Back to the Classics: 2021

I participated in the Back to the Classics challenge for several years, until I lost my challenge mojo. Karen, who blogs at Books and Chocolate recently announced that she is hosting it again, for the 8th year. This aligns beautifully with my plans for next year, which I will be discussing in a different post altogether.

My initial plans for the challenge, although, as always, they are subject to change:

1. A 19th century classic: any book first published from 1800 to 1899: I will either be reading Elizabeth Gaskell or Anthony Trollope for this category. I haven’t settled on a book yet, though.

2. A 20th century classic: This will be something by author Stella Gibbons.

3. A classic by a woman author: I have many choices for this one, but I think I will hold on to one of my two final Willa Cather novels to fill it. Probably Shadows on the Rock.

4. A classic in translation: The Wreath, by Sigrid Undset, which is the first in her Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, and was originally published in Norwegian in 1920.

5. A classic by BIPOC author; that is, a non-white author: If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin.

6. A classic by a new-to-you author: I’ve been meaning to read something by Margery Sharp for years.

7. New-to-you classic by a favorite author. Something by John Steinbeck for this one.

8. A classic about an animal, or with an animal in the title: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

9. A children’s classic: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin.

10. A humorous or satirical classic: Something by P.G. Wodehouse.

11. A travel or adventure classic (fiction or non-fiction): A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor.

12. A classic play: The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie.


  1. You have SO MANY of my favorite authors on your list — Trollope! Gaskell! Wodehouse! Agatha Christie, Margery Sharp, Steinbeck — all favorites! The only ones I haven’t read are Fermor and LeGuin (shocking, I know). I’m so happy you’ve signed up for the challenge, I’m looking forward to your posts!

  2. When are we reading Westwood? I’ve been meaning to read The Wreath for ages. I almost started this year. I hope to in 2021 but my reading time is already filling up. I’ve wanted to read Margery Sharpe too. I have one book by her, Britannia Mews. I loved The Wind in the Willows: I just re-read it. And The Wizard of Earthsea is awesome! I’d love to do a LeGuin project one year. In any case, have fun with these!

    1. Cleo – I missed this! But the Westwood plans are for January/February/March to go with the Gibbons author-in-residence period. We haven’t gotten more decided than that!

  3. I like your possibilities! For some reason I keep thinking of category #8 as limited to books with an animal IN the title rather than being about animals, but now that I’ve got that straight, I think The Wind in the Willows is a great choice. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of PG Wodehouse read for the challenge this year, too – I’ll probably pick one of the Jeeves books off my shelves. Enjoy!

  4. So many great authors! I am glad to see Gaskell; I LOVED North & South as well. Cranford was also delightful and more satirical/humorous than I expected. Steinbeck’s East of Eden was a big tome, but I enjoyed the themes and interwoven fates of the two families in the story among the rolling Salinas, California hills setting. I have Kristin L as a whole on my list (all three books), but I am starting to think that is pretty ambitious, so I think I will follow your lead and start with The Wreath this year. I absolutely loved The Wind in the Willows. Find a copy with illustrations you like, because that just makes the experience so much more delightful. I didn’t realize Agatha Christie has a play! I have Three Blind Mice on my list. I couldn’t leave out the Queen of Mystery from a classics challenge!

    Here is my Back to Classics list, if interested!

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