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
Catch-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 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, 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, 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.