Saturday, January 04, 2020

Back to the Classics - 2020

Karen at Books and Chocolate is hosting Back to the Classics 2020 - thanks, Karen, for hosting again. You have many loyal fans and I know it takes time and effort to host a challenge.

Here's my tentative lineup for this challenge. Feel free to throw out suggestions for the categories which are still undecided.

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope - 2nd in the Palliser series

2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1970. 
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - haven't read it since I was in high school, so definitely due for a reread. Was phenomenal--definitely worthy of the Pulitzer Prize it won.

3. Classic by a Woman Author.
The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton - one of the few remaining books on my Classics Challenge; I liked the mini-series from long ago, so I have high hopes for this one.

4. Classic in Translation. 
The Late Mattia Pascal by Luigi Pirandello - I love Italy and hope to visit again soon. Interesting classic by a Nobel prize-winning author.

5. Classic by a Person of Color. Passing by Nella Larsen. Excellent novel from 1929, Harlem Renaissance time period.

6. A Genre Classic. Leaving Cheyenne, by Larry McMurtry - I enjoy Westerns, and while this isn't a shoot-'em-up, round-'em-up story, I liked it and liked the sense of place and character.
7. Classic with a Person's Name in the Title. First name, last name or both.
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens.

8. Classic with a Place in the Title. Any classic with the proper name of a place (real or ficitonal) - a country, region, city, town, village, street, building, etc. 
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy - really first rate retelling of the Oedipus story.

9. Classic with Nature in the Title. A classic with any element of nature in the title (not including animals). 
I ended up reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

10. Classic About a Family. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott 

11. Abandoned Classic. Choose a classic that you started and just never got around to finishing, whether you didn't like it at or just didn't get around to it. 
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe - I started it in 2019 but ran out of steam, but I would like to finish it.

12. Classic Adaptation. Any classic that's been adapted as a movie or TV series. 
I reread A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - enjoyed it immensely and had planned on watching an adaptation this season but haven't yet made the time to do so. I also didn't write a review -- out of time.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading in 2020!


  1. Great list! I loved The Grapes of Wrath and The Buccaneers, and I always love Dickens. And I think a lot of people will be reading Little Women, including myself!

  2. Happy New Year!

    You should use Little Women for the adaptation category and let us know how the film stands up to it. I’ve only seen the Winona Ryder movie version. It seems as if a movie version comes out every generation or so, which I really like as a concept…introducing a new generation to the story and (maybe) the novel.

    I love Nicholas Nickleby. I would place in my top five of Dickens’ titles I think. Since I am almost finished with his novels, I think I will re-read one every year in future. I think I would miss him too if I didn’t read something every 12 months or so. :D

    You like Michener, right? I am thinking you could use one of his titles in maybe the genre category. He is sort of a genre unto himself…:D

  3. It is cool that you are going forward with Phineas Finn . I think that all of the Palliser book are worth reading.

    As for a Classic written by a person of color, there are so many. Zora Neale Hurston‘s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Chinua Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart are two of my favorites.

    1. I am thinking about Things Fall Apart - I read Their Eyes Were Watching God a few years ago and I'm not ready to reread it yet.

    2. Anything by James Baldwin.

  4. We've got Nicholas Nickleby in common (first time for me). Nice choices.

  5. A great collection of books here and I was particularly interested in The Late Matia Pascal because I don't know enough with regard to more recent Italian Classics as I would like to.

    Reagarding a classic by a person of color I agree with Brian, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston is one of my favorites too. Haven't read Things Fall Apart but want to.

    For Westerns might I suggest The Searchers by Alan LeMay. Before it was a movie it was a novel and a powerful one at that.

  6. I'm not sure if I'm doing this challenge this year, but I do love some of those categories. Good luck and happy reading! :)

  7. I always think Trollope is a good idea! After embarrassing myself and only reading two classics last year, I'm putting a challenge list together and will try again. James Baldwin might be a good choice for author of color. If Beale Street Could Talk is excellent! I'd like to read more of his books. You might be able to tie the genre category in with RIP...maybe DuMaurier, Willkie Colins, etc. Good luck!

    1. Welcome back to the challenge, JoAnn - I will have to check out If Beale Street Could Talk as I haven't heard of that one.

      Yes, the genre category provided a wealth of possibilities -- good thinking about the RIP connection, my other favorite reading challenge.

  8. I just finished Mayor of Casterbridge last year and it was really amazing. Not sure if you are a Hardy fan, but now I understand why it is considered one of his best.

    Oh, well I would also agree w/ those suggesting Their Eyes Were Watching God. It was beautifully written, and the film, starring Halle Berry was equally beautiful.

    1. Glad to hear Mayor of Casterbridge was good--I've braced myself for a tough read, but if the writing sings, the heartache is worth it.

      I didn't know there was a movie for Their Eyes Were Watching God - will have to check into that!

  9. Things Fall Apart is certainly excellent! I can also highly recommend: The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola.
    I found it fascinating and unlike anything else I've read. It could serve for a work with an element of nature in the title, or for a classic by a person of color.
    I loved Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux; I hope you do too! I always enjoy seeing your choices and reading your thoughts on them later!

    1. Thanks for the recommendations, Lucy! And good to know the Phineas novels are winners.

  10. for #5 anything by James Baldwin. for #10 the new Little Women movie is terrific. for #12 I suggest Out of Africa adaptation & book. Enjoy your reads.

  11. Looks like you will have quite a fun classic reading year! Good luck!

  12. Little Women sounds like the perfect choice for the family classic, especially with the new movie out so recently.

    For the Genre choice, I think I'll be tackling Dracula for horror/Gothic closer to October. And Vanity Fair for the adaptation. I'll watch the series at the same time. As for the person of colour category, I've been finding it challenging too.