The Classics Club: 101 Classics

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Monday, March 12, 2012 - Save & Share - 14 Comments

Every time I reorganise my bookshelves, or even spend too long looking at them, I find myself wanting to read all of them right now.  Clearly, this isn’t possible as I have to do things like go to work, eat and occasionally talk to my husband, but what it illustrates is how much I love thinking about books that I’m not reading.  A large part of my pleasure in books is derived from anticipating them and pondering them, just as much as actually reading them.  Do I read this one next, or that one?  If I read this one immediately after that one, will it not seem as good as I suspect it is?  Should I plough through this series all in one go or leave gaps?  Shall I immerse myself completely in this author’s works and read them all right now or will I find I reach saturation point and no longer appreciate them as much?  Will I savour this author’s works and ration them out as I know there are only a limited number, or will I devour them all at once?  I can occupy myself for hours in musings like this.

As a result, there are few things I love more than compiling lists of books.  I don’t like to plan my reading in a regimented way (“I will read this, then this,  then this”) but I do like thinking about the books that I might read, that I could read if I wanted to.  That is the beauty for me of Jillian’s Classics Club, in which participants agree to read a certain number of classic books (according to their own definition of ‘classic’) over a certain period of time.  It allows me to indulge my delight in bookish planning and list making, but it’s so unrestricted that it’s not going to feel like a chore.  Books which have sat unread on my shelves for years are imbued with a certain allure now that I have placed them on my list, and already I can’t wait to start reading them all.

After much fiddling about with my selections, I’ve come up with the following list of one hundred and one classic books which I’m going to read over the next five years, so by 12th March 2017 (which seems improbably far in the future at the moment; good lord, I’ll be thirty by then).  Despite my best efforts, I haven’t quite managed to create a list which is 50:50 men:women and English:translated fiction, but I’ve come as close as I can.  Here they are, arranged by date.  Titles marked with an asterisk are rereads or partial rereads.

Ancient World











Posted in General Bumf • Tags: Top Of Page

14 Responses to “The Classics Club: 101 Classics”

Comment from Laura
Time March 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I hope you’re reading some of these in translation! You have quite a feast ahead.
Margery Kempe will amuse and frustrate you in equal measure, I imagine. She is one of my favourite people to make fun of.
Hope you and Dave are well.


Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I’ll do the medieval stuff properly, apart from the Old Norse where I’m a bit out of my depth. The modern stuff is translation all the way though. I remember one of my lecturers briefly mentioning the relatively new theory that Margery Kempe never actually existed, so it’ll be interesting to read with that in the back of my mind.

Comment from Jillian
Time March 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm

What a great list! There are so many here that I want to read as well, eventually. Very best wishes, Katie!

Comment from Beth DiIorio
Time March 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm

You have a wonderfully inviting list here…Enjoy!
Beth :-)

Comment from amanda
Time March 13, 2012 at 1:17 am

I wondered how close you’d get to the 50:50 split. A great list, nonetheless. You’ve included a lot of medieval literature that I admit to being slightly intimidated by. Maybe as I follow along I’ll lose my fear!

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 13, 2012 at 10:45 am

Medieval literature is where my heart belongs, as that’s what I did my MA in a few years back. Most of it is a lot easier to read then you might think in the original, but if not there are so many great translations out there. Even if something is lost in translation, they’re still well worth the effort for the cracking stories.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thanks very much. Now the only problem is working out where to begin!

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

Thanks, Jillian, and thanks for coming up with this. I’m really looking forward to getting started now.

Comment from Eva
Time March 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

What a great resource: I’m bookmarking your list! I didn’t see your original post until now (behind on my google reader), but I totally sympathise re: how frustrating it is to find older classics written by women or non US/UK authors. Have you checked out the Classics Circuit’s Harlem Renaissance tour? Several of those authors are women!

Comment from FleurFisher
Time March 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm

What a wonderful list. We have a few books in common in the 19th century, but I wasnlt brave enogh to commit to those early classics. Maybe you can inspire me!

Comment from Amy@bookmusings
Time March 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I hope you enjoy The Pillow Book as much as I did. I read it with my daughter after reading (excerpts from) The Tale of Genji. It really gives you a sense of Japanese court life of the period, and is full of sly humor.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thank you. The problem with finding authors in another language seems to be that unless you speak that language it’s really rather difficult to find anything, and so you keep coming up with the same ones. Still, there are plenty of famous names that I haven’t tried yet, so I’ll start from there and see how I go.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

As I’ve commented elsewhere, medieval lit is what I really love. These are also almost all books that I’ve read before, either wholly or partially, so it’s a chance for me to revisit old friends. A lot of people have the same reaction as you though, so I’ll have to see if I can do something about that as they’re really great texts.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time March 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Thank you for the suggestion! I’ve got it queued up on my Amazon wishlist.

Write a comment