You know you’re a book blogger when you start thinking about next year’s reading list in October. It’s now very close to being January and I still haven’t decided what I want to put on my list next year. I know what things I want to try and read more of, but haven’t really decided on the exact books to do that with.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately are classic novels. This year, I wanted to read six classics, and I definitely did not hit that goal. But I’ve decided 2020 doesn’t count, so I’m just moving on and looking forward to a great reading year in 2021. But, to that end, I also want to attempt that goal again. I feel like classics (among other things) have been missing from my reading, and I definitely want to fix that.

Since I still have no idea which ones I’ll end up picking up – or adding to my official 2021 Reading List, I thought I’d share some of the ones I’ve been considering. Maybe you can convince me to read them (or not) or suggest some that aren’t on my list.

Here are the contenders:

I Am a Cat by Netsuke Sōseki

I almost read this in 2020, and I kind of regret it. I did actually read the first few pages and was enjoying it quite a bit, but then the Epic Slump of 2020 hit and it just didn’t happen. It’s a Japanese classic with a main character who is a cat and reflects on how weird and kind of dumb humans are. Which, honestly, sounds like my perfect book. I will be absolutely shocked if I manage to read six classics next year without this being one of them.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

I swear this book is haunting me. Whenever I glance over at my bookshelves, this is the one that my eye goes to. To be fair, it is giant. And I have two copies, so the odds are in its favor. I am interested in the story, but this also intimidates the hell out of me. I might read it slowly over a few months, but there are also some other big books on this list I might pick up first. Honestly, I’m kind of missing that sense of achievement I got when finishing Moby Dick or War and Peace, so I think a big book is in my near future.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

This is just another reason why I might save Les Mis for another year. I kind of want to read this one first, and I don’t know that I’m up for reading two Victor Hugo books in the same year. Nothing against him at all, I just kind of like spreading out my classics a bit. It’s just a weird, arbitrary rule in my brain. But I’m thinking I’ll read Hunchback and then get to Les Mis… eventually.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Speaking of giant classics. In a comment on my post about reading more authors of color, a lovely reader reminded me that Dumas was black, and therefore a great addition to my reading (it’s both a classic and a book by an author of color, so I’m hitting two goals with one book). I’ve heard great things, but this also scares me more than Les Mis.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I haven’t read Steinbeck since high school. I loved Of Mice and Men, and then just never read any of his other books. Despite actually visiting Cannery Row several times. I’ve kind of been in the mood for some classic American literature, and this book is the first one that comes to mind. It’s not painfully long (I swear my brain just wants to read the biggest books I can think of), so I have a good feeling I might actually get to this one.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A few years ago, I went through a bit of a Russian literature phase. Fine, it was mostly Tolstoy. But, somehow, I didn’t read any Dostoyevsky. Even though this has been on my shelves for years. I picked it up solely because my grandma loved the movie. It’s a chunky one, but still not nearly as scary as some of the others on this list. So maybe. I think I’d have to be in the mood for it, but Russian literature is kind of sounding fun right about now.

The Italian by Anne Radcliffe

I am a huge fan of gothic literature. And I have absolutely no idea why I have never read Ann Radcliffe. She first came to my attention because of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, in which the main character reads The Mysteries of Udolpho and becomes jumpy and paranoid. I picked up a copy of The Italian at a discount bookstore because it was like a dollar and also had a cool cover. So maybe it’ll make a great Halloween read.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

This is the best-selling novel of ALL TIME. And yet, I have never really had a strong desire to pick it up. Until now. I have no idea where the urge to pick this up came from, but it came on fast. I did not know this is nearly a thousand pages, and I’m definitely kind of scared. I might just pick one giant book from this list to read next year, so I don’t go crazy, and this has a good chance of being the winner. We shall see.

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Yet another classic author I love, but have only read one book from. Rebecca is one of my favorites, but that’s all I’ve read. I do own a few du Maurier books, but for some reason, this is the one I keep being drawn to. It was on my list for 2020 (before I abandoned all of my TBRs because this year was garbage), so maybe I’ll redeem myself with this next year. It’s also relatively short, which makes me feel better about the rest of these.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Don Quixote might be the best selling novel of all time, but this is very likely the world’s first novel. It was also written by a woman, which is super cool. And is a courtly romance set in medieval Japan. The history nerd in me really wants to read this. But it’s also an eleventh century novel translated from Japanese that runs nearly twelve-hundred pages and sounds just as intimidating as the other giant books on this list. For some reason, I just really want to read all of the giant books right now. Which I know is a terrible idea that will land me in a slump, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to attempt it.

I’m curious: which of these do you think I should include in my 2021 TBR? Are there any not on this list you think I should add? Let me know!

11 thoughts

  1. I kinda want to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame as well, but it is so intimidating to me haha!
    Good luck reading all these classics!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great list! Les Mis is great, definitely worth a read. I read Count of Monte Cristo this summer and it was SO GOOD—it’s a long one, but so exciting and gripping!! Hope you enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Right now, there is one main classics novel on my TBR 2021: own others I haven’t read, but eventually will. 2021’s classic is Hard Times.

    I found some books on your list that I already read and loved. My blog isn’t a book blog- but covers topics from books from time to time. However, next will think I will take a different approach- change my blog to a musical theatre/book blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, that sounds fun! I love both musical theatre and books 😊

      I had a bad experience with Dickens in high school, so I haven’t been able to bring myself to read more. Someday I’ll give him another chance, I just don’t see that being next year.


  4. A great list! I’ve been putting off reading and at the same time hoping to read Les Miserables sometime as well. I think I even started it once. However, I might suggest choosing something different from Dostoyevsky if you’ve never read him before. I went through a Dostoyevsky spell once and read almost all of his novels. And I think I’ve only re-read the Idiot a couple of times. I remember The Brothers Karamazov as one of his more complex works. But let’s admit all of his novels are complex and multi-layered masterpieces of Russian literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know! I think if I end up going with one of the bigger books on this list, I’m just going to read it slowly over several months anyway. I think War and Peace took me something like 8 months, but I ended up enjoying it a lot more that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think it’s okay to read Les Miserables in an abridged version. The whole thing is really long and there are parts that distract from the main story — of course they are very important for the artistic vision and message as a whole, but you will get the gist even if you don’t read those

    Don Quixote almost did me in. I was glad I read it, but I would not call it a favorite. I took that one in two parts – they were published ten years apart, so I found that legitimate. Give part I a try and see how far you get, I would say.

    I think you’ll find The Grapes of Wrath eminently readable, on the other hand. And Daphne Du Maurier is always fun.

    I would like to tackle The Count of Monte Cristo myself. It does sound exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know, thanks! I think for next year, I’m leaning towards The Count of Monte Cristo, The Grapes of Wrath, and one of du Maurier’s books. I’m hoping to read six classics, so there’s half right there. I’m prepared for The Count of Monte Cristo to take me all year, so I’m keeping the rest short/easy-ish.

      Liked by 1 person

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