The Classics Club Challenge

Jennifer from holdsuponhappiness introduced me to The Classics Club. The basic idea is you read at least fifty classic books within at the most five years and write a review on your blog for each of them. I need this. I own so many unread classics that after (easily) listing the fifty books I’m going to read, I was still left with some unread novels left over. Plus, I’d love to interact with more book bloggers who are interested in classic literature.

My list is skewed towards British and American classics. I found it a bit tough to decide whether a book I own would be considered an Indonesian “classic” or a Japanese “classic” so I just made up a rule that if it is about 30 years old, I am allowed to consider it a classic.

Without further ado, here is my list:

  1. Akutagawa, Ryunosuke – Rashomon and Other Stories
  2. Austen, Jane – Emma
  3. Austen, Jane – Northanger Abbey
  4. Austen, Jane – Pride and Prejudice
  5. Bronte, Charlo tte – Jane Eyre
  6. Congwen, Shen – Border Town
  7. Cronin, A.J. – The Keys of the Kingdom
  8. du Maurier, Daphne – Jamaica Inn (Review link here)
  9. du Maurier, Daphne – Rebecca
  10. Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Tender is the Night
  11. Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby
  12. Flaubert, Gustave – Madame Bovary
  13. Hemingway, Ernest – Men Without Women (Review link here)
  14. Hemingway, Ernest – The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  15. Jenkins, Elizabeth – Harriet
  16. Kawabata, Yasunari – Snow Country (Review link here)
  17. Lee, Harper – To Kill a Mockingbird
  18. Lubis, Mochtar – Perempuan
  19. Lubis, Mochtar – Senja di Jakarta (Twilight in Jakarta)
  20. Mangunwijaya, Y.B. – Burung-Burung Manyar (The Weaverbirds)
  21. Mann, Thomas – Doctor Faustus
  22. Mansfield, Katherine – The Garden Party and Other Stories
  23. Marquez, Gabriel Garcia – Collected Stories
  24. Marquez, Gabriel Garcia – One Hundred Years of Solitude
  25. Maugham, W. Somerset – Collected Stories #1
  26. Maugham, W. Somerset – Collected Stories #2
  27. Maugham, W. Somerset – The Painted Veil  (Review link here)
  28. Mihardja, Achdiat K. – Atheis (The Atheist)
  29. Mishima, Yukio – Runaway Horses
  30. Mishima, Yukio – Spring Snow
  31. Multatuli – Max Havelaar
  32. Nabokov, Vladimir – Lolita
  33. Pane, Armijn – Belenggu (Shackles) (Review link here)
  34. Pasternak, Boris – Dr. Zhivago
  35. Shakespeare, William – Hamlet
  36. Shakespeare, William – Much Ado About Nothing
  37. Shakespeare, William – Richard II
  38. Smith, Betty – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  39. Smith, Dodie – I Capture the Castle
  40. Smith, Dodie – The New Moon with the Old
  41. Steinbeck, John – East of Eden
  42. Steinbeck, John – Of Mice and Men (Review link here)
  43. Tanizaki, Junichiro – The Makioka Sisters
  44. Tanizaki, Junichiro – Naomi
  45. Toer, Pramoedya Ananta – Anak Semua Bangsa (Child of All Nations)
  46. Toer, Pramoedya Ananta – Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind)
  47. Tohari, Ahmad – Kubah
  48. Tohari, Ahmad – Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk (The Dancer)
  49. Whipple, Dorothy – Someone at a Distance
  50. Woolf, Virginia – Mrs. Dalloway
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23 thoughts on “The Classics Club Challenge

  1. Thanks for mentioning me! What a great list. I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I Capture the Castle. Oh, and Rebecca is fantastic too. I know nothing about Indonesian or Japanese literature. Can you recommend some English translations so I can broaden my horizons?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I Capture the Castle is one of my favorites!! There’s no way I’m not going to read it in the next five years so I might as well put it on the list. Meanwhile, I love, love, love du Maurier but I’m kind of saving Rebecca as a grand finale because everything I have heard about that novel has convinced me that it would be one of my favorite books ever.

    Okay, Japanese and Indonesian literature recommendations. Be warned! This will be long…

    I’ll start with Japanese literature. I’ve always held an interest in Japanese culture and fiction but I dip in and out of reading Japanese writing so I don’t actually have the best or most comprehensive knowledge on J-lit. Haruki Murakami is the most internationally well-known Japanese writer and he is the gateway author to Japanese literature for most people. It’s really easy to get English translations of his books in most bookstores. I really enjoy his works. He does both realistic fiction and magical realism although his works are mostly skewed towards the surreal. I love it when he is being realistic more than surreal, though. Norwegian Wood is probably his most famous realist novel. It does deal with some dark themes like depression and suicide, though.

    Japanese writers I have read include Yoko Ogawa and Natsuo Kirino (contemporary) and Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, and Junichiro Tanizaki (more classic 20th century). For brevity’s sake, I won’t detail the plots, but Japanese literature is worth a try. I do notice a trend between most of the writing: these works are beautifully written (the prose of Japanese authors are usually pristine), but you don’t always understand what’s going on. I became frustrated when I first starting reading J-lit because I’m an analytical person and I like things to make sense, but Japanese writing can be quite ambiguous. So keep that in mind, but a lot of lovely prose is waiting. You might like The Makioka Sisters b Junichiro Tanizaki as it is sometimes called the Japanese Austen novel (a lot of scrambling for a good marriage here)

    As for Indonesian literature, Pramoedya Ananta Toer is THE definitive Indonesian writer. You can read all the Indonesian literature you want, but if you haven’t read Pramoedya, the literary vanguards will still consider you culturally incompetent. He is also probably the easiest Indonesian writer to get ahold of in English translation as several of his novels have been translated by Penguin. Most people start with the first book in his famous Buru Quarter: This Earth of Mankind. I’m currently reading the second book Child of All Nations. The quarter becomes more and more dense (there’s a lot of historical, political, and philosophical commentary) as you graduate from book to book. The Buru Quartet is a historical fiction of colonial Indonesia beginning from the turn of the 20th century and its scale is pretty global as the narrator of the quartet is well-read and talks about historical developments not just in Indonesia, but also around the world. If you want something less dense and more accessible, however, The Girl From the Coast is a better option. Pramoedya lifted some plot details from his grandmother’s life. The novel is about a young girl whisked off her village to be the concubine of a Javanese aristocrat. The tone of the book is melancholic as you watch this innocent girl’s life journey, but Pramoedya never forces the emotional drama.

    Mentioning Pramoedya is obligatory, but my absolute favorite Indonesian author is Ahmad Tohari. More than any other Indonesian writer, I think, he gets the balance between density of themes, beautiful writing, and accessibility to the reader just right. His most famous work is The Dancer trilogy and sadly, it is probably the only work of his readily available in English.

    I hope this helps. I didn’t really think this reply post in advance so I apologize if it lacks the information you actually want to know. Just ask me more questions if I made things unclear, I’d be happy to answer them. I’d love for more people to read more Indonesian (and Asian in general) literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a detailed reply! I just spent quite a while looking up the authors you have suggested. I have read a couple of Haruki Murakami’s books. In fact, I just finished When We Were Orphans this week. Everything else is totally new to me. I ordered a copy of The Makioka Sisters. I was sold when you called it the Japanese Austen novel. There is such a variety of literature in the world and I feel like I am exposed to such a small amount. I think I might look for The Dancer trilogy next. You seem to recommend it highly. Thank you for your suggestions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When We Were Orphans is by Kazuo Ishiguro, if I’m not mistaken? Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day was my favorite novel of the year. Did you like When We Were Orphans?

        The story and setting of The Makioka Sisters feels quite Austen since it is within an upper-middle class milieu and the search for an appropriate marriage is its main plot. Don’t expect Austen’s wit though. You can, expect, a slow, beautiful read.

        I do recommend The Dancer highly! It’s my favorite Indonesian novel! 🙂

        Like

  3. Love all the Japanese titles you’ve included, as well as your reply comment a few comments above!

    p.s. Rebecca will be one of your favorite books ever, I’m pretty sure. I’ve read it at least three times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, you are right. See, I told you I didn’t know anything about Japanese literature! That will teach me not to check my facts before I post a comment! I did like When We Were Orphans, but not as much as The Remains of the Day. I wasn’t enthralled with the ending but his writing does have an other world type quality to it that I enjoy.

    Like

  5. Wow that looks like a great list! I think 30 years is a good rule. At that point I would consider it a modern classic at the very least. 30 years is a long shelf life for books, especially in this day and age when so many are released.

    Like

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