Tag Archives: literature

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?

List 6: Great book podcasts

When I’m not reading, I love listening to podcasts about books. They cause me problems because they discuss so many books that I end up wanting to read everything and there’s simply just not enough time in the world to read all the books I want! Nevertheless, they are a great source of book news and recommendations and a good way to find out about new authors or to hear from authors you love.

So I thought I’d share some of my favourite listens with you.

List Number Six: Nine great podcasts about books, reading and authors.

1. The Weekly Mayo

Weekly MayoSimon Mayo is a British radio presenter who hosts the daily drive time show on Radio 2, Britain’s most popular radio station. His show has a fortnightly book club which is usually featured on his weekly podcast from the BBC. They talk to the author and get reviews from people who work on the show and from listeners. The reads they recommend tend to be of a very high quality and this podcast helped me discover two of the best books I’ve read in the past couple of years: Wonder by R J Palacio and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

2. The Enthusiasticast

EnthusiasticastThis podcast features two Canadian blokes, Mark and Jon, taking it in turns to pick a book to be enthusiastic about and they often recommend other books during their discussions. They’ve been on hiatus for a while but they’ve got a big back catalogue of podcasts to listen to.

3. and 4. World Book Club and Book Club

world book club radio 4 book club

More podcasts from the BBC. The World Book Club is from the World Service and Book Club is from Radio 4. Each month they interview a best-selling author about one of their books and put questions to them from listeners from all over the world. They’re quite serious podcasts but they allow you to get a real insight into some great authors including Alice Walker, Donna Tartt, Malorie Blackman, Harlan Coben and Lionel Shriver.

5. and 6. The Guardian Books Podcast and The Guardian Children’s Books Podcast

guardian guardian kids

Two podcasts from British newspaper The Guardian. A really good source of literary news. Podcasts often have a theme such as specific genres, books from certain countries or winners of book prizes. The children’s book version often gets interviews with great YA and kids authors.

7. Popcorn Dialogues

Popcorn dialoguesNot strictly about books, this is a podcast where romance authors Jennifer Crusie and Lucy March watch and talk about films in order to pick up tips to improve their writing. Jenny Crusie is probably my favourite romance author and these podcasts are funny and interesting. Unfortunately they stopped podcasting in 2012 but there’s a back catalogue of about 80 podcasts to listen to on iTunes.

8. Authors on Tour – Live!

authors on tour

Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver
Tattered Cover Bookstore

A weekly podcast from The Tattered Cover Bookstore, an independent bookshop in Denver, Colorado. They get an amazing number of fascinating authors who come to do book events at the shop and podcast these events which usually include an author reading followed by audience questions. I loved this podcast so much that I forced my husband to go on holiday to Colorado in 2011 just so we could visit the bookstore!

9. Books and Authors

books and authors

A final entry for the wonderful BBC. This is a weekly podcast featuring clips from Radio 4 book programmes Open Book and A Good Read. They are quite literary and fairly similar to the Guardian books podcast, but they get good author interviews and can often be quite fascinating.

Do you listen to any book podcasts? I’d love to hear your recommendations for good ones which I’ve overlooked!