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message 1: by Jesi (new)

Jesi (pwnedkitten) So, a bit of back story: I'm fairly intelligent and I've also always had a fairly good concept of books/reading/so on. In fact, my reading level was so much beyond my classmates in high school, that most of my English teachers asked me not to participate in the discussions, because of the frequency my participation confused the other kids by going "above their level." Really. Needless to say, that made me lose a lot of interest in my English classes. So, when there was a book they introduced that I wasn't interested in, I simply didn't read it. I passed on a lot of the classics that way.

Now, because I've been interacting in The Big Bad World, and The Classics are something that are referenced quite a bit, I'm feeling a bit like I should try to read them. So far, the ones that I have, I still hate.

So, I'm looking for suggestions - what classics would you suggest (and it doesn't have to be YA, although a lot of them are being classified as YA, anymore) to someone who so far, hasn't found classics she enjoys? I'd like to be able to read one classic every month - at least, that's my "reading goal" - next year, and I figured that I'd start taking suggestions now.

message 2: by F1Wild (new)

F1Wild | 484 comments Jesi! I can relate to your "let's keep everyone dumbed down" English teachers adventures...but cheer you on for your pursuit for happiness with classics now!

What are some of your interests or books enjoyed before we start off with too many suggestions? Any certain genre that tickles your fancy or favorite books?

Get your TBR list ready as you will undoubtedly receive tons of suggestions!

message 3: by Jesi (new)

Jesi (pwnedkitten) F1Wild wrote: "Jesi! I can relate to your "let's keep everyone dumbed down" English teachers adventures...but cheer you on for your pursuit for happiness with classics now!

What are some of your interests or bo..."

Thanks! And, you're probably right about getting a ton of suggestions... so, to that end, I'll put down the ones that I've already read and then actually answer your questions. :)

I've read: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, a great deal of John Steinbeck, Lord of the Flies (about five times, because of English classes - I enjoyed it the first time, but now would rather boil my eyes in acid than read it again,) a few Charles Dickens (who I find distressingly depressing.) Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy (first one was good, but then the subsequent ones just read like a history book instead of a story.) Frankenstein I thought was too boring to get into.

I've enjoyed every Bradbury that I've come across (at least, his short stories - I'm working around to reading his novels - except for Farenheit 451, which I've read.) J.R.R. Tolkien was decent, but I liked the movies more - the books made Gandolf and co. look like clowns, I thought. I ADORE Peter Pan and Lewis Carroll

I enjoy contemporary literature of almost every flavor, as long as they're written well. I particularly like fantasy and sci-fi, but I also read romance, espionage/action, and SOME horror.

message 4: by Elena (last edited Jul 11, 2010 06:23AM) (new)

Elena | 127 comments My favorite classic is The Woman in White The Woman in White (Penguin Classics) by Wilkie Collins by Wilkie Collins. It is a mystery book.
Another favorite is The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) by Pearl S. BuckThe Good Earth, but this is more serious reading, but easy to read.

Oh! and don't forget Gone With the Wind Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

message 6: by Joseph (last edited Jul 11, 2010 06:27AM) (new)

Joseph  (BlueManticore) | 906 comments Jesi, I know where you are coming from. I've always been such a voracious reader that I would be finished with a book by the time my class had gotten through the first couple of chapters. Then I'd be answering questions with info that I shouldn't have had yet, it was really annoying to everybody, including me. But I went the other direction, I tuned out the class so I could read more. It looks like you have read some of my fav classics, but here are some others I read in school that I would suggest:

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Black Boy by Richard Wright

If by some chance you haven't read these yet, be sure to check out:
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
David Copperfield and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

message 7: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 610 comments I feel the same way and then one of the challenges in another group I'm part of had you read a book off the B&N 100 classics list, so I grabbed a copy and i'm slowly reading my way through the list...the good thing is that most of them are available as audiobooks (Since I have an hours commute to work one way each day)

message 8: by Jesi (new)

Jesi (pwnedkitten) F1Wild wrote: "How about The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling, The Chronicles of Narnia by [author:C.S. Lewis|10690..."

I've read Chronicles of Narnia several times; one of my absolute favorites, and always interesting to see how I've changed as a person in relation to the books. I read Gulliver's Travels last year, and, up until ~70% in, adored it. Then, he got too depressing for me. I love Mark Twain, but never seem to associate him with "the classics" - I guess because I have such a mental block/negativity toward the term? Count of Monte Cristo has been suggested a few times (in other places) so I guess it's worth the read - I'll mark it down (with The Good Earth.) Anything in particular by Stevenson that you can think of?

message 9: by Jesi (new)

Jesi (pwnedkitten) Elena wrote: "My favorite classic is The Woman in WhiteThe Woman in White (Penguin Classics) by Wilkie Collins by Wilkie Collins. It is a mystery book.
Another favorite is The Good Earth (House of Earth, #1) by Pearl S. Buck[..."

I liked the movie Gone with the Wind, so I suppose I really should read the book. **sheepish grin** I hadn't heard of The Woman in White - I'll mark that one down too!

message 10: by F1Wild (last edited Jul 11, 2010 06:40AM) (new)

F1Wild | 484 comments Jesi wrote: "Anything in particular by Stevenson that you can think of? "

I loved Treasure Island & Kidnapped the best, but The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: And Other Tales of Terror is pretty darn good as well.

I'm a huge Steinbeck & Pearl Buck fan so of course, anything by them that you haven't read would be recommended. I know you are requesting classics, but if you ever need an Asian recommendation just ask - love them!

Hey, did you ever read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry? Excellent!! Also, anything by Roald Dahl, but I'm not sure his would be included in classics.

message 11: by F1Wild (new)

F1Wild | 484 comments The good thing about books is that even if you can't stand one you can always put it down and move on to the next (although I would guess many of us just plod through hoping things get better)...books are easier to change than paint!!

message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Elizabeth I had to read The Chosen and The Killer Angels in high school one year, and they're more, let's say, modern classics. They were both really, really great, so definitely look them up if you can.

I'm also a big fan of Shakespeare, although many people aren't. If you have to read one comedy, my favorite is Much Ado About Nothing. And if you have to read one tragedy, either Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, for sure. My personal favorite is Romeo and Juliet, but Hamlet is more a standard. :) lol

Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and Alexandre Dumas are good for adventure. George Orwell is good for a short, but very impressive opinion classic. Mark Twain is generally thought of for younger audiences. Jane Austen is quaint, pleasant, humourous, and of course, romantic. Dickens is moving, but wordy. Some other classics to consider (although considerably longer, generally) are books by Tolstoy or other foreign authors. There are a lot of classics that weren't originally written in English. I really enjoyed Anna Karenina and I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov next in my TBR pile.

Sherlock Holmes books and anything by Wilkie Collins are good, old-fashioned mysteries that are still considered classics. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is really good, and many consider it a classic. Ann Radcliffe, the queen of gothic romance, is a classic to consider, too.

Finally, (I'm sorry I know this is crazy long) but some other books you might consider are: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Night by Elie Wiesel, A Ring of Endless Light by Madeliene L'Engle, and The Dead (the longest short story from the Dubliners) by James Joyce.
All are considered classics. I don't know if you would enjoy Wuthering Heights, but you might look it up anyway. It's one of my favorite books. Night and A Thousand Splendid Suns are absolutely amazing books. Both are heavy-handed and only slightly uplifting (A Thousand more uplifting), but definitely essential contemporary reading). The Dead is something worth reading. And A Ring of Endless Light is a contemporary YA classic, and one of my favorite books of all time.

I hope these suggestions help, and I'm sorry for the novel-lengthed response. I really am. :'(

message 13: by J. (last edited Jul 11, 2010 11:34AM) (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 94 comments I really would like to clear up that misconception that Mark Twain only wrote a couple of boys books. He's one of the most prolific writers of all time. Twain could take up the north wall of the Library of Congress. Such a shame that the centennial of his demise last April passed with barely a mention.
To beat the copyright laws in his day so that his heirs could still benefit from his legacy he cooked up a scheme to have a book of his published by his estate every 50 years, until 2400. As fate would have it, however, his last direct heir died in 1958.
Twain's 'Letters from Earth', (1962), is a riotous account of the Bible. Harp/Col recently released his 2010 novel of previously un-pubbed writing. Univ of Ca, (they hold the rights to his estate) has more of his unknown work due out in Nov.

His autobiography is one of the all time classics in that genre. His life was as fascinating as his novels.
Sorry, I'm a bit of a fanatic, bordering obsession, when it comes to Twain. I owe him a lot.

his personal fav, btw, is his novel 'Joan of Arch'

message 14: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Elizabeth I read Joan of Arch, I thought it was great!! And they recently published his autobiography for the centennial of his death a few weeks ago. I am sorry. I wrote so much before that I thought I shouldn't write any more to clarify and risk taking up space, but honestly J, I agree with you wholeheartedly. His best known works (arguably Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn) are generally read in younger lit classes. But he has written so many books that are and ought to be considered classics, it's almost astounding. Humourous and unapologetic, Twain established the basics of writing for many, many authors.

message 15: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 94 comments Hemingway stated that all American lit stems from Huck Finn. quite a compliment coming from him.

for those intested in the classics, have you checked out the Gutenberg Project. If it's public domain, they have it, free.

It's eBook, but sooner or later you'll get an eReader, anyway. At least now you'll know where to fill it.

message 16: by Meg (new)

Meg (MegWaiteClayton) | 14 comments Maybe To Kill a Mockingbired, which turns 50 today?

message 17: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (TNBBC) | 9596 comments Mod
I agree with alot of the titles that have been called out here, so let me add a few new ones to the pile.

Fahrenheit 451
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Mysterious Island
The Invention of Morel
The Catcher in the Rye

message 18: by Jesi (new)

Jesi (pwnedkitten) Joseph wrote: "Jesi, I know where you are coming from. I've always been such a voracious reader that I would be finished with a book by the time my class had gotten through the first couple of chapters. Then I'..."

Thanks Joseph! Knowing that I wasn't the only one with this issue in HS makes me feel better. :)

I'm actually planning on reading Animal Farm (against my bf's recommendation) sometime in the next few months (I have a list somewhere, but I'm too lazy to look up WHEN exactly.) He (my bf) said that if I *really* wanted to read "something like that" that I should read 1984, instead, as it's more relevant? Maybe I'll read both.

I didn't know that Treasure Island counted as a classic! Yay! I know that I'll enjoy this one. At least, I enjoy pirate books. Seeing as I adore/d The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I really should read Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, and The Invisible Man I think.

Strangely enough, while I enjoy movies based off The Jungle Books, I haven't read them. I guess this will be a great chance for me to do so. :)

I've heard of Black Boy, but only in passing. Based off your other suggestions, I'll check this one out too.

Unfortunately, Of Mice and Men is one of those "I'd rather boil my eyes in acid rather than read them again" books for me. **hangs head in shame**

While I haven't tried David Copperfield, I have tried Great Expectations, right after reading A Christmas Carol. It was that book that made me decide that Dickens was too depressing for me to read. :(

Everyone else who's commented - thank you for your recommendations! I appreciate it! Unfortunately, I have to do the four letter "w" word now, so I'll have to get back to you later. Just didn't want anyone to feel I was ignoring them. :)

message 19: by Liz (new)

Liz (busy91) I'm going to triple suggest To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. That has to be my favorite 'Classic' book of all time. It actually knocked The Good Earth out of the #1 spot. I strongly suggest you start there. My son read Animal Farm and rolls his eyes everytime I mention it.

And Personally, I enjoyed
Gone With the Wind
A Christmas Carol
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Silas Marner by George Eliot

message 20: by Meg (new)

Meg (MegWaiteClayton) | 14 comments A George Eliot fan, Liz? Do come sit by me.

message 21: by Natalie (last edited Jul 12, 2010 08:16PM) (new)

Natalie Baer | 182 comments I'm a Thomas Hardy fan those that concentrate on the mythical county of Wessex, England. I started with "Return of the Native in highschool, many years later, Mayor of Casterbridge and "Jude, the Obscure." Oddy enough, I'v never read his most popular "Tess of the Ubervilles."
Other classics for me are "Jane Eyre " by Emily Bronte and "Wuthering Heights" by her sister (I get them mixed up.
More current stuff is: Mahfous "Palace Walk" series - three books about Cairo during WWI, "Cakes and Ale" and "Moon and sixpence" by Somerset Maugham;
Don't miss "Tom Jones" by Henry Fielding; and the Russians: Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Brothers Karamazov. the Germans: Gunter Grass, Heinrich Boll.

message 22: by Jane (new)

Jane (RougeAllure) | 9 comments I'd recommend the following:

The Woman in White
Wuthering Heights
The Odyssey

And more recently, books which I think might become classics:

The Shadow of the Wind
The Lovely Bones
The Book Thief

message 23: by astrangerhere (new)

astrangerhere The Sound and the Fury
As I Lay Dying
The Touchstone
Fahrenheit 451
The Blithedale Romance
Anything by Virginia Woolf, particularly Mrs. Dalloway and A Room of One's Own
Breakfast at Tiffany's

Of course, the seminal book in my life was To Kill a Mockingbird, though i understand many people don't find it as moving today. I also understand it is being taught in high schools as more about gender empowerment than race, though that is a whole different kettle of fish to argue about.

That's just 2 of my inumerable cents.

message 24: by Kaion (new)

Kaion (kaionvin) How would TKAM be gender-empowering, I wonder? I guess you must mean the male gender.

message 25: by astrangerhere (new)

astrangerhere Kaion wrote: "How would TKAM be gender-empowering, I wonder? I guess you must mean the male gender."

Actually not. As I am given to understand, they are talking about Scout finding her voice as a woman in the South. Absolute drivel if you ask me. It is taking today's values and morays and trying to force them onto a book that is 50 years old.

message 26: by Kaion (new)

Kaion (kaionvin) Though feminism is certainly older than 50 years old, I didn't see it particularly central or even peripheral in TKaM. Granted, I haven't read the book with that in mind, so I'll reserve some judgment.

message 27: by El (new)

El Isn't the idea that the book is written from a girl's perspective? Scout's got spunk, climbs trees and gets into schoolyard brawls. She doesn't like to wear the dresses which are expected of a young girl her age and she absolutely believes that anything a boy can do, she can do better; her father encourages that belief - also uncommon at that time. I wouldn't say it's the most important aspect of the book, but I also wouldn't say there's no room for discussion about gender empowerment in the text.

message 28: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Baer | 182 comments Jesi wrote: "So, a bit of back story: I'm fairly intelligent and I've also always had a fairly good concept of books/reading/so on. In fact, my reading level was so much beyond my classmates in high school, tha..."
Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel; she gives summaries of classics that can help you.

message 29: by Kristopher (new)

Kristopher | 14 comments astrangerhere wrote: "As I Lay Dying
I actually just started reading "As I Lay Dying" over the weekend. BIG mistake. I got about 5 pages in and realized that there is no way I'll be able to pay enough attention to anything else I need to read until I've finished it. Teach me to read anything by Faulkner when I have a real life to


message 30: by astrangerhere (new)

astrangerhere Kristopher wrote: "astrangerhere wrote: "As I Lay Dying
" I actually just started reading "As I Lay Dying" over the weekend. BIG mistake. I got about 5 pages in and realized that there is no way I'll..."

I am biased. I wrote my thesis on Faulkner.

message 31: by Caity (new)

Caity (adivineeternity) Jesi, you might also want to look into Jules Verne if you haven't done so already. A lot of his books tended to delve into speculative fiction (aka fantasy) more than anything else and he is considered to be a forefather to the fantasy genre.

message 32: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (ReadingWhileFemale) | 142 comments I see that you like Bradbury. I absolutely love him. His short stories are some of my favorite things. Have you read The Illustrated Man or The Martian Chronicles? I love them with all of my heart. The day I get a copy of Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales will be the day I skip all of my classes and lock myself in my room.

I agree with Caity's Jules Verne recommendation. That's some very exciting stuff.

I am currently reading Jane Austen's Persuasion, and the style is incredibly readable. I an actually enjoying it more than Pride and Prejudice so far. So, if you like that kind of thing, I'd definitely recommend it.

I saw that someone recommended Much Ado about Nothing. I will second that, and add that the movie is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think everyone should absolutely watch it right away.

Also, 1984 is an absolute must.

And, last but not least, I have to recommend The Left Hand of Darkness, Snow Crash, and The Lathe of Heaven, all of which are classic Science Fiction, and some of my absolute favorite books of all time.

message 33: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I was quite a reading nerd in high school and actually used my elective credits to take... extra reading classes! Here are some books I recall fondly from high school. I'm going to steer clear from ones that make most people groan and go with some that I didn't see mentioned:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Light in August by William Faulkner

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The Plague by Albert Camus

Dracula by Brahm Stoker

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Glass Menagerie by Tennesee Williams (play)

and... my absolute favorite book of all time:

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

message 34: by Natalie (last edited Aug 24, 2010 06:36PM) (new)

Natalie Baer | 182 comments astrangerhere wrote: "Kristopher wrote: "astrangerhere wrote: "As I Lay Dying
" I actually just started reading "As I Lay Dying" over the weekend. BIG mistake. I got about 5 pages in and realized that t..."

I'd like to read your thesis, I love Faulkner

message 35: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Baer | 182 comments Amanda wrote: "I was quite a reading nerd in high school and actually used my elective credits to take... extra reading classes! Here are some books I recall fondly from high school. I'm going to steer clear from..."

I love The End of the Affair, don't know how many times I've read it.

message 36: by Steph (new)

Steph (somethingplace) | 79 comments My favorite classics that I've read recently were Wuthering Heights & Jane Eyre. I'd definitely recommend them.

message 37: by Marlene (new)

Marlene Slade (MarleneKSlade) | 22 comments Bram Stroker's Dracula
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
and everything by Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters.

message 38: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (Kalypso) | 102 comments I agree with everyone that said 'To Kill a Mockingbird', that's a good one. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors so I would recommend him as well. 'East of Eden' was my favorite of his. I also liked 'Travels with Charley.'

message 39: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (ReadingWhileFemale) | 142 comments Oh yeah, I also second the Frankenstein recommendation. It totally blew me away when I read it for the first time. It wasn't the kind of book I thought it would be, but it was way better than what I expected.

message 40: by Daniel (new)

Daniel | 4 comments Although Anna Karenina was written by a member of the Russian aristocracy more than a century-and-a-quarter ago, the novel's characters come to life and compel interest and empathy as much or more than any of those encountered in the best contemporary fiction. Did you like Franzen's "Freedom"? I thought it was a very entertaining portrait of our times by a talented writer, with two or three fairly well developed characters, but it is just not in the same league as Anna Karenina. If you decide to go for it, note that there are many translations in print with at least one dating back to the Victorian Era. This is not a short book so it's probably worth being selective. In my opinion the best English version out there is the one by Pevear and Volokhonsky, a husband and wife team who have also produced several other amazing translations from Russian to English (I really enjoyed The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky in particular).

message 41: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Nov 22, 2010 09:46AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 1736 comments Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. By Mark Twain. The fountainhead of American fiction.

Absalom, Absalom!, by William Faulkner. I found this one difficult but tremendously rewarding.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

Kim, by Rudyard Kipling.

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

Dombey and Son, by the dreaded Charles Dickens. I really don't think this one is depressing. (Hardy, now him I find depressing. Great writer; but depressing.)

And Shakespeare. I'm not sure to start with suggestions - perhaps Hamlet, Henry V, or As You Like It?

message 42: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (ReadingWhileFemale) | 142 comments I thought this would be the appropriate thread for this question. Has anyone read Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory? If you have, do what did you think of it, and do you have a recommendation of which editor to choose?

message 43: by Jane (new)

Jane | 221 comments Start with The Hobbitt and if you love it go on to the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein ---

message 44: by Alex (new)

Alex Emily, not that this is all that helpful, but I agonized over whether to read Morte d'Arthur and decided against it. Nearly everyone says it's...pretty boring. But still, it's a big hole in my classic education; I might get to it someday.

The Baines translation gets respect as a readable one, but not as a scholarly one; I think it might be abridged.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 1736 comments I read the Morte d'Arthur when I was a teenager, and remember enjoying it.

message 46: by M.G. (new)

M.G. Scarsbrook (mgscarsbrook) | 15 comments One of my favorite classics is The Woman in White -- a clever use of the epistolary form, very suspenseful and fun to read.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Foundation (other topics)
Peter Pan (other topics)
To Kill a Mockingbird (other topics)
Frankenstein (other topics)
The Great Gatsby (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Charles Dickens (other topics)
Lewis Carroll (other topics)
J.R.R. Tolkien (other topics)
Isaac Asimov (other topics)
John Steinbeck (other topics)