Tuesday, October 14, 2008


In creating my Library Thing online list, it was quite obvious that I read way too many murder mysteries. If (hypothetically speaking) I wanted to become 'well read', what are some of the 'must reads' to begin with? I did a search for 'literature classics' and discovered many lists by many different people with many different opinions, such as:

Homer: the Iliad and the Odyssey
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
David Copperfield by Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Some of these sound very stuffy and boring, but look what I came across at Amazon when searching "American literature classics":

You're no idiot, of course. You know that Samuel Clemens had a better-known pen name, Moby Dick is a famous whale, and the Raven only said, "Nevermore." But when it comes to understanding the great works of Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allan Poe, you'd rather rent the videos than head to your local library. Don't tear up your library card yet! The Complete Idiot's Guide to American Literature teaches you all about the rich tradition of American prose and poetry, so you can fully appreciate its magnificent diversity.

To read, or not to read (the classics), that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
Through the sedative effects of dusty tomes,
Or to set upon a quest for same celluliod chronicles,
And to die not well read but well viewed.


ET said...

Now days I prefer vintage comic books - but I usually have a book I am reading. Classics are classics for a reason - they are darn good and timeless - and of course, withstood the test of time.
Of the ones you listed, I read Of Mice and Men, David Copperfield, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Gone With the Wind (required reading for all Georgians), and I gave The Old Man of the Sea a good try, but if I remember correctly, after about 15 pages I decided either it was written too simple or my mind was too simple to enjoy it.
I read the Classic Comicbook version of Ivanhoe - it was good too! Good enough for a book report. I think I read all of Mark Twain's stuff.

Byron Chesney said...

Well, I've read 3 that are on your list, but, just like a lot of people, I have been putting off reading the classics. Still intend to one day but dadgummit there are so many good books out there and so little time to read them!

Melzie said...

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I've read these and they are very good :) The Little Women whole series is great and Anne of Green Gables I've even reread as an adult LOL. xoxo melzie

Joann said...

Like Water for Elephants
Children of God
The Sparrow

You would really find the three of these fabulous. All for different reasons. None are classics, but they're all a good read.

paula, the quilter said...

I sometimes download one of those reading lists just to see where I land. The latest was the 100 classics. The weirdest thing about the latest one was that I had read ALL of the Charles Dickens books that were listed. I don't particularly like Charles Dickens, so why had I read all those books? I had inherited a complete set of his books a long time ago and was working my way thru them when I lost interest and gave the books to a niece.

Your short list: I have read all but 3 and of those 3 I plan on reading 2. War and Peace does not hold any interest to me.

CathyB said...

I ran across your blog when searching for fellow MTs. Howdy neighbor! A few of the books on your list are my all-time favorites- The Scarlet Letter, To Kill A Mockingbird, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, GWTW. Yes, these are classics indeed and I could probably almost quote word-for-word Anne of Green Gables! I have purchased many of the "classics", but haven't finished them. I also purchased The Idiot's Guide (or it may have been the Dummy's version) of American Literature. I traveled to Boston a few years ago and toured Nathaniel Hawthorne's home, as well as a house constructed that represents The House Of Seven Gables. I had a hard time getting into that book, so ended up with the Cliff's notes, but I wanted to be familiar with the story before going on the tour. Your list looks well rounded. Good luck with your reading!! CathyB

Joann said...

I always wanted Gregory Peck from the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" to be my real father. That soft, deep voice, and how sweetly he handled Scout.....Would have made me a different woman today, I'm sure.