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BHAG COMPLETE: 287 Classics in 555 Weeks


Started: Wednesday, October 16, 2002 
Completed: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 
at 3:33 PM.

287 books in 3885 days or 
10 years, 7 months, 20 days or . . . 
  • 555 weeks
  • 93,240 hours
  • 5,594,400 minutes
  • 335,664,000 seconds
How appropriate to start and end this journey with the Invitation to the Classics List (85 books).

In between, I read The Well-Educated Mind (154 books) and The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics (104 books if you count sequels and trilogies). Minus the overlap on each list that is 287 
books! (press links to see the lists)


My love for classical literature came very late in life! It was 1996, and I happened by a PBS performance of a musical: Les Miserables. I was enthralled and told my mother-in-law how much it moved me. She went back to her bedroom and returned with the book, Les Miserables, in a thick paperback. I couldn't put it down. I wept through the last fifteen pages in June of 1996 and did not want it to end. On my birthday, the next month, I was at a live performance of the musical. From then on, I was hooked on the classics! 

When I came back from Malaysia in 1999, my friend, Teala, invited me over to  watch what everyone else watched while I was away: Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth! What a delight! But the book is always better than the movie so shortly after that, I visited my mom in California and she got the book for me from her library. OH MY! 

We traveled all over the West throughout the spring and summer, telling people about our time in Malaysia. During our nomadic wanderings, I gobbled up all five additional Austen novels. 

Prior to that, despite having a master's degree, the only classics I had ever read were The Great Gatsby and Siddhartha during my freshman year in high school (1974). I did NOT get those books, I was too young to understand them! 

When we settled back to the States, and I started home educating, I wanted a semi-classical education for my kids. I also wanted to do the four year cycle of history suggested by The Well-Trained Mind and to integrate the literature of the time period we were studying. Somehow, I ran across Invitation to the Classics and David Denby's Great Books in my library, and these books inspired me to read the classics in an orderly way in order to be a good example for my kids; picking and choosing which ones I would have them read.

I had already read a few books on the Invitation to the Classics (ITC) list before the "official" start of this journey on October 16, 2002 (Pride and Prejudice, Pilgrim's Progress, Beowulf, Inferno, and Letters and Papers from Prison). So when I ordered my own copy of ITC, I also ordered The Brothers Karamazov (Read Oct 2002), Purgatorio (October 2002)and The Bacchae (Nov 2002)

A year later, The Well-Educated Mind came out, and I switched to that list. This one took me almost 8 years to complete. Then, I did the 100 World Classics and finished this journey back where I started with Invitation to the Classics! 

Words cannot describe how much I learned. Maybe I will write a book about my journey someday!

But for right now, I am going to rest and bask in the accomplishment!!!

Doing the happy dance!!!

June 24, 2009 When I Completed the Ancients List of The Well-Educated Mind
(See My Photo Set in My Last Post or HERE)

By the way, in the midst of all of this, I started a classics book club with four other women with the original intent of reading the books from the list. But some did not like the books from the list. So we read other classics. That combined with the classics I read "off list" on my own, I have read 320 classics since 1996.

Here is the "off list":

Les Miserables
Silas Marner
Catcher in the Rye
Little Women
Little Men
Jo's Boys
Wives and Daughters
The Picture of Dorian Grey
Tale of Two Cities
Captains Courageous
Man's Search for Meaning (Babes)
The Alchemist (Babes)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Much Ado About Nothing
Wuthering Heights
A Room with a View
Passage to India
Northanger Abbey
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Three Musketeers
Hound of the Baskervilles
Atonement (considered a modern classic)
A Prayer for Owen Meany (modern classic)
Cry, the Beloved Country
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Count of Monte Cristo
Gone with the Wind
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
To Kill a Mockingbird


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