2023 Classics Reading Challenge
Our annual Classics Reading Challenge is back with twelve brand-new reading prompts to inspire your TBR in 2023! Expand your reading horizons and delve into classic literature with a variety of genres and themes.
2023 Reading Challenge for Classic Literature
Our first-ever Classics Reading Challenge was a tremendous hit, so I’m happy to say we’re bringing it back for Year 2! There are no repeat categories, so you’ll get to keep discovering new genres, authors, and regions. This is a very flexible reading challenge, but here are a few rules and parameters to help you make your selections:
- All books must be written before 1970
- You may not count the same book for multiple categories
- Children’s chapter books are fine (but no picture or storybooks)
- Books may be re-reads from titles you’ve read in the past
- You may join the challenge at any time, even if you discover this late!
I will be writing blog posts with suggestions for many of the prompts in the challenge, but other great resources for finding books are my lists of 101 best classic books to read and 50 classic children’s chapter books.
Reading Challenge Checklist
If you’d like a printable reading challenge checklist, you should be subscribed to our Tea and Ink Society newsletter. You’ll receive a printable checklist for keeping track of your reads, and I’ll send you reminders and category ideas throughout the year. Subscribing will also get you access to our private Facebook group, where we’ll share what we’re reading each month and encourage each other in the challenge!
2023 Classics Reading Challenge Monthly Prompts
January: A classic detective novel
For the first month in our reading challenge, curl up with a cozy detective novel and solve your way through winter! If you’ve been paying attention to our Wimsey Club, you’ll know that there are SO many good mystery authors to choose from! You can look at that for ideas. If you want to try a novel by Agatha Christie, the queen of classic mystery, take a look at my ultimate guide to every Agatha Christie book in order.
February: A book with a character’s name in the title
This category is wide open, because you can find a book to fit from any genre or period. You could go with Emma by Jane Austen, Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, or My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier…this is an endless list! I’ve collected dozens of books with characters’ names in the title on this page, and I’m sure as you look through it, even more will come to mind!
March: A classic fairy tale collection
You have lots to choose here, from Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book or other color fairy books, a Hans Christian Andersen collection, or a collection of Arabian Nights. Here’s a complete blog post with many more suggestions for classic fairy tale collections!
April: A classic Japanese novel
Celebrate cherry blossom season with a classic of Japanese literature! I’ll have a blog post with excellent books to pick from this category.
May: A book with a movie/TV adaptation you’ve already seen
You know how sometimes you see a movie or watch a show and it inspires you to read the book it’s based on? This is your motivation to do it! If you’ve watched the BBC North and South or a Jane Austen movie or the Sherlock series, go pick up the original and discover all the ways the book is alike or different!
June: A classic set at sea
We’re going to sail into summer with a sea story! Check out my nautical fiction reading list for ideas. I may add some more to that as well.
July: A narrative poem or collection of poetry
Choose a long, narrative poem from any era, or read a collection by a poet you want to acquaint yourself with. I plan to write a blog post on this topic with some recommended poets to read!
August: A classic by a Latin American author
For this category we’ll go beyond Gabriel García Márquez (although you can choose him, too) and learn about other classics written by authors from Mexico, Central America, South America, and many of the Caribbean islands. Look for a blog post on this!
September: A Dickens novel
Am I going to make everyone in the challenge read a book by one of my favourite authors? Why yes, yes I am. Be on the lookout for a “meet the author” post with an introduction to Charles Dickens and a complete guide to all of his novels.
October: A nonfiction classic
This is your opportunity to dive into ancient histories, or read an autobiography, a work of literary criticism, or a vintage self-help classic. I’ll give you lots of ideas for this in an upcoming post!
November: A classic fantasy novel
Narnia and The Lord of the Rings are fair game, but I’ll also have a blog post full of suggestions for other classic fantasy novels, many of which are not widely read today (but should be!).
December: A classic set in a place you want to visit
What destination is on your bucket list? Read a classic book set in a place you plan (or wish!) to visit. And to get you in the mood for literary travel, you might like to take this quiz to match you to your ideal fictional vacation destination!
Enjoy choosing your books for each category…I can’t wait to see what you pick! If you use Instagram, you can tag @teaandinksociety to share your reads. I’ll also be posting monthly discussion threads in our private Facebook group, which you get access to as an email subscriber.
Want to see what books we read for last year’s challenge? Here’s the 2022 Reading Challenge.
These are such fun categories! I’m reading The Mystery in White right now that you sent us for the Wimsey Club and really enjoying it. It has me in the mood for more Golden Age detective fiction. I’m also especially excited for September’s challenge. I’m reading Our Mutual Friend right now, and I love it.
Our Mutual Friend!! Excellent choice. That’s one of my favourite books in the whole world, and I know you are in for a wonderful experience. I’m glad you’re enjoying Mystery in White, too!
I found a beautiful collection of Sherlock stories at the thrift store just last week. I’ve never read them before, so I’m all set for January!
Perfect! Sherlock Holmes is a classic for a reason…I think you’re going to like it!
Hi Elsie, thank you for creating this 2023 reading challenge. I spent a very enjoyable day yesterday, tucked inside away from the freezing rain we were having, and researched my own Kindle and hard copy books to see what I own that fits into your categories. Those I don’t have a book for the category I then researched on the web, and I am most excited to get started! First up in January will be “The Greek Coffin Mystery” by Ellery Queen (copyright 1932). I’ve owned this paper book for years and have not read it – not sure why but I’ll be reading it now! Thanks again and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.
Thank you, Mez! That sounds so wonderfully cozy! I find it supremely satisfyingly to carve out time for planning and dreaming! I have not read The Greek Coffin, but I am an Ellery Queen fan! I’ve heard it said a few times that Queen’s “nationality” titles are some of his best. Let me know how you like it! Merry Christmas and New Year to you as well!
I am looking for a printable copy of the 2023 Reading Challenge, can anyone help?
I sent you an email, Kim!
Last year’s challenge helped me make a lot of headway on my classics TBR so I’m looking forward to even more progress this year. Thanks for hosting again!
You’re welcome! Thank you for joining!
This is my first time doing a book challenge (at age 74) and I’m really excited about it. My January mystery was Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time which was quite different from what I expected but was an engrossing historical mystery nonetheless. Since I am an Anglophile, it was actually right up my alley. Searching now for my February book.
I’ve loved what I’ve read of Tey, but I haven’t actually gotten to The Daughter of Time yet! I know it’s supposed to be one of her best. What did you end up picking for February?
This looks fun, I have so many classics and still need to read them, this will help me, thanks
I made an entry herehttps://themoonphoenix788811600.wordpress.com/2023/01/06/reading-challenge-2023/
Excellent! Good luck on the challenge, and thanks for linking up!
Chose Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm for my February book. I have always seen that title in used bookstores so I thought I’d take a chance on it.
Oh, interesting! If you think of it, leave a comment here when you’re done to let us know what you think of it!
Looks like fun. I’ll join you.
Great! Welcome aboard!
Referring to my February pick, Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
is an odd but sometimes entertaining satire of life in an English University around the early 20th century. Zuleika is an American girl with whom every young chap at Oxford falls in love. There are lots of downright silly scenes and several rather clever ones, some involving ghosts of famous former students. However,the one plot point that might discourage readers is that of mass suicide. It is done comically but it may be a bit much or possibly triggering for modern readers.
Thank you so much for sharing your reading pick and a review!
Hi there! I’m looking for ideas for the April reading prompt- any suggestions? I’m just looking ahead since I’m heading on a trip then 🙂. Thanks for making these fun lists! I loved doing this challenge last year, and I’m looking forward to it again!
Sure! You could look at The Makioka Sisters (mentioned in my Little Women post), or the Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata (melancholy and beautiful prose). For something really good but heavy, try Silence by Shūsaku Endō; it’s historical fiction set in the 17th century. (There was a movie of that one that came out a couple of years ago.)
Thank you so much!!
For March, I chose Andrew Lang’s version of The Arabian Nights. I was surprised by some of the stories where women held the power. Quite entertaining!