2024 Classics Reading Challenge

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Read more classic literature with the annual Tea and Ink Society Classics Reading Challenge! Choose a classic book to fit with each month’s theme, and join other bookworms as we learn to appreciate the classics together and expand our reading horizons.

Black and white hardback editions of classic books, with a cup of tea.

2024 Reading Challenge for Classic Literature

Challenge yourself to read more classic literature in 2024…you’ll be in good company! The annual Classics Reading Challenge is a hit for our Society, and I’m exited to share the themes I’ve planned out for the year!

This reading challenge is meant to help you discover new genres, authors, and regions for classic books, as well as to circle back to old favourites or finally get around to reading books you’d always meant to read. You can adjust this challenge to suit you, but here are some basic guidelines:

  • 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!

To help guide you through the challenge, I will publish blog posts throughout the year with suggestions for some of the prompts. Where I don’t have a blog post dedicated to a particular theme, I’ll still send out an email reminder to our newsletter list, and may include suggestions there as well. As always, my list of 101 must-read classic books to read will come in handy for some starting inspiration.

2024 Classics Reading Challenge Schedule

January: A classic you’ve read before

Start your new year with something old! This month, reread a classic you’ve already read. Perhaps you’ll have a throwback to an old favourite. Maybe you’ll rediscover a book that moved you years ago, that you promised you would one day return to–but never have. Or, take this opportunity to reread a book you didn’t like the first time around, but feel you should give another chance.

As Lisa says in her excellent post on rereading books, “Most of us don’t need convincing that we ought to read more excellent books, but I suspect fewer of us have experienced just how deeply moving it may be to reread a title that we loved in the past, as well as to reread those whose impact we missed before.”

February: A Nordic or Scandinavian classic

Go north with a classic novel, short story collection, or nonfiction from the Nordic region. These countries include Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands. I’ll have a blog post with ideas for this category to help you out!

March: A novel with a place or house name in the title

Last year one of our categories was to read a classic with a person’s name in the title, but this year we’re going for place! When the setting figures into something so important as the title, you know it’s going to matter in the novel…perhaps with the author even making the place feel like a character in itself. There are so many books you might choose for this: Brideshead Revisited, The Haunting of Hill House, Mansfield Park, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…you get the idea! I’ll have plenty of suggestions in an email or blog post to get your wheels turning.

Stack of books on a wooden table, with open notebook and pen

April: An epistolary novel

For this category, you can read a classic told in the form of letters, or one that utilizes a more mixed format–“found” documents, diary entries, interviews, newspaper clippings, etc. Since classics in this category might not be self-evident, I’ll have a blog post with ideas to get you started.

May: An L. M. Montgomery novel or short story collection

We’re big fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery around here! Montgomery wrote twenty novels and hundreds of short stories, so you won’t come up short for options. (Also, if you want to add the book you read to your permanent collection, here’s my guide to beautiful editions for each of her novels.)

June: A novel or short story collection from the American South

Head to my neck of the woods with a Southern classic! This blog post on Southern fiction includes contemporary novels, too, but also titles that fit within our Reading Challenge timeframe (books written before 1970).

July: A utopian or dystopian novel

Sometimes there’s crossover between utopian and dystopian novels–and sometimes it’s just hard to tell at first glance which one you’re reading (or it’s open to interpretation)! So, pick whichever way you want to go! This is a category I’ll have a blog post for, as well.

August: A children’s classic

This is a wonderfully broad category, but if you need inspiration, head to my list of 50 recommended chapter books.

September: A pastoral novel

As summer slips into fall, escape to the countryside with a pastoral novel. This type of literature takes place in a rural setting, removed from the modernity and morals of the city, and depicts people living within the rhythm of the natural world. I’ll give you more examples in an email or blog post, but think of books like Far from the Madding Crowd, Adam Bede, or The Good Earth.

October: A spooky classic or short story collection

You could go for Gothic or horror–or just a little spooky!

November: A classic recommended by a friend

Is there a classic someone has told you you should read? Read their pick! Or, if no one’s been bugging you to finish reading Dante already (like my husband has!) just ask for a suggestion.

December: A Shakespeare play

We’ll close out the year with something short and sweet! Pick a play by the Bard; it’s your call if you go for something famous, or delve into his lesser-known offerings.


Are you looking forward to our classic book reading challenge? I am, and I always love seeing what our members 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.

Find previous years’ classics reading challenges here:

Classics reading challenge checklist with prompts listed for each month
2024 Classics Reading Challenge2024 Classics Reading Challenge
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34 Comments

  1. I am so excited to participate this year, the categories are perfect!:) The Nordic/Scandinavian novel category will definitely expand my reading horizons and I am always grateful for an excuse to read an L.M. Montgomery novel.

    1. Wonderful! Thanks for the feedback! For myself, I’m thinking it’s time to reread LMM’s Pat books. I’ve only read those two once, and I loved them. I think another read will help me decide where to place them in my hierarchy of LMM favourites.

  2. What great choices! Half of these will be easy for me to find a book for and the other half will be more challenging. A perfect ratio. Your suggestions are always so helpful.

  3. I am a newbie here and found you via The Pour Over Christmas Gift list! I am looking forward to reading classics and having a guide along the way.

  4. I just got home from my first ever visit to the American South (New Orleans!), so I think I’ll reread Huckleberry Finn or Gone with the Wind. Does Jamaica Inn count as a place or house name? If not, I’ll do Anne of Green Gables for reread, Anne of Avonlea for place name, and Anne of the Island for LMM. So excited!

    1. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but it is high on my list! I don’t live very far from it now. Yes, Jamaica Inn would definitely count for the March category!

  5. This looks like a great challenge!

    I have a question. Would you count Persuasion by Jane Austen as an epistolary novel?

    1. I would not, personally. Although it does have Captain Wentworth’s famous letter, the majority of the novel is third person, delivered in a non-epistolary way!

  6. I am really looking forward to incorporating this year’s challenge into my yearly reading! I have begun by beginning a re-read of The Fellowship of the Ring for January’s selection. I’m wondering if Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book would qualify for February, although it maybe be on the cusp of too modern a publishing date. I’m still narrowing down the “place name” selection, there are too many good options. But I have been wanting to read Wilkie Collins “The Woman in White” and I understand it is epistolary so that is April sorted!

    1. You’ve got such a fun time in store for you with The Woman in White! Great pick for April’s theme! “Technically” The Summer Book isn’t within the challenged since it was published in ’72, but feel free to bend the rules for your own purposes! That’s a great book and one I love returning to.

  7. I too am looking forward to the 2024 reading challenge. You had one in 2023? I have no idea how, but I missed it! I’m so shocked because I always pour over your newsletters. A great mystery, I guess 2023 was a worse year than I thought!

  8. I may read Babette’s Feast instead of The Summer Book since I have not yet read it and I do dearly love a culinary classic. At the urging of several people, I think I will read Watership Down for the place name theme (published in ’72 but I think it is considered a classic anyway so in the spirit if not the letter of the challenge.) And I’m considering Plato’s Republic for the utopian theme, although I am looking forward to any suggestions of good picks for that category (tho I’ll skew toward u vs dys-topian, since as I always say I grew up in a dystopia I don’t love returning via fiction). It’s very enjoyable searching for good thematic choices!

  9. I have re read “Black Beauty” It is nice to remember some things and to discover hings that do come to memory.
    Looking forward to the next challenge.
    Marion

  10. I just finished re reading A Secret Garden. I discovered many things I did not remember the first time. It is now on my list as some of my favorite children’s books.
    Marilyn

  11. I’ve only read one classic before, so I’m excited to try to read more of them. I just finished my reread “The Hobbit” and posted about it on my blog, but it was a three star book for me. But who knows, maybe I’ll grow to love classics as the year goes on!

  12. Would Tropic of Cancer count as a title with a place in it? I originally picked The Dutch House and just now realized it’s not a classic at all! ( at least yet). Love the challenge, such an inspiration to look for new titles!

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