Wednesday, January 04, 2012

And Thus the Energy Was Sucked Out - Tell Me Yo' Classics!

Penguin spines...because they're purty...
Oy! Back to work and my brain is already mush. Yesterday I was so busy at work all day I couldn't manage to actually post anything. Today my energy and inspiration are flagging again, but such is to be expected at the beginning of a new term (in which I am teaching a FRIDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING CLASS).

But I digress...

My actual point in posting this posty post is to get some ideas for classics I simply cannot miss in 2012. I have a short "wishlist" of titles I'd like to tackle on my Nook, but alas, I am a glutton for ideas. Let's start this way...below is a list of some of my tippy top most favoritest classics. Now you tell me what else I should add to my want list for the year...


  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for its wonky lady characters in all their quirkiness
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens because it was full of twists, turns, and one particular sacrifice that broke my heart
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for being gorgeous and for showing me the Roaring 20s
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck for taking me on an immersive (immersing? immersative? immersionary? know what I mean) ride through time and Chinese culture
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for being so darned clever, full of bookishness (in its own way) and for showing me that classics can be twisted
  • Antigone by Sophocles for showing me that the REALLY old classics can still rock. And the drama was delicious.
  • Night by Elie Wiesel because it's the most affecting Holocaust story I've ever read.
  • The Professor's House by Willa Cather because it's beautiful and meaningful and deceptively simple.
While this little list does not encompass all of my favorites, these are the ones that jump immediately to mind. I'm sure I'll begin kicking myself for leaving out something yummy any time now. 

Ok, now, start recommending. GO!


  1. Aarti and I are reading Middlemarch together, so perhaps that one? I would also recommend Jane Eyre and Brideshead Revisited. The latter doesn't get much play, but it's a fantastic book!

  2. Ohhh, I want that Sense & Sensibility Penguin classic! I loved it and the movie was terrific, too. And I'm liking Jane Eyre so far.

  3. The Painted Veil by William Somerset Maugham. REturn of the Native by Thomas Hardy. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Those are my three top recommendations. :D I have no idea if you've read them, though...

  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! And Cry, the Beloved Country :-)

  5. Heather, I do loooove some George Eliot. I've read and enjoyed Silas Marner, and I've never had the gumption to start the CHUNK that is Middlemarch. One day!

    Teacher/Learner, Jane Eyre is a hit with me, though sadly I have never read Sense and Sensibility. My fellow Austen lovers assure me I would adore it.

    Amanda, I read The Old Man and the Sea when I was 14 or 15 and I hated it. But I was also young and didn't know anything about anything. It put me off of Hemingway for years, but I came back to his writing with A Moveable Feast. I've often thought of re-read Old Man. I haven't read either of the other two, though I think I have Return of the Native on my stacks somewhere, and I would LOVE to read some Maugham.

    Aarti, I'm a total slacker. I've tried A Tree Grows in Brooklyn THREE TIMES with no luck. Somehow life always drags me away, but I am convinced I need to read it. I haven't read Cry, the Beloved Country either!

  6. Elizabeth Gaskell and Edith Wharton - you can't go wrong with any of their novels!

  7. Brooke, I loooove Wharton and haven't tried Gaskell! Bad me! Thank you for the reminder.

  8. I would add Rebecca by DuMaurier to this list and I apologize if you have already read and reviewed. I would add something by Faulkner, probably As I Lay Dying. And I would love to hear your thoughts on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Lord of the Flies. Have fun!

  9. Thanks, Kathleen! I have not read Rebecca, and I feel like the absolute last person on the planet to pick it up. I've only read Faulkner's short stories (some), but I have several of his novels on my shelves. Lord of the Flies was awesome! One of my fave books I read in school.

  10. Not sure if Byatt's Possession would be considered a classic, but I do love it so. I'll try to think of a few others I've loved for you.

  11. If you haven't read Dickens' Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend, those are great. I second the Middlemarch recommendation. Also Claudine at School by Colette, which I read last year and enjoyed quite a bit.

  12. Jane Eyre and Rebecca. A re-read of the first, and then a first read of the second, so you can compare and contrast.

    I'm much better at classics to avoid...Moby Dick, The Brothers K...

  13. Like the other commenters, I highly suggest Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. It's amazing. I also recommend Persuasion by Jane Austen. It's not as popular as Pride and Prejudice, but it's definitely worth a read.

  14. You should add David Copperfield to your list maybe? It's one of the few Dickens I've managed to read and the one I liked the best. Humour, deaths, kite flying. Just don't blame me for a certain lady's very convenient departure (still bitter).

    I totally recommend trying Evelyn Waugh's 'The Buccaneers' and Greene's 'Brighton Rock' if you liked Gatsby. They're not alike in subject matter at all, but I tend to think they have that same easy feel to them that makes them so enjoyable to read. I group them together in my head anyway.

    Oh and 'Raffles' by E W Hornung, just, plot filled stories about an upper class theif.

  15. Romeo and Juliet. Because Shakespeare's plays are nothing like as long or as difficult as people think. Because this play is so full of expressions that are still in use today, I wonder what English would be like if this play didn't exist. Because of the sublimely wonderful insult: "Beef-wit."

  16. Some of my fave classics that are not on your list: The Woman in White, A Tale of Two Cities, Of Human Bondage, House of Mirth, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and The House of Seven Gables. Also, its not a novel, but Dorothy Parker from the Viking Portable Library is a must.


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