Resolve to Read the Classics

PenguinI opened up the armoire in my bedroom to disclose a television I almost never use. Many people tell me they lay in bed at night and watch television; however, as cosy as that sounds, this is a practice that reminds me too much of living in an SRO where the bed was actually the only piece of furniture in the room (and the toilet was down the hall). I guess you could say that lying in bed watching television reminds me too much of the bad times in my life.

Of course, being an avid reader, I seldom watch television even in the living room.

But the significance of opening the armoire was that I uncovered a huge repository of Penguin and Oxford Classics: new ones, old ones, thick ones, thin ones, translations, collections, a veritable library of canonical literature. But have you tried reading the tight print in the average 600 page Penguin edition? Luckily most of these texts are available online for free or for a small expense (but watch out for translations) so I have started packing them into bags to donate to the local book exchange.

As I reflect on the authors and titles, I start to feel guilty that there are so many classical works that I haven’t read. Maybe I should forego some of the more contemporary novels I have planned to read and just concentrate on the classics for a year or two.

Right in the middle of repacking all these Penguins I received a post from which suggested that 2015 was the year many readers were intending to concentrate on the classics.

Have you decided that this is your year for reading more Classic Literature? Great! We’ve got some helpful suggestions for books to read, clubs to consider forming or joining, genres to discover, and even ways to beat the reading slumps!

One of the more overlooked genres of classic literature (or any literature, really) is drama. Readers tend to gravitate towards novels, first, and poetry second. But the truth is, there are a number of classic plays of various modes, including comedy, tragedy, tragicomedy, and histories that are incredibly interesting, entertaining, and educational! Click the link above to see what plays we recommend reading this year!

Have you always wanted to read the classics but have been intimidated by the sheer number of them? Maybe you’ve heard of classic writers like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, but you aren’t sure who else qualifies? The list of 101 Classics provides a wealth of options across all genres, modes, and literary periods. There is definitely something for every reader. Check it out!

booksIt’s hard to argue with any list of classics. I suspect the major complaint would be for the titles that were left out. So what do you think about this internet list?

The Count of Monte Cristo (1845) Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers (1844) Alexandre Dumas
Black Beauty (1877) Anna Sewell
Agnes Grey (1847) Anne Brontë
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) Anne Brontë
The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) Anthony Hope
Barchester Towers (1857) Anthony Trollope
The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927) Arthur Conan Doyle
Dracula (1897) Bram Stoker
The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) Carlo Collodi
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Charles Dickens
David Copperfield (1850) Charles Dickens
Great Expectations (1861) Charles Dickens
Hard Times (1854) Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist (1837) Charles Dickens
Westward Ho! (1855) Charles Kingsley
Jane Eyre (1847) Charlotte Brontë
Villette (1853) Charlotte Brontë
Sons and Lovers (1913) D.H. Lawrence
Robinson Crusoe (1719) Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders (1722) Daniel Defoe
Tales of Mystery & Imagination (1908) Edgar Allan Poe
The Age of Innocence (1920) Edith Wharton
Cranford (1853) Elizabeth Gaskell
Wuthering Heights (1847) Emily Brontë
The Secret Garden (1911) Frances Hodgson Burnett
Crime and Punishment (1866) Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamazov (1880) Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) G.K. Chesterton
The Phantom Of The Opera (1909-10) Gaston Leroux
Middlemarch (1871-72) George Eliot
Silas Marner (1861) George Eliot
The Mill on the Floss (1860) George Eliot
The Diary of a Nobody (1892) George and Weedon Grossmith
The Princess and the Goblin (1872) George MacDonald
The Time Machine (1895) H.G. Wells
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) Harriet Beecher Stowe
Walden (1854) Henry David Thoreau
The Aspern Papers (1888) Henry James
The Turn of the Screw (1898) Henry James
King Solomon’s Mines (1885) Henry Rider Haggard
Moby Dick (1851) Herman Melville
The Odyssey (circa 8th C. BC) Homer
The Call of the Wild (1903) Jack London
Last of the Mohicans (1826) James Fenimore Cooper
Emma (1815) Jane Austen
Mansfield Park (1814) Jane Austen
Persuasion (1817) Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen
Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) John Bunyan
Gulliver’s Travels (1726) Jonathan Swift
Heart of Darkness (1899) Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim (1900) Joseph Conrad
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) Jules Verne
Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) Jules Verne
The Awakening (1899) Kate Chopin
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) L. Frank Baum
Tristram Shandy (1759-1767) Laurence Sterne
Anna Karenina (1877) Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace (1869) Leo Tolstoy
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass (1871) Lewis Carroll
Little Women (1868-69) Louisa May Alcott
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) Mark Twain
Frankenstein (1818) Mary Shelley
Don Quixote of La Mancha (1605 & 1615) Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Twice-Told Tales (1837) Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Prince (1532) Niccolò Machiavelli
The Four Million (1906) O. Henry
The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) Oscar Wilde
The Metamorphoses (circa 8 AD) Ovid
Lorna Doone (1869) R. D. Blackmore
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island (1883) Robert Louis Stevenson
Kim (1901) Rudyard Kipling
The Jungle Book (1894) Rudyard Kipling
Ivanhoe (1820) Sir Walter Scott
Rob Roy (1817) Sir Walter Scott
The Red Badge of Courage (1895) Stephen Crane
What Katy Did (1872) Susan Coolidge
Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891-92) Thomas Hardy
The Mayor Of Casterbridge (1886) Thomas Hardy
Utopia (1516) Thomas More
Rights of Man (1791) Thomas Paine
Les Misérables (1862) Victor Hugo
The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20) Washington Irving
The Moonstone (1868) Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White (1859) Wilkie Collins
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600) William Shakespeare
As You Like It (1623) William Shakespeare
Hamlet (1603) William Shakespeare
Henry V (1600) William Shakespeare
King Lear (1608) William Shakespeare
Othello (1622) William Shakespeare
Richard III (1597) William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice (1600) William Shakespeare
The Tempest (1623) William Shakespeare
Vanity Fair (1848) William Thackeray

I hi-lighted the titles I have read in blue but as you can see, there are many books I haven’t read and some of those are important classics I should be ashamed of having not read. Notice that this list included Jules Verne and left out Gustave Flaubert: that should tell you something.

2 thoughts on “Resolve to Read the Classics

  1. Jump on The Secret Garden first. A fun read that reminds you of childhood. Mansfield Park happens to be one of my favorite Austen novels, although it gets the shaft a lot. There’s a lot on this list I have to read as well.


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