Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Books

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, I am going to offer up five answers to the following questions: What classic books do I most want to read? and What books do I hope become classics in the future? So without further ado:

Five Classic Books I Want to Read

Catch22.jpgCatch-22, by Joseph Heller. I’ve read so many modern American classics, and somehow this one always slips by me. I’m sort of surprised that it wasn’t required reading for any of the many English classes I took through undergraduate and graduate school. I imagine that this would have been a better option than some of the books I was required to read (I am looking at you, A Confederacy of Dunces).
Middlemarch, by George Eliot. I’ve gotten about a third of the way through this one on two different occasions. I failed at both attempts because I was tempted by another book (probably for the blog), I am sure of it. I am not one of those people who can read more than one book at a time. If I were, I would have finished many a chunkster by now.
My AntoniaMy Ántonia, by Willa Cather. I am surprised I didn’t read this book when I was a young teen, because this would have been right up my alley given my love for books about the American West. I won a copy of it several years ago, and it’s been gathering dust on my shelf. I have no excuse.
A Dance to the Music of Time, by Anthony Powell. This is another one I’ve started a few times (well, the first volume, anyway). I know I am going to love it but I just cannot commit the time. I think we are all seeing a pattern here. I am going to have to learn to read more than one book at a time, aren’t I?
The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. A few years ago it seemed that one could easily lose one’s blogging credentials for not having read any Wilkie Collins. Besides that, pretty much every mystery writer I admire lists The Woman in White (or The Moonstone) as a must read. So, there you have it: I must read it.

Five Books I Hope Become Classics

Plainsong, by Kent Haruf. This tale of friends and family in a small Colorado town has always seemed timeless to me in that way of great classic literature. Haruf also has a clear, simple writing style that never gets in the way of the story but illuminates the smallest detail.
Never Let Me Go: A Novel CoverNever Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. I thought this book was very good when I first read it, but it has continued to haunt me in many ways that make me realize its power as a story. I think about it more often than I ever would have imagined.
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, by Alice Munro. Okay, Munro is my favorite writer of all time. You knew I’d have to include one of her collections. This one is my favorite, but Runaway or Too Much Happiness could also make the cut.
Just Kids CoverJust Kids, by Patti Smith. As memoirs go, Smith captures so much more than her own story. She offers up an important time in American art and music through a personal lens, and in flowing, poetic prose she tells what is really the timeless story of being young and in love with art, music, other people, and with a magical place.
A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry. This sad and lovely book follows the lives of four characters: Dina Dalal, Ishvar Darji, Omprakash (Om) Darji, and Maneck Kohlah. The main part of the story takes place in Mumbai, India during The Emergency, a period from June 1975 to March 1977 when Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi suspended civil liberties and elections and established rule by decree. As difficult to read at times as it is to put down.

And just for the hell of it, here are five of my favorite classics:
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Rabbit, Run, John Updike
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Lawrence Sterne*
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

*Actually planned to write my dissertation on that one. A narrow escape for academia and British Lit scholarship in general.

14 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Classic Books

  1. Never Let Me Go has been on my TBR list for quite a while and I feel like I need to be prepared emotionally before delving in but I’ve heard such great things. Great list this week.
    My TTT

  2. I somehow missed Catch-22 in school. i have tried to read it a couple times, but always get distracted. I should really try it again.

  3. I liked how you broke down your list into subcategories. Let’s see–I often name Middlemarch as my favorite novel and I’m so excited to reread it later this year–amazingly good book. Woman in White is one of my favorite Victorian novels–I read it a couple of years ago when it reached its 150 anniversary of publication.

    Never Let Me Go is on my TBR Pile CHallenge for 2014 and I hope to get to it still this summer.

    I’m currently listening to House of Mirth–poor Lily.

  4. Oh you should for sure read Wilkie Collins. He’s the best. As for Catch-22 — I read it in high school and LOVED it, and when I reread it last year I couldn’t figure out what I had ever seen in it. It might be one of those books you can only read if you’re a certain age, and if you don’t read it then, you’ll never be able to love it. (Like Catcher in the Rye or the Chronicles of Narnia.)

  5. moonglint, it’s melancholy but not entirely dark. Definitely a book that makes you think, though. I hope you enjoy it when you do read it.

  6. Jane, poor Lily indeed! I hope you get to read Never Let Me Go soon. It’s so very good. And who knows, maybe I’ll get to Eliot or Collins before 2015, too!

  7. Jenny, I think I’m just going to hand my TBR over to you and let you arrange everything for me and tell me what to read. It’s so much easier than making decisions for myself and you haven’t steered me wrong yet! I am still curious about Catch-22 but I know what you mean about going back to books and losing the magic. That did happen to me with Catcher in the Rye. It’s no less meaningful but still not the same.

  8. Ohhh, I was considering putting Never Let Me Go in my list for potential future classics as well. I’ve only heard great things about it but haven’t read it (though, I did try to watch it one super late evening and basically collapsed in bed after it started). But definitely glad to hear that you’d think it could be a prospective classic!

    joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

  9. Joey, thanks for visiting! It is such a good book, and I think they did a pretty good job with the movie…but the book is still better. I think it was difficult to translate the melancholy of the book to the screen.

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