On Reading Classics
Over the last decade I have read quite a few classics and I know that is all due to the ladies in my book club. They are the ones that encourage and challenge me to read the classics, both modern and ancient.
When it comes to classics I am reminded of a quote by C. S. Lewis:
"It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones."
Of course I'm not always very good at following this reading-rule-of-thumb, but I do try to keep it in mind and broaden my reading to include old as well as new, non-fiction as well as fiction, and the challenging read as well as the light and easy. My "Top Ten Classics" list includes some very old reads as well as a couple more recent "classics." It includes some challenging reads and some less challenging, but somehow they are all books I've known I should read and intend to read... eventually.
My Top 10 List (in no particular order):
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I've enjoyed Jane Eyre, but the depressing story of Heathcliff and Catherine is one I just haven't rushed to read... Yet so many people love this book and insist I must read it... One day I will.
2. The Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckI started reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school. I enjoyed Steinbeck's descriptive writing, but was turned off by a particular character in the story. Even so, everyone says this is a must read classic and so I know I really should get to it sooner than later. I managed to read East of Eden, so how much worse could this one be?
3. The Thousand and One Nights by AnonymousEver since the early 90s when I first saw the Disney adaptation of Aladdin I have wanted to read this book. I think it could be a very interesting read.
4. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleI cannot believe I have not read this novel. I mean, I love a good mystery and who could be better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!?
5. Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
I've never really thought about reading Ben-Hur, but if Anne Shirley enjoyed it so much she couldn't put it down for Geometry I think it must be worth the time.
6. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Another read I started in high school, but never finished. If it weren't for my book club I doubt I would have ever finished a Dickens because of my experience in high school... But since then I have read and loved no less than three Dickens novels. I will one day return and finish this story.
7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
This story has always struck me as weird, but I've heard by a good friend that it is definitely a worthwhile read. I hope one day to see for myself why she likes it so much.
8. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
This is one novel that I know I must read. I know it will be a challenge, but I think I'll be glad I read it when I'm done.
9. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Saw the movie, loved it. Know I will probably love the book even more. Sadly can't say I've ever read any Dumas. Really to be a well-read reader I should read at least one and this one interests me the most.
10. Silas Marner by George Elliot
Read and loved Middlemarch years ago. I have since heard that Silas Marner is also an very good read. I've put off George Elliot for a while because she's not exactly a breeze, but perhaps in 2012 I'll get this one off my TBR list and onto my review shelf.
So that's my top ten list. Have you read any of these? Any thoughts of encouragement or discouragement about reading them in the next year or two? Are any of these books on your list? Leave me a comment and let me know, or better yet, leave a link so I can check out your own "Top Ten Classics I Intend to Read" list.