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Topic: Show me your Classics Lists

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Subject: Show me your Classics Lists
Date Posted: 12/29/2011 12:36 AM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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Alright, so now that I've properly joined the challenge here, and am all re-diving in here at PBS... please do share!


What qualifies as a "classic" around here? What are some of your favorite "classics" lists and links?


I've just seen way too many titles of books people are calling classics, that I have never heard of the books nor of the authors. I'm sure that there must be some standard somewhere... isn't there? Books we should have read in school but didn't? Or something similar!

In my Personal Reading Challenge for the year, I had listed to read 8 classics this year. Seeing that the challenge in this forum specifically asks for 12, I may just have to modify that... assuming, that is, that I can find 12 classics that I care anything to read.



Do these count...?

Sherlock Holmes?

The Three Musketeers?

The Red Badge of Courage?

What about non-fiction classics... maybe some Mere Christianity?

MUST I really read these Jane Austen novels? I've started reading Sense and Sensibility, but am having a horrible time getting through the thing. Maybe I should start with another? Are they ALL romances? Such boring romances, IMHO. :)


I am quite sure that as I become aquainted with you all, and you all with me, I will ask for recommendations. I'm a fantasy reader (Lord of the Rings, anyone?? That one - erm, 3... erm, 4 - counts as classic I hope? Really hoping to count Silmarillon this year!!), mysteries  and thrillers but NOT scary ones. Except I have just aquired Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde and am quite certain that it will be on my final list. Maybe I'll save it for October. ;-)


Nice to meet you all and thanks for having me! Looking forward to reading with you all!

Date Posted: 12/29/2011 9:45 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 485
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Welcome DaLynn!  The books you have listed count as classics in my world, lol!  I'm not necessarily a purist, whatever that may be.  My definition of a classic is something that continues to attract people's interest 50 or more years after it has been published.  I just want to know what I have been missing! 

Re: Jane Austen - I don't think there is a mandate anywhere requiring you to read her books, ha!  You've sampled her writing and found it not for you. smiley

Have fun with your 2012 challenges, you are going to like this forum, there are a lot of very knowledgeable people here!

Date Posted: 12/29/2011 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2010
Posts: 143
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Hi Dalynn, and welcome to the Classics forum. I agree with Michele, the books you mention count as classics. I’m not aware of a single list "out there" of what constitutes classics, although if you Google “best books of all time” you will certainly get any number of lists purporting to be just that. And you can probably go to LibraryThing or GoodReads to look at lists that have been tagged as "classics."

One of my favorite “lists” is actually a book, Michael Dirda: The Classics for Pleasure

Dirda is a wonderful writer and is a book critic for The Washington Post. For Dirda, what matters is good writing, not an artificial line between “high” literature and genre literature. He has some really interesting choices, many of which are not the “usual suspects” when we think of classics, but are truly good reads.  You should be able to borrow this book at your local library. It may also be available on PBS although personally, I consider it to be a “keeper” and I am not interested in swapping my copy! smiley

 Dirda gave a lecture on his book at the Library of Congress and the video is on YouTube  The video is a bit long, but you’ll get a sense of his choices by watching some of it.

And btw, you don't have to read 12 books in the challenge. You can go for a "lite challenge" and read 6. The main thing is to have fun!




Last Edited on: 12/29/11 1:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/29/2011 2:13 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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Thanks, ladies! I know I have more in the back room, and I think I can handle one classic a month. 8 was just the number I came up with arbitrarily on my own, without rhyme or reason. There are probably 4 books on a list somewhere that could count as classics that I wouldn't necessarily have thought of that way in the first place. ;-) And if I don't make it, then I'll just claim light? HA!


And I will try to see if I can get a hold of that book by Dirda! Thanks so much! There are a couple of books which include fantastic reading lists for kids that I'd like also, so I'll just add this one to that list. :)


So now I'm motivated to go and find 12 books and put them on this shelf by me for my top priority reads! LOL Thanks again!

Date Posted: 12/29/2011 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Several years ago, Modern Library assembled a panel of literchoor types to make a list of  100 "great" books of English (ahem!) Literature.  This elite group had one lone female member.   So of course one of the gripes with its list was that it was a list of choices by "pale males" (all white men).  Then, students at Harvard (or maybe it was Radcliffe?) put out their list of the hundred best.  The students' list had some more up-to-the-present moment titles on it, and I think you would find it interesting, because of your liking for fantasy, mysteries, and 'thrillers'. 

(Not everything on school reading lists was so great . . . . and fer gosh sakes,Shakespeare was never intended as READING material------those were STAGE PLAYS, to be acted out and viewed and heard by theater audiences!)

Last Edited on: 12/29/11 6:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/30/2011 1:15 AM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2007
Posts: 469
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Thanks Bonnie! I'll look that up!

Probably going to google these this weekend, plus browse lists here and on GoodReads. I gotta figure GoodReads out a little better. I know that it will be an excellent tool for me if I will figure out all of the tools and actually use it more often. ;-)

Last Edited on: 12/30/11 1:17 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/30/2011 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,154
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Classics should be fun to read and I work on classics challenges to expand me!  I've found classics in just about every genre.  These are usually the books that last and last and keep people reading them over and over for many years.  Why not check out the list for both this and last year.  I'm now going through my first Pushkin book, Eugene Onegin, a book written in free verse.  Pushkin is considered by many as the father of Russian literature.  Check out what people enjoyed and what they didn't and choose some for yourself.  I find books that I like in any genre may or may not be liked by others.  


Date Posted: 12/30/2011 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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. and fer gosh sakes,Shakespeare was never intended as READING material------those were STAGE PLAYS, to be acted out and viewed and heard by theater audiences!)

Which explains why I dislike reading plays of any kind.