Friday, January 31, 2014

The Classics

A few weeks ago, while brainstorming my Reading Resolutions, I decided that it was about time I tackled some classics. That's not to say that I haven't read any classics at all- I've read those that were assigned in high school (and yes, I actually read them) and some for my favorite literature class in college, titled "Great Books that Shaped the Western World." Some of the ones that I have vivid memories of reading include: A Tale of Two Cities, The Catcher in the Rye, The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, The Republic, Darwin, and Don Quixote. 

Out of all of the classics that I read between the eighth grade and now, my favorite has remained Maus (Volumes 1 and 2) by Art Spiegelman. Out of all of the beautiful stories that have been recorded and revered by the masses, my favorite is a graphic novel. But to be fair, it's so much more than that. It's an incredible depiction of one family's journey through the Holocaust; a heart-wrenching account that is artfully told through both pictures and words. Spiegelman is beyond talented, and although it's unusual for me to recommend (or even read) a graphic novel, if you haven't read this yet, do it now. 

So, as you can probably tell, classics aren't my area of expertise. Confession: I've actually never finished any of Jane Austen's novels. I know- I can imagine hearing your gasps and seeing your shocked expressions. For some, it's impossible to claim bookworm status without having read Pride and Prejudice. I'm actually pretty embarrassed that I've never finished one- but in the case of the ones I've started, I haven't been interested enough (or patient enough) to keep reading.

This year, I'm hoping to change my outlook on the classics. I generally hail them as a collection of books beyond what I could ever dream of writing and I am so in awe of the authors that created them, but it would be rare to see me with one in hand. That being said, I've picked some books that I will be seen with this year, and they constitute my list for my 2014 Classics Challenge.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
A lot of the books that I've been drawn to in the past few years have been based off of the Jane Eyre plot, including this one (which made it onto my Top Ten post for this year) and this one (which I'll be posting a review for soon). Apparently, Jane Eyre was the start of the archetypal governness characters that I find myself searching for in bookstores and libraries. I'm really looking forward reading it, as I already know that I like elements of it.

The Time Machine & The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
H.G. Wells is considered to be the father of the science-fiction genre. I'm not actually that into science-fiction books in general (I'd rather stick with fantasy and historical-fiction), but these are regarded as "scientific romances," so I'm willing to give them a chance. I found the two stories combined into one book, and since they're both so short I figured I'd count them as just one book for my challenge. These both come highly recommended and I thought they'd add diversity to my challenge, but I'm also interested in seeing whether Wells can convince me to look more into the science-fiction genre in general.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is one that I've been meaning to read for years. I have a beautiful old copy of it that I've packed and brought with me every semester of college, but I've never gotten around to reading it. Since I'm putting more effort this year into reading children's literature, I figured that my classics challenge needed to include children's literature in some respect, and this was my pick.

This is where I need some recommendations. I have a few ideas, such as picking another children's book...maybe A Little Princess? (Though I'm not sure that it would be fair, out of the many choices I have, to read two books by the same author.) One book that I've always heard great things about is Heart of Darkness. Another option would be to make this the year of great achievements and actually read a book by Jane Austen, but which one? Please help me choose! I'm taking any and all recommendations.

Do you have a favorite classic, or one that you've always wanted to read?

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