What Classics Should I Read in 2015?

Jane Eyre_CoverI have been an unadventurous reader in recent years. I read about 50 books per year. They are usually contemporary and often written by authors I already know. About half are by Canadian writers (I have a soft spot for CanLit and enjoy reading emerging writers from my country. That’ll never change.)

That said, there are several “classic” novels that I have yet to read. I am even ashamed that some have been on my “too-read” list since high school —like To Kill a Mocking Bird and Brave New World. Seeing as I will turn forty in a few weeks, that’s a long time.

This past year, I have read a few not-yet-read “classics”, including The Bell Jar, Gulliver’s Travel, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Let’s face it. I only read them because they were on reading lists for courses in my Professional Writing program.

So, I am challenging myself to read 12 “classic novels” in 2015. I’ll write one “classic” review per month.

Here are the novels that I have already added on that reading list:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

There are two other authors I’d like to add to this list: Anthony Trollope and George Elliot. I do not know which of their books to read first. I have read neither authors in the past. Do you have suggestions on which of their books to tackle?

I’d also be interesting in knowing your favorite classics, or the ones you think should be on anyone’s list. Here are some of my favourite classics: Jane Eyre (the best novel ever written, bar none), Tess of the D’Ubervilles, Of Mice and Men, and The Great Gatsby.

What classic novel would you like to see added to my reading list?


25 thoughts on “What Classics Should I Read in 2015?

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Tess is like Wuthering Heights. You either love it or HATE it. 🙂 I look forward to reading Bronte’s Villette. I hope it’s as good as Jane Eyre (Though, what am I saying? Nothing beats Jane Eyre!)

    • Carole Besharah says:

      I did not enjoy Wuthering Heights. Catherine and Heathcliff didn’t do it for me. In fact… I’ve been know to rage about that book 😉

      I’ve read a few Jane Austen novels (including P & P and S & S). They were good fun. Gone With the Wind. Yeah! That’s a great suggestion! Also, I never watched that movie (Can you believe it?) Thanks!

  1. I want SO much to be stunned and shocked and all that about your failure to read To Kill a Mockingbird but then I decided to be glad that it wasn’t part of your collective Canadian conscience. I’d recommend at least the beginning of Anna Karenina. Until the part when Tolstoy turns tiresome (to me. :))

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Hi Cris!

      Ahhhhh… but see, I am French-Canadian. So, I went to a French high school. The books in our English classes seem to be somewhat different than that of my Anglophone friends. Many of my English-Canadian peers read it in high school. I’m the odd girl out when it come to To Kill A Mockingbird.

      As for Anna Karenina… I thought of adding that one to my list. Trouble is, I know the ending. Do you think I can still enjoy the [long, long, long] novel regardless of that knowledge?

      • Re: To Kill a Mockingbird … Well, then it’s about time you corrected that! (Ha!)

        Frankly, I don’t think anyone should enjoy Anna Karenina in its entirety. It was probably a great way to use time during long Russian winters, but jeeeeeeeezus. I’d read only the first third and only because it’s Tolstoy. It reminds me of the young intellectuals toting around their copies of Ulysses and pretending they LOOOOOVE it. Oh please. It’s fantastic if you’re into semiology and literary criticism techniques, but as a read? KILL.ING.ME!!

        I would gently, gently recommend a reading of The Wasteland, but only if you enjoy detective work and exploring all the references. I do, so love it much, but appreciate that it would make someone else’s brain hurt.

        PS. This is fun. 🙂

      • Carole Besharah says:

        THIS!!! >>>> “It reminds me of the young intellectuals toting around their copies of Ulysses and pretending they LOOOOOVE it. Oh please.” Yyyyyyyeeeessss!

        Now, you know I’ll have to add The Wasteland to my list. Thanks Cris.

  2. You already have so many good books on your list! The first one that came to mind that I’d recommend as a short but very touching read is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Ah que oui! J’adore Le petit prince!

      I have read that one a few times, but in my native French. So glad that you love it too. Any other suggestions?

  3. I keep meaning to do this too. There are so many new books coming out its hard to go back and read classics. I’m looking forward to To Kill A Mockingbird and Jayne Eyre. Have you read The Lord of The Flies?

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Hi there!

      Oh YES! I read it in high school. Loved it. My 16-year-old son read it this year for his Grade 11 novel study :). Actually, I’d love to reread it soon.

      You should make a list too! And Jane Eyre MUST be the first one on your list. It would be fun to do this challenge alongside another blogger. Do it. Do it.

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Thanks Heather.

      You know, David Copperfield is a great idea. I liked Great Expectations, a lot. Henry James is a must, too. Hmmm.

      I agree that Sense and Sensibility is Austen’s best.


  4. What a good idea! If you haven’t already, I would recommend The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. ( A more modern classic but one of my top two favourites.) I’ve always been more of a Dostoevsky fan than Tolstoy so I would recommend The Brothers Karamazov. Also, A Tale of Two Cities for your Dickens quota! I could go on….:)

    • Carole Besharah says:

      The Brothers Karamazov! YES! Need to read that. I read a lot of Dickens when I was younger, and I’d like to revisit Thank for the suggestions Karissa.

  5. I really liked “Villette”. I don’t know if it’s better or worse than “Jane Eyre” because I didn’t it read (yet!).
    I wonder if you’d be interested in Henri Troyat. It’s a franco-russian author, and it’s pretty much by favourite ever. He wrote al kind of books, but you could maybe try “L’Araigne” (got the Goncourt in 1938). Also, all of his biographies (Balzac, Zola, Maupassant, or the russian tsars…) really read like (gripping) fiction novels, they are fascinating!

    • Carole Besharah says:

      I must admit, I’ve never read Troyat. I should. If you think L’araigne is the one I should tackle, I will take note of it.

      A gripping Maupassant bio should good too! Thanks Angélique!

      • L’araigne or one of his bio is equally good. Just be careful: once you’ve read of his bio, you just can’t stop. I found myself reading the biographies of all the russian tsars and tsarines before I knew it.

  6. I like your list. If you’re going to read George Eliot (and I recommend you do), Middlemarch would be my choice. If you have world enough and time, War and Peace is the historical novel for the ages. I love Madame Bovary and a couple of Balzac’s best. If you’re talking Troyat, consider the Amelie and Pierre trilogy. As for Fitzgerald, I like Tender Is the Night above Gatsby. And The Count of Monte Cristo made me glad I’d improved my French, but don’t plan on doing anything else, like working, once you start.

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Oh, such great suggestions!

      You know, Le comte de Monte-Cristo was my father’s father book in high school. I should really read it too. I just googled the Amélie and Pierre trilogy, and it sounds wonderful. For a French-speaking Canuck, I (shamefully) do not read enough in my native tongue. J’adore Madame Bovary!

      Thanks for the suggestions.

  7. Joelle Ethier says:

    Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird for sure.
    I really like Edith Wharton, but not everybody does…
    For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway) was an amazing novel.
    Other ‘younger’ classics (at least in my mind) Cat’s Cradle (Vonnegut) and Farenheit 451 (Bradbury).
    Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.
    (Let me know if you want to borrow any of the books suggested by myself and the others, I have many of them)

    • Carole Besharah says:

      I just finished To Kill A Mockingbird (I cheated and started early 😉 ). I loved it. Review to come!

      You introduced me to Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth years ago, and I have since read two more of her books. Just this year, I read a couple of her short stories.

      I’ll add Kurt Vonnegut to my list, just for you!. 😉

      Thanks for the suggestions.

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