Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Classics

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Yay classics! I was a huuuuge reader of classics back in the day. When I was a teenager I was determined to conquer as many as possible. Some, obviously, were more enjoyable than others (I will never, ever love Catcher in the Rye or Hemingway or Thomas Hardy. I just won't. I have tried. I have come close. And I have failed.) (Okay I never came close with Hardy but that's because he's a depressing old bastard, really)

I'm only picking things published before I was born, since classics is a bit of a wibbly category and heck if I know what a classic is (besides what general convention says it is, something dense and boring written by an old white dude). But I love classics! Not all of them--some of them are REALLY WHITE DUDE-Y--but I've always been a huge lover of older literature. Obviously my tastes run toward the kinds with kissing and petticoats and brooding men with collar points, but there's stuff here for all the kids to enjoy.

1. Jane Austen

All of them. Don't bring your incorrect Austen hate to me, ladies and gents, because this lady is the original wry social wit and her novels are pure genius and I love every single one of them (okay, maybe I love Mansfield Park like 5% less than the others.)  Jane will always be queen for me, the bar by which I measure all love stories and all social comedies. Personal faves: Pride and Prejudice and Emma.

2. Jane Eyre and Villette by Charlotte Bronte

So while I like the understated social comedy of manners that is Austen, and her beautiful sensible perfectly balanced couples that overcome their inner foibles in order to engage in SENSIBLE, decourous, conventional marriage...I also LOVE Charlotte Bronte and her lightning struck trees, gothic manors, wise and overlooked young heroines, and broodingly problematic older gents with secrets and drinking problems, probably. Jane Eyre is a masterpiece (Jane is my homegirl, I will hear no smack against her), but I urge you to check out Villette, which is often overlooked.

3. Shakespeare

I LOVE Shakespeare. Super love. I know he's basically written in another language, and blah blah should be watched and not read, yes, agree, but Shakespeare is also freaking amazing and genius and funny and bawdy and TRAGIQUE.

and hot af

Personal faves: Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet (yes really that shit is classic and not just about hormones)

3. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Sheer bloody perfection.They made an excellent movie (WITH A YOUNG AND VERY HOT HENRY CAVILL IN IT SO YOU KNOW LOOK IT UP FOR REASON) but this movie about a young girl living in Sussex in the early 1930's in a crumbling castle with her beautiful sister, eccentric stepmother, impoverished and withdrawn author father is one of my favorite novels in history. It's got roots in Pride and Prejudice and it's just the most magical thing. Please read it.

oh my god and hello and you're welcome

4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

SYDNEY. CARTON. Okay? SYDNEY CARTON. Sydney Carton is just the best thing that's ever happened to me.

5. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

Much as I love Howard's End and A Passage to India, my heart is in a pensione in Florence with Lucy Honeychruch and Charlotte Bartlett, getting kissed in a field of violets. They also made a damn good movie of this one too with a baby Helena Bonham Carter in it

Why Bellatrix don't you look LOVELY in hats

6. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Why, they also made a great movie of this one, too, starring a baby Kate Beckinsale! Plus a hilarious Stephen Fry. But this charming satire stars Flora Poste, wealthy, orphaned and ruthlessly sensible London girl going to live with her only relatives, the rural and depressing Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm. She has no time for their doom and gloom, though, and sets about fixing up all their lives. It's the very best. Also there are handsome men who fly aeroplanes, so.

7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I read this in 2nd grade and I was utterly enchanted (also horrified, because my god that Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a fucking dementor of doom isn't he). I try to read it ever December, and fail more often than not, but I will forever love this book. And the Muppet movie version. That shit is classic.


8. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Oh my god this book hit me like a ton of bricks. I read this in one sitting. I took it with me to a Starbucks and didn't leave until I'd finished it (I'm sure I was late for something) and I felt like I'd been HAMMERED by it when I finally emerged from the fog of this book. It's about the London Blitz, and affairs (naturally), and it didn't soundalike it would be my thing (oh, yawn, affairs and religion, natch) but oh my god this book was just so amazing and the way those topics are explored, and love and jealousy and gahhhh my heart I cannot

9. Elizabeth Gaskell

I toyed with the idea of just putting North & South on  here (made famous by the miniseries starring Richard Armitage at his most beautiful) (in many ways I like the miniseries better than the novel, and okay a lot of that might be because of Richard Armitage at his most beautiful) but both Cranford and Wives and Daughters are so lovely that I want to give them recognition. I think my favorite Gaskell might actually be Wives and Daughters, though do be warned Gaskell died before they published the LAST CHAPTER so, um, watch the BBC miniseries to see how it all ends. Whoops.

AHEM, okay, sorry, what were we doing again

10. Anne Bronte

Anne doesn't get nearly the credit she deserves as an author. I'm a Charlotte fangirl (sorry, Emily) (although C did screw A over which was kinda rude of her) but I loooooove Anne's Agnes Grey and especially The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the first of which is also a governess-type book and the second of which is about a strange and mysterious and beautiful widow and feminism and love and IT'S BRILLIANT

Honorable mentions: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Edith Wharton's novels (NOT Ethan Frome, that is depressing garbage), Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, 

Childhood Faves: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

And one for the road


  1. Reading other's lists of classics always guilt trips me because, well, no matter how I try, I cannot get "into" reading classic lit. That said I did read one Jane Austen novel, started another and adore all of the Austen film adaptations. Plus, North and South is second to nothing and I also love Cold Comfort Farm and I Capture the Castle (as films). :)

  2. Wonderful list! Awesome that you did classics as well for your list this week; I ended up with classics as well and a lot of the books/authors you mentioned are on my list as well. Guh, how wonderful was Richard Armitage in N&S? Definitely my introduction to that fine actor as well ;)

    My TTT

  3. Ooh, classics, good choice! These are all such great choices, too! My favorites are TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, and WOMAN IN WHITE. Ahh, and we are just alike on childhood faves!!

  4. I really want to read I Capture The Castle. It's been on my TBR for what feels like forever. Great list. :-)

  5. Yessssss Richard Armitage was absolutely perfect in North and South. Sigh. Yes.

  6. I understand your pain - Thomas Hardy and I did not get on well.But I loved Catcher in the Rye and Old Man and the Sea. My TTT

  7. YES OF COURSE Austen, Gaskell, and Shakespeare.

    I LOVE A Tale of Two Cities as well because Sydney Carton. It's actually the one Dickens novel I adore. I'm fairly meh on all his others.

    The Importance of Being Earnest is a favorite of mine too. I confess to actually liking Hemingway quite a lot. A favorite of mine you didn't mention is Dumas. I adore all of his books but most especially The Count of Monte Cristo.

  8. Bookmarking this post for future reference, as there are quite a few titles on here that I have yet to read O_O But I adore Shakespeare! I started reading his work at a young(ish) age, and I'm still in love with how he wrote and what he wrote.

  9. I have a degree in English, so it's kind of embarrassing to admit how few classic novels I've actually read. In general, I just don't enjoy them. There are notable exceptions, of course -- P&P, JANE EYRE, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, etc. You mentioned some "modern" classics I loved as well -- TKAM (favorite book of all time), I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, etc. Fun list!

  10. Oh man Austen is the BEST. I finally started reading her books in my mid-20s and I love everything about them!

  11. I...ummm...something...brain melt...Richard Armitage.... <3

  12. I'm not a *huge* fan of classics but I LOVE The Importance of Being Earnest, Anne of Green Gables and To Kill a Mockingbird - they're excellent! I'll definitely check out the others you mentioned! :)

    Also: that gif of Henry Cavill gives me life.

  13. Richard Armitage, yesssss! I need to rewatch north & south sometime. Also I love jane austen too and tale of two cities is like my ultimate favorite classic. I want to reread it sometime because gosh I loved it so much. Yes to shakespeare! midsummer night's dream is my fave!

  14. OMG I need to see the I Capture the Castle movie NOW!! That gif *le sigh* I am also not a big classics fan, wish I was, but nope. :/ Austen is fabulous no matter what though!

  15. This comment is just to say I really liked this!

  16. All good authors! A Tale of Two Cities also featured in my list of favourite historical fiction. Although, my love for it doesn't stem out of Sydney Carton but out of Dickens' portrayal of the mood and atmosphere of the French Revolution.

    I have as yet to read E M Forster. Gibbons is a new name to me. favourite Bronte, although Jane Eyre IS in my favourite list. :D

    Enjoyed reading this!

    Risa @ Breadcrumb Reads

  17. I love this list so much! Mine would legit be nearly identical. All the Austen, A Room with a View, Cold Comfort Farm, and The End of the Affair! And North and South, which I usually describe as Pride and Prejudice but with more labor strikes.

  18. THIS IS SUCH A DELIGHTFUL POST. I just finished reading Much Ado About Nothing this very morn, Beatrice and Benedick ARE MY OTP FOR EVER AND EVER AND EVER WORLD WITHOUT END. Then there is Austen, aka the bae forever, gosh DARN I love her books, Emma being the fave ... I really want to reread Jane Eyre. I don't think I appreciated it much that time I read it aged 13 but I would love to return to it. What else ... SYDNEY CARTON. OH SYDNEY. And I Capture the Castle gahhh such a beautiful book!

    I have Westwood by Stella Gibbons which I'm yet to read (I've not read anything by her) but its opening passage is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read so I cannot WAIT. Ooh also I recently read We Have Always Lived in the Castle ...!!! Oh and Anne. ANNE! (Of the Green Gables variety, not the Bronte variety, I have not perused Anne of the Bronte variety.) Anne is my Queen. <33


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