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.

Stack of classic books with clothbound covers

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.

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 or short story collection

Celebrate cherry blossom season with a classic of Japanese literature! Here are some ideas for classic Japanese novels and short story collections.

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.

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. Here’s a list of lesser-known Latin American classics.

Hardback copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens with brown paper wrapper

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. Here’s an introductory post to Charles Dickens and a complete guide to all of his novels. And if you still need help deciding what to read by him, here’s a quiz you can take to help you choose a Dickens novel.

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.

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.

Classics reading challenge checklist with prompts listed for each month
2023 Classics Reading Challenge2023 Classics Reading Challenge

Join Our Society!
Reawaken your passion for reading by discovering books you love and connecting with like-minded readers.


  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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.)

  8. 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!

  9. My latest read is Fumiko Enchi’s The Waiting Years (April’s choice.) Has anyone read it? It is a very sad book,imo, about wives and courtesans in Japan. Glad I found it, however.

  10. Hi Elsie,
    For May I will be reading “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” by James Hilton. I recently saw the 1939 film of the same name, with Robert Donat as Mr. Chipping and Greer Garson as Katherine. I loved the movie, (Donat won an Academy Award for his performance), so decided to read the book. Hope everyone has a wonderful May!

    1. That’s a great choice! I love that book, as well as Hilton’s (very different) book Lost Horizon. I haven’t seen the Mr. Chips movie, so I will have to give that a watch!

    1. Such a fun book! I’ve seen the old 1950s version of the movie and it is so much fun…but at a 90 minute run time I felt it was too short! I would’ve loved more!

    1. That is an amazing book. I thought it very engaging, although not exactly an “easy” read because there are so many characters and plotlines. But it is a masterpiece and I found it to be very profound. I’m looking forward to re-reading it!

  11. For June, I chose Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling. Because, I just returned from New England and the East Coast, I wanted a book about the fishermen of the area. It looks to be a fun read. Last month,I chose The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith whom I had never read but saw several films, included “Carol” based on Price etc., adapted from her work. I loved it and plan to read more of her. But now to the ocean with Kipling. Quite a change.

    1. I’m reading The Talented Mr. Ripley by Highsmith right now! It’s my first book I’ve read by her, although I love the Hitchcock movie based on her book Strangers on a Train. Captains Courageous sounds like a perfect book to pair with memories of New England! Enjoy!

  12. For July I am reading a book of poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The beginning is her Portuguese Sonnets about her love of Robert Browning. These are her most remembered.


  13. My choice for July is The Book of Poems by Emily Dickinson. The first part of the book is life followed by Love,Most of her poems were published after her death.

    1. She was a remarkable woman! I always have to read her poems a couple of times each, because on every read I appreciate it a bit more!

  14. In September I read A Christmas Carol which I will re-read near Christmas . For October Mary Queen Of Scots by Antonia Fraser, one of my all time favorite books.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *