This week’s topic asks for our ten favorite “classics,” which obviously can be defined a number of different ways. When I think of a classic, what comes to my mind are: (1) books you’d be assigned to read in school, (2) books that have won awards and/or acclaim, and (3) books that have become an integral part of the culture. Of course, that’s not a comprehensive definition — heck, it’s not even MY comprehensive definition — but it’s a start! So here, in no particular order, are ten of my all-time favorite classics:
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — Honestly, I’m tempted to fill slots 1-6 with Austen novels, but instead I’ll just mention this one, my absolute favorite book of all time!
2. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster — This is another of my very favorite books. I love Forster’s writing style, and it’s really interesting to see how Lucy grows throughout the course of the novel.
3. Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare — Beatrice and Benedick! Oh my heart.
4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — This is undoubtedly one of the most influential fantasy novels of all time, and it creates such a vivid picture of another world. There’s a tiny part of me that believes this book is true.
5. The Princess Bride by William Goldman — The movie is, of course, amazing, but I think the book doesn’t get enough love! It gives so much more information about Inigo’s and Fezzick’s backgrounds, and it’s much more satirical than the movie. Also: Zoo of Death!
6. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell — I sort of feel like I’m cheating, since this is basically another variation on P&P, but with more labor strikes. I love how both Margaret and John are so stubborn in holding onto their beliefs, yet they are ultimately able to see each other’s points of view.
7. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy — I don’t know if this really deserves to be called a classic, since the writing style is (in my opinion) clearly inferior to most of the other books on this list. But it’s still one of my favorite books, and the plot has definitely made its mark on popular culture. If it can be spoofed by Looney Tunes, it’s a classic, dammit!
8. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare — This won the Newbery in 1959, so I think it can legitimately be called a children’s classic. It was also my very favorite book before I discovered P&P, and it still holds a special place in my heart.
9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley — The ending gives me chills.
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky — I actually found this enormous Russian novel to be a real page-turner! There’s so much about philosophy and religion and the meaning of life packed in here; I think it’s a book that everyone should read once in his/her lifetime.