Before I make a Top Ten List of my favourite 'Classics', you have to realise that my acquaintance with said Classics is a relatively new thing. I did take a Classic Literature course at university in which we read such books as James Joyce's Ulysses (I never finished it), D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love (I don't think I finished it), Henry James' Portrait of a Lady (I don't think I finished it), etc. I think you see a theme here. In High school, we took Wuthering Heights and in my French Literature class, we looked at books by Moliere (The Misanthrope) and Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary) and I generally didn't enjoy the experiences. I do remember back in Grade 9 or 10 reading Charles Dickens Pickwick Papers (written in 1836) and enjoying very much. So there was at least on success in my experiences.
Now also having said the above, I have enjoyed many movies based on the classics; Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (of course, it starred Olivia Hussey), the musical Oliver based on Dickens' Oliver Twist and others. So I will readily admit, I'm not adverse to a good movie adaptation of a classic.
Now since I've been married to Jo, my film and other experiences related to the Classics has increased exponentially (a lot). I've enjoyed many of the PBS classic series that were adapted from Classic novels, such as the Jane Austen series, Poldark, The Ladies' Paradise, etc. We've also talked about her favourites. I've sat with her in our den as she's listened to radio adaptations of other books, such as Daniel Deronda. It's made me more interested in taking out some of the books and giving them a try and I think, over the past 3 or 4 years, my Classic experience has been pretty good and overall, I've enjoyed it very much.
I think my first attempt was when Jo and I watched The Jane Austen Book Club. In the movie, one of the lady's from the book club is challenged by her boyfriend; he will read Pride and Prejudice if she attempts his favourite SciFi novel, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin. Well, since that is one of my favourite SciFi novels and since Jo loves the books of Jane Austen, I challenged her. I did indeed finish Pride and Prejudice (and I see that in my Goodreads scoring, I gave it a three star rating. To be fair, it was my first attempt in many years and I think if I read it again now, I would rate it much higher). Like the movie, Jo did not attempt The Left Hand of Darkness.
But all of the above factors, plus my various reading challenges in Goodreads did make me more interested in exploring the Classic genre. For the past 3 or 4 years, I've done so and it's been a pleasant experience. Before I get into a top ten list, what do I mean when I say a Classic? Firstly, if it was published before 1900, it's a classic; it might be crap, but it's a classic, just for its age. Secondly, I tend to look at a number of authors and books, especially those that were included in my English course, even if published in the early 1900's as classics. Authors like D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, Somerset Maugham, etc.
Maybe my current Top Ten List might give you some ideas. Recognise that this is a Top Ten List based on probably reading 12 - 15 'Classics' over the past few years. But it's a start.
So there is my current Top Ten. I'm sure it will be adjusted as I explore the Classics more. I promised myself to read at least 4 this year. I'm currently enjoying Vanity Fair (1848) by William Thackeray and hope to read one more (my fourth) by December. I'm leaning toward one of Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) by Thomas Hardy, Can You Forgive Her (1865) by William Trollope or The Last of the Mohicans (1826) by James Fenimore Cooper. Of course, I do also have a few modern Classics on my list for my Fiction challenge, including After Leaving Mr. MacKenzie by Jean Rhys, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. So I hope to continue my enjoyable journey down these paths, along with my normal mystery and SciFi reading.