Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Classics

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a list of my favorite classics. At first I thought this one would be easy; after all, I've been working on my Classics Club list (slowly), and classic novels make up a major part of my reading life. The problem is, I have too many classics that are very close to my heart. So I will have to leave off some of my favorite writers and books..... this list is not just my favorite classics, but those classics that I have either read multiple times or will be rereading. Any book on this list has stayed with me over the course of years or even decades.

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot. Middlemarch is still my favorite book of all time. I've read this novel at least six times, and I will probably read it again this year. I'm not the only reader who feels strongly about Middlemarch: writer Rebecca Mead made it the subject of her own book (My Life in Middlemarch). Middlemarch is a book you can read over and over because it will speak to you in a different way each time. It is a tale of a woman (Dorothea Brooke) and the choices she makes in her life, and it is a panoramic view of small-town life in Victorian England.
2. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. This is undoubtedly the Victorian novelist's masterpiece. All of Dickens's usual themes and characters are here, but he touches his themes more deeply: moral corruption and the conflict between good and evil are at the heart of this novel, but so is love, of course.
3. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I first read this novel when I was in high school, and it triggered my absolute adoration of Russian literature. Prince Myshkin is either an idiot or a saint--or maybe both.
4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It took me two or three attempts to read this novel, but then suddenly I was in. On my list to reread.
5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. This remarkable novel was written in a white heat: Hurston was getting over a love affair with a much younger man, and she wanted to recapture some of the passion she had felt. This is also a remarkable story of a woman's journey. I don't know how many times I've read this book, but probably at least five.
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is the novel that started my Bronte obsession. I first read it as a teenager, but have reread it many times since then.
7. The Narrative of Frederick Douglass. This narrative by a man who was born a slave, learned to read and write, and became a leading abolitionist is inspirational. Every time I read it I feel in awe of Douglass's genius.
8. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Anthony Trollope is one of my favorite writers because of his characters and his ability to convey so much about the English class system in Victorian times. The Palliser novels are my favorite of Trollope's series books, but this is considered Trollope's finest novel.
9. The Known World by Edward P. Jones. This novel is so deep that a single reading probably isn't enough to do it justice. Jones is the author of two short story collections; The Known World, his only novel, won the Pulitzer Prize. It is the story of a black slave owner and the slaves who live under his control.
10. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath is my other Steinbeck choice--either or both belong on this list. I sincerely wish that John Steinbeck were still alive, because we need him.

I really want to know--what are your favorite classics? Do you have a classic book that you've read over and over, or one that you just can't live without?


Amy said...

I agree on Middlemarch, but prefer Bleak House to Our Mutual Friend, and think I hold Villette in equal terms with Jane Eyre.

Anonymous said...

I have Trollope on my TBR, although not on my list today. I was happy to see Zora Neale Hurston, Edward P. Jones, and Frederick Douglass on your list, because I was just thinking that most of the lists (including mine, ouch) I've seen are all very white, and very Western. Thanks goodness for the Brontes, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and Harper Lee or they might be all men, too!

Leah @ Books Speak Volumes said...

I've only read Their Eyes Were Watching God from this list, and it was in high school. I think I need to give it a re-read!

bibliophiliac said...

@Amy-Bleak House is good too-that's on my list to reread. I don't think I've read Villette, but maybe I should...

bibliophiliac said...

@eveningreader-Trollope is my comfort read!

bibliophiliac said...

@Leah-Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of those books you can sit down and read almost in one sitting. Or, read it slowly and savoir it!

Lisa said...

I'm reading along, I'm reading along, wondering "where is Trollope?!" I KNEW he'd be here somewhere!