish author set in Turkey. It's a novel I've been longing to read for a long time. But I had to research it--Is Turkey really in Asia? Believe it or not, sources do not agree on this answer. Some say Turkey is in both Asia and Europe. Some say that Turkey, in Asia Minor, is definitely in Asia, and some say that western Turkey is in Europe and eastern Turkey is in Asia. I think the continental lines are blurry enough to count Turkey as Asia for the sake of this Back to the Classics Challenge.


  1. Excellent choices. I've read a few of these, and others...I'll be interested in your reviews.

    1. Welcome, Joseph--
      I just visited your list and I'll certainly be looking for your reviews as well. Such an intriguing list you have.

  2. I'd love to know what you think of The Idiot. Dostoyevsky stumped me with that one; although he often does! Best of luck with your challenge!

    1. Hi Cleo,
      I'm looking forward to The Idiot, probably because I loved Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Although I'll admit I was 17-18 years of age when I read those two. Still, I can't wait, though I'm not sure during which month I'll tackle that overwhelming chunkster. Stay tuned!!

  3. I've read quite a few too. I have One Hundred Years of Solitude on my bedside table pile. Jack has read all of Orhan Pamuk's books but I have yet to read any.

  4. Of Mice and Men is one of my all-time favorite novels, as is Woman in White. I also really enjoyed Tale of Two Cities when I finally read it a few years ago. I need to reread 100 Years of Solitude as it’s been so long since I read it that it will be totally fresh.

    1. Hi Jane,
      I'm so glad you've told me that Of Mice and Men is a big favorite of yours. That makes a difference because I have been unsure about the choice.
      And I can't understand why I've never read A Tale of Two Cities, but it is finally the time.
      I've heard so much about One Hundred Years of Solitude, for so many years, that I'm so glad I'm going to hunker down to it. Probably this summer.
      I agree with you that if you read a classic decades ago, it is indeed fresh the next time around. I think it's so because we are different people decades later.