Saturday, August 4, 2012

Favorite Classic: August Classic Club Meme

Hello dear readers, and welcome to the first of the new monthly Classics Club memes. The Classics Club now has a dedicated blog, and they are hosting monthly questions so that all of us members can discuss the classics with each other. If you're a Classics Club member, welcome to the blog! My list is here. I look forward to reading all of your lists and learning about your favorite classics. If you're not a member, go check out the blog and make your own list!

This month's question is:

What is your favorite classic book? Why?

As I'm sure everyone else will say, this is a nearly impossible question to answer. How can you really pick one favorite? Since I don't think it's possible to compare works across genres, I've decided to pick my favorite classics in a few different categories. I'm picking based only on my personal favorites, not necessarily the books I think are the most well-written or most important. These are the books I want to hug and keep with me forever. Each of them has a story behind it, and each of them has done something to make me the reader I am today. So, without any further ado, here they are.

Favorite Classic: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I know that everyone picks this book as their favorite, but bear with me. This book is one of the first books to get me back into the classics. I read this for the first time during my Junior year of high school, and I must have read it three or four times that year. I started off just loving the story, connecting with the characters, and swooning at the romance. But after a while I started focusing more on the beauty of Austen's writing and her subtle but ever-present social commentary. All on my own, I was slowly learning to really read a book from multiple angles. Now, having read two other Jane Austen novels and many other classics, I can honestly say that reading Pride and Prejudice all those years ago got me off to the right start.
Honorable Mentions: Frankenstein, Persuasion, The Odyssey

Favorite Modern Classic: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
So, remember how in my introduction I said that these are all books I want to hug? Well, lied a little bit. I do not want to cuddle with Heart of Darkness. This book is utterly strange and terrifying, and I want to study it much more than I want to hold it. It is, in short, a hell of a book. So why is this my favorite modern classic? Because it is endlessly fascinating and infinitely re-readable. I read Heart of Darkness in two of my classes in the past year. Analyzing and discussing this book in two of my favorite classes helped me realize that I need to go to graduate school and got me interested in various forms of literary criticism. Because of those memories I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Heart of Darkness.
Honorable Mentions: Mrs. Dalloway, Paradise, The Great Gatsby.

Favorite Classic Poem: The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
If I had to pick one poem to read for the rest of my life, this would probably be it. There is something about this poem that just knocks me off my feet. First of all, the language is just beautiful. Eliot is a virtuosic poet, and it shows here like nowhere else. There are parts of The Four Quartets that absolutely grab me by the heart and play with my emotions, others that appeal to my analytical brain, and still others that engage my love of words and language. I read this poem the summer after my first semester as an English major, and it absolutely changed my life. I started studying poetry on my own, took more poetry classes, and met with my professor to ask for extra help. If it weren't for T.S. Eliot and the professor who introduced me to him, I might not have ever considered going to graduate school, and I certainly wouldn't be reading poetry the way I do now. For me, The Four Quartets will always remind me of that exciting time.
Honorable Mentions: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock, Sunday Morning, The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Favorite Children's Classic: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
When pressed to pick an all-time favorite novel, there have been many times when I've picked The Hobbit. The Hobbit and I go way back. My mom used to read it to me when I was little, and when I got old enough I eventually started reading it myself. I read this book so many times that I used to have the first page memorized. This book lead me to read The Lord of the Rings, which in turn lead me to eventually collect and read all of Tolkien's works, learn Elvish, and generally become a complete dork. I have The Hobbit to thank for over a decade of fond reading memories, and for that it will always be one of my all-time favorite books.
Honorable Mentions: To Kill a Mockingbird, Watership Down, A Wrinkle in Time.

Favorite Classic Play: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Ok, it's confession time. I totally watched the movie of this before I read it. In fact, I read this play mostly because I loved the movie so much. But, no matter its form, Much Ado About Nothing is a great play. It is incredibly witty and unbearably funny, but it certainly isn't light. There is an interesting commentary on relationships and trust in this play that makes it compelling again and again. It also features one of my favorite literary couples, Beatrice and Benedick, who make me incredibly happy. I watched this movie for the first time during my Junior year of high school, and it got me interested in Shakespeare all over again. Even now, if I'm having a bad day or need a pick-me-up, I still turn to Much Ado About Nothing.
Honorable Mentions: The Flies, Romeo and Juliet, The Crucible.

So there you have it: my totally cheating list of all my favorite classics. Do you have a favorite classic? Do you have a book that shaped your reading life? Let me know about it in the comments. And make sure to go to the linky list over at the Classics Club blog and check out everyone else's favorite classic. I look forward to reading all of your posts.


  1. You cheated! :P

    Pride and Prejudice helped me to get into the classics too, it's so accessible for a beginner.

    I have to admit to not really enjoying Heart of Darkness though - I thought it was a bit sledgehammer obvious and repetitive with the metaphors.

  2. I love that you picked a favorite from different genres! I've never read The Heart of Darkness, but I own it. I'd only ever heard bad things about it, so I'm really glad I read this post. :-)

  3. I love how you broke this up, and you have some great choices. Pride and Prejudice comes in second for me, but Jane Eyre is the tops. I'm working The Hobbit now, and I need to go back and read Heart of Darkness. We only read a chunk of it in one of my classes a couple years ago. Same situation with Chaucer. I need to read the complete story before forming an opinion.

    I just joined The Classics Club a couple days ago so I'm getting the hang of things now. Feel free to check out my answer as well as my list at my blog. I'm off to look at your list now. :)


  4. I love your choices, as always. Is this a good time to say I haven't read The Hobbit although I loved LOTR?

  5. I've only ever heard negative things about Heart of Darkness but have never read it myself - maybe I should!
    Like how you gave yourself more options with this tricky question.

  6. Aaaah, I love 'Much Ado About Nothing'!! Benedick and Beatrice are brilliant and almost overshadow the main couple, if you ask me! 'The Hobbit' is lovely as well. I put 'Heart of Darkness' on my Classics list, so I am happy to see someone's positive about it! Also, everyone who loves Pride & Prejudice is my friend ;) Great choices, I'm following!

  7. Look at you, picking from different genres. Very clever you! I love reading the reasons behind a person's favorite classic. It is interesting to see how different works of literature connect with people on different levels, and it usually has nothing to do with the writing itself. It is more about memory, and I love that.

  8. We seem to have had a common experience with Pride and Prejudice. :) I must say, though, that although I've tried and failed in the past to connect with Eliot, you make me want to give Four Quartets a try!

  9. Great! I'm happy to see Tolkien and Shakespeare there. I respect and adore both of them. I have never read the Hobbit though, but I love LoTR. As for Shakespeare, I think I will safe it for September.

  10. I like your list-so diverse! I'm a big fan of Austen, so I approve! And The Hobbit! Also a wonderful book. I'm going to be rereading it in the next few months in anticipation of the movie. :)

  11. Your list is diverse and so great. I've read only read Pride and Prejudice and Much Ado About Nothing, a long time ago. For me quite a number of classics on my list are re-reads.

  12. P&P is what got me back into classics too! It's hard to not love a book that does something like that for you. :)

  13. What a wonderful list...and a great blog as well! I'm always looking for like-minded bloggers. I'm a new follower :)

    I'm a new member of The Classics Club and I'm all excited about it!