One of the best books I've ever read.

I was talking with a dear friend earlier this week and we got onto the subject of books. Specifically, the books my teens are reading in high school, as well as the ones my friend and I read back in the day.

Like many of you, I’ve read a lot of the classics — Austen, Poe, Vonnegut, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Kafka, and so on. But there are some (too many, really) that I still have not gotten to, including Fahrenheit 451 and A Brave New World.

*hanging my head in shame*

I need to remedy this. How else are we to grow as humans if we don’t continue learning? I am working on a list of classics, 12-ish of which I plan to read over the course of 2015. I want to compile a list of those books that every person should read. These might be Pulitzer winners or maybe they’ve won no prizes other than the admiration of millions of readers. They might be old or they might be new to the literary scene.

I need your help: What classic books have you most enjoyed and which ones do you wish you’d read?

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18 Responses to Classics

  1. Aimee says:

    My favorite books of all time are “A Prayer for Owen Meany”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Where the Redfern Grows.”

  2. Jennifer McKeever says:

    My dad would likely put Sidhartha on the list. I also like “their eyes were watching god” and/or “things fall apart”

  3. Cassi says:

    I loved Fahrenheit 451 and A Brave New World. I’m actually not a big classics reader, and I hated reading Faulkner and Satre in school. But I did love A Tale of Two Cities, A Passage to India, and The Martian Chronicles. I’ll bet you’ve read the first two! :-)

  4. Molly Fulton says:

    Not knowing what’s on your list already here’s what comes to mind (some classic, some not - but all left a strong impression) in no particular order: 1984, Animal Farm, Little Women, In Cold Blood, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Master and Margarita, Dr Zhivago, Notes from Underground, The Great Gatsby, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Good Earth, Catcher in the Rye, Cutting for Stone, Cider House Rules, Prayer for Owen Meany (one of my all-time favs, too, Aimee!)….I could go on. How about the plays of Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, and Sam Shepard?

  5. Bonnie McMillian says:

    All the above and:

    Little Dorrit
    Gone With the Wind
    Madame Bovary
    The Beautiful and Damned
    Slapstick (favorite Vonnegut!)
    South Pacific
    Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
    The Great Santini

  6. Ssheers says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion, Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden, The Stand by Stephen King, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwyn, A Night To Remember by Walter Lord, Three Men In A Boat by Jerome Jerome, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Hiroshima by John Hersey, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Gone with The Wind by
    Margaret Mitchell, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, and Harry Potter!

  7. ATree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill A Mockingbird

  8. bdaiss says:

    Don’t fret - I have read a surprisingly pathetic number of the “classics”. What can I say - I was hooked by Stephen King at the age of 11 and never looked back.

    I won’t add to your list as you have plenty in the prior comments (and there are a million lists on the internet to aid you). Instead I’ll make a proposal - let’s make a classics book club! You make the list, pick 1 each month, and then we can virtually discuss via GoodReads.

  9. Suzie says:

    Things I remember fondly, which I think can also be called classics (and I’m not quite there in including John Irving novels as classics, although Owen Meany & Garp are both high up on my list of faves):

    Watership Down, Flowers for Algernon, Grapes of Wrath (didn’t adequately appreciate until I re-read in my early 30s), East of Eden (Steinbeck), Great Gatsby (had a different appreciation for it when I read it when it was assigned to my daughter in high school as compared to when it was assigned to ME in high school), Tess of the D’Ubervilles (Hardy), Sons and Lovers (DH Lawrence).

    Can’t think of anything else right now.

  10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Dickens (around the holidays). One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hmmm . . . must think. Can’t wait to see your list.

  11. Violet says:

    I love…
    A Tale of Two Cities
    The Once and Future King
    Gone with the Wind
    Stones from the River
    Loving Frank
    How Green Was My Valley (Oh, how I love this book! The story is sweet, heartbreaking, lovely; the prose even more so.)
    Like Water for Chocolate
    Catcher in the Rye
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    The Jungle
    A Streetcar Named Desire
    A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    Wish I’d read…
    A Prayer for Owen Meany (I’ve tried a couple times but it hasn’t grabbed me)
    Anna Karenina
    Les Miserables
    anything by Jane Austen (like most of those 19th century authors, too many words!)

  12. Patience says:

    Don’t waste your time on Farenheit 451 because it’s horrible.

    Classics I’ve most enjoyed would be Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, everything by Jane Austen, Vanity Fair, Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, anything by Anthony Trollope, The House of Seven Gables, Dubliners by James Joyce, Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, As I Lay Dying by Faulkner, Passage to India by E.M. Forster, Adam Bede by George Eliot, Jane Eyre, the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, everything by J.G. Farrell.

    I wish I’d read Remembrance of Things Past by Proust (I’ll get around to it eventually), War and Peace, which is on my list, and Ulysses by James Joyce, which I crammed before the literature GRE, but didn’t really read properly.

  13. Mrs G. says:

    I don’t know if this qualifies as a classic but we loved The Education of Little Tree. Also loved Great Expectations. I once read that The Education of Little Tree is one of the most stolen books from the library.

  14. I’m glad I forced Henry James down my brain, and I adore Austen, Woolf, Conrad, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Cather, Thoreau and Shelley. I feel lucky to teach high school English because familiarity with the classics is part of the job, though I have read a few purely on my own and felt grateful for it.
    Frankenstein, Grapes of Wrath and The Heart of Darkness are must-reads in my opinion.

  15. There are already so many good ones in the comments above!
    My book group is spending an extra month on Steinbeck’s East of Eden because the discussion was so rich and that was only for the first half of the book!

    Violet, I had to set aside Owen Meany because it kept losing my interest. (I’m glad I’m not the only one!)

  16. Smalltown Me says:

    From a California perspective (in addition to Steinbeck), Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle.

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