Back to the Classics Challenge, 2020

Yay! Karen so graciously has launched this amazing challenge once more! It’s the 7th year of the challenge, it’ll be my 6th.

I said before that I didn’t want to do any challenge this year. Ahem. I meant I don’t want to force myself into any challenge. I don’t want to take it as any obligation. And I know well that none of the generous people that offer these challenges intends for us to stress over them.

I’m a social reader. I can’t help but loving what others insights bring to the books I read. Specially classics. And I’m noticing a pattern, I’m simply drawn to long books and to re-reads. This time of the year, I get very hyped up with all your lists, read alongs, and possibilities. I’m determined to enjoy the ride and not to stress myself unnecessarily.

I plan to announce some titles, and then let time and life take me to whatever of those books I end up reading and the conversations at the blogs.

I also know that I’ll read several books I can fit in the categories. Whether it’s 1 or 12, classics will be read. That’s what matters the most to me.

So I prepared the list. Somehow. True to myself, the books and categories will be reshuffled through the year. Even if I don’t assign a book per category, I’m still listing candidates, -no fun without the titles, right?

1. 19th Century Classic. 
2. 20th Century Classic. 
3. Classic by a Woman Author.
4. Classic in Translation. 
The Iliad. 8th century BC?
5. Classic by a Person of Color. 
6. A Genre Classic. 
7. Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title.  The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, 1002
8. Classic with a Place in the Title. 
9. Classic with Nature in the Title. The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann started writing it in 1912, and it was first published in 1924.
10. Classic About a Family.  One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, 1967
11. Abandoned Classic. 
12. Classic Adaptation. 

One Hundred Years of Solitude better gets read, 🙂 I’m co-hosting a read along with Ruth in March-April. Stay tuned. Click on the image to know more about it.

About The Magic Mountain. I don’t know if I’ll go for it this year. These two books came with me from Madrid. I bought them and read them many years ago. They are so ugly, -I never like covers with the movie or TV actors in them-, that they are almost beautiful.

Many of you will be reading it, and I would love to join you. Even if I don’t read it again, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on it.

I’ve not seen the TV adaptation, but I may try to find it and watch it if I get to read the book again.

As for all the empty categories, these are possible candidates that could fit several.

  1. The End of the Affair, Graham Greene, 1951. It has a movie adaptation. It fits in XX century, and adaptation.
  2. Rashomon and Other Stories, 1915. It’ll fit in XX century, adaptation, and name in the title, person of color.
  3. A Moveable Feast, Hemingway, 1964. XX century, and genre classic, I believe. It’s a memoir.
  4. The Man in the Queue, Josephine Tey, 1929. XX century, woman author, genre classic.
  5. Stories by Katherine Mansfield, published in 1937, stories from 1908-1923. She died in 1924 at the age of 34. XX century, woman author.
  6. The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers, 1941. XX century, woman author. This will be a re-read for me. It’s very not easily classifiable, and highly inspiring.
  7. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, written by herself, 1861. XIX century, woman author, person of color, -possibly ‘name in the title’.

Several are abandoned classics. I don’t have any with a place in the title, not many with a nature word other than the uncertain The Magic Mountain.

From this bunch, please convince me of the greatness of the titles. Apart from The Mind of the Maker, I’m always putting the rest off thinking I won’t love them. (I don’t want to just like them, LOL. I’m demanding, I know). But last year, Cry, the Beloved Country, I got in my head that it would be a dreaded title, and it was one of the best books of 2019! I know many of you love this particular Heminway, and that my friend Katie O. loves Graham Greene, and my friend Sherry loves Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Still I’d love to hear some encouragement, -if you have it-, or your thoughts.

The good thing is that none in this pile are extremely long. Maybe just Mansfield, and I’m having second thoughts. It’s a fact that, gulp, I just don’t like Virginia Woolf. I know, Kaggsby, it pains me to admit it, but it’s the truth. And if Mansfield is grouped with her, as some other authors I see you also like, my chances diminish.

I don’t know what it is, but books that talk about life and people from a bleak and difficult angle, leave me feeling too sad. Probably this is why I find solace in the classics, and some books that strengthen my faith, -and I don’t mean my reads have to necessarily agree with my beliefs, because they mostly don’t, or not hundred percent-. It’s just that my mind needs a good balance between nourishment, challenge, and diversion, 🙂

Lastly, I know that as the months progress, I’ll see or come in contact with a mystery, or a classic that I will just read then and there and that will possibly fit in these nice categories that Karen so graciously has sorted out for us.

30 thoughts on “Back to the Classics Challenge, 2020

  1. I am participating in your readalong of One Hundred Years of Solitude and SO looking forward to it! Thanks for hosting 🙂

    As for all your other books? I am not familiar with many except by title, so sorry, I am no help. But pssst, I read my first Virginia Woolf last year and….well, I didn’t like her either. But I put two of her titles on my Classics Club list and I have to read To the Lighthouse this year. I hope it’s better than Night and Day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so thrilled you will be at the read along with Ruth and I.
      I found your blog, love the name, your books and all.
      I read A Room of One’s Own. It was okay. And I wish you good luck with Virginia Woolf. I’m not proud of not liking any classic writer, least a woman, but I guess we all have that one or two authors that trigger all the wrong responses.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is part of my personal canon. It’s a slave narrative, a biography, a history, and emotionally moving and glaring. As a mom, it will affect you.

    Let me know if you want to buddy read The Magic Mountain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember participating in this challenge once upon a time. I really liked it, for how can classics disappoint? They can’t, for me. I am trying, though, not to get too bogged down in obligatory reading (that doesn’t sound very nice, does it?!). I do best when I meander through my piles, picking up what suits my fancy. That said, you have some great choices here. I am quite interested in The Magic Mountain, left half unread a few years ago. But, it is something I would like to complete. The Pillow Book was a charming look at ancient Japan, not to mention a woman’s diary. Do you know that I adore diaries? Journals of all types?

    Your kitty is lovely. I have a special place in my heart for Tabby cats, ever since my son was given one by his girlfriend (long gone) in high school. The cat remains though, and she utterly charms me. He has named ours Samanth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get your sentiment toward this type of challenge. I remembered having been mesmerized by The Magic Mountain. I have been wanting to relive the book and see if the “magic” is still there.

      I love reading like you, but I also have a weakness for looking at lists that include classics and trying to accommodate them.

      If nothing else, we can get to see what each other is reading.

      Love the story of your cat, and the name. I must see her now.

      We found ours when she was less than a week old. My 13 year old daughter did find her and was crucial to her survival. We fed her every 3 hours, had her in a box with a warm-up pad. My daughter called her Sparkles for a day, but once we took her to the vet and we saw her personality and looks, she name her Missy for good. It’s tremendously fitting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought The Magic Mountain was pretty great (though not easy!) and I quite liked The End of the Affair. (Though Quiet American or The Power and the Glory are probably my favorite Greene novels.)

    I’m still thinking about your Hundred Years of Solitude readalong…but I am thinking about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No problem, Reese. We can’t do it all.

      I also owe The Power and the Glory. I may change it to that one.

      Let’s see if I get to reread The Magic Mountain, and if it’s as great as my first time impression.


  5. I am so happy to see Harriet Jacobs on your list! It is a powerful, unforgettable book.
    I didn’t like Katherine Mansfield as much as I thought I “should have.” But, what’s “should have” anyway?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reassuring me on the Jacobs. I may pass on Mansfield. Life is too short and there’s better books for me.

      Miss you, Sherry. Thanks for always stopping by.


  6. Eeek! Having picked myself up off the floor, I think you needn’t worry about Mansfield – I think she’s very different from Woolf despite their often being bracketed together. The Greene is very intense and Tey is an excellent writer. Good luck! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so nervous thinking about you reading this, hahaha. Thanks for the note on Mansfield, Tey I have read her famous Daughter of Time but want to read some more. And I MUST read Greene this year. I have had him in my TBR list for 3 or 4 years, sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I want to add in my encouragement for Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. I read this in college alongside the Frederick Douglass and Olaudah Equiano narratives in an American Literature class, and this one stood out. I liked getting the female perspective on this time in history. It was extremely powerful and emotional – a very moving read.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I totally get it. The reading challenges quite obviously tempt me too. LOL But yes, participating without wanting to feel obligated but seeing it as potential or as I called it for the MMD reading challenge for me….reading inspiration. 🙂 Definitely let me know what you think about the Josephine Tey book. I’ve only read The Daughter of Time and I really liked it. I’d be interesting in reading more from Tey.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great looking list. I see a lot of favorites, although I must confess, I could not get into 100 Years of Solitude. Happy reading 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You have a lovely list of possibilities!

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl got all the votes above, so I think you have to read that if no other title! I’ve never read it but now I want to too.

    The Josephine Tey book is fun. Not as involved as a Sayers novel, but still a good crime procedural, I thought.

    I would like to hear what you think of Greene. I haven’t read any of his “serious” novels in many, many years. But I think he is a great writer and I want to someday go back and read those novels of his that inspired me so much in my 20’s starting with The Quiet American.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve read a handful of Mansfield short stories over the years and enjoyed — or at least admired — them. I first came across her when reading about Gurdjieff, a mystic whom she followed at the end of her short life, but haven’t made a sustained effort to read her writing. As for the other authors I’ve only read one or two, for example Mann whose The Holy Sinner intrigued me a decade or two ago. Good luck with filling your category gaps!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was tempted, but I prefer to stick to reading my list of 50 classics going with the flow, without wasting more time posting on another challenge.
    OMG, Rashomon and A Moveable Feast, you absolutely need to read these, yes! The only book by Hemingway that I enjoy, and it’s so good.
    As for One Hundred Years of Solitude, I highly recommend you print a genealogy from online (easy to find). It really helped me greatly, because at one point I was totally confused, as so many members have the same name!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rashomon will be read soon. A Moveable Feast, hopefully this year too, LOL. I’ve read and appreciated Farewell to Arms, but everyone loves this other title, different in tone, right?

      I’m going to surely print that genealogy for the read along with Ruth. Yeap. Josés and Aurelianos Buendías all over.


  13. Hi Silvia! In keeping with my tradition of being at least three weeks behind everyone else, I’m only now checking out everyone’s 2020 reading lists (and have yet to sign on to the Back to the Classics Challenge, which I really enjoyed last year).
    Your list looks most intriguing! I haven’t read many of your candidates myself, so I should put them on my own 2020 list (the read along for 100 Years might actually get me through it!). Magic Mountain is wonderful (I didn’t expect to like it but I did). The only Graham Greene I’ve read is The Quiet American, which I really enjoyed but — never quite got around to reading another Greene! As for Josephine Tey — loved, loved, loved Daughter of Time but — never really read anything else! (Are we seeing a pattern here?) I liked Moveable Feast o.k. — if you have to read Hemingway, I guess that’s the one (I’m not a fan). I’d only a vague recollection of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; yours and the other comments, however, have really put it on my radar! I’ll have to keep it in mind.
    What a wonderful year of reading, you have here! I look forward to your reviews. Also, I’m glad to find another re-reader of old favorites. I find that I’m re-reading more and more these days and getting a surprising amount out of it. It’s amazing to realize how much I’ve missed with certain books or, with the classics, how much they continue to give us as we ourselves evolve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too have read only Daughter of Time, just one Hemingway, no Greene, love the Magic Mountain in my time. I’m going to proceed with one of the Spanish books that intrigues me, but I am sure I won’t get to these titles, I always end up reading less and on a whim. However, I like to list intentions are I appreciate the recommendations I get, they add to my interest in some of the titles.

      I can’t wait to read your list. The advantages of being one of the latest to publish it, it’s the added attention, and it’s such a treat that keeps the excitement going.

      The disadvantage is that we may have influenced your list, and while I love to converge in our reads, I want to see Janakay do Janakay.


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