As an English major and daughter of a (now retired) college English professor, I’m almost ashamed to admit I haven’t read any of the titles on this list of 52 classic books. Some of them might have been required reading for a literature class (oopsy!), or at least in my 20-plus years since college, I should have found the time to tackle them.

Well, I didn’t. And before you start silently scolding or judging me, know this: I’m 40 years old and while I am a busy working mom, I’m still a passionate lover of great books. Why not challenge myself this year with a more enriching alternative to streaming TV binges?

That’s why I’ve put together this plan to read 52 major literary classics in one glorious year. I figure one book a week is a reasonable goal, assuming the longer tomes will require extra time while the quicker reads will only take a day or two.

After consulting the Internetz and Dr. Babs (my mom), here are the 52 classic books I decided to finally read this year:

The list: 52 classic books to read this year

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  3. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
  4. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  5. Cousin Pons / Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  8. The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck
  9. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
  11. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  12. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  13. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  14. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  15. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  16. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  17. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
  18. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  19. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  20. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  21. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  22. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  23. Brave New World / Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
  24. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  25. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  26. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  27. Women in Love by D H Lawrence
  28. The Call of the Wild/White Fang by Jack London
  29. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  30. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville
  31. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
  32. A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
  33. 1984 by George Orwell
  34. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  35. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  36. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  37. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  38. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  39. Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
  40. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  41. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
  42. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  43. The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore
  44. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  45. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  46. The War of the Worlds by H G Wells
  47. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  48. Night by Elie Wiesel
  49. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  50. Native Son by Richard Wright
  51. The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  52. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

To keep track of what I’ve read and my opinion on each book, I’ll be using both new and old-school methods. I have a list set up on Goodreads, where I can also track progress toward my personal goal for their Reading Challenge. I will also hand-write my thoughts about each book after I finish it in my copy of The Book Lover’s Journal by Rene J. Smith, which I got last year because I realized how easily I forget what I’ve read.

Photo credit: horrigans via / CC BY-NC