12 Classics in 12 Months

New Year’s Resolutions are always tricky for me. I don’t like to make resolutions that don’t mean anything or are so vague and broad that I’m guaranteed to fail. So I try to make resolutions I know are meaningful enough that not only can I keep them but I will want to keep them.

In previous years, I have vowed to read every book I own. This has never worked because I don’t actually like every book I own, and I buy books faster than I can read them. And I use the library excessively.

This year, however, I’ve come up with a literary resolution I think I can keep, and I hope that by publicizing it on the blog and committing to write about it throughout the year, I’ll actually follow through.

I love to read. I have always loved to read, ever since I can remember. In high school English classes I began to be introduced to the classics, and this continued throughout my college classes. However, I remember feeling like there was something wrong with me, as a professed lover of literature, because I disliked most of the books I was required to read. I hated to think that I was too stupid to grasp the deeper meanings of these books or that I preferred silly, shallow romances over some of the greatest pieces of literature ever written. But the fact remained that I just could not get into most of what was considered “classic” literature.

But after college, all of that changed. I started picking up classics I had either skipped or not enjoyed in high school and college, and lo and behold, I found myself enjoying them. So for the past 5 years or so, I’ve been doing my best to play catch up and get a good amount of the classics under my reading belt.

The purpose of this year’s resolution is to advance that aspiration: 12 classics in 12 months. I know that one month has already passed, but I’m not worried about that. I’m not going to stick to a stringent schedule or anything. I just want to be sure to get 12 done before December 31.

Here is a list of classics I have not yet read and am considering taking up in the following year. You will see that the list has not reached 12, and none of these are final, so if you have any suggestions, please share them. (I’m gonna go ahead and say right now, though, that War & Peace is not happening.)

Emma, by Jane Austen
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain
The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

The list is sparse because I have, indeed, read several of the most popular and well-known classics out there. But please list any suggestions you think I ought to consider because I don’t think all the books on this particular list are going to make the cut. For instance, I’d rather not have to read Dostoevsky or Dickens twice if I don’t have to. Jane Austen I’d consider reading more than once, only because I’ve been wanting to go through several of her books for a while now, but in general, I’d like to get as much variety as I can.

I plan to blog reviews about the books as I finish them, so if there’s a classic you particularly want my opinion on, please do suggest it. I will consider anything I haven’t already read. (I know you have no idea what I’ve read and haven’t read, so just take a shot and I’ll let you know!)



Filed under bloggy, books, goals

13 responses to “12 Classics in 12 Months

  1. Leigh

    Have you read “Vanity Fair” by Thackeray? My favorite Dickens’ is Tale of Two Cities, which I am guessing you have read. Or Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy? Or Count of Monte Cristo or Les Miserables by Victor Hugo?

    • Aunt Leigh – Vanity Fair & Les Miserables have been added to the list! I did Tale of Two Cities & Tess in high school. (Loved Hardy; hated Dickens.) The Three Musketeers is one of my all-time favorites, so I thought I would enjoy Count of Monte Cristo at least as much, especially since I loved the movie. But it was not so with the book. I couldn’t even get all the way through it, that’s how bad it bored me and how long I felt it dragged on.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Reese

    Okay, I have a few things to say:
    1. I read Oliver Twist a few years ago because, like you, I wanted to read a classic that I had somehow skipped in high school. Although it felt a bit long-winded at times (which I’m sure you know because you’ve read Dickens before), I ended up being glad I’d read it. So, keep that one on the list (in case you were on the fence).
    2. Stay far, far away from Love In the Time of Cholera. I read that a few years ago because I’d heard about it a few times and, again, wanted to add to my classic literature pile. The only reason I finished it was because I wanted to say I’d read it and because I’d already spent so much time on it. But it was truly awful. Save yourself.
    3. If you like Hardy and wouldn’t mind reading him again, I suggest The Mayor of Casterbridge. I read that in high school and remember enjoying it.
    4. If you haven’t, I recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s good.

    • 1. Oliver Twist is long winded? That disappoints me. It’s only on the list because I somehow thought it was short, like A Christmas Carol. :( But, like you said, I’m still interested in actually having it under my belt. So we’ll see.

      2. Thanks for the heads up. I have toyed with the idea of this one once or twice. Glad to have a clear indicator of which way to go!

      3. I have never heard of the Mayor of Casterbridge. I will check it out and add it to the list of options.

      4. I have neither read nor seen The Scarlet Pimpernel. We watched it in 8th grade social studies, but I remember falling asleep out of boredom. I remember being ridiculed when people found out I’d slept through it because it was supposedly a very good movie. So I will add this to the list of considerations as well.

      Thanks for your input!

  3. Jon Manning

    Please consider Joseph Heller’s _Catch-22_ as well. It’s my favorite novel, and I think you’d appreciate the utter war satire absurdity, if you haven’t read it already.

  4. b longfellow

    I like your resolution!

    I second the recommendations of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Catch-22. I think 75% of my family (37.5 out of 50 of us) read Pimpernel when I was in Jr. High and we all loved it. Catch-22 is one of the only books that had me laughing out loud. A Confederacy of Dunces is another that had this effect on me.

    I haven’t read too many classics and most I haven’t appreciated to the level I’m sure they deserve, but here are three I thoroughly enjoyed and assume you may have read already:
    Pride and Prejudice
    Wuthering Heights
    The Great Gatsby

    Your list is getting long! Enjoy!

    • Brian, thanks for the affirmation of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Catch-22. That definitely makes them more likely to make the cut!

      And yes, I have already read the other three you listed, and I enjoyed two of them. :)

      The list IS getting long. I’m glad. Sometimes I can be pretty finicky as far as what I’m in the mood to read, so having this many options will be great!

      • b longfellow

        Okay, I must know which two you “enjoyed.” One is definitely Pride and Prejudice. Everyone enjoys that one, and anyone who doesn’t is welcome to fill their bookshelves with John Grisham or William Shatner or whoever. (Such a person also wouldn’t have two more Jane Austen novels on their list.) The remaining two have equal potential for being hated, even while being recognized for their proper place in the supposed canon.

        But . . . I’m going to act counter-intuitively here and guess that you “enjoyed” The Great Gatsby and not Wuthering Heights. That said, I’m going to guess that I am wrong.

        • Hahaha. I like how you covered all your bases so that I can absolutely say, “You are right.” Yes, I liked P&P. (And William Shatner? Has he written books? Yikes.) Wuthering Heights I also enjoyed, though probably not as much as you suppose. It was a bit of a slow read, but overall, I have a positive memory of it.

          As for The Great Gatsby . . . ugh. Really, what I would honestly like, is for someone to tell me what the heck this book is about. The entire time I read it, I was thinking, “What is going on here? The words are right in front of my eyes, and yet I can’t make sense of it.” When I got to the end, I had the distinct impression that I would never be able to summarize it or converse intelligently about it with anyone. So I really would be interested to know what you found so enjoyable about it. Maybe we ought to make that the first order of conversation next time we meet!

  5. Pingback: Classic #1: EMMA, by Jane Austen | A Literary Illusion

  6. Pingback: Classic #2: THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, by Ernest Hemingway | A Literary Illusion

  7. Pingback: I Can’t Help it if My Personality is Chocolate | A Literary Illusion

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