Sunday Salon: The Classics Challenge

I seem to have spent a fair amount of time trying to resolve a dilemma. It’s all the fault of the Classics Club that I joined this week. New members have to  identify 50 novels/books considered to be classics that we want to read over the course of the next few years. It proved rather more difficult than I imagined.

It was much harder to think of 50 titles than I had imagined. For one thing, what does the label  ‘classic’ really mean?  Revered? Old? Learned?  I gave up trying to answer that one. Then there was the question of whether to go for books I had never read before or to include a smattering of some tried and trusted friends. In the end I included some titles I had read once before (though many decades ago) but never really appreciated or understood – so Camus and Virginia Woolf got included.

Now I’ve finished, I keep thinking of things that maybe I should have included so I suspect this list is going to change over the five years I’ve set myself to read these examples of the great and the good in literature.

But those people over at Classics Club have a dastardly trick up their sleeves – the August mem challenges all members to name their favourite classic of all time. I agonised over this – kept moving titles up and down in order of preference. But I never could settle on just one – so I somewhat cheated and went for my own version of the Olympic medals. My selection of gold, silver and bronze are revealed in my blog posting and my list is at

What have I missed out that you think really should be in my list?

What would your list look like?


About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on August 12, 2012, in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I had a similar dilemma when I was building my own list. It’s either there are too many classics or you are not sure if some books are “old enough” to be a classic. In the end, I chose books published before 1950 (just to cut down the number) and selected only one work per author (The Brothers Karamazov vs Crime and Punishment).

    I still continuously add and remove books from my list every time I discover books that I feel I should include (like our country’s greatest novel, which I failed to remember when I initially made my choices). I guess keeping the list is an ongoing process, no?

    • That’s a good idea (i.e. anything published before 1950). Wish I’d thought of it! Now when I look at the list there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to it. Not to worry, half the fun will be keeping it fresh

  2. Great list! It’s so fun looking at the books the Classics Club members have chosen. There is often a lot of overlap, but still, each list retains a unique flavor.

    It is difficult to make choices when it comes to “favorites” or even lists. I guess it’s a little like choosing what to read next – is it going to fit my mood? Is this really what I’m looking for at this moment? And those pressures intensify when you’re making choices for the next five years. Who knows what I’ll really want to read then!

    • I find I do have to be in the mood for a certain book. My choice also depends on where I’m going to read it – if its a really thick book then I know not to take it with me on holiday because I don’t want to have to carry it around the entire time. But then if its a short book I won’t take it because I know I’ll be through it too fast and might be stuck trying to find another good one.

  3. I looked a this and decided that I couldn’t cope with another set of books that I felt pressured to read even though I know I ought to be reading more classical fiction than I do. And as for naming my favourite, I would find that impossible because it changes from day to day, season to season, mood to mood.

    • I decided I wasn’t going to pressure myself too much over this. if i didn’t read 50 in 5 years, then so what. No-one else will care. But I know what you mean about multiple lists – I have this one. the Booker list and my list for the university course plus my to be read list. At least I won’t ever be stuck wondering what to read next (LOL)

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