I always find it hard to pinpoint my favourite genre- I love them all: romance, real-life, fantasy, historical- and I also love to read classics.
I’m not one of those people who reads classics because they’re classics- in my opinion classics are still the same as any other book. Just because a book is revered by the critics, it doesn’t mean it is a) something you will like or b) something you should feel forced to read.
I am personally a firm believer in reading what you want, when you want- and apart from school reading there are no books you should feel obliged to read!
Below is a list of my 5 favourite classic reads
1. ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde
I read this book at the recommendation of one of my friends and it is one of my favourite classics because of the complexity of the characters and the dramatic element of the ending!
For those who haven’t read this book, it’s about a young, handsome man who becomes incredibly vain and makes an ‘accidental’ pact with the devil where a magnificent portrait of himself ages, while he stays perfect and young and handsome in a way that eventually begins to lead to issues and problems in a way that something so good can never actually be true as we want it to be.
I never actually studied this one but I imagine it would be very interesting to study, as the message within it is deep and meaningful and what English lit student doesn’t like those two thing?!
2. ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier
I know, I always have to link every post back to Daphne Du Maurier but I absolutely love her work! The characterisation and plot twists of this book are so great and the whole book just makes for a great, if slightly spooky, read!
Many may argue that this genre or type of book doesn’t fit the classical mould but I would beg to differ. I believe that Du Maurier’s style of writing is brilliant- she can be both atmospheric and suspenseful.
3. ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath
Although this list is in no particular order I would have to say that as favourite classics go, this is right there near the top for me! This is a fairly recent classic. Written in the 1960s and set in the 1950s many would argue this book is too modern to be a classic. But I would beg to differ.
I absolutely love this book and, for me, a classic should be relatable to any audience. Okay, so society is different to when Jane Austen or even Sylvia Plath was writing, but both of these writers project important themes that the modern-day writer can relate to.
This criteria is something that, arguably, novels such as ‘The Bell Jar‘ satisfy the most deeply, as the trials Esther goes through throughout the 1950s can be related to both society today and any young girl growing up now. I hope to do a more in-depth review of this book in the future, as I’m currently studying the novel for my English lit class!
4. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
Okay, so I realise this is so typical and this would be on everyone’s list- but I love this book! It’s easy-to-read, funny and enjoyable. Despite the fact that ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is set far back in the past, its themes are still in many ways relatable and its humour is hilarious.
For those who don’t know this brilliant classic, it’s about five sisters, with a mother that is desperate to get them married off to rich men. This may sound like a boring plot, but the characters they meet along the way make this novel funny and enjoyable.
Aside from Mr Darcy, who is of course my favourite character, I also love Mr Bennet, as his humour and teasing is hilarious and the way he favours Lizzie, clearly the most intelligent and amusing of the sisters, makes me laugh! The 1990s series of Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth is also a brilliant adaptation of the book!
5. ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfield
‘Ballet Shoes‘ was the classic of my childhood and technically it is a children’s book, but I would put it up there with the classics. The novel is about three girls that are adopted by one family (an old relative goes travelling and brings orphans back from his travels for his niece as presents- what else would a woman want in life than a child?!) , so technically they aren’t sisters, but that is how they refer to one another. They’re part of a very poor family and they end up going to a dance and performance school where they can work on the stage and earn money for their family.
The youngest sister, Posy, is a brilliant ballet dancer and is constantly showing off, making her a funny, if precocious, character. The eldest sister, Pauline, wants to be an actor and thrives in roles such as Alice from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the fairy godmother in Cinderella.
But the most interesting character is Petrova, the middle child, found in Russia, as she hates the stage and wants to be a pilot like Amy Johnson, who is at the height of her fame when the novel is set and this just makes her so much more interesting and exciting as a character. The fact that she still has to attend the school and act and dance like the other sisters also shows how she will do anything for her family.
I love how close all the sisters are in this book and all three characters are just so different but when they are together as sisters they have a lovely bond. There is also a brilliant film of ‘Ballet Shoes’ starring Emma Watson and Emilia Fox which, again, was the backdrop to my childhood and I still love to watch it now!
What is your top classic read? Do you enjoy reading classic literature? What was your favourite read as a child?
Let me know all your book-ish thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Happy reading x