If you read my latest wrap-up post, which you can find here if you haven’t, then you’ll know that I’ve recently finished The Great Gatsby – my first ever classic book. Yes, that’s right, my first ever. I never read any of them when I was in school. We didn’t have to since they weren’t on the curriculum, woo! They were just never the type of books that interested me. Instead, I wanted to read books about dragons, and sword fighting, and empowerment. Except, now I’m 24 and there’s a lot of buzz on Twitter about the classics, so I figured there’s never a better time to start than now.
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t impressed with The Great Gatsby, only rating it two stars. I didn’t like the characters. The plot was dull. I found the dialogue all over the place. The only interesting part, for me, was the last quarter.
On Twitter, I asked for recommendations for classic books to read and you all gave me so many suggestions. I’m being spoiled for choice. I’ve had no idea where to start, but I’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 I want to get through.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
Spellbound before his own portrait, Dorian Gray utters a fateful wish. In exchange for eternal youth, he gives his soul, to be corrupted by the malign influence of hs mentor, the aesthete and hedonist Lord Henry Wotton. Encouraged by Lord Henry to substitute pleasure for goodness and art for reality, Dorian tries to watch impassively as he brings misery and death to those who love him. But the picture is watching him, and, made hideous by the marks of sin, it confronts Dorian with the reflection of his fall from grace, the silent bearer of what is in effect a devastating moral judgement.
This book by Oscar Wilde was one of the most recommended. I had heard of it but never really knew what it was about. Now I know, I cannot wait to read it. Gothic. Victorian. Deep, philosophical messages. It’s not dragons and sword fighting, but it does tick some of my boxes. I’m excited to get to this one. Luckily for me, this was free on Kindle, so this is up next on my list of classic books to tackle.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
I went to see a play of To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in school and I vaguely remember what it was about, although it didn’t have as much of an impact on me then as I feel it will now. In my sociology and criminology classes, we’ve been discussing profiling of members of society and how prevalent it still is today. The themes of this book can be applied to some aspects of the modern world and that’s what makes this book so intriguing to me. Harper Lee is one of those authors I feel as though I need to read in my lifetime.
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts, they invented Room 101…
I recently had a talk from a university lecturer, who specialises in Social Policy (the study of the welfare system, social housing, and social services – it’s the legislation that forms part of the main principles of the government), and he spoke about how Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was the book that inspired him to pursue this line of field. The talk was inspiring and insightful and it’s thanks to that talk that this book is one of my most anticipated reads.
‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.’
Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, frustrated college professor. In love with his landlady’s twelve-year-old daughter, Lolita, he’ll do anything to possess her. Unable and unwilling to stop himself, he is prepared to commit any crime to get what he wants.
Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these?
This book is… messed up. That’s the only thing I can say to describe the synopsis. It’s the controversial nature of this book that draws me in and makes me want to read it. While I’ve never read this book before, I do have an idea of what my opinion will be based upon the synopsis. Don’t we all? Same goes for book covers. We try not to judge a book by its cover, but we’re all only human and it’s a human act to judge. The high reviews of this book on Goodreads has me curious to uncover the contents of this book.
Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife, Rebecca, is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers…
This is a recent discovery of mine. I hadn’t heard of this book until I was browsing through Amazon’s classic book section one day recently. When I decided to tackle the classic books, I honestly thought it would be made up of books mostly from the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen, as those are the ones most commonly talked about. So when I came across Rebecca, I instantly added it to my TBR. A gothic psychological thriller that has been described as a young girl consumed by love and struggling to find her identity… yes please!
So that is the top 5 classic books I want to get through this year. Have you read any of these? Do you want to read any of them? Or do you have any other classic book recommendations? Let me know in the comments!