Back to the Classics Challenge 2019: Final Wrap-Up

The year is coming to an end, so it’s time to look back at how I did with the Classics Challenge organized by I have to admit that it wasn’t a smooth reading experience. I managed to finish 6 books. However, I constantly changed my reading plans and almost ended up reading everything but the books I mentioned in my sign-up post. Anyhow, I’m glad that I managed to complete the challenge with some dignity (6 categories are the bare minimum to make it count). And considering that I read 25 to 30 books a year, 6 classics seems reasonable (they are usually slow reads, you know).

1. A 20th-century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1969.

I really wanted to read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” But then I accidentally ordered it in French and had to send the book back. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. So I read Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” [full review]. If I thought that I liked the author before… well, I definitely love him now. It was one of my favorite reads of the year. And it’s one of the best dystopian novels I’ve had the pleasure to read.

2. A classic by a woman author

I managed to read Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” [full review] – maybe the only book from my original plan that didn’t change categories or didn’t get replaced by something else. Weirdly, several other people in my book club picked it up as well this year. Enjoyable, slightly predictable, but interesting.

3. A Classic Comic Novel.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that humor ages well. I read George & Weedon Grossmith’s “The Diary of a Nobody” [full review]. As much as it is an interesting representation of the everyday life of an average British citizen of that time, the humor was mostly lost on me. All the jokes and puns were so embedded in the particularities of the era that it’s simply not relatable or understandable.

4. A Classic Tragic Novel.

The majority of the classic novels are tragic. So it should be easy just to pick one? Well, I ended picking up whatever was on my bookshelf – Graham Greene’s “The Man Within” [full review]. And it surely was one of my least favorite reads of the year. I probably should try one of his other books before I pass an opinion on his literary works.

5. A Classic Novella.

As a novella, I picked up John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” [full review]. A short, simple, and tragic story that didn’t disappoint.

6. A Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia).

I switched out Nevil Shute for Joan Lindsay’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” [full review]. I still don’t know what to say about the book except don’t expect a solution for the mystery. I admit that I searched for the missing last chapter online (at least, the synopsis) but it didn’t change anything. The book should be read and enjoyed as it is.

Anyhow, that’s it for my Classics Challenge 2019. I wish I had tackled some more hefty volumes but maybe next year. Any great classic recommendations?

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