The Classics Club – 50 Classic Books in 5 Years

The Classics Club

Hi everyone! Today I’m committing myself to a project/challenge that really suits my reading habits and you get to be part of a club too! The Classics Club asks you to pledge a list of at least 50 books to read in a maximum of 5 years. You can find out more via their FAQ!

I will be including novels (or other long forms of prose), novellas, plays, short story collections, and poetry collections in this list because I love all of these forms. I’m defining a Classic as something ‘judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality’ since that’s one of the OED definitions. Re-reads will be marked with an asterisk (*).

A few stats about this list:

  • 25 pre-1700 texts
  • 25 post-1700 texts
  • 24 texts by men
  • 24 texts by women
  • 2 anonymous texts

Start date: 21st April 2017
End date: 21st April 2022

Okay, on to the list…


  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)
  • The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (1021)
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
  • The Professor by Charlotte Bronte (1857)
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871)
  • The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (1907)
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)
  • We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (1847)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920)
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1963)
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
  • A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe (1790)
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (1905)
  • Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (1889)
  • Belinda by Maria Edgeworth (1801)
  • The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)


  • Iliad by Homer* (c.1180 BC)
  • Odyssey by Homer* (c.1178 BC)
  • Divine Comedy by Dante (1320)
  • Beowulf (c.975-1025)
  • Renaissance Women Poets by Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney and Aemilia Lanyer (c.1560)
  • Stung with Love: Poems and Fragments by Sappho (c.570 BC)
  • The Complete Poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt (c.1530s)
  • The Poetic Edda (c.985)
  • On the Nature of the Universe by Lucretius (c.60 BC)
  • The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson (c.1890)
  • Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1850)


  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon (Collection, c.1000)
  • The Devil’s Charter by Barnabe Barnes (Play, 1607)
  • The Blazing World and Other Writings by Margaret Cavendish (Prose, 1666)
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory (Prose, 1485)
  • Utopia by Thomas More (Prose, 1516)
  • Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare (Play, c.1605)
  • The Changeling by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley (Play, c.1622)
  • The Tragedy of Mariam by Elizabeth Cary (Play, 1613)
  • The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney (Prose, c.1580)
  • The Alchemist by Ben Jonson (Play, 1610)
  • The Major Works by John Donne (Collection, c.1600s)
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Prose, c.170)
  • Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (Novellas, c.1353)
  • Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe (Non-Fiction, c.1563)
  • Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor (Short story collection, 1971)
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (Essay, 1790)
  • Candide by Voltaire (Novella, 1759)
  • The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (Novella, 1897)

Well, that’s it. I can’t wait to get started.

This will also be posted as a permanent page.


47 thoughts on “The Classics Club – 50 Classic Books in 5 Years

  1. YOUR LIST IS AMAZING! I’m so glad you joined! I’ve been with them since they started. (Five years.) 🙂

    I’ve read just a few on your list: Agnes Grey & Wollstonecraft. I loved both. 🙂 The House of Mirth is one of my absolute favorites, and I really enjoyed Rebecca. Little Women is in my top favorite novels of all time list. x

    I’ve read about half of Middlemarch. So far it’s incredibly intellectual in the best way. If you know what I mean.Love the characters, but THE WRITING. It’s magnificent.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had found the challenge earlier but I actually found it via your twitter account so I have you to thank for this 🙂

      I’ve read other Wollstonecraft essays and I love her writing so much. I’m looking forward to reading them all.

      I definitely understand what you mean and I can’t wait to read it because I love it when the writing is wonderful and intellectual.

      Thank you 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 😊 It’s such a great challenge and I’m really looking forward to interacting more with the community (when I have the time to go through the blogs!) 🙂


    1. Thank you! I’ve had some of these books/texts in mind for a while and I’m so glad that I found The Classics Club because I can share my reading with people who love classics as much as I do. I’m most looking forward to my “other” books too (although I am looking forward to reading every single one of these books) 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I get it. You can’t play favourite, yet you still secretly want to XD The Classics Club is such a great way to find other people who want to talk about the same things you want to talk about. Let me know if you want to buddy read or anything like that. While I have read some of the books on the list, there are still a lot of books I think would be fun to read and discuss together. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Brilliant. I haven’t either, so we can learn together on how it works. XD When you have the time just pick three/four books you want to read, and I can check what I have/haven’t read and what I can get ahold of and we can take it from there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s a good idea. I see that there isn’t much overlap, but I do have Frenchman’s creek, Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel by du Maurier on my list. I also have Majoor Frans– Anna Louisa Geertruida Bosboom-Toussaint, which should be short read and Dream of the red chamber – Tsao Hsueh-Chin which I think should be good ( I do hope all of them are good though, but you get my drift XD)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I can get a hold of all of the du Maurier ones fairly quickly, I’d particularly like to read Jamaica Inn, but not the others. In fact, I can’t find any editions of Majoor Frans :\ I can get a hold of Dream of the Red Chamber but it’d take me a tad longer since it seems to be in five volumes 🙂 The first books to read on my list are ‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad, ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ by Agatha Christie, ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ by Sir Thomas Malory, and ‘The Blazing World and Other Writings’ by Margaret Cavendish 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Brilliant, so we can do a buddy read of Jamaica Inn and Le Morte d’Arthur. 🙂 Do you have a twitter handler? Should we try to read them during May?

        And I looked up the Dream of the Red Chamber as my edition is only 352 pages long. For some reason David Hawkes translation has devided the book up into shorter books, for some reason. I don’t really get why, as 350 pages usually can be handled in one book. But oh well. XD

        I’m sorry about Majoor Frans. It’s a gutenberg e-reader book, gutenberg is a site where you can get free classical books for your e-reader. I should have tought of that. But I’m looking forward to Jamaica Inn and Arthur.


      6. Oh, I can definitely use project Gutenberg! I didn’t think about looking on there. So, we can do that one too if you’d like. My twitter is @amyjay1994 and we can definitely read them in May if you want to. Re: the Dream of the Red Chamber, I think Penguin just like to have multiple expensive volumes. I think I’ve found a decent edition now that I’ve looked into the used books on amazon. It looks like a really good read.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Brilliant. I have to warn you, I like to tweet quotes I like of the books I’m reading so you might get a few of those during the month XD

        And I can get the Dream of the Red Chamber, they want one cheap edition, but when the book gets moments they try to squeeze all they can get from it. The books from the 1700s, and I haven’t read that many books from that century, that’s why I was drawn to it. ^^ I do hope it will be a good read once we get to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Ooh, I’ll look forward to those. Which book would you like to start with?

        The late 1500s to the late 1700s is my era of research so I read a lot of books from that era. Mainly English and Italian ones though, not Chinese, so it’d be an interesting comparison for me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      9. We could start with King Arthur, as it does seem the longer read. And I’ve just downloaded the book on gutenberg XD

        You do reasearch of the topic? I’m assuming you’re refering to literature. Is it anything in particular (like anyt specific topics), or the timeperiod in general?

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Cool, we’ll start with that one then! And I’ll buy Jamaica Inn in the meantime.

        It’s the literature, although I do adore the art and history of the era too. My MA dissertation was on the representation of religion but I’m interested in all topics 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. That sounds so interesting, especially due to what happened all over Europe with the reformation and the Church of England. While my field of study is pedagogy, I did study cultural history for a couple of years. Love history, especially the immatrial culture. In your dissertation did you compare England and Italy (so a country having a change in the state religion compared to a stable catholic country)? Or did you touch upon religion in “all” countries?

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Pedagogy is the theory of education? That sounds incredibly interesting.

        I mainly looked at the religious ‘others’ (everyone except the Protestants but mainly Catholics) of England and how they were portrayed in English plays but I also looked at the shift in religion throughout Europe (and even further afield) for some background information. Since many plays from the era are set in Spain/Italy/Denmark etc. it was useful to know their traditions at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Yes it is. My field is ECE (early childhood education) and I focus on diversity, how ECE teachers and workers can help with inclusion.

        That sounds so interesting. I’m a huge Shakespeare fan and have “studied” (while I have taken one or two classes, mostly this means reading books at home) him and his contemporarys. When you say late 1500 is that from Elizabeth’s time or does that also cover Queen (catholic) Mary? And of course knowing about the culture the play is set in will make it easier to understand the plays, even if it’s just to see where the playwriter made things up XD

        Liked by 1 person

      14. That’s incredible. It’s something that needs to be looked at now as we understand more about the needs of different children.

        I occasionally go into the early 1500s and even the 1400s. Anything after the Tudors came to power really. Mary I’s reign is fascinating though because she had a lot of bad luck (as well as a thirst for Protestant blood). There’s a lot of interesting literature from the era but the really good stuff came at the end of Elizabeth’s reign and into James I’s 🙂

        As for the buddy read, do you want to do weekly check ins where we discuss the book? Maybe on Twitter or something. Oh, and do you want to set a date that we aim to finish the books or just say the end of May? I’m just trying to work it out since we’re doing two and starting with the big one.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. I recently read Shakespeare and Co. by Well, and have but all of Marlow’s works on my list. I’ve read so much Shakespeare it’s going to be interesting to see how his contemporaries are.

        Weekly check ins are a great idea, we could tweet over the weekends as I do most of my reading then anyway. And I’ve just checked my scheduel (which is a bit tighter than I planed), how about we say we’ll be finished with part one by 31st of May, and part 2 some time mid April. I would hate to read and not be able to enjoy it just because I need to get through it. How does that sound?

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Marlowe is perhaps my favourite writer from the era. He’s very different to Shakespeare but in a good way. I love his work. I also love John Webster’s plays. And so many others that I won’t name 😂

        That’s a good idea. It’s such a large book that you don’t want to rush it. I’m used to getting through books like that in less than a week for research purposes so it’ll be such a nice change to read it and enjoy it. We can read Jamaica Inn after too so that we can enjoy that. Weekend check ins sound great 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Yeah, it’s a bit strange switching from non-fiction for research and fiction for fun, as research or no-research do require to very different ways of reading.

        I love reading about Marlowe and how Wells arguede that if Shakespeare had died at the same time as Marlowe, Marlowe would have been considered the better playwrighter. Any tips on where to start with his works? when that time comes XD


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