Classics Revisited

I need your help, my intrepid readers. On March 28th, 2017, I published my Classics Club List. It was a 50 or more list of classics I committed to read in 5 years or less.

Little did I know that in two years and five months, I’d already have read 72 classics, and reviewed over 50. At the Classics Club they leave it up to you when it comes to decide on your classics. My guideline for a classic has been any book written 50+ years ago. As for the titles I’ve read, some are well known, others known among some circles, and a few are not that famous. Most I’ve loved, some I’ve liked, few have left me indifferent.

On September 28th, 2019, at the 2 and 1/2 year mark, I’m going to submit my list as complete. I truly want to have a fresh list for the next 2 and 1/2 years. Over these past two and a half years, I’ve added many books, and probably that’s how it’ll go for the second challenge.

And this is when I call for your invaluable help. I’d love for you to tell me your favorite classic or classics. Don’t hesitate to drop me a title or leave me with a list. This is my blog, and I enjoy short, medium, and long size comments alike.

You don’t have to tell me anything about the book if you don’t want, but if you do, you can write as you please, or even link to any reviews you may have written anywhere, -blogs, goodreads, etc.-.

I’m going to attach the list of what I have already read, and the books I intend to read. If you don’t want to cross reference when you recommend your book, that’s fine, I don’t mind repeats. I just want your classics!, anything you like from the ancients until the twentieth century. But if you read anything published after 2000 that felt like a classic to you, share it too.

I’m also adding a list of classics that in my head, I believe are boring, too dense, books I’ve developed a bias against for unknown reasons. For example, when I halfheartedly picked Cry The Beloved Country for the Back to the Classics challenge, I had no idea this book would be this amazing. Some of you in the comments told me how you love it, and that tipped the scales for me, for which I’m very grateful.

For many years, I refrained from reading The Confessions and The Imitation of Christ, and now that I’ve read them, I’m glad I did. You all know I’m from Spain, naturalized Texan-American, LOL, -I’ve lived in the USA and Houston for 20+ years with my husband and two daughters, I’m 48 years old, christian and conservative. I enjoy all genres, but probably romance, christian books, historical fiction set in the wars, modern fluff, and self-help are my least liked ones. However, most books in those genres aren’t usually classics. I probably shouldn’t even write such a thing, since I’ve read the famous How to Win Friends and Influence People twice, and we may say that Jane Austen books are what we can call romances. You get the idea, when a book is a good book, I truly don’t mind what genre, language, or ideology it comes from. All this to say that I particularly like reading outside my comfort zone as much as I welcome all that’s down my alley.

Although classics are classics, and there’s meant to be many in the Western canon, I also welcome classics from other cultures and languages, as well as recommendation for forgotten classics from centuries before the XIX century.

I also welcome any clues such as when a book is not necessarily an easy one, but once you get in it, it’s a title that was worth reading, -bragging rights is totally acceptable qualifier reason to me, :)-. There’s some classics that stay with you, raise so many interesting questions, cut you deep, that even if they are sad, challenging, uneven, etc., they are still worth considering and reading.

This is the TBR list I need to prune.

  1. The Frogs, Aristophanes, 405: currently reading
  2. Beowulf, Heaney’s translation, between 975 and 1025 I need to be convinced
  3. La Celestina, Fernando de Rojas, 1499 (Re-read. Book I already love)
  4. Utopia, Thomas More, 1516 I need to be convinced
  5. Julius Caesar, Shakespeare, 1599 added + (I’ll probably read more of his plays)
  6. Henry V, Shakespeare, 1600
  7. Otelo, Shakespeare, 1603
  8. Pascal Pensees and Other Writtings, 1670 Tried twice, but not too convinced anymore.
  9. Gargantúa y Pantagruel, François Rabelais, cc 1694 added + I need to be convinced
  10. Eothen, Alexander William Kinglake, 1844 added + I need to be convinced
  11. The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne *re-read, 1850 (Love the author)
  12. Villette, Charlotte Bronte, 1853 added +, I’ll read it at one point.
  13. North and South, Gaskell, 1855 I need to be convinced
  14. Glaucus, or The Wonders of the Shore, Charles Kingsley, 1859 
    added +
  15. Fathers and Sons, Turgenev, 1862 I’ll read it at one point.
  16. Far from the Madding Crowd, Hardy, 1874 added + I need to be convinced
  17. La familia de León Roch, Galdós, 1878 (Love the author)
  18. Washington Square, Henry James, 1880 I’ll read it at one point.
  19. The Spendthrifts, Galdós, 1884 added + (Love the author)
  20. Miau, Galdós, 1888 (Love the author)
  21. Hambre, Knut Hamsun 1890 I’ll read it at one point.
  22. Narraciones, Anton Chejov, cc 1892, added +  I need to be convinced
  23. The Scarlett Pimpernel, by Emmuska Orczy, 1905 I need to be convinced
  24. The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton, 1905 added +  I’ll read it at one point.
  25. Por el camino de Swan, Proust, 1913 I’ll read it at one point. Won’t mind some convincing arguments.
  26. Rashomon and Other Stories, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, 1915 added +  I need to be convinced
  27. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein,1921 added + Tried twice. Probably I’ll leave it there.
  28. La montaña mágica, Thomas Mann, *re-read, 1924 Loved it when young, lazy about re-reading.
  29. The Glorious Adventure, Halliburton, 1927 I’ll read it at one point.
  30. Cheerfulness Breaks In, by Angela Thirkell, 1940 (Love the author)
  31. The Power and the Glory, Greene, 1940 added + I need to be convinced
  32. The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers, *re-read, 1941 (Love the author)
  33. Adventures with a Texas Naturalist, Roy Bedichek, 1947
  34. Kon Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl, 1948 I need to be convinced
  35. Cry, The Beloved Country, Alan Paton, 1948: reading
  36. The End of the Affair, Graham Green, 1951 added + I need to be convinced
  37. Speak Memory, Nabokov, 1951: reading
  38. The Crime of Galileo by Giorgio De Santillana, 1955 added + I need to be convinced
  39. Mother Night, Vonnegut, 1961 (Love the author)
  40. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1962
  41. A Movable Feast, Ernest Heminway, 1964 added + I need to be convinced
  42. Tres Tristes Tigres, (Three Trapped Tigers), Guillermo Cabrera Infante, 1965 added + I need to be convinced. I believe it may be too ‘modern’ for my taste.
  43. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard, 1966 added +
  44. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, 1967 (Love the author)

The list of classics I’ve read the past 2 and a half years:

  1. Meditaciones, Agustín de Hipona, 397 – 400 added +
  2. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, by Omar Khayyám, Edward FitzGerald, 1048-1131, added +
  3. The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani, 900 – 1000, added + 
  4. Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare, 1597 added + 
  5. Guzmán de Alfarache, Mateo Alemán. 1599  added +
  6. Don Quijote, Cervantes, part 1, 1605, added +
  7. Don Quijote, Cervantes, part 2, 1615added +
  8. Candide, Voltaire, 1759 added +
  9. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen, 1803
  10. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen, 1811 added +
  11. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen, 1814, added +
  12. Persuasion, Jane Austen, 1817 added +
  13. Temor y temblor, (Fear and Trembling), Kierkegaard, 1919 added + 
  14. Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Browning poetry, mid 1845-46 added +
  15. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1851
  16. La novela en el tranvía, Benito Pérez Galdós, 1871 added +
  17. La corte de Carlos IV, Benito Pérez Galdós, 1873
  18. Bailén, Benito Pérez Galdós, 1873 added +
  19. El 19 de marzo y el 2 de mayo,  Galdós, 1873, added +
  20. Los hermanos Karamazov, by Dostoevsky, 1880
  21. The Death of Ivan Illych (La muerte de Ivan Illich, by Tolstoy, 1886 added +
  22. Los Pazos de Ulloa, Emilia Pardo Bazán, 1886
  23. El prisionero de Zenda, Anthony Hope, 1894
  24. Nazarín, Galdós 1895 added + 
  25. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1899 added + 
  26. The Ambassadors, Henry James, 1903 added +
  27. Soledades. Galerías. Otros poemas. Antonio Machado, *re-read, 1907 added + 
  28. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, 1911 added + 
  29. The Scarlet Plague, Jack London, 1912 added + 
  30. Look Back on Happiness, Knut Hamsun 1912 added + 
  31. The Trial, Kafka, written from 1914 – 1915 added + 
  32. My Antonia, Willa Cather, 1918
  33. My Man Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse, 1919 added + 
  34. The Cross, (book III in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy), 1922
  35. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories, Fitzgerald, 1922 added +
  36. Antología poética, Alfonsina Storni, poems from 1925 and earlier. added +
  37. La Deshumanizacion del Arte y Otros Ensayos de Estetica, by José Ortega y Gasset, 1925 added +
  38. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925 added +
  39. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Christie, 1926 added +
  40. Lud in the Midst, Hope Mirrlees  1926 added +
  41. El perro canelo, The Yellow Dog, Georges Simenon, 1931 added +
  42. Murder on the Orient Express, Christie, 1934  added +
  43. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers, 1935 added +
  44. Estudios sobre el amor, Ortega y Gasset, 1939 added +
  45. Diez negritos, And Then There Were Non, Agatha Christie, 1939
  46. Pavilon of Women, by Pearl S. Buck, 1946
  47. The Lottery and Other Short Stories, Shirley Jackson, 1948 added +
  48. The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey, 1951
  49. Alfanhuí, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, 1951
  50. The Illustrated Man, Bradbury, 1951 added +
  51. East of Eden, Steinbeck, 1952 added +
  52. The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis, 1953, added + 
  53. After You, Marco Polo, Jen Shor, 1955 added +
  54. El Jarama, Ferlosio, Rafael Sanchez, 1956
  55. The Art of Loving, (El arte de amar), Erich Fromm, 1956 added +
  56. The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino, 1957 added +
  57. The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, 1959 added +
  58. The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis, 1960 added +
  59. The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck, 1961 added + 
  60. An Experiment in Criticism, C.S. Lewis 1961 added + 
  61. A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis, 1961 added + 
  62. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, added + 
  63. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carré, 1963 
    added +
  64. The Scent of Water, Goudge, 1963
  65. The Rector of Justin, by Louis Auchincloss, 1964
  66. Ten Fingers for God,by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, Philip Yancey, 1965
  67. Volverás a Región, Juan Benett, 1966 added +
  68. Selected Poems, by Nathaniel Tarn, Pablo Neruda (Published in 1970, but poems are from the sixties and earlier.) added +
  69. True Grit, Charles Portis, 1968 added +
  70. Selected Poems, by Nathaniel Tarn, Pablo Neruda (Published in 1970, but poems are from the sixties and earlier.) added +
  71. True Grit, Charles Portis, 1968 added +
  72. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut, 1969 added +
  73. A Circle of Quiet, L’Engle, 1971
  74. The Gods Themselves, by Isaac Asimov, 1972 added +
  75. Las ciudades invisibles, Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, 1972 added +

Thanks in advance for helping. In conclusion, there’s no rules, just share your favorite classic(s) the way you prefer.

49 thoughts on “Classics Revisited

  1. I came to reading Elizabeth Gaskell some years ago, after she was totally ignored while I was in school, and enjoyed her a lot. I’ve only read North and South once but I definitely mean to read it again. Why is it on your Need to be convinced list? Seems long or overly concerned with labor disputes? I think the human interest in her books is always pretty strong.

    You don’t have any Dickens on either list, is there a reason for that?

    I think you might like the novels of Thornton Wilder. The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Theophilus North are my favorites.

    Historical fiction — you might give Rosemary Sutcliff and Mary Renault, or Naomi Mitchison a try.

    Okay, I’ll stop now!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha, ha, ha. Don’t stop!

      I read Wives and Daughters and loved it, but I always think about North and South as one more Victorian, I don’t know. There’s a lot of competition for my attention in the XIX century. I started to read several of the main Victorian writers from the Anglo canon, when I rediscovered all the Spanish writers of that same period. Right now, if I have to choose between, say, Trollope, Gaskell, George Eliot, Dickens, and any Spanish/French/Russian, I prefer the latest. I’ve read Great Expectations, and Christmas Carol plus Dickens’s short stories, (Cricket in the Hearth, etc.), and I tried with the Pickwick Papers, but can’t. I can’t read dialect in English. I read Oliver Twist in Spanish when I was little, but I can’t read Twain’s Huckleberry Finn either in English. However, I’m very open to one more Dickens you all recommend that’s not Pickwick Papers, ha ha ha.

      Your high esteem of North and South, is making me consider it in a new light. (I want to ponder what you and my reading friends whom I know a bit, come up with to redo my list.

      Thorton Wilder sounds pretty interesting. When I homeschooled, many friends loved Sutcliff.

      I also came to say I don’t know how I forgot GULLIVER TRAVELS!

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you’ve at least sampled Dickens there’s no need to force it I think — I only thought any reading in English language classics would have to include him. Dialect can be a big obstacle for sure. My favorite is Great Expectations. You might try Hard Times, it is shorter and perhaps more pithy than some of the others.

        The Spanish/French/Russian classics should not be neglected either! If that’s what you’re drawn to, why not.

        I do hope you’ll give Wilder a try. And Gulliver’s Travels is marvelous too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lory, you get me so well. I do want to read another Dickens. I’m going to do so in Spanish. It may be Hard Times, or any of these that Ruthiella likes: Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Nicholas Nicholby and Martin Chuzzlewit.


      • Oh, and you won’t believe this. Just at the time of your quick first comment, I had Gulliver’s Travels in my hand, and I was going to comment saying how I had already missed a title that should be in my TBR list. (I’ve read some of his short essays, which I admire).


  2. I only read up to #2 on your list, but had to stop there!
    You must read Heaney’s translation of Beowulf!
    I might recommend that you read some of Heaney’s own poetry before you start on Beowulf. I think that would deepen your appreciation of the great job he did in this translation.
    In case you are not yet convinced, this is my Goodreads review for the book:

    “Memories of reading excerpts from Beowulf in high school did not make me excited to read this, to say the least. When I picked up this version of Beowulf, I thought I would have to force myself through a maze of nearly incomprehensible language and a dry as dust plot. Happily, I was wrong. In fact, I had to make myself (not very successfully) try to slow down; the story was that compelling. But what was even greater than the story was Seamus Heaney’s five-star translation. Heaney’s poetry sizzles and sings, and he launches this Old English tale of honor and duty, swords and bloodshed, warriors and dragons right into the very best of modern English.”

    I hope you enjoy it, Silvia!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes!!!! I have his translation, and I am hoping for the same experience you had. I will find his own poetry for sure.

      Love you, and thanks a lot for your input. I love epic poetry, I just needed reasurance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh do read Beowulf! I have never read the Heany translation, I actually really love the translation I have (by Dick Ringler), but the story itself is so beautiful, no matter the translation. The themes of honor, courage, sacrifice, and redemption are well woven together and totally worth your time! Plus I love seeing the connections between this and Tolkien’s works (I’m assuming you’ve read them? If not, DO! 😂) , and I do hope to read his translation of it someday as well.

    Also a classic I don’t see here is Moby Dick. It’s very fun, and really interesting. The librivox reader does it well.

    Oh! Anna Karenina! A MUST read if you haven’t yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BEOWULF it is! That’s why I love your comments. Thanks so much. I’ve only read The Hobbit, so I’ll add the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

      Funny that you mention Moby Dick. I’m going to take the plunge and read it as well. (I once read up to half and quit, but I plan to go back to it, and finish it)

      I have read Anna Karenina, and it’s a favorite.

      I do appreciate your recommendations very much. Don’t hesitate to keep adding, if you think of anything else.


  4. I’ve read several translations of Beowulf and Burton Raffel’s is by far my favorite, so that’s the one I always recommend. I enjoyed Heaney’s, but I’ve heard it described (by Angelina Stanford, no less) as a great Heaney poem, but not really Beowulf.

    The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my all-time favorites! It’s a delightful read, makes great summer or light reading. Do read it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kelly. I’m so glad I thought about this post. I had to hear that about Scarlet Pimpernel. I’m going to propose it to my dear friend Kim. I know we’ll read it.

      As for Beowulf. I get it. I may end up reading it in two versions. You know how much I love translation. Thanks for pointing me to Burton and the comment about Heaney by Angelina is very revealing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You ask a bunch of book lovers if they will help you pick what to read? YES MA’AM!

    1. North and South – you need convincing you say. I say, it isn’t Austen, but it is close. It is like Austen with some social realism. I see Lory has already plumped for it and I suspect you will get more votes from other commenters later. I think you will enjoy it.
    2. Washington Square – I can only tell you what I’ve heard…that early James is much more accessible than his later works. You loved The Ambassadors. Washington Square will be a breeze next to that.
    3. A Movable Feast – you need convincing you say. I am not a fan of Hemingway’s fiction, but I LOVED THIS MEMOIR. It is nostalgia fueled and will make you want to visit Paris, even if the Paris of Hemingway is long gone.

    For suggestions that are not on your list; like Lory I wondered at the exclusion of Dickens. I hate reading dialect too…so obnoxious. So read him in Spanish! I hesitate to suggest a specific title, but my favorites are Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Nicholas Nicholby and Martin Chuzzlewit.

    For a few of my favorite classic read in recent years: Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant, No Name by Wilkie Collins, anything by Barbara Pym, anything by Dorothy Whipple, anything by Anthony Trollope. Actually for Trollope, I suggest you start with Barchester Towers (it is the second book in the series but probably a better entry point than The Warden) or Rachel Ray, which is a stand-alone.

    All the love here in the comment section for Beowulf is fantastic! I had to read it in High School and can’t really say if I liked it, but it is short!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ruthiella. THANKS A LOT for humoring me, for taking your time to tailor the classics to my needs/taste, and for your contribution. The 3 first titles you reassure me that are great, are going to be must reads. After the general consensus so far, it’s clear that North and South is worth my time. The same goes for Washington Square and Hemingway’s memoir.

      I read Maupassant so long ago, that it merits a new reading. I may add No Name as my 3rd Wilkie Collins. Moonstone is still my favorite of him, -but I only read that and The Woman in White-.

      My new list will feature something by Barbara Pym and Dorothy Whipple..

      I made this list not much after I read Dr. Thorne, which I liked. As with Wilkie Collins, I may add that other stand alone, Rachel Ray.

      Keep suggesting, if you think of something else. And thanks, I’m loving this treat you all are showering me with.


  6. I really loved North and South. It’s tense and emotional and suspenseful and relevant and worthwhile. 🙂 I’ve only read one other Elizabeth Gaskell book (Mary Barton) and liked that one but it didn’t compare to North and South. I was also surprised how much I enjoyed Beowulf. Ok and last one – Far From the Madding Crowd. SO GOOD! I read it in a week. ha! And would love to reread it. Another tense story that stays with you after reading. Highly recommend that one!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Looks like I’m going to be reading North and South AND Far From the Madding Crowd. Thanks for your contributions. My interest has spiked after hearing they are favorites of yours.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve heard that many other Thomas Hardy books are quite depressing, and Madding Crowd had some of those elements, but there’s hope too and redemption. That definitely helps too 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Looks like we have another together title, for when we meet and work on a small possible titles for us to read together. All the books I’ve read with you have been fantastic. And mostly classics too!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ll do my bit for patriotism and recommend a couple of Scottish classics to you. First, Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon – it’s the first part of a trilogy known together as The Scots Quair, but it works fine as a standalone. It tells of a young girl coming of age in a small farming community in the north-east of Scotland at the time of WW1, when the rural society is at a time of great change. Often hailed as Scotland’s greatest 20th century novel.

    The Gowk Storm by Nancy Brysson Morrison is the tale of three sisters, daughters of the minister in a parish in the Highlands of Scotland. Our narrator is the youngest of the three, Lisbet, who over the course of the couple of years of the book’s story grows from a girl only half comprehending her elder sisters’ early forays into the world of romantic love, into a young woman on whom the two older girls come to depend for support. This one has been unfairly forgotten and deserves a wider readership!

    And lastly, a much better known one that you may already have read – The Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott. It’s a historical novel set in the 14th century. Here’s the little blurb from my review “Catherine Glover, generally known as the Fair Maid of her hometown of Perth, is beloved by the town’s famed armourer, Henry Smith of the Wynd. But she has also caught the eye of the pleasure loving and dissolute Earl of Rothsay, eldest son and heir to King Robert III. On St Valentine’s Day, these men will both try to win Catherine, one honourably, one dishonourably, setting in motion a chain of events that will involve the citizens of Perth in the high politics and treacheries of the nobility, and the wild feuds of the Highland clans which inhabit the land to the north of the Fair City.”

    I gave each of these five stars and heartily recommend them all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much! Scottish titles will be added to my new list! (I’ve read two other Walter Scott titles before, but again, like Dickens, I think this should be an author that, if read again, I’ll do so in Spanish). I’m intrigued by the other two titles. I appreciate very much that you’ve added a generous explanation of what the books you recommend are about. They give me an idea and make me want to read them, specially your SECOND recommendation, The Gowk Storm.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You have a lot of authors I don’t recognize, which is unusual for me. I will have to peruse your list and see what I might read. I really like Russian authors like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

    I am interested in any good Spanish writers you might recommend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A few days after I wrote the classics list, I finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. But I’m realizing that in these almost two and a half years, I’ve only read a short -yet compelling- Russian book, The Death of Ivan Illych. I need to get back to the Russians.

      As for Spanish writers, I have a post with recommendations.

      I need to write another post with Latin American authors though. All those were just from the Peninsula of Spain.


    • Carol, N & S AND FftMC are going in my new list with PRIORITY treatment! That’s why I love my reading friends. They get me excited by titles that I myself won’t think they are “that great”. Thanks for adding weight to these two books.


    • Kaggsy! The Master and Margarita has been in my paper lists as a TBR book, but I’m glad you mention it, for it needs to be in my new fresh list.

      I’m so glad I’m doing this. I want my new list to have these classics, and I want to make a distinction this time, books that are favored and recommended by all of you, will have preference in my list. The fact that you all love certain titles boosts my excitement about reading those.

      Without this post, I think Beowulf for sure would have stayed unread for many years. Now it’s a sure candidate for the short run.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Glad to hear your favorites. I have read and loved them all. I may add The Lord of the Rings to my new list. I think The Great Divorce may be one if not my favorite C.S. Lewis book.

          Maybe you, who read more contemporary books and poetry, have some titles to suggest.

          Thanks for the comments,

          Liked by 2 people

          • These aren’t necessarily FAVORITES in the way of LOVING them favorites, but I think these have stuck with me the longest of some that I have read. I’m learning to read older classics slowly as an adult here…I was proud to finish Middlemarch! I think I just read fluffier books than you! 🙂 My favorite classic that I LOVE is Pilgrim’s Inn by Goudge. And many of L.M. Montgomery’s…and Jane Austen…sigh. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • Usually classics stick a lot, don’t they? You read great books, Amy, I haven’t read Pilgrim’s Inn, though I have other Goudge. I am going to add that one.
              Jane Austen is amazing, isn’t she? I also have not gotten past AoGGables, lol, so that’s another good author to add.
              It’s going to be a great list thanks to all of you.

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Silvia! What a great idea for a post! I’m coming late to the discussion, in fact, because I’ve gotten caught up reading your lists and the comments by other similarly book-obsessed types. As you look at my scattershot recommendations, do keep in mind that you said a long post was o.k.! Because I couldn’t resit going out on a limb (like Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything but temptation), I’ve also included my guess about a few roughly contemporary books that I think may last beyond the moment, i.e., classics in the making.

    As you noted, competition is fierce for reading time as far as 19th century writers are concerned. But — I’d add George Eliot’s Middlemarch above all — it’s one of those novels (Moby Dick is another) that contains the universe. Like you, I loved Mann’s The Magic Mountain but I think Buddenbrooks is just as good, if a tad less philosophical. Its multigenerational tale of the rise and fall of a great merchant dynasty is a wonderful, engrossing read. Like many of your commentators, I also like Trollope; I found his novels substantial but easy reads that give a great sense of mid-19th century British society. I believe his Barchester Towers novels are generally regarded as among his best (I enjoyed them but actually preferred, slightly, his Palliser novels). Here, I totally agree with Ruthiella that it’s easier to begin with Barchester Towers, the second novel, rather than The Warden, which opens the series; the later is definitely worth reading but I found the characters less vivid and the story slower. For something a bit less time consuming than a series, Trollope’s The Way We Live Now is a great stand-alone & is generally regarded as one of his masterpieces.

    Since you’ve already read The Ambassadors I won’t say much about my beloved Henry except to recommend substituting Portrait of a Lady for Washington Square. The latter is a good read but Portrait is a great one. What could be more mesmerizing than seeing someone who has it all — youth, beauty, brains, money and social position — totally mismanage her life and only because she wanted to do something useful with it? You could even compare James’ Isabel Archer to Eliot’s Dorothea in Middlemarch, if you’re up for a challenge! I’ve read Portrait four or five times over the years and it becomes more tragic and, alas, more realistic, with each re-read (the last time around, I just kept begging Isabel to please, please stay away from that awful man!) I think you’ve already read major works by Henry’s pal Edith Wharton but if you’re in the mood for more I loved Age of Innocence. I think it’s Wharton’s best novel (but admit that unlike you I haven’t read Ethan Frome); it also has the added bonus of a movie that you can watch afterwards (Scorsese directed; Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer star as the lovers who can’t escape the society that formed them. Ethan Frome, maybe, but less grim?). Another good Wharton (there are SO many) is The Custom of the Country, featuring the unforgettable Undine Sprague, the girl you love to hate.

    If you’re looking for a major project, have you considered Proust? It took me several tries before I managed to get momentum (I seemed permanently stuck around page 50 of Swann’s Way) but when I finally did so it was worth the effort. It took forever (well, about a year) to wade through all seven novels but I truly loved most of the books, especially Swann’s Way & The Guermantes Way (you could even read these and skip the others). With Proust, one big problem is picking the translation you want to go with. I chose the newer translation, sponsored (I think) by Viking Penguin, which used a different translator for each volume. The downside here is that some translations were better received than others; Lydia Davis’ Swann’s Way, however, was pretty universally acclaimed. Although I was happy with my choice, I think, most people probably read the older translation by Scott Moncreiff; I hope to do so myself one day, if I ever do a Proust re-read. Anyway, here’s a quickie summary of the various translations ( )

    For the 20th century: if you’re in the mood for another Fitzgerald I’d recommend his Tender is the Night. It’s intensely tragic (even more so than Gatsby) and perhaps a little self-indulgent (it’s said to have autobiographical elements) but I really loved it when I read it years ago. This speaks volume’s for its quality, as I read it only because I had to — it was required for an English class I was taking at the time! As for Moveable Feast — go for it! I t’s already on your list, it’s a quick read and it’s a lot of fun. I say this even though I’m not a Hemingway fan and I definitely took some of his reminiscences with a grain of salt.

    For roughly contemporary works that I love and think will still be read 50 or 60 years from now (assuming we aren’t all communicating by emojis, that is), I’d recommend:

    J.G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur, The Singapore Grip and, above all, Troubles. Often referred to collectively as “The Empire Trilogy” these stand-alone novels (they’re connected only by theme) are set at various points of crisis in the British empire (a “native” rebellion in India; the Japanese conquest of Singapore and the Irish struggle for independence, respectively). They’re wonderfully written, quite funny at times (especially Troubles) and deal with the economic and political consequences of colonialism. I love them (I’m not alone. Salman Rushdie, no less, deemed them “extraordinary”). Many think that only Farrell’s untimely death (accidental drowning, at age 44) prevented him from becoming one of the 20th century’s great novelists.

    Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger (Lively is prolific and almost all her books are good; this one IMO is her best): the narrative shifts through time and viewpoint to show the life of Claudia Hampton, a strong, independent woman who comes of age in the 1930s. I know you tend to shy away from war stories or romances and Moon Tiger contains elements of both (Claudia is a war correspondent in 1940s Egypt; the emotional center of her life is a doomed love affair with a British tank captain stationed in Cairo); while these are important the novel is really showing you how one woman’s life mirrored the history of her times.

    Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies: these novels carry historical fiction to a new level. Aside from doing the seemingly impossible — showing you Tudor history in a fresh way — they also present a picture of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s much maligned minister, as a prototype of the “modern” man, for good and ill. Bring Up the Bodies, for example, centers on the trial of Anne Boleyn; you see Cromwell manipulating the evidence to produce a chilling harbinger of a 20th century “show trial.”

    Well, Silvia, that’s it! (and aren’t you glad?). Thanks again for such a thought-provoking post; I’ve really enjoyed thinking about some of my past reads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What can I say about long comments, they are not just OK, I cherish them, I thrive on them, specially coming from YOU. I’m so glad I decided on a post like this, it’s been so revealing and exciting, hearing from all of you. My new list is going to be amazing thanks to your contributions.

      Since I’ve read and loved Middlemarch, I’m going to place The Portrait of a Lady high up there too. Thanks for the comparison between those women in both books.

      Trollope will be featured. Maybe his stand alone titles, or the other series, but I’m going to be honest, other books are ranking higher at the moment, just because he wrote in the most competitive century, ha ha ha. I listened to Dr. Thorne, so maybe he’s a candidate for a few cleaning winter days, or if I take my girls to winter camp, for the drive.

      Instead of re-reading The Magic Mountain, I may go with Buddenbrooks . Since these books were written in German, I’ll go for Spanish translations, and that’s something appealing.

      You are all good heavy weights, huh, ha ha ha. I love that. It seems that Wharton’s Age of Innocence and House of Mirth will also be in my list. And The Custom of the Country. I watched that unforgettable Age of Innocence movie, it’s fabulous. I’m surely reading the book that inspired it.

      So interesting your Proust comments. I have the first of the seven, Swan’s Way. I bought it in Madrid, and I had not even looked at the translation issue, (which is an issue in all languages with old classics, of course), but I’m lucky beyond words. I have the translation by Pedro Salinas. A la recherche… was published in 1913, and Pedro Salinas, Spanish poet, a member of the Generation of ’27, as well as a university teacher, scholar and literary critic, approached the translation of Swan’s Way in 1917. Given that many still sustain that this book is untranslatable, -right, right?-, I know that I’m in the hands of one of the best approximations to the book I can get. And ignorance is bliss. I’d appreciate any crumbs of this genius. Like you, I’ve read and loved 30 pages of it many times, but always backed down from the challenge. I think I’m ready for it once I make room for it. At the very list, the first volume. Frankly, when it comes to Spanish, I like that the translation is a contemporary one. I wouldn’t mind reading it in the posterior translations, but critics say that other translators divided their dedication to Proust among other authors they translated, while Pedro Salinas was fully devoted to Mr. Proust, ha ha ha. I have this first volume in two nicely published two books, elegant, nice print, I’m more than fine.

      Special thanks for the last three books. I’m in super need of that, good late XX century books that have that classics feel. I’ll be sure to alternate some of those along the older more known ones. It’s super nice that I had no idea about them. I love surprises and new adventures. Super pumped about the one that Rushdie deemed “extraordinary”. And also I’ll be trying to attempt his Quichotte. For what I read about the plot, with its links to America, it may be more approachable and relatable than his Midnight’s Children. I feel a bit of an impostor saying I read that one. In truth, I listened to it, and I admit much went over my head, but it always kept me interested. I laughed, some was very profound, other parts were nicely surreal. It was like being thrown in the middle of a bazaar. I am very grateful for Rushdie being bigger than life, and smitten to see he took up Don Quijote. If there’s someone who can pull that off, that’s him, (says the rookie.)

      I like Fitzgerald, his Gatsby and his short stories. I’ve heard mixed up opinions regarding Tender is the Night, I owe The Other Side of Paradise, and I’ll probably go for more of him, along with A Movable Feast, yes.

      This post is showering me with so much love. I feel very pampered and spoiled. Thanks for your time and effort. Nothing better than to build my next list with your invaluable input.


  10. Hi, Silvia,

    My comment didn’t show up…so I’m going to try again.

    These are the books I have read and reviewed on my blog:

    Beowulf: I’ve read several translations, but not Heaney. I did enjoy Tolkien’s translation, but I’d like to read Heaney’s one day. This is a great story about courage and sacrifice, something greatly missing today. And it’s a short story, so it doesn’t require much commitment.

    Utopia: I think I gave my copy away…I loathed it so much. Boring!!!

    Scarlet Letter: Definitely worth a read, though I didn’t like that Hawthorne had a grudge against Puritans.

    North & South: This one was ok, but I found it unnecessarily long; I enjoyed the movie so much more.

    Far From the Madding Crowd: This is my favorite Hardy, but I also have loved everything I have read by him; his works are tragic, though this title is the least tragic I have read. I also LOVED the film version.

    Scarlett Pimpernel: A sweet love story…though the movie has a better ending.

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: about Communism. One of those important books people should read.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude: This one reminded me of a Frida Kahlo painting. ☺

    As for my suggestions…(and I’m not sure what you’ve read already):

    Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
    Age of Innocence or House of Mirth – Wharton
    All Quiet on the Western Front – Remarque
    Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky
    Doctor Zhivago – Pasternak
    East of Eden – Steinbeck
    Germinal – Zola
    Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald
    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Jacobs
    Letters of a Woman Homesteader – Stuart
    The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
    Little Women – Alcott
    O Pioneers! or My Antonia – Cather
    Testament of Youth – Brittain
    Their Eyes Were Watching God – Hurston
    Up From Slavery – Washington
    Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Stowe

    Of course, if you like tragedy, anything by Thomas Hardy works. He is a beautiful writer; he’s just really twisted in his ideas about humanity.


    • Ruth, I’m SO SORRY you lost your first comment. How generous of you to re-type it.

      Beowulf. I’m now totally convicted. I thought it was not that short, and dense. But now that all of you are speaking in favor of it, I’ll read it. Suspense about the translation(s). I’ll let you all know.

      Utopia: I think I gave my copy away…I loathed it so much. Boring!!! Good to know. I may pass.

      Scarlet Letter: Definitely worth a read, though I didn’t like that Hawthorne had a grudge against Puritans.That’d be a re-read. I too have liked it. I also coincide. What a beef he and Atwood had against Puritans, ha ha ha. No matter, it’s a well written book that merits our attention.

      North & South: This one was ok, but I found it unnecessarily long; I enjoyed the movie so much more. I’ll still read it, and I’ll watch the movie too.

      Far From the Madding Crowd: This is my favorite Hardy, but I also have loved everything I have read by him; his works are tragic, though this title is the least tragic I have read. I also LOVED the film version. I have the feeling I’ll love this book. Sad or tragic doesn’t put me off when there’s good writing and a compelling story.

      Scarlett Pimpernel: A sweet love story…though the movie has a better ending. I’ll also go for both, book and movie.

      One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: about Communism. One of those important books people should read. Yeap. I love Solzhenitsyn.

      One Hundred Years of Solitude: This one reminded me of a Frida Kahlo painting. Márquez is one of my favorite authors. I’ll probably have to re-read this.

      As for my suggestions…(and I’m not sure what you’ve read already):

      Anna Karenina – Tolstoy. READ AND LOVED
      Age of Innocence or House of Mirth – Wharton. IT’S MAKING IT HIGH TOP IN MY PRIORITIES
      All Quiet on the Western Front – Remarque I’LL ADD IT
      Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky READ AND LOVED
      East of Eden – Steinbeck READ AND LOVED
      Germinal – Zola IT’S GOING TO MAKE IT, NO DOUBT
      Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald READ AND LOVED
      Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Jacobs A MUST TOO I’LL BE SURE TO ADD
      Letters of a Woman Homesteader – Stuart I ADORE THIS BOOK
      The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass A MUST TOO
      Little Women – Alcott AHEM. PASS
      O Pioneers! or My Antonia – Cather LOVED HER MY ANTONIA, I’LL ADD THIS
      Testament of Youth – Brittain NOT 100% SURE IT’S THE BOOK FOR ME
      Their Eyes Were Watching God – Hurston READ AND LOVED

      Of course, if you like tragedy, anything by Thomas Hardy works. He is a beautiful writer; he’s just really twisted in his ideas about humanity. HA HA HA. I will get to, at least, Far from…. And I believe that yes, I like tragedy. I just have to be sure to place something else in between.


      • My favorite Scarlet Pimpernel movie is the one with Leslie Howard (well, honestly, ALL his movies are my favorite movies), but that ones ends with a crash and a bang five or six chapters before the book’s ending, as if they had run out of money. But, oh, Leslie Howard *IS* Sir Percy. ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I want to second a couple of the suggestions–both Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Uncle Tom’s Cabin are HIGHLY worth the time to read! Loved them both and would consider them “required reading.”

    I am also happy to see that you loved Cry, the Beloved Country. I consider that masterpiece a “perfect novel.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I finished Cry, two days ago and I am very moved by it. Perfect novel is fitting.

      I intend to read the two you recommend.

      This post has helped me a lot. Instead of a second Classics Club list, I am going to do a master list with authors grouped by the categories that make sense to me, and titles by them, plus some loose titles. I may keep adding and editing.

      The list won’t be a constraint but a guide and reference for me, and for anyone interested.

      Thanks for your input. I value it a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Silvia: I realized to my horror that I left off a favorite or two from a prior post (once I get started, there’s no shutting me up!) Have you read anything by E.M. Forster? Although it’s been years and years since I read him (as a matter of fact, I was thinking the other day that he was ready for a “re-evaluation” on my part) I went through quite a Forster phase at one point. I really loved Passage to India and Howard’s End in particular (and both have movies!) but many of his other novels are also worth reading, if you have the time (!!!). Do you have Virginia Woolf on your list, or Lytton Strachey? Forster aside, I’ve never been that big on the Bloomsbury writers but I’ve always felt that was a bit of a lack on my part & have always meant to “do” Woolf! As for Strachey, the only thing I’ve read was Eminent Victorians, which could be fun if you’re in the mood for biography and want to experience a little debunking of certain Victorian icons such as General Gordon and Florence Nightingale. As an added bonus, Strachey’s prose is elegant and witty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janakay, should you remember any more favorites, please, keep adding them, don’t hesitate.

      Last year and a half, I was considering to join a reading of Howard’s End with the Close Reads podcast people, but I didn’t. However, that book and Passage to India, (and I owe both), have my interest. They’ll be added to what I plan to make into a life time master list. I wish to have such a reference place at my blog, to inspire and shape my readings. It may be of interest to others, and it’ll surely be to me, 🙂

      I tried with Woolf, and I only managed to read her essay, A Room of One’s Own, and other shorter essays, which I appreciate a lot. I couldn’t read ‘To the Lighthouse’, but I’ll be adding Strachey, and that Eminent Victorians sounds interesting to me, I like biographies well written, and that idea of showing a different side to the Victorian icons sounds intriguing. Elegant and witty won me over.

      Once done with the new list of categories, authors, and some stand alone books, I want to pay attention to the women, that way, when I want to get to a new title, I would be able to see what’s in that section that’s calling me at the time. I know I can count on you and others here to help me flesh out those categories with interesting authors and classics, and also with selected more modern works too.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I need to study this at length, Silvia, cogitate, and come back. After a quick skim through this impressive list my head is reeling over what you’ve accomplished so far — and you work and have an extended family too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris. I homeschooled the girls up until last year, and that gave me time and motivation to read the classics. If I had set up to read all that, or someone would have told me I’d end up reading all that, I wouldn’t have done it or believed him. Also, not everything has been read with the same attention. Some books have been listened to, or finished out of a bit of duty, but there’s also some that I can proudly call my dear friends. And also, with the classics, after some years, one feels that, unless you are re-reading them, you have not ‘read them’ at all! LOL.

      My major take away from this list is the fact that when I came back to reading in my thirties, thanks to another stay home mom who let me borrow her copy of Bel Canto, I was looking at my feet. Then my gaze lifted up, and I started to see possibilities, different directions, other readers who were passionate about certain classics. With the moms at the online homeschooling group, I dared read titles like The Iliad, Paradise Lost, my first Shakespeare plays. I would not have felt capable had it not been in the company of other intrepid and wise women who happened to be moms, and from very different countries and socio economic backgrounds. I progressed to reading many of those books that students in the States read in school, and children’s classics. Children classics paved my way and gave me muscle to attempt those harder titles. Some titles proved elusive, but I was also surprised by how not boring or impossible many classics are.

      I also reconnected or tried with whatever few classics I had read in my youth, and with some of the many I always pretended to have read, or that I heard others say they loved. This time I believed they did love them.

      When I visit your blog, I’m always impressed by how long you’ve been a reader, and how well your order of affections are set. Fantasy is key. I came to it a bit late for me to connect at that deep level that children and adolescents click with. But I don’t lament anything of what I haven’t read, or read. It’s a generous gift that which books and authors shower us with. I can’t conceive life without reading. Reading is such a complex and ever giving experience, I’m thankful for books, and very thankful to have found, thanks to the blogs, others who genuinely love reading and good books.

      I know you are caught up with nice things in life at the moment, but I also know you don’t forget any of us here. Whenever you have time to make your suggestions, I’ll welcome them. (I’m working on that master list, and I have Ursula Le Guin in it). I don’t want to keep reading without my friend’s input. It’s a community experience that I cherish.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: The Classics Club – Silvia Cachia

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