And the genre modern classic makes things even more complicated. I excluded from my list books I considered modern classics, although I suppose they are classics I want to read. I consider Holes by Louis Sachar a modern classic. But it kind of looks funny with all the other books on the list because it is so relatively recent a publication.
I wrote my list of classics I want to read before I wrote the list of classics I have read, but I'll start with the shorter list of classics I've read:
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
These are in no order. I loved all of them except The Scarlet Letter. I'm willing to give it a re-read and I have no shame in using SparkNotes. Also my copy is kind of pretty and I wish I could like the content as much as I do the cover.
Now the classics I have yet to read and would like to:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- Emma by Jane Austen
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Again, no order. There are a few, I admit, that I want to read because every other high school student in the world had to read it but I didn't, The Great Gatsby being the best example. Doing that might lead to disappointment, though, because I read The Scarlet Letter for that reason. I might have appreciated more if I had read it and discussed it with a class, maybe.
In English class we did look at Frankenstein and Oliver Twist, but we never went beyond reading excerpts and watching clips. We read a lot of Macbeth, but I am not putting it in the classics I've read because we skipped over a whole lot of reading and instead acted the parts out. I'm also not putting it in the classics I want to read because we studied Macbeth for probably three entire months of the school year and I am still burned out. That goes for Julius Caesar, aswell. I'm just not into Willy Wiggledagger (William Shakespeare, get it?) like I should be.
One of my challenges this year is to read a classic a month, and that list is definitely over twelve items long. It's hard to say which ones I want to read this year. Well, I want to read all of them as soon as I can, but I read too slowly and usually one book at a time, so a year isn't a long enough time to do that.
Some classics and classic authors I am very aware of but am in no hurry to read are:
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- any other Dickens besides Oliver Twist
- Victor Hugo
- John Steinbeck
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- Ernest Hemingway
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Oscar Wilde
- Kurt Vonnegut
Like I said though, the ultimate goal is to be lying in my death bed, smiling and glad I read as many classics as I could. The classics I'm in no hurry to read are not books I don't want to read ever, they're just not ones I want to get to so quickly as the others.
If this post weren't so long already, I'd go into modern classics I've read and want to read, but I guess that will be another post for another time.
What are your experiences with classic literature? What classics did you love? Hate? Do you have any recommendations?