So now I'm ensconced in the den, listening to Ken Bruce on BBC2 and thinking about classics. I will readily admit that my exposure to the classics (what exactly does that mean anyway?) is probably quite limited. In high school, I hated having to read Wuthering Heights The Catcher in the Rye, amongst others. In university, I took a Classic Fiction course in my 3rd or 4th year and it included books such as Madame Bovary, James Joyce's Ulysses, Sons and Lovers and so many others. But at that time, I was more interested in my Science Fiction course and partying. In the past few years, however, I've been trying to expand my exposure to the classics and maybe it's a sign of my increased maturity (ha ha), but I'm enjoying them so very much for the most part.
So on that short note, I'm providing my current list of Top Ten Classics. Some of these books are in the late to mid-1900's but I still think they qualify as classics, for my definition, I think they have to stand the test of time; in that, no matter when they were written, people will still find them excellent stories and interesting to read. I will qualify this list by saying once again, my exposure is probably quite limited; I've read only one Jane Austen and have yet to brave Wuthering Heights again.. But at least it might be a discussion point and give you a few books you might like to check out. I hope in the next few years to be able to build on this list and expand to a Top 20 even.
So hear goes... for your viewing pleasure and maybe your agreement / disagreement with one or two. :0)
Top Ten Classics
"I've read before and was very happy to enjoy as much again this time. Dashiell Hammett has produced an excellent example of a hard-boiled mystery and Sam Spade is the penultimate gumshoe, staying one step ahead of trouble and playing off the baddies against each other. It's a classic mystery, turned into an excellent movie by John Huston, one of Humphrey Bogart's best movies. A great cast of characters, from Brigid O'Shaugnessy to Joel Cairo and Kasper Gutman, through his faithful, lovely secretary, Effie Perine. A story that everyone should read and marvel about."
"Fantastic story. A classic spy novel, classic Le Carre story. His third novel, after Call for the Dead and a A Murder of Quality, it features tired spy, Alec Leamas, the British Secret Services Berlin organiser, who is called home for a special mission. I won't get into too many details as there are so many interesting surprises throughout the story, that I wouldn't want to ruin the story. There is a brief role for Le Carre's most famous spy, George Smiley, but the story revolves mostly around Leamas. The spy craft is interesting, the plot twisting, the story fascinating and one you will have difficulty putting down. An excellent story for those who enjoy spy dramas and also a nicely historical feel for the cold war between the West and East.. Great stuff.. "
"A world paralysed by genetic mutation. John Wyndham takes the reader into the anguished heart of a community where the chances of breeding true are less than fifty per cent and where deviations are rooted out and destroyed as offences and abominations."
Lovingly written, powerful youngsters as characters, fascinating story.
"One of my top ten favourite books. I've read it so many times and also seen the movie with Gregory Peck a few times. So low key, yet it's the end of the world. US submarine in Australia, trying to see if there is any life in the Northern hemisphere. Life in Australia as the end draws near. US submarine makes final voyage to US.
Truly fantastic story.
Having read this again, it's still a great story, what a powerful lesson to teach mankind. So depressing, ultimately, but told with class."
"Definitely a book out of my normal comfort zone, but such an excellent read. I had ideas about what to expect; a banned book, due to its rawness, explicit sexual language, but I was surprised. It's a thoughtful story of a woman, living in a marriage with a broken man; physically broken from the war, but also emotionally broken. Constance loves Clifford Chatterley anyway, cares for him, comforts him, but finds her life to be stagnant, loveless, emotionless. She meets Oliver Mellors, an other ex-soldier who now works as the game keeper on the Chatterley estate and finds herself drawn to him. The story is about their developing relationship, both emotional and sexual. I expected the sex to be graphic, raw, but other than some language, it was crafted very lovingly, very gently on the whole. The story itself is interesting, the characters as well and the interludes describing the countryside, coal mining country are also well-crafted. An excellent story and I'm glad I finally pulled the book off my shelves to read."
"I'd never read any Somerset Maugham before and really had no desire to read anything by him either. However recently I saw The Razor's Edge in a antique/ collectibles shop and I liked the look of it. Since one of my Reading groups was reading Modern English Classics as this month's genre, I decided to read it. I must say that I was most pleasantly surprised. Maugham has a way about him of telling a story. His writing style is very fluid and eminently readable. The story was interesting, the dialogue flowed nicely and I found myself waiting anxiously to get back to the book when I put it down. Did a lot happen? It was a tale of people, specifically friends of Maugham's, as he is the narrator and a character, who he spends time with and observes. I liked the characters and I liked Maugham as well. He's an observer of humanity and expresses his observations so very well. Anyway, I loved the story, it's one of my favourites of this year. Will I read any more of his books? Well I purchased The Moon and Sixpence yesterday, so I hope so.. :0)"
"This was a challenging, but ultimately, an enjoyable, interesting read. The book is made of four separate books, Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and, The Last Post. It is set in England and France, before, during and after WWI. It deals with Christopher Tietjens, his wife Sylvia and Valentine Wannop, a young woman who has captured Christopher's heart. Around these people are family members, Christopher's brother, Mark; friends, associates and many others. Christopher's relationship with his wife is bitter and harsh, she goes out of her way to destroy his life, even though she won't grant him a divorce. At the same time, Christopher has fallen in love with the young woman, Valentine, who he met as a result of his father's friendship with her mother. Amidst these personal issues is the war, life in the trenches, all these matters. The story is detailed, it takes time to get used to the flow of the story, but when you do, it is most enthralling. The second and third books, which deal more with the War itself, I personally found the most interesting. Critics have said that there needn't have been a fourth book, that Christopher, himself, isn't really even present, but ultimately, I found that it wrapped up so many of the unresolved issues very nicely. Definitely worth reading, if you want to try a classic."
"Not my normal story at all; I do tend to more light reading, thriller, adventure, but at times I do try to explore more challenging stories. This was definitely one of those. It's a true classic, well-written and intelligent. The story focuses on two main characters, Gwendolen Harleth, a selfish, young lady who thinks the world revolves around her and Daniel Deronda, a gentlemen, searching for himself. This search has many aspects, the simple one being trying to ascertain who his parents are as he has grown up under the protection/ guidance of Sir Hugo Mallinger from childhood. This also involves more internal searching, who is he, why does he think as he does. He is a caring individual, selflessly helping friends and strangers; his flighty school friend Hugo Meyrick, the lovely Jewess Mira and even Gwendolen.. There is so much in this book, unspoken love, a brief study of what it is like to be Jewish in those times, death, romance, etc. I was very surprised how much I enjoyed the story and as I worked my way through the initial pages to get accustomed to the style of the time, it was published in 1876, I enjoyed it immensely. As much as Gwendolen irritated me to no end with her selfishness, at the same time, there was an inkling of sympathy for the plight she finds herself in (even if much of it is due to her own actions) and ultimately.. well, I won't go there. It's a heavy tome, but well worth reading. I'm very glad I did."
And on to the Top Two. You will find write ups of both books in much earlier Blogs. Both books have been loving read many times and will be again. One is in the Science Fiction genre, the other would be classified as a Modern Classic, but is one of the best books ever written; definitely my all-time favourite book ever. So here we go...
So there you have it, my initial Top Ten Classic books. What do you think? The den is hot and stuffy now so I think I'll sit outside with the dogs for a few minutes before we go check the mail.