Hey there bookworms!
Hope you’re having a wonderful Tuesday. I’m still muddling through The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, so no review yet. I’m expecting to finish sometime soon, but for now y’all will have to wait.
I do have a list for you: Top 10 favorite classics! This was so hard to make, since I love classics (they’re in order too!) Here we go, my top ten:
#10: Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I first read Great Gatsby in high school. I don’t really like school reading on principle, but this book was such a wonderful read. Fitzgerald is a master at using setting and imagery to nuance the plot of the novel i.e. the Green Light, the eyes of doctor T.J. Eckleberg, and the hottest day of the summer scene. If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend this short and captivating novel.
Book blurb: “Here is a novel, glamorous, ironical, compassionate – a marvelous fusion into unity of the curious incongruities of the life of the period – which reveals a hero like no other – one who could live at no other time and in no other place. But he will live as a character, we surmise, as long as the memory of any reader lasts.It is the story of this Jay Gatsby who came so mysteriously to West Egg, of his sumptuous entertainments, and of his love for Daisy Buchanan – a story that ranges from pure lyrical beauty to sheer brutal realism, and is infused with a sense of the strangeness of human circumstance in a heedless universe.It is a magical, living book, blended of irony, romance, and mysticism.
#9: Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
This is one of the more recent additions to my favorite classics list. I read Merchant of Venice for a GenEd class in college, and when it was assigned I didn’t read it. I actually read this book after the class ended during summer break and I DEVOURED it. Centuries before his time, In Merchant of Venice Shakespeare specifically addresses anti-semitism, racism, and class-based issues, all of which pertain to today’s current political climate. As per usual, Shakespeare’s characters are nuanced and incredibly human despite the stilted language; Portia is easily my favorite. I’m also a fan of the casket riddles, as I love mystery.
Blurb: The Merchant of Venice is an intriguing drama of love, greed, and revenge. At its heart, the play contrasts the characters of the maddened and vengeful Shylock, a Venetian moneylender, with the gracious, level-headed Portia, a wealthy young woman besieged by suitors. At the play’s climax, Shylock insists on the enforcement of a binding contract that will cost the life of the merchant
Antonio — inciting Portia to mount a memorable defense.In this richly plotted drama, Shylock, whom Shakespeare endowed with all of the depth and vitality of his greatest characters, is not alone in his villainy. In scene after scene, a large cast of ambitious and scheming characters demonstrates that honesty is a quality often strained where matters of love and money are concerned.The gravity and suspense of the play’s central plot, together with its romance, have made The Merchant of Venice a favorite of audiences, and one of the most studied and performed of Shakespeare’s plays. It is reprinted here from an authoritative text, complete with explanatory footnotes.
#8: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
So I LOVE Pride and Prejudice, honestly. I spent most of my high school years trying to become Elizabeth Bennet, and I think we all wish either Darcy or Bingley were more than just book boyfriends. All in all, a great feel good read with some WONDERFUL humor. If you’re a fan of romance in any way, shape or form, read this quintessential novel!
I won’t do a book blurb for this one, since most bookworms I know have at least a basic understanding of the plot!
#7: Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky
Crime and Punishment was the book that first introduced me to Russian Lit, which I am now OBSESSED with. Though the book is often described as long-winded and full of tangents (I don’t deny it) it features some WONDERFUL political and cultural theory from 19th Century Russia. If you’re looking for a challenge that contains a TON of character development, Raskolnikov is your dude. Go read this book. Also, C&P is about a murder at its core: so of course, I’m sold, since I’m a glutton for murder/crime novels.
Blurb: Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.
#6: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
This is my most recent addition to the list! Honestly, I read this book only so I could see the movie and then fell in love with Christie and pretty much all of her novels. Murder on the Orient Express also introduced me to Mystery as a genre: what a better way than to read a book by the Queen of Mystery herself? If you like fast-paced mysteries with twist endings, Christie is definitely a must-read.
Blurb: Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.
#5: 1984 by George Orwell
How could I not include 1984? Like Fitzgerald, Orwell does a fantastic job using setting and objects to nuance the plot. In our current political climate, 1984 is a relevant read about totalitarian regimes and their effect on humanity. I re-read this novel recently and the concept of Big Brother really resonated with me.
Blurb: Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .
#4: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
For the LONGEST time Anna Karenina was my favorite book. Tolstoy writes such wonderful prose, and Vronsky is such a dream. Like Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina addresses Russian society and culture in the 19 Century using a variety of characters- I would argue that there’s less exposition and theory in this work though. ALSO this book is more marriage, love, and relationship oriented. Anna’s journey as a women in high society who falls from grace is both captivating and saddening to read; though it’s long, I’d 310% recommend this book.
#3: Hamlet by William Shakespeare
YES Hamlet is on this list, and I know it’s extremely hyped, but it’s honestly (in my opinion) Shakespeare’s best work. A fallen prince on a murderous rampage, ghosts that haunt castle grounds, and who could forget Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? If you haven’t read this play (or seen the version by Kenneth Branaugh) then what are you doing. Do that now. Seriously.
(Again, no blurb for this classic Hamlet play!)
#2: Emma by Jane Austen
Emma is my favorite Austen novel, admittedly. Emma Woodhouse is SUCH a witty and hysterical character, and I personally identify with her antics (which may not be a good thing!) And of course, we all not Clueless- may or may not have been the reason I read this novel….
#1: Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Mother Night is my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK by my favorite author.
With a storied past and unclear future in the post WWII era, protagonist Howard J. Campbell is manages to be both funny and incredibly depressing. I’m not saying anything more, since it’s SO much better to go in without knowing anything about the plot. Just go read it. Really. Vonnegut is the BEST. Other Vonnegut suggestions pictured here!
So that’s all of them! Let me know: was one of your favorite classics not on here? Have you read any of these, or what order would you have given?