Classics Club Challenge/My Ultimate Reading List

While looking for a way to get back in to regular blogging and an excuse to compile a list of everything I want to read, I stumbled across The Classics Club. Their challenge: pick at least 50 classics (25 years old or older) you want to read and set a goal for 5 years from now.  You can pick more than 50 and a date sooner than that, but at minimum 50 books and at most 5 years to do it.

Yeah, my list ended up being 300 books long.

But not all of them are actually old enough to be “classics.” Out of 300 titles, 69 are from less than 25 years ago, and are so officially disqualified from my Classics Club Challenge. However, they are still a part of my to-read list, and as the years pass, the older of them will be absorbed into the official list as soon as they DO qualify. (I will also intersperse my classics reading with these newer, “easier” books — like Infinite Jest. I’M JUST THAT CRAZY.) Below you’ll find my classics list first, followed by the new stuff. I’ll be marking this up as I go along, green text for books I’m currently reading, blue text for books I’ve finished. I’ll also be linking reviews for every book I read, here and, for the older list, over at Classics Club.

Nearly a third of this list (86 to be exact) is by women. I am proud that there’s that many, and yet guilty that there isn’t more. It’s still a list heavy on the old dead white men, but I have my reasons for including every single one of these titles — Mostly the fact that I’ve never read most of them and that’s almost embarrassing.

There’s a couple of re-reads, but only a couple. The Secret Garden is there because my childhood copy is in tatters, but I haven’t tried to read it again in more than a decade. (Unlike my copy of Anne of Green Gables — also in tatters, but still gets a look-over every couple of years.) And the list includes as much variety as I could cram in; there’s not only literary novels but also short story collections, poetry collections, plays, nonfiction, biography, essay collections, and a few genre titles and children’s lit thrown in there just for fun.

I WANT TO READ ALL THE BOOKS.

So my start date: May 14, 2014. My end date: May 13, 2019. Let’s see how far I can get!!

I’m beginning in the easy end of things, with A Visit from the Goon Squad. On deck: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

  1. Achebe, Chinua: Things Fall Apart (1958)
  2. Adams, Richard: Watership Down (1972)
  3. Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound (~415 BCE)
  4. Albee, Edward: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962)
  5. Allende, Isabel: The House of the Spirits (1982)
  6. Amis, Kingsley: Lucky Jim (1954)
  7. Amis, Martin: London Fields (1989)
  8. Amis, Martin: Money (1984)
  9. Anderson, Sherwood: Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
  10. Angelou, Maya: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
  11. Anonymous: One Thousand and One Nights (aka, Arabian Nights) (1706)
  12. Anonymous: The Dead Sea Scrolls (408 BCE – 318)
  13. Aristophanes: Lysistrata (411 BCE)
  14. Atwood, Margaret: A Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  15. Auel, Jean M.: The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980)
  16. Baldwin, James: Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
  17. Baum, L Frank: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
  18. Beckett, Samuel: Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable (1955 – 1958)
  19. Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot (1953)
  20. Bellow, Saul: Herzog (1964)
  21. Bellow, Saul: The Adventures of Augie March (1953)
  22. Boccaccio, Giovanni: The Decameron (1353)
  23. Bowen, Elizabeth: The Death of the Heart (1938)
  24. Boyle, T.C.: World’s End (1987)
  25. Bradbury, Ray: Dandelion Wine (1957)
  26. Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles (1950)
  27. Braddon, Mary Elizabeth: Lady Audley’s Secret (1862)
  28. Bradley, Marion Zimmer: The Mists of Avalon (1983)
  29. Bronte, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
  30. Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights (1847)
  31. Browning, Elizabeth Barrett: Aurora Leigh (1856)
  32. Buck, Pearl S: The Good Earth (1931)
  33. Burgess, Anthony: A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  34. Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden (1911)
  35. Burroughs, William: The Naked Lunch (1959)
  36. Calvino, Italo: If on a Winter’s Night a Taveler (1979)
  37. Camus, Albert: The Stranger (1942)
  38. Carroll, Lewis: Alice in Wonderland (1865)
  39. Carson, Rachel: Silent Spring (1962)
  40. Cather, Willa: Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
  41. Chandler, Raymond: The Big Sleep (1939)
  42. Chekov, Anton: Cherry Orchard (1904)
  43. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor: Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798)
  44. Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone (1868)
  45. Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White (1859)
  46. Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness (1899)
  47. Crane, Stephen: Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)
  48. Dante: The Divine Comedy (1321)
  49. Darwin, Charles: On the Origin of Species (1859)
  50. de Balzac, Honore: Le Pere Goriot (1835)
  51. de Beauvoir, Simone: The Second Sex (1949)
  52. de Cervantes, Miguel: Don Quixote (1615)
  53. Defoe, Daniel: Moll Flanders (1722)
  54. DeLillo, Don: White Noise (1985)
  55. Dick, Philip K.: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
  56. Dickens, Charles: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870)
  57. Dickinson, Emily: The Complete Poems (1955)
  58. Diderot, Denis: Jacques the Fatalist (1796)
  59. Didion, Joan: Play It as It Lays (1970)
  60. Dinesen, Isak: Out of Africa (1937)
  61. Doctorow, E.L.: Ragtime (1975)
  62. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
  63. Dreiser, Theodore: An American Tragedy (1925)
  64. Dreiser, Theodore: Sister Carrie (1900)
  65. Du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca (1938)
  66. Dumas, Alexandre: The Man in the Iron Mask (1850)
  67. Eco, Umberto: The Name of the Rose (1980)
  68. Eliot, George: Middlemarch (1874)
  69. Eliot, T.S.: Murder in the Cathedral (1935)
  70. Eliot, T.S.: The Waste Land (1922)
  71. Euripides: Medea (431 BCE)
  72. Fielding, Henry: Tom Jones (1749)
  73. Fitzgerald, F. Scott: Tender Is the Night (1934)
  74. Follett, Ken: The Pillars of the Earth (1989)
  75. Forster, E.M.: Howard’s End (1910)
  76. Forster, E.M.: Passage to India (1924)
  77. Forster, E.M.: Room With a View (1908)
  78. Fowles, John: The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969)
  79. Frank, Anne: The Diary of Anne Frank (1947)
  80. Freud, Sigmund: The Interpretation of Dreams (1899)
  81. Galsworthy, John: The Forsyte Saga (1922)
  82. Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford (1853)
  83. Gaskell, Elizabeth: North and South (1855)
  84. Gibbons, Stella: Cold Comfort Farm (1932)
  85. Gibson, William: Cyberspace Trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive) (1984-1988)
  86. Ginsberg, Allen: Howl and Other Poems (1956)
  87. Goethe, Johann: Faust (1832)
  88. Gogol, Nikolai: Dead Souls (1842)
  89. Grass, Gunter: The Tin Drum (1959)
  90. Graves, Robert: I, Claudius (1934)
  91. Green, Henry: Loving (1945)
  92. Hardy, Thomas: Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)
  93. Hardy, Thomas: Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)
  94. Hawking, Stephen: A Brief History of Time (1988)
  95. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter (1850)
  96. Heller, Joseph: Catch-22 (1961)
  97. Hellman, Lillian: Little Foxes (1939)
  98. Hellman, Lillian: The Children’s Hour (1934)
  99. Herbert, Frank: Dune (1965)
  100. Hesse, Herman: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
  101. Homer: The Iliad (750-650 BCE)
  102. Homer: The Odyssey (750-650 BCE)
  103. Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables (1862)
  104. Hugo, Victor: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831)
  105. Hurston, Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
  106. Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World (1932)
  107. Irving, John: A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)
  108. Isherwood, Christopher: The Berlin Stories (1945)
  109. Ishiguro, Kazuo: The Remains of the Day (1989)
  110. Jackson, Shirley: The Lottery and Other Stories (1949)
  111. James, Henry: The Art of Fiction (1888)
  112. James, Henry: Turn of the Screw (1898)
  113. James, Henry: Washington Square (1880)
  114. Jong, Erica: Fear of Flying (1973)
  115. Joyce, James: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  116. Kafka, Franz: The Trial (1925)
  117. Kennedy, William: Ironweed (1983)
  118. Kerouac, Jack: On the Road (1957)
  119. Kesey, Ken: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
  120. King, Stephen: Carrie (1974)
  121. Kipling, Rudyard: The Man Who Would Be King (1888)
  122. Kundera, Milan: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984)
  123. Lawrence, D.H.: Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928)
  124. le Carre, John: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)
  125. Lessing, Doris: The Golden Notebook (1962)
  126. Lewis, C.S.: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
  127. Lewis, Sinclair: Elmer Gantry (1927)
  128. Machiavelli, Niccolo: The Prince (1532)
  129. Mailer, Norman: The Naked and the Dead (1948)
  130. Malamud, Bernard: The Assistant (1957)
  131. Malory, Sir Thomas: Le Morte d’Arthur (1485)
  132. Mann, Thomas: Death in Venice (1912)
  133. Marlowe, Christopher: Doctor Faustus (1604)
  134. Maugham, W. Somerset: Of Human Bondage (1915)
  135. McCullers, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
  136. Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick (1851)
  137. Miller, Arthur: Death of a Salesman (1949)
  138. Miller, Henry: Tropic of Cancer (1934)
  139. Milton, John: Paradise Lost (1667)
  140. Moliere: The Misanthrope (1666)
  141. Moore, Alan: Watchmen (1987)
  142. More, Thomas: Utopia (1516)
  143. Morrison, Toni: Beloved (1987)
  144. Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye (1970)
  145. Murdoch, Iris: Under the Net (1954)
  146. Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita (1958)
  147. Naipaul, V.S.: A House for Mr Biswas (1961)
  148. Nesbit, E: The Enchanted Castle (1907)
  149. Nin, Anais: Under a Glass Bell (1944)
  150. O’Connor, Flannery: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories (1955)
  151. O’Brien, Flann: At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)
  152. O’Hara, John: Appointment in Samarra (1935)
  153. Orczy, Baroness: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)
  154. Orwell, George: 1984 (1949)
  155. Parker, Dorothy: The Portable Dorothy Parker (1944)
  156. Percy, Walker: The Moviegoer (1961)
  157. Plath, Sylvia: The Bell Jar (1963)
  158. Pope, Alexander: Rape of the Lock (1717)
  159. Proust, Marcel: Swann’s Way (1913)
  160. Pyle, Howard: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883)
  161. Pynchon, Thomas: Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
  162. Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
  163. Rand, Ayn: Atlas Shrugged (1957)
  164. Rand, Ayn: The Fountainhead (1943)
  165. Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
  166. Rilke, Rainer Maria: Letters to a Young Poet (1929)
  167. Robinson, Marilynne: Housekeeping (1980)
  168. Rossetti, Christina: Maude: A Story for Girls (1897)
  169. Rostand, Edmond: Cyrano de Bergerac (1897)
  170. Roth, Philip: Portnoy’s Complaint (1969)
  171. Rushdie, Salman: Midnight’s Children (1980)
  172. Rushdie, Salman: The Satanic Verses (1988)
  173. Sacks, Oliver: The Man Who Took His Wife for a Hat (1985)
  174. Salinger, J.D.: The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  175. Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe (1820)
  176. Seton, Anya: Katherine (1954)
  177. Sexton, Anne: The Complete Poems (1981)
  178. Shaw, George Bernard: Mrs. Warren’s Profession (1894)
  179. Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein (1818)
  180. Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle (1906)
  181. Smith, Betty: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)
  182. Smith, Dodie: I Capture the Castle (1948)
  183. Solzhenitsyn, Alexander: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963)
  184. Sontag, Susan: Against Interpretation and Other Essays (1966)
  185. Sophocles: The Oedipus Cycle (497-405 BCE)
  186. Stein, Gertrude: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933)
  187. Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men (1937)
  188. Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
  189. Steinbeck, John: The Pearl (1947)
  190. Stendhal: The Red and the Black (1830)
  191. Sterne, Laurence: Tristram Shandy (1767)
  192. Stevenson, Robert Louis: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
  193. Stoppard, Tom: Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead (1966)
  194. Styron, William: Sophie’s Choice (1979)
  195. Tan, Amy: The Joy Luck Club (1989)
  196. Tarkington, Booth: The Magnificent Ambersons (1918)
  197. Thackeray, William Makepeace: Vanity Fair (1848)
  198. Thompson, Hunter S.: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972)
  199. Tolkein, J.R.R.: The Lord of the Rings (1955)
  200. Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina (1877)
  201. Tolstoy, Leo: War and Peace (1869)
  202. Toole, John Kennedy: A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)
  203. Twain, Mark: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)
  204. Tzu, Sun: The Art of War (1910)
  205. Updike, John: Rabbit, Run (1960)
  206. Verne, Jules: Around the World in Eighty Days (1873)
  207. Verne, Jules: From the Earth to the Moon (1865)
  208. Virgil: Aeneid (29-19 BCE)
  209. Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughterhouse Five (1969)
  210. Walker, Alice: The Color Purple (1982)
  211. Warren, Robert Penn: All the King’s Men (1946)
  212. Watson, Winifred: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938)
  213. Waugh, Evelyn: Brideshead Revisited (1945)
  214. Weisel, Elie: Night (1960)
  215. Welty, Eudora: The Collected Short Stories (1980)
  216. West, Nathaniel: The Day of the Locust (1939)
  217. Wharton, Edith: The Age of Innocence (1920)
  218. Wharton, Edith: The Buccaneers (1938)
  219. White, T.H.: The Once and Future King (1958)
  220. Whitman, Walt: Leaves of Grass (1892)
  221. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
  222. Wodehouse, P.G.: The Code of the Woosters (1938)
  223. Wolfe, Tom: The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)
  224. Wolfe, Tom: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
  225. Woodward & Bernstein: All the President’s Men (1974)
  226. Woolf, Virginia: A Room of One’s Own (1929)
  227. Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
  228. Wright, Richard: Native Son (1940)
  229. Yates, Richard: Revolutionary Road (1961)
  230. Yeats, William Butler: Irish Faerie Tales (1892)
  231. Zola, Emile: Germinal (1885)

And for the newer titles:

  1. Acker, Kathy: In Memoriam to Identity (1990)
  2. Allison, Dorothy: Bastard Out of Carolina (1992)
  3. Atkinson, Kate: Life after Life (2013)
  4. Atwood, Margaret: The Blind Assassin (2000)
  5. Beah, Ishmael: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007)
  6. Bolano, Roberto: The Savage Detectives (1998)
  7. Byatt, A.S.: Possession (1990)
  8. Chabon, Michael: The Amzing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000)
  9. Chbosky, Stephen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)
  10. Clarke, Susanna: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
  11. Coetzee, J.M.: Disgrace (1999)
  12. Cunningham, Michael: A Home at the End of the World (1990)
  13. Danielweski, Mark: House of Leaves (2000)
  14. de Bernieres, Louis: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994)
  15. Diamant, Anita: The Red Tent (1997)
  16. Diamond, Jared: Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997)
  17. Diaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)
  18. Egan, Jennifer: A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) (review)
  19. Eggers, Dave: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000)
  20. Ephron, Nora: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (2006)
  21. Faber, Michel: The Crimson Petal and the White (2002)
  22. Foer, Jonathan Safran: Exteremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)
  23. Fountain, Ben: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012)
  24. Franzen, Jonathan: The Corrections (2001)
  25. Gaines, Ernest: A Lesson Before Dying (1993)
  26. Haddon, Mark: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003)
  27. Harbach, Chad: The Art of Fielding (2011)
  28. Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go (2005)
  29. Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible (1998)
  30. Lahiri, Jhumpa: The Namesake (2003)
  31. Larson, Erik: The Devil in the White City (2003)
  32. Lethem, Jonathan: The Fortress of Solitude (2003)
  33. Mantel, Hilary: Bring up the Bodies (2012)
  34. Mantel, Hilary: Wolf Hall (2009)
  35. Martel, Yann: Life of Pi (2001)
  36. McBride, James: The Color of Water (1995)
  37. McCarthy, Cormac: The Road (2006)
  38. McCourt, Frank: Angela’s Ashes (1996)
  39. McEwan, Ian: Atonement (2001)
  40. Mitchell, David: Cloud Atlas (2004)
  41. Munro, Alice: Selected Stories (1996)
  42. Murakami, Haruki: Kafka on the Shore (2005)
  43. Murakami, Haruki: Norwegian Wood (2000)
  44. Naslund, Sena Jeter: Ahab’s Wife (1999)
  45. Nemirovsky, Irene: Suite Francaise (2004)
  46. Oates, Joyce Carol: We Were the Mulvaneys (1996)
  47. O’Neill, Joseph: Netherland (2008)
  48. Pamuk, Orhan: My Name is Red (1998)
  49. Pamuk, Orhan: Snow (2002)
  50. Parker, Dorothy: Complete Stories (1995)
  51. Patchett, Ann: Bel Canto (2001)
  52. Pollan, Michael: The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006)
  53. Proulx, Annie: The Shipping News (1993)
  54. Robinson, Marilynne: Gilead (2004)
  55. Roth, Philip: American Pastoral (1997)
  56. Roy, Arundhati: The God of Small Things (1997)
  57. Saramago, Jose: Blindness (1995)
  58. Satrapi, Marjane: Persepolis (2007)
  59. Sedaris, David: Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000)
  60. Shteyngart, Gary: Super Sad True Love Story (2010)
  61. Sijie, Dai: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2001)
  62. Smiley, Jane: A Thousand Acres (1991)
  63. Smith, Zadie: White Teeth (2000)
  64. Spiegelman, Art: Maus (1991)
  65. Stephenson, Neal: Snow Crash (1992)
  66. Tartt, Donna: The Secret History (1992)
  67. Trillin, Calvin: About Alice (2006)
  68. Wallace, David Foster: Infinite Jest (1996)
  69. Walls, Jeannette: The Glass Castle (2005)

(And despite the already daunting size of this list, I do accept any further recommendations if there’s anything vital you think I missed.)

Happy reading!

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