The Classics Club : Booklist


Following from my previous post about The Classics Club here is the list of books that I have chosen to read over the next few years. I like the five year time-line. Considering all the other stuff that I want to read, I don’t think I can manage to read more than ten of these books in a year. And then again, I may just race through them. I really don’t know. So I’m not going to set a specific deadline, but I will read all of them and I will blog about them.

These are all books that I have wanted to read at one time or the other. Some of them are books that I read in abridged versions as a kid:

1)       H Rider Haggard: King Solomon’s Mines

2)      Robert Louis Stevenson: Kidnapped

3)      Robert Louis Stevenson: The Black Arrow

4)      Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

5)      Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island

6)      H G Wells: War of the Worlds

7)      H G Wells: Invisible man

8)      Jules Verne: Around the World in Eighty Days

9)      Jules Verne: Mysterious Island

10)   Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers

11)    Alexandre Dumas: The Man in the Iron Mask

12)   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Hound of the Baskervilles

13)   Anthony Hope: The Prisoner of Zenda

14)   Johann David Wyss: The Swiss Family Robinson


And then there are others that I met as a teen and want to re-read

15)   H D Thoreau: Walden

16)   Jane Austen: Sanditon

17)   Aldous Huxley: Island

18)   Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

19)   Agatha Christie: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

20)  John Buchan : The thirty nine steps

21)   P G Wodehouse : Bill the Conqueror

22)   P G Wodehouse : Aunts aren’t Gentlemen


The rest are books that I have heard about and wanted to read, but never really got around to.

23)   Jane Austen: Lady Susan

24)   James Baldwin: Giovanni’s Room

25)   Ray Bradbury: The Martian Chronicles

26)   Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone

27)   Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe

28)  Charles Dickens: Tale of two Cities

29)   Charles Dickens: The Old Curiosity Shop

30)  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Lost World

31)   F Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

32)   John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany

33)   John Irving: The World According to Garp

34)   Marcel Proust: Swann’s Way

35)   Yates, Richard: Revolutionary Road

36)   Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South

37)   Edgar Allan Poe: The Murders at Rue Morgue

38)  William Shakespeare: Two gentlemen of Verona

39)   William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

40)  Wallace Stegner: Crossing to Safety

41)   Thornton Wilder: Our Town

42)   Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse

43)   Virginia Woolf : Mrs Dolloway


The thing about any list of classics (one that irks me a little bit) is that it is nearly always filled with works of fiction. So to remedy that, the rest of my choices are all essays, memoirs and other forms of non-fiction. I have read bits and pieces of these books over the years, but I have never experienced them as complete books.

44)   William Hazlitt: Table Talk

45)   Charles Lamb: Essays of Elia

46)   Joseph Addison and Richard Steele: The Coverly Papers

47)   Allen Bennett: The Uncommon Reader

48)  Ernest Hemingway: A Moveable Feast

49)   Michael de Montaigne: Essays

50)  John Steinbeck: America and Americans

51)   Mark Twain: A Tramp Abroad

52)   Virginia Woolf: The Common Reader

This is by no means a final list. It will change; there will be additions and subtractions. I may find a couple of writers that I like so much that I end up reading all or most of their books. I may thoroughly dislike a couple of books that I am now intrigued by and I may abandon them altogether….

For now this is the list of classic books that I want to read over the next few years.


The Classics Club

As I mentioned in an earlier post (Revisiting the Classics) I have been reading King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard. I’m only a few chapters into it, but I’m enjoying it thoroughly. And I can’t help thinking that I want to read more of these books.

A few years ago, I bought a whole bunch of classics, thinking that these are books I want to read again and get to know properly. They have sat on my bookshelves since then, untouched, sharing space with the Children’s Classics versions of themselves.

I wanted to read them, I still do, but I simply haven’t picked them up. There are just too many other books to read. I hear about something new every day and I am always adding to my collection of books…

It has become obvious that I will not read any of the classics that I want to read, unless I make a conscious decision to do so. And when I say classics, I’m not talking only about the books that I read as a child.

There are others that I have long been curious about, books that I have heard a lot about, but never read, like The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and many, many others.

These are all books that I want to read, but I just don’t seem to think about them when I’m trying to decide what to read next and I can’t help feeling as though I’m missing out…

A fellow blogger recently told me about The Classics Club,

This is a online community intended to inspire people to read and blog about classic books. You can join the community any time you want. All you have to do is commit to reading at least 50 classics over the next five years. Which books you choose is entirely up to you. The idea is to make a list of 50 books (or more if it suits your fancy) and read them alongside whatever else you normally read.

Now I have never been one to force myself to read a book. I read books because I enjoy them, not because I want to learn something or because I want to prove something. I am not fond of reading challenges and lists of “must read” books. They make reading feel too much like work.

But this is a list I want to make and read my way through. There is a long list of books on the classics club website that you can choose from, but there is no need to select titles only from that list. You can add and subtract as you wish so long as you keep to the fundamental goal of reading classic literature.

Fifty books over a five year period is just ten classics a year in addition to everything else I want to read. That is perfectly doable. And it is nice to be part of a community that values good writing. It is, after all, the quality of writing and the universality of a story, an idea or a character that makes a book a classic. 

I have been working on my list since yesterday and I will put it up here as soon as I’m done. If any of you want to join in, please let me know.