Back to the Classics Challenge - 2016 Plans

I really enjoyed participating in the Back to the Classics Challenge this year and can't wait to start again in 2016. I was already making my reading plan for this upcoming year (which I hope to post soon too) before Karen posted the catagories and several of my selections have found a spot on this list but there are still a number categories that I hadn't decided on. So suggestions are welcome, especially lighter or easier ones. Looking at this list and my overall 2016 hope to read list, I'm in trouble. I've picked a lot of really long and/or heavy books and I'm not sure I'll be able to accomplish my goals. But I'll be trying!

Head over to Books and Chocolate for more info about the challenge and further explanation of the categories but here are my tentative choices (I changed several mid-way last year so who knows what I'll end up with this year).

1.  A 19th Century Classic - Brideshead Revisited

2.  A 20th Century Classic - A Man for All Seasons 

With the AO discussion group. 

3.  A classic by a woman author. Undecided

I've very tempted to put The Head of the House of Coombe or another of Francis Hodges Burnett's adult novels here. I just discovered them last year with The Shuttle for the challenge and then T. Tembarom which I finished last week. So I'm sure I'd enjoy another but I also want to use this challenge to find new authors so we'll see. 

4.  A classic in translation.  I, Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed)

I plan to read this along with the AO forum book discussion group. If I wasn't, I might pick Anna Karinana because I've read two different articles lately that mention it as a good read for a Christians to read, especially for its views on marriage which was interesting to me so that is on my maybe list for the year. Funnily enough, The Betrothed is also supposed to be a good book about marriage and apparently earlier this year Pope Francis recommended engaged couples read it before marriage. Apparently I'm just in a marriage themed translated book mood?

5.  A classic by a non-white author. Undecided.


6.  An adventure classic - Undecided. 

Well, is Waverly an adventure classic? It can be hard to tell if a book fits a category if one hasn't read it and don't want to read too many summary type things for fear of spoilers. Opinions? Or maybe I'll just have to read it to find out for myself but I've heard there is treason and an escape of some kind and that sounds adventurous to me. 

7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. 

1984 was on my list last year for short novel but I ended up picking something else for that category instead. Will this be its year or will I move on yet again? Dystopian novels aren't really my thing but the point of this is to stretch me out of my normal reading zones. 

Update: Oh, I just remembered I'm also trying to read Utopia with the AO group too. Would that fit this category? Sometimes its hard to determine if a book fits if you haven't read it. I think it would so we'll go with that for now.

8.  A classic detective novel. A Woman in White

This was already on my 2016 list. I really enjoyed Wilkie Collins's other famous novel, the moonstone, last year. This one is long but I've heard it is worth it.

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. Bleak House

Another that was already on my 2016 list. I'm determined not to give up on Dickens so despite my not falling in love with A Tale of Two Cities last year, I want to read this. It sounds like something I would like and as far as I know, unlike A Tale of Two Cities, it hasn't been "spoiled" for me. And if I do finish it, I can reward myself by watching the mini-series. BBC is always a good motivator for me.

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. Undecided.

Would Where the Wild Things or The Night Kitchen count? Just kidding ;-) I've already read the ones that immediately came to mind (Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc) and I like my reads to be pretty clean in terms of sex and violence so I probably won't want to read anything that was banned for those reasons. Suggestions welcome here. 

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college).  Persuasion. 

I've been wanting to re-read it for a while. I can't remember how long its been since my last read. It has never been one of my favorite Austen novels (not that I dislike it, I don't dislike anything by Austen, even Northhanger Abbey) but my guess is that this one gets better as you age so I'm curious to see if it rises on my list after a re-read. 

12. A volume of classic short stories. 
I have no idea! Suggestions please! 

Update: I'm stealing someone else's idea of The Just So Stories. I've been meaning to pre-read it as Lucy will start it as part of AO year 1 soon and I've heard it is a lot easier to read aloud if you've practiced. 


  1. This is going to be a super fun challenge! Well, actually, I think it will be a true challenge for me because of the titles I chose. I'm looking at yours here and offering some suggestions (to take or leave as you'd like):
    #3 Have you read Jane Eyre? Excellent book! Could fit your Woman Author.
    #7 Someone else listed Utopia for their fantasy, science fiction, dystopian selection- I'm all for following others' lead.
    #8 The Woman in White is absolutely wonderful! You'll enjoy that! It is the only Wilkie Collins book I've read and now I am thinking I need to read another.
    #10 I pulled up a list from this site (http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics) to choose from.
    #12 Just So Stories is the one I chose as well :D

    For #5 and #6, I have nothing for you but am waiting to see what others may suggest as I am unsure of the two I chose (Black Boy by Wright and Innocents Abroad by Twain, respectively).

  2. I did the 2015 Challenge & I'm getting my 2016 list together. I've enjoyed Persuasion more now than when I first read it. It's probably my favourite Austen book. I was thinking I'd do Huck Finn also. I just have too many books to squeeze I'm trying to get to read!

  3. First, thanks for signing up -- so many great books on your list. I love, love, love Bleak House, so I hope lots of people read it. (And the BBC series is GREAT - it's what got me hooked on Dickens). And there are lots of books that were banned or censored for reasons other than sex and violence. Just google "banned or censored books" and you'll be surprised at the titles that you find. A lot of books have been banned for political reasons or if they're considered to be subversive. For example. "Black Beauty" was banned in South Africa at one time because anything black couldn't be beautiful. Seriously. A lot of classics have been banned for political reasons -- "Call of the Wild" was banned in some European countries because the author was a socialist.

    Hopefully, you'll find a book that was once banned or censored that you want to read. If not, you can certainly skip that category and still read six or nine books and still qualify for the drawing. Happy reading!

  4. For short stories, I've picked the Martian Chronicles by Bradbury. I love this book, I started to re read it, got sidetracked, so I'm saving it up to start it all over in 2016.

    In 2014, I read The Magic Barrel, by Malamud, http://www.silviacachia.com/2014/07/goodbye-july.html, and fell in love with his short stories. I also love Julio Cortázar's short stories, and have not read Borges (but he loved the short stories genre). I also have read some Flannery O'Connor's short stories, and they are fabulous. Poe also was my adolescent teen favorite for short stories. Cervantes has his Novelas Ejemplares (which I know it's translated), far far shorter than Don Quijote, and it has a Chaucer like quality... wait! Maybe reading 8 Chaucer stories could work?

  5. Have you read The Grapes of Wrath? It was banned in Ireland and burned by a library in East STL

  6. Great list!

    For the adventure-category you can pick up Jules Verne or H.G. Wells.

    Bleak House is a great read, and the miniseries from 2005 with Gillian Anderson is fantastic :-)

  7. I think you're going to love reading Persuasion as an adult. To me it gets richer as I age.

    LOVE Bleak House, so consider this another vote in its favor. "Women in White" was slow going for me at first but it picks up as it goes along. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was a banned book. I don't love Hemingway but it is worth reading once. "The Great Gatsby" has been banned before too. I find it tiresome but again, it's worth reading once.

    The Children of Men is dystopian but I'm not sure it counts as a classic. Dracula or Frankenstein might count as early science fiction and they're not salacious the way their movie adaptations are. I also love to recommend "Alas, Babylon" which is a book where the US suffers a nuclear attack, but again, I'm not sure it exactly fits this category...

    If Just So Stories ends up being too short for you, maybe consider Chesterton's Father Brown short stories. SO GOOD.

    Looking forward to your reading posts - happy reading!

  8. 1984 is one of my favorites, but dystopian novels are not easy to love. Isn't Utopia a fantastical type setting? I think it would work for that category.

  9. This is so invigorating. :) Looking forward to doing this alongside everyone else.

    For #5, I found an interesting, hopefully lighter read by a Native-American. Wigwam Evenings: Sioux Folk Tales Retold by Charles Eastman

    I am thinking I will save this and the Peterkin Papers for my foggiest postpartum time next year. :)

    Thank you for sharing your list-in-progress.

  10. The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (1962 Newbery Medal Winner) is now frequently banned for being Christian propaganda. It's barely old enough, but it'll count. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It's not perfect, but there is a reason it won the Newbery!