Cavalcade of Classics

Update: The reading period for this list expired on December 31, 2017. Join me for Cavalcade of Classics, Round Two, which rolled out on October 1, 2018!

As part of The Classics Club, I’ve challenged myself to read 89 classics in five years. I’ve named my challenge the Cavalcade of Classics because I like alliteration and because I think the word “cavalcade” is highly underused these days.

My book lists are drawn mainly from The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, with some modifications. I’m sure there will be more modifications as time goes on. I’m planning to read many of them according to the trivium (in Classical education, the trivium refers to grammar, logic, and rhetoric, three divisions of study that lay the foundation for all other learning) as described in Bauer’s book. I doubt I’ll follow this method strictly for every book, but I do plan to use it a fair amount, especially for the more complicated books.

For more background about how I put together this challenge, see Cavalcade of Classics Kick-off.

If you’re interested in reading some or all of these books and would like to join me for an electronic discussion à la the rhetoric stage of the trivium, let me know and I’m happy to pin a completion date on any of these and set up to have a virtual book club. Not sure how that would look at this point, but if the interest arises, I’m sure we’ll figure out the logistics.

The details of the challenge:

Start Date: January 1, 2013

End Date: December 31, 2017

There are 89 books on the list, so I need to average 1.48 books a month to finish by the end of 2017. (Update, May 2016: I am nowhere near this average. I might need to modify my classics list.)

As I finish each book, I’ll cross-post a review on Goodreads and on this blog, and I’ll update this page with a link to the review. Meet me back here in a few months and see how far I’ve gotten. I hope that I will be pleasantly surprised.


  1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan – Completed February 2013
  2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe  – Completed June 2013
  3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – Completed April 2013
  4. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens – Completed July 2014, The Classics Club Spin #6
  5. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë – Completed November 2014
  6. Villette by Charlotte Brontë – Hope to read before 12/31/2017
  7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  8. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe– Completed December 2015, The Classics Club Spin #9
  9. Middlemarch by George Eliot – Completed June 2014
  10. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  11. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  12. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
  13. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  14. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Completed March 2014
  15. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane – Hope to read before 12/31/2017
  16. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  17. Kim by Rudyard Kipling – Completed February 2015
  18. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (Re-read)
  19. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  20. Ulysses by James Joyce – Completed December 2013
  21. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Re-read, completed January 2014
  22. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  23. The Castle by Franz Kafka
  24. Native Son by Richard Wright
  25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  26. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  27. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
  28. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  29. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  30. If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  31. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
  32. Possession by A.S. Byatt


  1. The Confessions by Augustine of Hippo – Hope to read before 12/31/2017
  2. The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe (partial re-read)
  3. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
  4. The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself by Teresa of Avila
  5. Meditations by Rene Descartes
  6. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan
  7. The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration by Mary Rowlandson
  8. Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  9. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benkamin Franklin
  10. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (partial re-read) – Hope to read before 12/31/2017
  11. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup – Hope to read before 12/31/2017
  12. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
  13. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  14. Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche
  15. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Ghandi
  16. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein – Completed February 2014
  17. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
  18. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of my Early Life by C.S. Lewis – Completed March 2014, The Classics Club Spin #5
  19. The Autobiography of Macolm X by Malcolm X
  20. Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
  21. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
  22. Born Again by Charles W. Colson
  23. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez
  24. The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway
  25. All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs by Elie Wiesel


  1. The Histories by Herodotus – Currently Reading, March 2015
  2. The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
  3. The Republic by Plato – Classics Spin #8, Completed December 2014
  4. Symposium by Plato – Completed January 2015
  5. Parallel Lives by Plutarch
  6. City of God by Augustine of Hippo Completed January 2014
  7. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People by Bede
  8. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  9. Utopia by Sir Thomas More
  10. Two Treatises of Government by John Locke Completed April 2014
  11. The History of England, Volume V by David Hume – completed November 2013
  12. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  13. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
  14. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  15. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  16. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
  17. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  18. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burkhardt
  19. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
  20. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber
  21. Queen Victoria by Lytton Stachey
  22. The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell
  23. The New England Mind by Perry Miller
  24. The Great Crash by John Kenneth Galbraith
  25. The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
  26. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  27. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made by Eugene D. Genovese
  28. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century by Barbara Tuchman
  29. All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  30. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
  31. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
  32. The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama

Additional Classics I Wish to Read (But Which I’m Not Ready to Add to the List Because There Are Already So Many There):

  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (Re-read)
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Re-Read)
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Re-read)
  • The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Howard’s End by E.M. Forster
  • The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Village by Marghanita Laski
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Re-read)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (Re-read)
  • Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

58 Replies to “Cavalcade of Classics”

  1. I love that you’re doing this! It’s been 5 years now since I finished English graduate school, and sometimes I miss reading the classics. I really like the book list you have here. I think I might start. I am finishing up Tom Sawyer. My son read this recently for school. 🙂 Great idea! I’ll check in with your reviews as you post them. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Homeschooling has really helped me discover and rediscover kid classics, and that’s inspired me to continue my own classics education. There are so many books I never read in college!


  2. Bravo on adding the history selections! I may have to consider some. I have the Well-Educated Mind but I haven’t looked at it in a while and I only remember going through the fiction. I’ll have to take another peek.


    1. I was nervous about them (I’m much more of a fiction reader than nonfiction), but now I’m kind of looking forward to them. This week my daughter suddenly got very excited about Herodotus, so I think we might read that one together…maybe after I get to David Hume for the 18th-century English Literature Reading Event next month!


    1. My spouse is reading that one, and he’s stuck somewhere in the middle right now. I don’t recall getting stuck on that particular one, but I’m currently spinning my wheels in the middle of Brobdingnag (in Gulliver’s Travels).


  3. Wow! Some of those are really tough reads.

    I really enjoyed Possession–although nothing else I’ve ever read by her…


    1. Yes, I didn’t get into Babel Tower, but I enjoyed Ragnarok, which is why I’m up for giving Possession a try. I’m a little intimidated by the list, I must admit. I’m starting with The Pilgrim’s Progress (once I finish the book of Wendell Berry’s essays that I’m 2/3 through) and comforting myself that Alcott’s March girls read it as children.


      1. I’ve gotten about 1/3rd of the way through Pilgrim’s Progress, twice. I’m not sure if its the language or the subject matter, though. I only tried it because of it being mentioned in Alcott’s books.

        I’ve started the year off reading this fascinating biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother. I knew she had a hard childhood–but I didn’t realize HOW hard. I suspect next I’ll read back through all the novels of hers I have with new eyes…


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