Classic books; from Tolstoy to Fitzgerald, Bronte to Lee we’ve all at some point come into contact with a classic from the cannon of books that are recognised as the cream of the crop. I have avoided them as like the plague for the majority of my book blogging life as it were. I refused to read classic books at school with Enduring Love being a particular sticking point. Why? They just weren’t really me, and pulling apart the commas, certain word use and the like, as well as being asked to read the book a number of times, by the end of the semester the book was ruined.
However, when I started writing my 101 things in 1001 day list I decided it was time to start reading the classics again and give the cannon another chance. I picked books that interested me; historical fiction based and picked authors that I had already read books from such as Orwell, Fitzgerald (although that didn’t work so well) and also books at school that I hadn’t got the chance to read. I asked friends and family what they would suggest and I created a list of sorts, with extras being added along the way.
My final list included
1) Down and Out in Paris and in London by George Orwell
2) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
3) Girl 20 by Kingsley Amis
4) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
5) Factotum by Charles Bukowski
6) Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
7) Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
8) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
9) Animal Farm by George Orwell
10) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
And, because I’m a little bit dopy
11) Gerald’s Party by Robert Coover
On this list there are some utter stunning books, that I have had the pleasure of reading over the past few months and each has taught or shown me something about reading. Coover, Amis, and Plath all showed me how the writing of classic books can differ so greatly and yet still be incredible reads. Orwell showed me that all of his books are so different in content and yet they can be linked so quickly through the sheer in-depth nature of the meaning interwoven into every single word. Capote gave me one of my favourite books and brought Holly Golightly to life in a way I didn’t expect possible.
Harper Lee and John Steinbeck showed me that not all books taught in education are painful and that I need to go back and look at the books I so quickly dismissed. Reading Alcott finally allowed to me get through a childhood reading block and James Baldwin’s book almost reduced me to tears. Finally Bukowski and Coover showed me that even classics can be incredibly exciting in terms of the style and that I have read nothing like them in any of the contemporary novels I’ve come across so far.
I guess you could say in the last few months I’ve taken my hat and eaten it. I had it all wrong about the classics, but then, when you’re forced to read books it’s unlikely to make it more enjoyable. Being able to choose my own books; Wuthering Heights, (which I have read) and Dickens are unlikely to bring rave reviews but give me grit from Orwell and Bukowski and I’m a happy bunny.
One way to really show my new found love of classic fiction is recently for a Top Ten Tuesday post I was allowed to pick my own topic and, you guessed it, I decided to pick my next ten classics. I have learnt so much through this 101 thing to do and I have created a love of classic fiction which you will definitely be seeing more of as MLBB continues. *eeee*