I’m trying out a link up today from The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is Top Ten Classics. So, without further ado, and based solely on my own arbitrary opinions, my top ten classic novels:
(oh, and I’m counting backwards, because anticipation is fun!)
10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickins: I read this one my freshman year of high school, and it has stuck with me ever since. My English teacher at the time managed to make this sweeping tale of love, heroism, and political treachery hundreds of years in the past feel current and easy to connect with.
9. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Again, I read this in high school (12th grade Brit Lit this time) and a wonderful teacher made the difficult text come alive. This one is not for the faint of heart, because translating it can be laborious, but those who attempt it will be rewarded with detailed and crazy characters. And lots of dirty jokes.
8. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: I know, I know, another text you need to translate?! But who doesn’t love a good love story mixed with sword fights and poison?! (wait, it sounds like I’m talking about The Princess Bride…hmm…)
7. Lord of the Flies by William Golding: The language in this novel is beautiful, and it’s absolutely wasted on my 10th grade students. I’ve read this one many times, and it made my list because I discover something new in each reading; a new metaphor, a deeper connection to the callous nature of modern society.
6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: I didn’t read this one until I had to teach it two years ago, and I quickly fell in love. Sylvia Plath’s life story is heartbreaking, and The Bell Jar isn’t much more uplifting; however, every teenage girl should be required to read this so they can understand the roots of the feminist awakening in the 1960’s and realize how hard women had to work to make it a reality.
5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: okay, okay, this one is a “modern” classic (remember, my own arbitrary criteria here), and one that you need to read a few times, if you can stomach it, in order to really appreciate the full beauty in the setting and the subtly connected plot.
4. Romantic (capital “R”) poetry: I hated poetry my whole life, as an avid reader, and as English major, even as an English teacher, until I taught the Romantics this past school year. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman write about everyday topics that can easily be connected to modern day, and they require little translation on first read. However, if you take the time to reread slowly, there are so many subtleties and briefs turns of phrase that might make you laugh out loud, or contemplate you place in the universe (I’m thinking of “I heard a fly buzz” and “Leaves of Grass,” respectively).
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gatsby is trendy right now–the high school I teach at just had a Gatsby-themed prom–but, the novel itself stands the test of time. Again, beautiful language.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: a well-written soap opera, what’s not to like? But seriously, I read this one over and over and over as a teenager, and I wished Lizzie Bennett could be my best friend.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: another novel wasted on my 10th graders. So much has been said and written about TKAM, so I’ll just leave it at this : I’ve read this book 25 times, easily, and every.single.time. I find something I didn’t notice on previous readings. Any novel that can offer a fresh perspective with each reread deserves all the credit this novel has been given.
There you have it! What do you think? Do you agree with my choices or think I’m crazy — no one in their right mind would read Chaucer willingly! 🙂