May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA: Why I Love the Classics

The classics are called so for a reason, and that reason is not just because they are old. 

The classics are books that inspire a generation of new writers, that inspire readers.  They cover universal themes such as love, death, greed, envy, poverty, and the status quo.  In doing so, they reach a wide variety of audiences. 
Another reason classics are revered is because they are usually written beautifully.  The choice of words, the rhythm and flow of the paragraphs, the hidden meanings and nuances that you might not discover until a second, third, or fourth reading. This makes for compelling reading and a reason they are among the most beloved books in the world.

The first classic I ever read and enjoyed was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in my junior year of high school.  I read it again recently during a readalong and found I still enjoyed it.  It was like re-discovering an old friend. 

Another favorite classic of mine is Pride & Prejudice.  I know, I know, it seems to be everyone’s favorite, but I have always enjoyed and found comfort in this book.  Elizabeth reminds me a lot of myself- stubborn, opinionated, curious, independent, nose stuck in a book, yet happy when she finally meets the man who is her match.  And I think a lot of people can relate to a story about finding love when you least expect it with the person you least expect to find it with.  I think people can relate to the Bennet’s family.  How can you not laugh at the dramatic Mrs. Bennet or cheer for Jane or worry for Lydia? It’s a book I find great comfort in.

I also love The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (you might recognize the tree above as the one on most covers of this book), 1984 by George Orwell, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, My Antonia by Willa Cather, and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

There are also a few I don't like. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne still gives me hives to even think about.  The story was great but the writing was not, in my opinion.  When I got done with that book for high school English I threw it across the room in relief.

Here are a few more reviews of classics I have read if you wish to explore them!

What about you?  Do you read classics?  What are your favorites?  If you don’t enjoy classics, what turns you off about them?


  1. LOL, I had totally repressed the memory of Scarlet Letter! We discussed the fact that it was written by a man in my class, and some of my fellow students thought that was why Hester seemed so strange, and why her child was hardly mentioned... because a man in those times would have no idea how to care for a child.

    I liked the Great Gatsby, but I found him to be rather stalkerish and a little creepy...

    I agree with you, there are so many things to love about the classics, and the timeless themes are a big part of it. Maybe I'll pick up some more classics to read this summer.


  2. Great post! I've not read The Scarlet Letter yet, so hopefully I'll enjoy it more than you did!
    1984 is one of my favourites too, have you also read Animal Farm?
    I'm a new follower of your blog :)

    My post on classics

  3. I loved Pride and Prejudice back in the day...but haven't reread it for many years. Another favorite was Rebecca. All books by Du Maurier, in fact.

    And a couple years ago, for the first time, I read To Kill a Mockingbird. Beautiful. And Catcher in the Rye.


  4. I adore the classics :) My Classics Club list is one of my very favorite things. It's a great way to remind myself to keep reading the old faves.

  5. I haven't read as many classics as I probably should. I read To Kill a Mockingbird in my freshman English class in High School and absolutely loved it! I loved Pride and Prejudice too, but haven't read any of Jane Austen's other works yet.

    For some reason, it takes me longer to get into a classic novel. I didn't like most of the ones we read in school which I think draws me away from most of them. I'll pick up some of the ones you suggested and try them out!

  6. Happy BEA week, Becca! I should have mentioned To Kill a Mockingbird in my post - awesome piece of literature! Sometimes I struggle with the language in classics, but that one was truly accessible.

  7. Persuasion is my fave JA classic!
    also a lot of George MacDonald's books - At the Back of the N Wind, Princess and Curdie, The Marquis Secret..
    and CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia - perfect - books and movies :)

    Enjoy BEA!

  8. I haven't read a single book by Austin...I do own three of them though so I'm not sure how I've managed to avoid them. I'm not a big romance fan so I have to be a particular mood to read about Seasons and the Ton. The Great Gatsby was one of the few classics I really hated. I'm not even sure why because I only remember bits and pieces of it, but I do remember loathing every minute I spend reading it. I might try it again now that I'm older and might actually appreciate the symbolism.

    My BEA Classics

  9. Very well written post on why Classics endure! And Nathaniel Hawthorne has never been my cup of tea too! :)

    Thanks for stopping by my BEA post!
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

  10. I just love Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice is my favorite by far. I think because it's my "go-to" classic that I tend to re-read a lot. I love most all of the spin-offs, so it keeps Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy fresh on my mind :D

    I also love Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights is by far, my favorite of hers.

    I do remember reading The Great Gatsby in high school, as well as Wuthering Heights, and I honestly don't think any movie has come close to capturing the essence of F. Scott Fitzgerald's book.

    Great post!

  11. I listed Pride and Prejudice, too. I actually disliked it (quite a bit) the first time I read it, because I completely misunderstood the book, and Austen. I read it again, though, a few years later, and found that my opinion had totally changed. Then, just last fall, I read it for a third time and fell completely head-over-heels in love with it. It's one of the most perfectly crafted novels ever written, and I'm glad I was finally able to "get it." :)

  12. I love Pride and Prejudice - have read it 3 times!!! I really need to read some of her other books now.

    I also remember reading and enjoying The Great Gatsby in high school. With the movie out, I've been thinking about rereading it.

    My Classics Post

  13. Awesome titles listed. Only Persuasion have I read.

    Happy Armchair BEA!

  14. If you like The Count of Monte Cristo you should read The Three Musketeers. I finished it last week and it was GREAT! I didn't want it to end.

  15. Anyone who loves P&P is a friend of mine! LOL! Great list of novels. Some I have read and others are on my "read before I die" list.

  16. I really love classics-I have found many of them to be quite accessible despite their fearsome reputations (example: Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy). If you set aside time to devote yourself to the page and can find other people to discuss it with online (or just make use of various guides), I think people would discover a lot to enjoy in different classic titles.


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