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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?