Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I want to read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is ‘top ten favourite classic books or top ten classics I want to read’. I’m not much of a classics reader, I’m pretty lazy and prefer to read contemporary books written in clearer language and with a modern take on gender politics, so I have picked ten classics I want to read, or really I should have read.

When I was a child I read a lots of classic children’s literature, I’m not sure when this love of classics began to die – but the last nail in the coffin was probably when I had to study early American literature for my degree and had to read Moby Dick. I read every word of that mammoth mind-numbing book but didn’t follow or care about what was happening at all and don’t even get me started on William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. American literature definitely made a vast improvement in the second half of the 20th century!

A couple of years ago I set out to read 1 classic book for every 5 contemporary books I read, it was an epic failure, I read 1 classic for 38 contemporary books. These were the other books on my list which I wanted to read but which never quite captured my attention.

North and South and Anna Karenina

1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. The TV series based on this book is possibly my favourite TV series ever, Richard Armitage is magical in it. I have been meaning to read the book since watching it but I have never quite got around to it.

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I really should read one of the great Russian classics, particularly one with my name in the title!

A Town Like Alice and A Tale of Two Cities

3. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. There aren’t many classics set in Australia, plus my dad lived in Malaysia for a while as a child, so this one really intrigues me.

4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I’ve never read any Dickens. When I was about 15 I tried to read Oliver Twist; I must have read the first two pages about 50 times before finally giving up. Everybody says that A Tale of Two Cities is his greatest work and I was very frustrated reading Cassandra Clare’s A Clockwork Princess that I didn’t understand the constant references to it.

Moonfleet and Catch 22

5. Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner. I heard this mentioned in passing on a podcast a few years back when Radio 4 asked authors to nominate their best ‘neglected classic’ and thought it sounded fantastic, just like a book I would have loved to read as a child. Plus, I love the Vintage cover, it’s beautiful.

6. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I’m amazed I didn’t have to read this piece of classic American literature for my degree (in American Studies). I have an inkling it’s probably fantastic and modern enough that I would be able to read it quite easily.

Middlemarch and Cold Comfort Farm

7. Middlemarch by George Eliot. I’ve heard this book referred to as ‘the greatest novel ever written’ so many times but I know nothing about it, which makes me very ignorant.

8. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I think I’d probably enjoy a book which parodies other classics and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Persuasion and 1984

9. Persuasion by Jane Austen. I’ve never read anything by Austen but I really feel like I should. I’ve picked Persuasion because it’s the only one of her books which I haven’t seen adapted for film or TV, so I am not familiar with the storyline.

10. 1984 by George Orwell. I think there are probably so many references from 1984 used in modern life, things like ‘Big Brother’, that I should probably have read this in order to have a fuller understanding of modern society.

So, if I only read one book from this list this year, which should it be?

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19 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I want to read”

  1. Great list! If you only read one book from the list I would personally go for Persuasion (or 1984! Oh, this is too hard!!) I adore Austen’s subtle and nuanced take on society and find her to be very funny too.

  2. I’ve read a few of these! A Town Like Alice is an amazing book, it nearly made it to my classics list but lost out to Picnic at Hanging Rock. ATLA is so romantic yet so hard hitting, it’s wonderful!

  3. Great list. I haven’t read Clockwork Princess yet, so I’ll have to make sure I read A Tale of Two Cities beforehand. And I just read 1984 last summer for the first time and I totally understood more modern references like you said. It’s also such and amazing book. One of my favorite classics! I’d definitely recommend it! 🙂

  4. If I were to pick one of this list, I’d go with 1984. Haven’t read it (yet), but I’ve heard plenty of good things about it 🙂

  5. Oh wow!! I’ve only read the last 2 on your list… Yeesh!! This weeks topic is making me feel a little guilty! Anna Karenina has been on my classics TBR for a long, long time. I should definitely get to that one soon!

  6. Hello! You have such a great list here! Picking just one is quite a challenge; I loved, loved, loved A Tale of Two Cities, but that may have been because I had such a fantastic teacher help me through the historical context. If you don’t know much about the French Revolution, it may be hard to follow at times. It’s hard to go wrong with 1984, since it’s essentially the father modern dystopian lit. If you like dystopias, the grandfather would be “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which I haven’t read yet but have heard great things about. (p.s. thanks for the like on my top ten post yesterday!)

  7. I hear ya with the inability (well…maybe not inability, just lack of attention span for) to pick up and stick with classics. It’s funny how I’d probably gravitate towards modern spins on them instead though (i.e. instead of Sherlock, I’m probably guaranteed to pick up Jackaby…)

    I think if you’re one for anything remotely dystopian in setting, then 1984 is the easy choice–which I’d assume is the shorter reads among the choices listed…maybe.

    Cheers,
    joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

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