The Classics Club 2020-2025



The Classics Club
November 2020 – November 2025

I’m thrilled to present to you my 3rd list of 137 titles for The Classics Club.
I stupidly thought our lists had to have 50 titles, but I discovered on the Wall of Honor that we could choose as many titles as we want.

Here is my new table, with color codes for nonfiction, mystery, and Japanese, three prominent categories. Plus my two special projects!
I will obviously update the table as I go along.

Why 137 titles?
I just added one title to my previous list to make it to 50,
plus my Bible (49 books to go)
and my Hercule Poirot (38 books to go)  projects.
Hence 137.
And I am planning on being more serious with my spins!

How did I come up with these titles?
Simple: I opened my To-Be-Read Goodreads shelf, and put them in order of publication, and I picked the 50 oldest titles! Those are titles I added there along the years.

Be patient, it may take a few seconds for the file below to show up

You can also click on this link to access it.

I’m curious:

  1. How many of these have you read?
  2. Which one/ones is/are your favorite?

See my 2nd list here.
And my first list here.

Club hashtags on Twitter:










The Classics Club 2019-2024: 2nd list recap



The Classics Club
September 7, 2019 – September 7, 2024

You read it right: I had five years to read my 2nd list of 50 titles for The Classics Club.
But I actually managed to read/listen to them between September 2019 and November 2020!
See my 2nd list here. As usual, 34 titles were added to my original list!
And my first list here.
Alas, I’m so so far behind as for reviews.

📚 Here is a little recap:

Besides Bible books, the oldest title was published in 1824:
The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allan Poe
And the most recent in 1953:
Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke

📚 Genre:

  • 2 scifi
  • 3 nonfiction
  • 4 fiction
  • 15 Bible
  • 22 mysteries

Both scifi were super disappointing.
In nonfiction, my favorite was

Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes

In  fiction, I so loved

Parnassus on Wheels

In mystery, this one was a big revelation:

The Lodger

I read the first 9 Maigret mysteries by Georges Simenon.
I really liked the ambiance, as explained for instance in this post.

And I’m really thrilled by my current project or listening to all of Hercule Poirot, as the first story with him was published one hundred years ago.
I enjoy this experience as much I enjoyed listening to all of Sherlock Holmes in 2017. I am more and more discovering all the intricacies of the main character.
And Agatha Christie’s plots are so genially put together, with not two alike, even if several are the type of closed room mystery.

So far, I have listened to 8 and read 1, which is actually a play!
Most of these were narrated by the amazing Hugh Fraser. I did watch the BBc series, so it’s really neat to find his voice again. He is so so good at doing all kinds of different characters.
And a couple were with David Suchet, who’s really dedicated all his life to Hercule Poirot.

As I haven’t written any review of these, I’d like to share here something I have discovered, thanks to the audio format. It never struck me when I was reading them (I did read a few Hercule Poirot books in the past).
We all know Hercule is a francophone Belgian, and his English is not perfect.
When you read/hear him, you may notice some awkward phrases and think, well, he’s not a native English speaker and not think more about it.
But there’s actually more to the story. I realized that his mistakes are based on French constructions. The latest most obvious example I encountered is in Lord Edgware Dies. At one point, Hercule tells Captain Hastings, “You mock yourself at me.”
In French, the verb ‘to mock’ is indeed not a transitive verb, but a pronominal verb (se moquer de), so to say: you mock me, we do literally say “you mock yourself at me” (vous vous moquez de moi).
There are many similar examples like this in all the Hercule Poirot stories I have listened to so far, which shows that either Agatha Christie was fluent in French, or she did extensive research to make Hercule very real. Her family spent a year in France, that probably helped, though I don’t know how old she was then. I so need to read her biography!

📚 Format:

  • 18 print
  • 32 audio

📚 Authors:

  • 5 by a Japanese author
  • 6 by an American author
  • 10 by a French author

Club hashtags on Twitter:











Six degrees of separation: from truth to a notebook


Six degrees of separation:
from truth to a notebook

This month, we are supposed to start with the last book on our last chain, so for me, that was this awesome nonfiction on Conan Doyle – which is kind of neat, as I’m also participating in Nonfiction November.

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

See where it led me, on the other side of the pond!

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

   Conan Doyle for the Defense  Aleppo Codex

  99 ways to tell a story   Ninety-three  

  Black Coffee    the-black-notebook

1. Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
VERDICT: A must read for all Sherlock Holmes’ fan. A well researched piece of literary critique.

2. The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession Faith and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
Do you like a good mystery? Do you like “serious” books about things that actually happened? Do you have lots of commuting time? Well, these are three reasons you have to listen to this book!

3. 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style
 Raymond Queneau and his famous Exercices de Style (Exercises in Style) is a great representative of the Oulipo movement: he takes one short and simple event, and then retells that same thing in 99 different styles.
Matt Madden does a fantastic job by doing the exact same thing, but this time all in different variations with graphics and comics. Loved it! 

4. [ok, I kind of cheated, I went from ninety-9 to ninety-3)
Most people read Les Misérables (at best), but have you also red Ninety-Three?
The last of Victor Hugo’s novels, it is regarded by many including as his greatest work. I recently revisited it to study with one of my students. Really good!

5. Black Coffee: A Mystery Play in Three Acts (Hercule Poirot #7)

I actually just finished reading this one!
As you may know, I’m into a project of listening to all of Hercule Poirot’s stories and novels, for The Classics Club. I hit an obstacle when I got to #7:  it is listed as a play, and I could see it was indeed played during Agatha Christie’s lifetime, but I could find no audio recording, nor even any play on videos. I would end up each time on a novel adaptation of this play, by another author! Even though this adaptation is famous, I still wanted to read the original play. As usual, my public library managed to find the precious book!
I wonder why no one seems to play this any more, it was a lot of fun. It was neat to see Hercule Poirot in a play setting. The mystery was very satisfying, with obviously lots of red herrings and a good amount of potential guilty parties.
“The story concerns a physicist named Sir Claude Amory who has come up with a formula for an atom bomb (Black Coffee was written in 1934!). In the first act, Sir Claude is poisoned (in his coffee, naturally) and Hercule Poirot is called in to solve the case. He does so after many wonderful twists and turns in true Christie tradition.”


6. The Black Notebook

VERDICT: Great typical book by Modiano. The excellent translation lets you plunge in Modiano’s hazy labyrinth between past and present.


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