I think classics tend to get a bum rap. Possibly because of the way they’re taught in schools (being told to examine the minutiae of any book is enough to kill enthusiasm, in my opinion); possibly because some people just resent being told what to read by a teacher. Either way, I disliked most classics when I read them for school. Reading them on my own, however- that’s a different story.
I’m going to bore you by telling you about some of my favorites. You’ll notice that I don’t have any books involving brooding or swooning. I’m also sorry to report that, after reading it three times, I still don’t like Dracula. So, which classics stand out to me? Well, here goes:
The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After by Alexander Dumas. Well, buckle my swash! I’m pretty sure everyone knows at least the general gist of The Three Musketeers, but I think the flat-out fun of this book is often left out when people talk about it. Also, Twenty Years After needs to be more widely read. It follows the characters from The Three Musketeers, and what happens- you guessed it- twenty years after the events in that book. It’s got a few sad moments for me, but in a good way.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. I have no idea why this book isn’t more widely known. It feels very much like an early version of Batman (minus the wonderful toys), with the hero passing himself off as a useless fop in order to help those in anonymity. It’s a blast to read! Plus, saying you’re reading a book written by a Baroness is just awesome.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I love this book! It’s so nuanced, with a delightfully creepy feel to it. It’s incredibly well-written and surprisingly short. It’s easily read in a day, which is a good thing, because it’s hard to put down.
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney. If you’ve read much of my blog, you’re probably aware that I love all things fantastical. This carries over to classics. I love this epic poem so, so much! If you read this and enjoy it, I suggest watching The 13th Warrior, which is a movie adaptation of Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton, a book that is partially based on Beowulf.
Alice in Wonderland, and Alice, Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. Okay, I might be stretching by putting this in the “classics” category. I’ve seen it discounted as a classic, but others say firmly that it is. I’m in the latter group. The delightful nonsense in this book is anything but nonsense. I’m not going to go into the whole “this means ___” of the book because that’s for the reader to decide on their own. I just find it absolutely fantastic.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. First of all, Frankenstein isn’t the monster! Except that he is. You can tell that pseudo-joke at parties and your friends will probably roll their eyes, just like I’m sure you did just now. This book is a little bit heartbreaking, but so well-written.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I think this is another one of those books that some people argue isn’t a classic. Regardless on where you stand on this very important issue (ha!), these mysteries are bloody brilliant. I’ve reread them more times than I can count.
So, what about you? What classics have you found to be classically cool? Which ones do you hate? Let’s talk!