The Women’s Classic Literature Event

women's classicsIn 2016, the Classics Club is hosting the Women’s Classic Literature Event. This year long event will have quarterly check-ins where we can share thoughts and posts. The Classics Club describes it in this way:

This event is way more a celebration than a “reading challenge.” It’s about hunting out those forgotten titles which didn’t make it into the official canon, & reading them & sharing the excitement. Or exploring the females who are in the canon.

The guidelines are simple: all genres, and we set our own goals. No preset list is required. The book should be published before 1960.

Looking at my Classics Club list, most of the women authors I have left wrote in the 60s and 70s: Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, Alice Walker, Harper Lee, and Muriel Spark.   I’ve already read books on my Classics list by Elizabeth Gaskell, Edith Wharton, George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Pearl S. Buck.

But I really enjoyed everything I’ve read by those authors, so rather than coming up with new ideas, what I propose is this:

  • Read another work by Gaskell,Wharton, and Eliot (I’ve read North and South, House of Mirth, Age of Innocence, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda). Any suggestions?
  • Read a work by Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway or Orlando).
  • Re-read Jane Eyre, a book I didn’t like when I was younger but it’s got some baggage attached to it. People love this book so much, I feel like I ought to try it again.
  • Re-read To Kill a Mockingbird.

I expect this list might change, depending on whether there are any group reads I decide to join. And six books is ambitious, even for a one year challenge (since I have a thesis to write at the same time). But it’s a place to start.

I can’t believe we’re already thinking about challenges for 2016!  Will you be joining?  What are your favorite classics written by women?

  15 comments for “The Women’s Classic Literature Event

  1. October 11, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    When you are choosing your Wharton book, consider The Custom of the Country, which rounds out The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence. Undine Spragg is a force of nature!

    • October 12, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely look at that one. I love the name Undine Spragg already.

  2. October 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I can’t believe I’m already planning my reading for 2016 either. But I know that this celebration/challenge will be part of it. I have a few women writers on my list to read still that fit, but there are some other female authors who are tempting, Pearl S. Buck among them.

    • October 12, 2015 at 8:11 am

      This is a great idea for a challenge. I read so many modern women writers but not nearly enough of the classics. I read The Good Earth last year and loved it.

  3. October 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Gaskell, Wharton, and Eliot are terrific, you can’t really go wrong there. If you haven’t read Willa Cather I highly recommend her as well. Glad you’re giving Jane Eyre another chance — but I can see why not EVERYONE loves it. It’s going to be a great year!

    • October 12, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Willa Cather is a great idea. I read My Antonia some time ago. I’m looking forward to this challenge!

  4. October 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I’ll echo Lory’s comment about Elisabeth Gaskell – North and South is by far the most gritty and thus, to me, the best. I’ll be joining in this challenge too though haven’t got my plans decided yet

    • October 12, 2015 at 8:13 am

      BookerTalk, is there another Gaskell you would recommend? I know nothing about her other works.

  5. Jillian
    October 11, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Such excellent plans!! My favorite classic by a woman beyond Gone with the Wind (my utter favorite) is Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. Best wishes with this!

    • October 12, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Thanks Jillian! I know nothing about Testament of Youth, I’ll look it up.

      • Jillian
        October 12, 2015 at 11:33 am

        It’s incredible. I just read it last month. Searing.

  6. Bex
    October 12, 2015 at 5:18 am

    I’m so excited about this event and will be reading more Elizabeth Gaskell and Virginia Woolf. My favourites are The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and anything by Noel Streatfeild! Happy reading!

    • October 12, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Bex, I love the idea of reading Noel Streatfeild. I think I need to add at least one children’s author to my list. Some of my favorites are Frances Hodgson Burnett, Astrid Lindgren, PL Travers, Maud Hart Lovelace, and E Nesbit.

  7. October 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I’m really looking forward to doing this event, too. Working on that survey they posted right now! I hope your re-read of Jane Eyre goes well. It can be difficult to try to re-read a book that you didn’t like at all before, or something that has baggage attached. Also, good luck with your thesis!

    • October 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I’m really wondering about Jane Eyre. People love it so much, and see her as such a strong heroine. On the other hand, people also love Wuthering Heights, and I’m okay with not reading that one again.

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