Personal Growth

The 100 Novel Challenge

100 Novel Challenge

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What is the 100 Novel Challenge?

In 2014, I set a long-term goal to read 100 classic novels by the end of 2022. I have always loved classic novels. There’s just something special about a book that’s been read and appreciated for such a long time. I know I don’t have to convince you how wonderful classic novels are!

From the very beginning – even though it was just a personal goal – I called my resolve the 100 Novel Challenge. I did a lot of research about classic novels in order to find the 100 I wanted to read. At the time, I had already read 34, mostly for school, so I needed to find 66 more. I managed to find 111 more, ending with a total of 145 classic novels to choose from. You can find them all listed below, broken up by what I’ve read, what I’m planning to read, and other books that didn’t make my list.

The Challenge: Here’s the deal, I’m sharing this goal as a challenge. You can pick your own timeline and your own books, but the challenge is to read 100 classic novels. Are you in?

Choosing Which Books to Read

The definition of a “classic” novel is highly contested. There are many novels that some consider classics and others don’t. Honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about deciding which books are classic and which aren’t. If it’s on a list of classic novels, it probably counts.

I’ve put together a list of books for you (below), but you’re certainly not limited to these books. If you find a classic novel that’s not listed, I’d love to hear about it!

The Timeframe

Like I mentioned above, you can absolutely pick your own timeframe. I picked 2022 because it seemed reasonable given how many books I had already read and how many I would need to finish. I actually went a little easy on myself, but I’m now halfway through the challenge and have only read an additional 16 books, so I need to step up my game a little. I would recommend that you aim for 1 book a month, or maybe a little less if you know you’ll also want time to read other types of books.

Make sure you set a timeframe. As I mentioned here, your long-term goals need to be SMART, which includes time-bound. Having a defined deadline makes you much more likely to actually complete your goal.

Connecting With Others

I envision the 100 Novel Challenge as a community of book-lovers who encourage each other to accomplish their goals. If you would be interested in connecting with others who have accepted the challenge, send me an email to let me know. If enough people are interested, I’ll set up a Facebook group specifically for those who have accepted the challenge.

Related: 5 Simple Steps for Setting Long-Term Goals

The Books

Books I’ve Read

1. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
2. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
3. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
4. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
5. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
7. Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
8. Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie
9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis
10. Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
11. The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
12. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
13. Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
14. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
15. The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane
16. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
17. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
18. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
19. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
20. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
21. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
22. The Odyssey – Homer
23. The Pearl – John Steinbeck
24. Night – Elie Wiesel
25. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
26. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
27. Beowulf
28. The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
29. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
30. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
31. 1984 – George Orwell
32. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
33. The Art of War – Sun Tzu
34. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
35. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
36. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
37. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
38. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
39. The Giver – Lois Lowry
40. Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis
41. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
42. Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury
43. Animal Farm – George Orwell
44. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
45. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
46. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
47. A Passage to India – E. M. Forster
48. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
49. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
50. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
51. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
52. The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
53. Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte

Books I Plan to Read

These books are not set in stone. If you have a recommendation that you don’t see on the list, feel free to let me know. I might decide to read the book you suggest and kick one of these off the list!

1. The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
2. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
3. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
4. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
5. Utopia – Thomas More
6. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
7. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
8. Candide – Voltaire
9. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
10. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
11. Middlemarch – George Eliot
12. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
13. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
14. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
15. Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad
16. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
17. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
18. Complete Works of Shakespeare – William Shakespeare
19. The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
20. Emma – Jane Austen
21. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
22. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
23. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
24. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
25. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
26. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
27. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
28. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
29. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
30. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
31. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood – Howard Pyle
32. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
33. The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
34. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
35. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
36. Paradise Lost – John Milton
37. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
38. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
39. Beloved – Toni Morrison
40. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
41. The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
42. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
43. Ulysses – James Joyce
44. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
45. The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
46. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
47. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
48. To the Lighthouse – Vriginia Woolf

Other Book Suggestions

1. Anthem – Ayn Rand
2. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
3. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokova
4. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. The Stranger – Albert Camus
6. The Woman in White – WilkieCollins
7. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
8. Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollope
9. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
10. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
11. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Edward Albee
12. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
13. The Iliad – Homer
14. King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
15. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
16. The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. – Washington Irving
17. Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Edgar Allan Poe
18. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
19. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
20. Dracula – Bram Stoker
21. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
22. The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
23. Little Lord Fauntleroy – Frances Hodgson Burnett
24. The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
25. What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey
26. Westward Ho! – Charles Kingsley
27. Sons and Lovers – D. H. Lawrence
28. Ivanhoe – Walter Scott
29. Lorna Doone– R. D. Blackmore
30. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
31. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
32. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
33. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
34. Aeneid – Virgil
35. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
36. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
37. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
38. In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust
39. The Beautiful and Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald
40. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
41. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
42. The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
43. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
44. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
45. The Alexandria Quartet – Lawrence Durell
46. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain
47. Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell

One Last Note

Hopefully you found this list helpful and not too overwhelming (I know… there’s a lot).

Reading can open your eyes and take you to some incredible places, and classic novels are classic for a reason. They’ve stood the test of time because they carry important, well-written stories and lessons. I hope you decide to take on this challenge with me. It is well worth the time and effort and you’ll feel so accomplished when you reach your goal!

Don’t forget to send me an email if you’d be interested in connecting with others who have accepted the challenge!

140+ Classic Books to Read

23 Comments

  • Erika Eriksson

    The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren should make the list. A Swedish classic, much better than Alice and Peter Pan and Wizard of Oz. Compares well with the lovely Narnia books. Its a good list and a brilliant idea. 🙂

  • Meredith

    I commend all of you who have accepted this challenge. I have tried reading several of the classics and find them to be too dry and outdated. I am a voracious reader, reading almost a book a day. But for some reason, I just can’t get excited about most of the old classics. I remember loving Hemingway and Maugham in college, but when I try to read their books now, I feel a sense of disappointment that I can’t explain. I wish you all the best of luck!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this list. I’ve read most of them. Some are really deep I’ve had to re read each sentence .
    Ken Follett’s books are good although not considered classics
    Try to include Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer.
    It is a page turner
    Once again, thanks for the list.
    Best

  • Kirit Chhaya

    I would have included 1. Of Human Bondage and 2. Razor’s Edge. Both by W. Somerset Maugham .
    Also any book by Graham Greene.
    Alchemist by Coelho
    The Hound of Baskerville by Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Christine Hession

    What a fabulous idea, I’d love to join the challenge and I’m going to try and get a friend involved, so we can share books.

    I would like to set a date for end October 2021. I can’t start right away because I’m half way through the first book of a trilogy.

    Other books I’d recommend are Around The Bend by Neville Shute, The Hobbit J R R Tolkein, The Voyage Unplanned by Frank Yerby and so many more.

    Incidentally I thought Susan Coolidge wrote the What Katy Did series of books.

    Christine Hession

  • Lorna McDonald

    I would like to accept the challenge. I started listing the books I have read on 1st January 2018, not all are considered classics but they are books that I enjoyed reading. If there’s any on the list you have compiled I will take that as having read them in this challenge, unless you think that is cheating. I plan to finish the challenge on March 4th 2022, the day I turn 60. Big milestone. thank you for compiling the list.

  • Adrian Rigby

    I have read a lot of these and intend to read the ones on the list that I haven’t , a great read that isn’t listed is One few over the cuckoos nest

  • Vijay Shankar

    Brilliant! I have read most of what you have listed. Wouldn’t mind reading them again. Peyton place and a Return to Peyton place are lovely reads as well. I accept the challenge!

    • Nancy Berger

      Very excited.! Have read some of these classics already, but looking foward to reading the rest. Can hardly wait to start.

  • Lyn

    I think this is a lovely idea and I would love a Facebook group! I will start 1 August 2019 and complete by 31 July 2023. Will have to work the list over the next few weeks.

    • Mikaela Miller

      Hi Debi, I’m so glad you want to do the challenge! All you have to do to start is pick a date you want to be done by and pick the 100 books you want to read. I’ll let you know if I end up starting a Facebook group where we can all share and discuss the books we’re reading. Good luck!

    • Mikaela Miller

      Hi Heather! To start the challenge, just pick your end date and the 100 books you want to read. I’ll be updating this list as I get through more books, so you can see what I’ve been reading. Feel free to send me an email letting me know which book you’re starting with. I’d love to discuss!

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