50 Books Before I Die (or in the next 5 years)

classic book club

I’ve gone against type and joined a club! The Classic Book Club!

I’m so excited to begin my FIVE YEAR JOURNEY reading through and blogging about 50 classic books! My goal is to read and post about a book each month.

The list below is in no particular order (though while compiling the list I’ve nearly finished War and Peace and can’t wait to write my first response post).

I’ve set my starting date as August 1, 2017 and my end date as September 1, 2022 (I think I actually have 51 books on the list and may want to sneak in a few extras).

Any last minute suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

Classics Club Book List

War and Peace Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

Tom Jones Henry Fielding

Clarissa Samuel Richardson

The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë

Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray

The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

A Passage to India EM Forster

A Light in August (or The Hamlet) William Faulkner

The Pursuit of Love Nancy Mitford

The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

Three Men in a Boat Jerome Jerome

Candide Voltaire

Cecilia Fanny Burney

The Life and Opinions Tristam Shandy, Laurence Sterne

The Vicar of Wakefield Oliver Goldsmith

The Nun Diderot

The Prairie James Fennimore cooper

Blithedale Romance Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

Black Beauty Anna Sewall

The Perpetual Curate Margaret Oliphant

Lilith George Macdonald

Washington Square Henry James

Silas Marner George Eliot

The Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Ambrose Beirce

Love Stendhal

The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Moll Flanders Daniel Defoe

Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro

The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli

The Sailor who fell from Grace with the Sea  Yukio Mishima

 The Misanthrope Moliere

 Writings on Nature John Muir

Animal Farm George Orwell

Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternak

The Story of an African Farm Olive Schreiner

The Red and the Black Stendhal

The General CS Forester

The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri

Lord of the Flies William Golding

Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon

Kim Rudyard Kipling

Flowers of Evil Charles Baudelaire

Night Elie Wiesel

Moonstone Wilkie Collins

Miss Ravenel’s Conversion from Secession to Loyalty John W. De Forest

My reading companion Elizabeth


31 responses to “50 Books Before I Die (or in the next 5 years)”

  1. Excellent list. I read many in college, thought some I don’t know at all. I’ve wanted to reread many on this list and my own “classics” list. You’ve listed Three Men in a Boat twice – that would be your 51 books.
    You know I wrote my own 26 posts of favorite books, with many other book titles at the end of each post, so if you’re looking for more, there they be. You’ll be kept busy for the next five years with great reading. Turn on the reading lamp.


    • Not sure I want to Read Three Men in a Boat twice! Thanks for noticing. At college and after I read more history, politics and polemics (with a smattering of New Age self help–what a waste!).

      Also was forced to read some modern “classics” at college I definitely didn’t enjoy so I’m glad to go backwards. i was at first proud of how many classics I’d already read–but that pride quickly fell away when I explored some more. LOL


  2. I’ve read 23 of the books on this list, and there are some that I keep kicking myself for not having read them yet. YES, I have suggestions, but you’ve maybe already read them. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, Bartleby the scrivener by Herman Melville (long short story), The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Death in Venice or The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, and Night by Elie Wiesel. I also really loved Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, but it’s more important to read Jane Eyre–at least first. What about Emily’s Wuthering Heights? Maybe you’ve read the ones I’ve listed :)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some I’ve read already–I think Edith Wharton is an excellent writer but I just didn’t like her negativity–i did read her a long time ago so maybe I’d feel different today but to me she seemed bitter.
      Moby Dick was a slog for me. Where’s the romance LOL.
      Zora Neale Hurston I was supposed to like according to all my professors but I was not moved by her.
      Toni Morrison I think writes interesting stories (I’ve read a few novels) but I feel nothing for the characters–her writing distances them for me.
      The Handmaid’s Tale again was well written but the story annoyed me–I think it would have been more compelling if she wrote it about Islamic fundamentalism since there’s a lot more truth to the depiction there.

      I think I read Invisible Man but not sure. I would like to read Thomas Mann, William Dean Howells and Theodore Dreiser–maybe when the 5 years is up 🙂

      Wuthering Heights is my sister’s favorite book but I had the image of Laurence Olivier in my head and it spoiled it for me.
      I think my reviews will be more responses since all of the books I disliked above I still knew were fantastic in their way–you can’t help who you fall in love with 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You crack me up! I disagree about The Handmaid’s Tale in one way or maybe two. For one thing, when the book was written our North American world was very different from today. I don’t think it’s important what religion is depicted, ultimately–it’s the idea that fundamentalism gone crazy is just that: crazy. And I see a lot of connection between the book and Islamic fundamentalism today, but that is from today’s perspective. I also am fascinated by religious history and at one time was working on a master’s in the history of the Reformation, so I’m a little weird that way. When I was 30, I loved the Hurston so much I ran around buying copies for all my friends. I also LOVE Invisible Man. But I ALSO love Richard Wright. And Frank Norris. I guess some of those harsh books really speak to me or I admire them maybe. I read Wuthering Heights before I ever saw any version of it and was just the right age to be slain by it. The Dollmaker is one of my favorite books. And The Maimie Papers which is just a collection of real letters haha. Beloved is ALL THAT.


  3. Lovely list; I’ve read most of what you have on there, but I teach college English lit, so it’s almost a given for many of them, lol! If you haven’t read Middlemarch by George Eliot, I would highly recommend it 🙂


    • Middlemarch was my all time favorite book until I finished War and Peace. Now it’s a tie 😉
      I loved every single character in Middlemarch. Loved the book so much we played with our farm being named Middlemarch until my husband suggested Middlemay (combining the book with our wedding month).

      Thanks for coming by, Stephanie. is Middlemarch your favorite?


  4. I appreciate your ambition. Some of the titles I slogged through. Please read some great sci fi! I’ll never forget the Ugly Little Boy by Asimov and Silverberg. Its a short story, but a great introduction to science fiction. Anything by Asimov is worth reading! Also, Willa Cather: My Antonia. Its so lyrical. I dreamed of wheat fields for a long time. PS: I’ve just finished all your books. Waiting for some happiness for Lulu and Buck. Enjoyed the series, but disliked the characters! Please continue! I’d love some happy endings that didn’t involve such stupidity and pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer, I remember wanting to live in those wheat fields as well, but I didn’t like Antonia (can’t remember why). My Antonia is my sister’s favorite book. What book felt the most like slogging?

      I hadn’t thought of sci-fi but I think I will read something by Asimov. Thanks for the suggestion! It was really hard to decide what books to include.

      I’m so excited that you’ve read my books! I had to laugh at you not liking the characters. They can be so foolish, but of course I love them. Most of their decisions are very similar to the decisions of my friends and family (some of my characters’ worst mistakes and behaviors echo my own–I consider my characters part of my gene pool).

      Buck, for instance, is so self-destructive and fatalistic but now that I’ve got a real-life traumatized foster kid in my house I see that her ways are very similar to Buck’s making her at times unlovable. Sad what life can do to a person. Buck does eventually see the light (with Lucy’s help) but I must warn you that while I find their path together funny and delightful in the last book–there is a little more pain to get thru. William begins to shine and Thankful–well–you’ll have to just wait and see.

      In a week or two I’ll be posting an excerpt from the final book which will give insight into Buck and Fred’s behaviors. I hope you come by and read it!

      Can’t tell you how I appreciate that you’ve stuck with the Weldons and Crenshaws for this long.



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