Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Classic Books

I never read classic novels for fun. They were always assignments in school and I treated them as much. The time I spent on them was not particularly enthralling, however after some time I've come to be fond of the few classics I've read. So much so that I wish I was more well-read. Now that I've graduated from high school I actually want to do the reading. Especially as a writer--reading a classic novel as a writer is like working on a long lost excavation as a history major. Priceless. 

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley This book was written in the 19th century, inspired after three authors sat around a campfire and told scary stories. But that's not the most interesting part about the origins of this novel--Mary Shelley was nineteen when she wrote it. Nineteen. That's one year older than me. Frankenstein is the foundation for modern science fiction and raises many challenging moral debates, like are souls real? And what really makes a monster? It's nothing like that black and white movie you watched when you were younger.
Read if you like: Science Fiction, pretty language, the grotesque, Thrillers, plot twists

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë This is the most recent classic I've read. I also just marathoned the YouTube adaptation. So it's pretty safe to say this is the most prominent classic influence on my life right now. Jane Eyre is a hopeful girl with a sad life, throughout which she faces many obstacles, such as: My Cousins Suck, Oh No--My Best Friend is Dead, I've Got the Hots for My Boss, and What IS That Laughing Sound???? It's a brilliant, heartbreaking, stereotype busting, inspiring read that I think everyone should give a chance. 
Read if you like: Romance, Mystery, Coming of Age stories, girl power, plot twists

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë I've read this book twice now, which is more than I've read any other classic novel. It's my go to book when someone asks me about my favorite classic. I've never read another book where I hated the characters so much and yet still wanted them to end up with a happy ending. Really, they're just unfortunate people who make a lot of mistakes. Anyway, each time I read this I'm struck by how agonizingly good the character development (or should I say detriment) is. And it actually does sort of end with a somewhat happy ending, so there's that. 
Read if you like: Forbidden Romance, Mystery, Antiheroes, pretty language

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Oh man, this book. This was the best unexpected enjoyment of required summer reading that I've ever had. First of all, it's short and fast paced--only about 150 pages or so. The narrator is dry and witty and incredibly socially awkward, so I relate to him on a spiritual level. The characters are realistic and inspiring in a really good but bad (if that makes any sense) kind of way. I don't want to say too much else or I'll spoil it--so go read it. Now. It won't even take you a day. 
Read if you like: Forbidden Romance, The '20's, Mystery

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle Now, I'll admit that I don't remember this one very well. My mom bought it for me when I was a lot younger because it was one of her favorite books as a kid, and I really really enjoyed it. It's a book of magic that borderlines science, amazingly unique and quirky characters, and the power of love. I've put it in my TBR pile so I can read it again at some point--and I suggest you do the same.
Read if you like: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Adventure

 6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare First of all, you have to be a fan of Shakespeare. I love reading the plays because, despite the dated language (which I find beautiful) there are so many hidden gems in the messages. Finding the true meaning of some of the phrases is like a mini-game. Hamlet is not a comedy (which if you like those, you should definitely read Twelfth Night) but, as the title says, a tragedy. Which means everyone dies. But before that happens, you get it all: tragic love, fight scenes, murder, a deteriorating antihero. There's even a ghost
Read if you like: Tragedies, Action, the supernatural, Romance, Insanity

7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis This series is my childhood and the foundation for what inspired me to begin writing. It's the classic of classics. And C.S. Lewis is my ultimate writing crush. I freaking love that man and his wit.

Need I say more?

Read if you like: Harry Potter, Fantasy, Adventure, War stories

8. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway This was another surprising read for me. I warily picked it up for a book report (I only had a few books to choose from, and if I did this one I got 20 extra points) and told myself to just do it and get it over with. But then I found that I actually liked the characters, all the way from the sturdy, kind-hearted Pilar to her cowardly, deceitful husband, Pablo. I actually cared about Robert Jordan's goals, and the people who he was placed with in order to achieve them. The writing style is a bit lengthy at times, but this book taught me so much about feelings and war, and how the two only work to worsen the effects of each other.
Read if you like: Romance, War stories, Action

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee This is the kind of book that stays with you for years after you read it, and I have the not-so-unfounded feeling that there's so many depths that my young mind didn't peruse the first time she read this book. It's an extremely adult situation told through the point of view of a child, and it teaches that all one needs to make a change in this world is a little shift of perspective.
Read if you like: Southern novels, Mystery, child's point of view

10. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky Not as boring as it sounds, I swear. When I first heard I had to read something like this, I assumed it had something to do with courtrooms and trials and other law stuff. It doesn't, not really. This is the story of a man who decides he wants to kill somebody, anybody, for the power he feels it will give him over mankind. He fantasizes daily about who it'll be and how he will do it, until finally, one day, the lunatic actually does it. He kills, not one, but two people. But he quickly realizes that he's not the perfect psychopath he thought he was, and now he has to deal with the sickening guilt of his crime. Crime and Punishment is the most psychologically disturbing novel I've ever read, and it's helped me improve my writing by learning how to look through the eyes of my seriously screwed up antagonists. Because in this story, the antagonist is our protagonist. Have I caught your attention yet?
Read if you like: Psychology, Thrillers, pronouncing fun Russian names

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