Top Ten Tuesday – Books To Give Away

It’s that day again!

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten list by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish is a topic that took me some time to think about. It was Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read X. Over at their blog, they picked historical fiction. In a similar fashion, I’m going to pick the Classics. Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read the Classics.

1. Shakespeare. Shakespeare, Shakespeare, ANYTHING Shakespeare! I know this isn’t a book per se, but he is my top pick for anything classical. I especially love his sonnets, but I know poetry isn’t for everyone. My favorite play is Macbeth, which is much darker and brooding than my normal taste allows for. I’ve never read anything by Shakespeare I didn’t like. I understand the classics aren’t for everyone, but I think we all enjoy a good spooky story. Macbeth is a great place to start.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Many modern authors have criticizes Jane’s writing, but she was a female author in the early 1800s… of course she’d write about love and gossip and scandal and family. Although Pride and Prejudice isn’t my favorite Austen book, it is the favorite of the general population. What I think appeals more to people who may not like the classics is the stupidity of the Bennet women and their antics. I’m excluding Jane and Lizzie, of course. It’s hilarious to watch these women make fools of themselves. The humor in that book, alone, makes it worth the read. 

3. The Divine Comedy/Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Instead of reading the actual work, which is quite difficult, I’d go ahead and pick up a modernized version of it so that it makes sense. When I first read it, I had to write down everything that didn’t make sense to me and look it up. Let’s just say it was a long read. But if you get, say, this version, it’ll be easier to read. Many current literary experts agree that the two most prominent writers of classical literature are Dante and Shakespeare. Dante’s work is dark and imaginative, and I always learn some tidbit about creativity and writing from it. 

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I’m not really sure if he’s considered a classical author, but I consider him to be one. These books/stories are a lot easier for people who don’t like classical literature to swallow. They’re generally pretty short, and have a certain storytelling rhythm that’s repeated in each tale (the adventure/mystery happens, then the backstory is explained for the reason behind it). It’s fairly straightforward stuff, but fun to read and extraordinary in detail. If you know anything about Sherlock, it’s how smart he is and how much he notices every little detail. That comes through in the books in a subtle way, and it’s brilliant.

5. 1984 by George Orwell. I read this book in high school and was completely weirded out by it. I’m even more so now because of how much written in that book is now coming to fruition. Big Brother, indeed. He was spot on. It’s not a difficult read, nor is it overly long. One of my faves, for sure.

6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This was my favorite book in high school. I couldn’t even pinpoint why. It was depressing most of the time, but such an easy and interesting read. It was originally a short story, but then later turned into a novel. For those who haven’t heard of it, the story centers around Algernon, a laboratory mouse who has experimental surgery to make him more intelligent. His changes are recorded and observed by Charlie Gordon, who is mentally disabled, and the first human subject in the experiment. What happens to Algernon eventually happens to Charlie, and it’s a testimony to the human condition and the morality/ethics of human and animal experimentation. I consider it a bit satiric, which I like in the classics.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is a must read for everyone, whether they like the classics or not. Atticus Finch imparts some crazy good philosophy and is a moral hero for many people. It’s a quote-worthy book unlike many others.

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. For those of you who’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that he is one of my favorite authors and has influenced my writing the most (along with L.M. Montgomery). I wouldn’t recommend LOTR to people who haven’t read the classics because it’s much meatier and harder to get into. But The Hobbit is a fast read full of adventure, and it opens up the world of Middle Earth and all the wonder of Tolkien’s genius. 

9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. She, along with Tolkien, are the writers I admire the most. However, the story of a young orphan girl who has a tendency to rant on and on in long soliloquies is not for the faint of heart. It’s set in Canada in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and follows the hilarious antics of an orphan who gets herself into a lot of trouble because she’s so curious and full of life. She’s my favorite literary heroine, and always will be.

10. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Another gritty, morally enlightening book that puts things into perspective on how we treat people who are different than us. It’s set in Puritanical Massachusetts in the mid 1600s, so you can imagine how people acted and how they talked. But it’s not a long book, and there are a lot of good lessons to be learned. 

 

Wow. That was hard. There are so many other classic books I would love to recommend: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Secret Garden, Moby Dick, The Phantom of the Opera, Little Women, The Count of Monte Cristo… the list could go on for pages.

What do you think of my choices? Do you like the classics or would you ever consider reading them? Why or why not? I used to hate them, myself, but now I can’t get enough of them!

Happy writing!

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12 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday – Books To Give Away

  1. Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird is something everyone on earth should read at least once. I cannot get enough of that book!

    Shakespeare is a lot of fun too (did I seriously just say that?).

    I don’t know how you feel about taking book recommendations from people in the comments, but If you liked 1984, you’ll probably also like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. That’s another dystopian novel that portrays modern society scarily well.

  2. This post made me realize how many classics I missed reading….but I did read “to Kill a Mockingbird,” and it’s one book I fondly remember reading.

  3. I guess I need to reread Flowers for Algernon. I read it in 7th or 8th grade and hated it, but I’ve had so many people tell me lately what a great book it is!

    Out of curiosity, how do you feel about Dickens?

    • I highly suggest a re-read of Flowers for Algernon. I hope you’ll find a different opinion on it if you do.

      As for Dickens… I have a love/hate relationship with him. He writes amazing stories, but when he became more popular, his books were so politically saturated they were almost eye-rollingly satirical. I do like him as a writer of classical literature, but he’s not one I would recommend to someone who hasn’t read the classics. His books are rife with subplots that can be confusing and misleading. So although I do like Dickens, he’s not my favorite classical author.

      What are your thoughts?

      • I just put Flowers for Algernon on hold at the library. Time to give it a second chance.

        I love Dickens, but I usually get a “you’re crazy” glance when I admit that. It’s true that his subplots make things a little crazy, and I agree that he’s probably not the best classical author to introduce someone to classic literature. But I enjoy his humor, and his wordy and meandering style appeals to the rambler in me, which is funny, since I can’t stand to read most epic fantasies because they’re too wordy. Of course, I can usually only stand to read one Dickens book a year (not counting A Christmas Carol), so there is a limit to how much of his meandering I can take. 🙂

      • I do love A Christmas Carol. I’m also a fan of Our Mutual Friend. And Bleak House, The Cricket on the Hearth, Little Dorrit. I haven’t read The Pickwick Papers, but I want to. Have you?
        Yes, his humor is awesome, even caustic at times. Definitely the highlights of some of his works.

      • The Pickwick Papers is actually next on my Dickens list. Every time I read Little Women, it renews my desire to read it, and somehow I still haven’t gotten around to it! 🙂 My favorite Dickens so far (next to A Christmas Carol, of course) is Nicholas Nickleby.

  4. Michelle Mueller says:

    That’s a pretty good list! I just reread Pride & Prejudice actually to review Austen’s use of free indirect discourse. I also recently read Jane Eyre for the first time (I don’t know how it took me so long to read it!) and enjoyed it. But I see The Count of Monte Cristo as an honorable mention, and I must admit that it is one of my favorites of the classics.

    • Yes, I love the Count of Monte Cristo. I didn’t include it on the list because I wasn’t sure if it was the best book for people just beginning to read the classics. But it is amazing! It was so hard to narrow down the classics I love. I decided to pick those that people who haven’t read the classics should read, but also those (apart from the Divine Comedy) that would be more accessible to people who may be turned off by the language of the classics. I’d do another list of my favorites and it’d be a bit different.

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