Friday, November 28, 2014

Reading England 2015

January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015

Already people are beginning to think ahead to their reading challenges for 2015 (I'm particularly excited by Fanda's Literary Movements Reading Challenge, which I'll write about in the coming weeks, and I see Adam has posted his TBR 2015 Challenge which I shall be joining), and I've been thinking of challenges and the various read-alongs which are cropping up. I've also been thinking of hosting my own challenge, a challenge I've been thinking about since June as it happens: Reading England. This is not unlike the 50 States Reading Challenge, only for this one we would be reading books set in various English counties.

The Goal: To travel England by reading, and read at least one book per however many counties of England you decide to read.

Example: You aim to read three books set in three different counties, and you read Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and The Darling Buds of May by H. E. Bates. Reading these means you have read a book from Dorset (Far From the Madding Crowd), London (Mrs Dalloway), and Kent (The Darling Buds of May).
The Rules:

  • This challenge begins on the 1st January 2015 and ends on 31st December 2015, but of course if you really get into it then keep it going :)
  • You can sign up any time between now and the end of 2015. Only books read after 1st January 2015 count, though.
  • Choose a level (below), but do not feel obliged to pick your books or even your counties beforehand. 
  • Because this is a classics blog, I'd encourage people to read classic novels, but how you define classics is up to you.
  • You are not limited to English authors. Henry James, for example, is American but his novel The Turn of the Screw is set in Essex, and so he counts for the challenge.
  • It would be grand if you blogged about the books you read for each county but you don't have to. If you do, you don't have to feel obliged to give any information about the county in general other than, maybe, "This is my review of x which is set in the county of x". You could also include a description of the landscape in your posts, but again you don't have to.
  • You do not have to read the books in their original language, translations are accepted (I only read in English so I would never dream of making other people read in their second language!)
  • Audio books, Kindles, and whatnot are accepted too.
  • Poetry, plays, biographies, and autobiographies count as well as novels.

The Levels:

  • Level one: 1 - 3 counties
  • Level two: 4 - 6 counties
  • Level three: 7 - 12 counties
  • Level four: 12 + counties

The List:

Firstly, this list is not exhaustive, and there are no doubt many books that you may decide is more suitable for a particular county than the ones I've listed. You get to choose your books, I'm not asking you to pick from this list. Secondly. this isn't even an exhaustive list of counties! Odd as this perhaps might seem to someone not from England, listing English counties is a tricky business! What I have listed here is based on the 39 Historic Counties of England, although I've listed novels set in Middlesex as London, as Middlesex would have once contained the likes of Bloomsbury, Kensington, Hampstead and the like within its borough of Ossulstone. Rutland is now made up of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and finally Westmorelandshire is a part of Cumbria. It wasn't easy to get the information together for this list, so there may be errors, but I hope there aren't!

And without further ado, here is the list of suggestions:


  • The Two Sisters by H. E. Bates
  • My Uncle Silas by H. E. Bates
  • Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy 
  • Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes
  • Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
  • The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde


  • Evelina by Fanny Burney


  • Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
  • The Longest Journey by E. M. Forster
  • Maurice by E. M. Forster
  • Glory by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Basil by Wilkie Collins
  • The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  • Lady Anna by Anthony Trollope
  • The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë [uncertain]
  • Adam Bede by George Eliot
  • Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
  • The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley
  • He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope
  • Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope
  • The Worm Forgives the Plough by John Stewart Collis
  • Moonfleet by J. Meade Faulkner
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
  • Thank you, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
  • Nightingale Woods by Stella Gibbons
  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Cider With Rose by Laurie Lee
  • The Tailor of Gloucestershire by Beatrix Potter
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins


  • On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
  • The Diaries of Francis Kilvert by Rev. Francis Kilvert


  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


  • The Darling Buds of May by H. E. Bates
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
  • Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Redburn by Herman Melville
  • The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  • The Right to an Answer by Anthony Burgess
  • John Marchmount's Legacy by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  • Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson


  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
  • Fanny Hill by John Cleland
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins
  • Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • The Nether World by George Gissing
  • New Grub Street by George Gissing
  • The Diary of a Nobody by George and Wheedon Grossmith
  • Hanover Square by Patrick Hamilton
  • Esther Waters by George Moore
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys
  • Vanity Fairy by William Makepeace Thackerary
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Night and Day by Virginia Woolf


  • The Big Six by Arthur Ransome
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen [uncertain]
  • Mistress Masham's Repose by T. H. White
  • The poetry of Wilfrid Gibson 
  • Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
  • Ruined City by Nevil Shute
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  • The Rainbow by D. . Lawrence
  • Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  • The White Peacock by D. H. Lawrence
  • The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • Howards End by E. M. Forster
  • A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins
  • The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding
  • Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer
  • The Belton Estate by Anthony Trollope
  • Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by P. G. Wodehouse
  • Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett
  • The Old Wives Tale by Arnold Bennett
  • Adam Bede by George Eliot
  • Celia by Fanny Burney
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins
  • We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome
  • The Watsons by Jane Austen
  • A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  • Sanditon by Jane Austen
  • The Worm Forgives the Plough by John Stewart Collis
  • The Last Post by Ford Maddox Ford
  • The Collector by John Fowles
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
  • The History of Mr. Polly by H. G. Wells
  • The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

Tyne and Wear

  • Afternoon Off by Alan Bennett
  • The novels of Catherine Cookson
  • The Stars Look Down by A. J. Cronin
  • Rokeby by Walter Scott


  • The Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
  • Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes
  • Kenilworth by Walter Scott
  • As You Like It by William Shakespeare
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Chronicles of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • The Well of Loneliness by Radcyffe Hall
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë [uncertain]
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins
  • Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  • The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith
  • A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shady, Gentleman by Lawrence Sterne
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

As I said, county boundaries do change, for example the setting for Tom Brown's School Days would be classed now as Oxfordshire, as would Lark Rise to Candleford, The Wind in the Willows, and Three Men in a Boat. Furthermore, the settings for books do change, so reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens would see a jump between London and Kent, and Dracula by Bram Stoker describes both Kent and Yorkshire (Whitby). On this basis, it's up to you how you would categorise the novels you read, but it would be nice if, for example, you read Great Expectations for Kent, and then a different London novel or vice versa.

So there it is! A very long post for what I hope is a fun and straightforward challenge! If you want to join let me know by leaving me a comment, and if you decide to write a post on your blog about it then leave me a link. If you join, I suggest to keep track of your challenge you write a master post then through out the year keep adding your books to that.

This reading challenge is hosted by Behold the Stars. For more information and to sign-up, please see this post.