2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 1 book toward her goal of 285 books.

2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Top Ten Lists: Classics You Should Read That You Will Actually Enjoy

So I have decided to start crafting and posting my own personal “Top Ten” lists. I figure, people often ask me for recommendations or for my “favorite” books, and this is the quickest and easiest way I can think of to respond to those types of questions. You see, I have always had a hard time coming up with a “favorite” book. Whenever asked for one, I immediately issue some sort of follow up question: “favorite what?” or “favorite to take where?” or “what do you like?”. This usually prompts whomever asked the question to roll their eyes and accuse me of lawyering up, but I stand by my follow-up questions AND my inability to pick one “favorite.”

You see, I read just about everything – I have rarely met a genre that I didn’t like, and can almost always name at least one book in any given context, theme, genre, or style that I can recommend very highly as well as at least one I can slam – when you read a lot you inevitably find out just how many things you don’t like as well as how many you do… So I have decided to develop multiple “favorite” lists, thematically organized. I will post these regularly on the blog, with some insight/commentary on either what spurred them at the particular post date/time or what I like about them thematically or why I think the books are thematic. Sometimes this may not be immediately obvious. I am, after all, quite often very random. (teehee)

For this first list, I am hitting the classics. There are a tremendous number of “classic” (i.e., to most people’s minds, “old”) books and authors that get a bum rap precisely because they are considered part of the canon. This is tremendously unfair to both the authors and to potential readers, because many of these books read as compellingly and well today as they did when they were first published (and some, in fact, likely are more so today – at least based on the often negative receptivity many of these were released to in their original publication). Just because it was published 100 or more years ago does not mean a book is automatically dry, dull, or irrelevant to the modern world. And incidentally, 100 years is not automatically my definition of “classic”; it is merely the number employed for illustrative purposes.

So give these a shot – they are not in any particular order, so number ten is not nine times less appealing than number one. I am not including reviews with my top ten lists on purpose – by including a book in the list I am automatically giving it my highest personal recommendation, so did not see a need. If anyone out there feels strongly that readers or the lists would benefit from reviews though, let me know…

Top Ten Classics You Should Read That You Will Actually Enjoy
1. Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics) – Alexander Dumas
3. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
4. Of Human Bondage – Somerset Maugham
5. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
6. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
7. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
8. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
10. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain

7 comments to Top Ten Lists: Classics You Should Read That You Will Actually Enjoy

  • Cassie

    Great choices Jill! As a HS English teacher, I have taught 2 of your “classics” within the last 3 years. May I include my opinion of Of Mice and Men? Oops, I guess I just did 🙂

  • You may Cassie! I love Of Mice and Men too – as well as Cannery Row/Tortilla Flats… 🙂

  • My lists were primarily based on things in my library, btw – should have caveated that upfront. And with your comment, I just realized I don’t own any Steinbeck – an oversight I shall most certainly have to correct!

  • Wonderful list, I wish I could have said that I read them all. I would like to add, of course, Don Quixote – people forget it’s a comedy (and still funny and relevant).

    • Oh dear MoLB – you are not going to be pleased with me when I say this, but I have never been able to finish Don Quixote… Sad, but true. I have tried several times. I love the story – have seen movie/musical and loved them, and just love the whole idea of an idealist making his own way through the world. I don’t know if I just do not have a good translation or what (I don’t read Spanish), but I have picked up my copy at least four times and never been able to get past the first few pages. Do you have a particular translation you like – because I would really love to be able to read it…

      Thanks for the comment, btw – and I love reading your reviews with the top 10 facts about the book/author/subject!

  • I loved Pride and Prejudice. We had to read it in school and i’m so glad we did! I’ve actually just finished The Great Gatsby and reviewed it on my own blog. I really enjoyed it.

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