Books, Link Ups

What’s On Your Bookshelf: Why Read the Classics?


Here are my October reads (with Villette, a paced book club piece, still in progress).

In glancing through this bundle, many of these selections are considered to be (or to involve) ‘literary classics.’ This begs two questions.

1. What defines ‘classic literature’?

Collins dictionary offers this simple definition:

“Classic literature is of very high quality and has become a standard against which similar writing is judged.”

Summarizing some of the longer, more complicated explanations, I would add:

“Classic works have withstood the test of time. They have ignited or influenced literary trends, styles and movements.”

2. Why should we dust off our old classics and read (or re-read) them?

With the above definition in mind, here are my top ten reasons for loving, reading and recommending classics. Classic literature:

1. Helps us to slow down. (Most of us could use a good dose of this in our fast-paced world.)

2. Is timeless, has universal appeal and is relevant to multiple generations.

3. Transports us to faraway places and long-ago times. It intimately reveals harsh contrasts and striking similarities to our current, everyday lives.

4. Engages us with the thoughts of some of the best thinkers and extraordinary minds.

5. Helps us to ponder life’s big questions.

6. Reinforces that no single piece of writing stands in isolation. All writing is part of a much larger literacy legacy.

7. Provides aha moments. It helps us make connections to history, philosophy and social movements (to highlight just a few areas). The classics help us to uncover profound influences upon other books that we’ve read.

8. Nourishes our brains. According to researchers, close reading of quality literature serves as cognitive training shaping how we read and pay attention while encouraging us to use new brain regions (This is Your Brain on Jane Austin).

9. Reminds us of the joy of being read to out loud. Classic Literature translates very well to audiotape (at least IMHO). Thus we reap the pleasure and benefits of active listening, information processing, creativity and critical thinking.

10. Most classics are much less challenging to read than your HS English teacher made them seem. The pleasure gained by reading classics likely goes far beyond what your teenage self remembers. (No offence meant to any individual HS English teachers. I was one myself!)

If you would like to supplement your reading list with more classic literature, here is an excellent place to start: 100 Books You Need to Read.

In case you thought I forgot, here are my quick reviews of this month’s reads. Just click on the titles below.

In Search of April Raintree
Flashes of Life (by writer and fellow blogger, Pam Wright. HIGHLY recommended!)
Our Souls at Night
The Call of the Wild
Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart

Villette – Our book club has just finished reading Chapter XXX. This novel began very slowly for me. It took me quite a while to catch on to the narrator’s cagey style. I am now finding the story to be completely addictive. The autobiographical details sewn into Villette are fascinating. Reading Claire Harman’s book alongside this one opened brand new doors for me. Mind blown!

What’s your favourite classic novel? What’s been on your bookshelf recently?

Debbie, Jo, Sue and I hope you’ll join us and share what you’ve been reading, what you’d like to read or any other book-related thoughts. #whatsonyourbookshelf.

Cookie the Pom Joins Book Club (photo courtesy of @cookiethepom).

You can view what others have been reading here:
Jo
Sue
Debbie
Deb V
Jennifer
Carol
Natalie
Laurie
Thistles and Kiwis
Yvette
Anna
Suzanne


117 thoughts on “What’s On Your Bookshelf: Why Read the Classics?”

  1. I majored in English Lit in undergrad so you know I’m onboard with reading the classics. I do think that “#5 Helps us to ponder life’s big questions” is spot on. That being said it’s been years since I read the classics, having had my head turned by more recent novels!

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    1. Hi, Ally – I’m not surprised that you were an English Lit undergrad. No wonder I like you so much! 😀 Yup, #5 is one of my biggest takeaways from reading Classics as well.
      Glad to see you back in the blogosphere. You were greatly missed.

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  2. I completely agree with all these points. I am reading The Brothers Karamazov and am loving it. I joined a readathon and we are reading one chapter a day. It is the perfect way to read this book as it gives you time to digest what you read. I try to read a classic every now and then.

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    1. Hi, Darlene – A one chapter per day Read-A-Thon is so cool. What an awesome idea!!
      My Classics Book Club takes each book that we are going to read (all Brontë books so far) and divides them into 4 or 5 sections. We then meet once every 2 or 3 weeks to discuss the section that we have read. While this means that we get through each book quite slowly, it also means that we have fabulous discussions — and no one ever needs to read 500 pages in one night because they got busy with other things. 😀
      We also bake something from each book when we are finished reading and discussing. Win-win-win!

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      1. Hi, Darlene – The ‘baking wrap-up’ to our book discussions is awesome! We recently finished reading Villette, so our next session will be making ‘Pears Helene’ as baked pears featured in the book. I highly recommend this addiiton to other book clubs.

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  3. What I really appreciate from reading the books we’re reading is the realisation that the more things change the more they are the same. Sure, it’s a different time and culture and all of that, but the narrowness of experience and the perspective of distance somehow makes it all richer. Does that even make sense?

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    1. Well said Jo. That is exactly why a book like ‘Emma’ could be reimagined as a modern-day ‘Clueless’. Complex characters can be presented simplistically without changing the message of the human condition and matters of the heart.

      Donna, I love the classics for all of the reasons you mentioned. My favorites are anything written by Jane Austen or Louisa Mae Alcott, I also loved Rebecca, The Good Earth, The Great Gatsby, and The Picture of Dorien Grey to mention a few. My book club chooses at least one classic each year, which is always fun to look forward to. Good historical fiction lights me up too, so I tend to favor those over the classics for an everyday read. Your head definitely has to be in the right space to ‘enjoy’ the language and complexity of most classics.

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  4. I am reading the Stephen Mitchell “version” (he doesn’t call it a translation) of Gilgamesh. Since it’s the oldest known written epic (older than the Odyssey, Iliad or the Bible), I guess it would be the granddaddy of classics, right?

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  5. These are all great points Donna and I think my take home point from our ‘paced’ reading of the classics so far, including Villette, is the way we can unpack the themes which helps me to find understanding and clarity. The topics covered by these classics are just that, classics and never go out of style. Sure the style of language they’re written in may change, and Charlotte uses a lot of words to say something which in current times could be cut down A LOT, but they are still timeless scenarios showing how much and how little things have actually changed. Really enjoyed your take!

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    1. Hi, Debbie – Your thoughts here are very wise. Classic literature provides us with such timeless scenarios. It describe situations and human experiences that are so very different and so much the same all at once! I LOVE discussing books, unpacking themes together and piggybacking off of each others ideas. This is so thought-provoking for me, and gives me much greater understanding and enjoyment than when I simply read on my own undiscussed!

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  6. For Christmas a few years ago I asked for (and got) a scratch-off poster of 100 Essential Novels. There are many of the classics on it that I am reading/re-reading. I was surprised that Little Women was not on the list. Right now I am reading Lolita by Nabokov.

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    1. Hi, Janet – It’s wonderful to hear from you. I agree about the shortcomings (and the ensuing frustrations) of “Best literature/author reading lists”. This past summer, Richard, our youngest son and I worked on a jigsaw puzzle that depicted “80 of the greatest literary talents” beginning with Dante and going to J.K. Rowlings. Only one Canadian writer was mentioned (Margaret Atwood). I spent most of our puzzle doing time compalining “Where was Lucy Maud Montgomery? Mordecai Richler? Margaret Lawrence? Leonard Cohen?…. You get the idea!

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  7. Great post, Donna! I love reading (and rereading) classic books. It’s like time travel, to me. The era is often completely different to now, but the human experience is still the same. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même!

    Deb

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    1. Hi, Deb – Yours is another great definition of Classic Literature. (You are very clever!) Where we you when I was writing this post?!! Oh yay, you and I were hiking. Well, that’s okay then. Looking forward to seeing you on the trail again soon!

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  8. Hi Donna excellent post and because of you and our bookclub discussions I’ve come to love Classic Literature even more. I totally agree with all the reasons you have listed as to why we should read Classic Literature. I must transition to audio books as well as I actually love being read to which doesn’t happen at all these days. I’m the one reading to my grandsons and that is pure joy. xx

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      1. Hi, Sue – I agree about nothing being sweeter than reading to your grandchildren….except perhaps for having them read to you! Until then, I do highly recommend audiotapes. They are especially perfect for classics. I get mine for free from our local library. I usually read part of the book in book form (its much faster that way), and listen to part in audio form (especially when I am walking alone…or doing dreaded house cleaning)! Thank you for cohosting as well. I love teamwork! ❤

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  9. I love to revisit some of my favorite classics. The list is fantastic! It’s funny how much more I enjoy the classics when I’m not forced to read them. I’ll admit, in my high school and college days I was more interested in true crime stories. I don’t touch them now given my day job. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi, Jill – That’s so true — when we are forced to do most things, that pressure kills much of the natural joy that we may have had. I hate to see this happen to books. I liked The Great Gatsby, Farewell to Arms and The Pearl when I read them for HS English. But when I read them on my own as an adult I loved them so much more and barely recognized them as the same stories. Time, perspective and choice make such a difference.
      True Crime? I applaud you. I have been wayyyy to chicken to take on that genre at any point in my reading history.
      Speaking of pleasurable reading, I greatly look forward to your next book (which I have on preorder). Hope all is well for you.

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  10. Have you come across Italio Calvino’s definition of a classic – he makes 14 points which I have found helpful in trying to understand why I love classics so much.

    You make some excellent points too. The only one that I’m not sure of is number 3. Good fiction “Transports us to faraway places and long-ago times” doesn’t it – but that doesn’t necessarily make it a classic does it? Maggie O’Farrell transports us to the times of William Shakespeare and does it brilliantly in Ham et but I wouldn’t say it is a classic…

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    1. Hi, Bookertalk. Thank you for your very insightful comment. You reminded me once again why I love discussing books/reading so much. I have read Calvino’s 14 points of what makes a classic. I especially love his point, “Your classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent, and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it” — allowing for some subjectivity in defining what classics mean to us.
      I completely agree that my #3 also applies to other books that are not classics (Hamnet was a great example). I also believe that other points on my list can be applied to many great books that are not actual classics. I’d even be so bold as to say that this is also true (at least for me) with some of Calvino’s points. Perhaps a better definition for classics is that they possess many of the qualities listed, not just the attributes listed in a single bullet point.
      Super great topic for discussion. Thank you for this thought-provoking comment.

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      1. You’ve given me a fascinating question to think about today. Maybe we need to think about Calvino’s points as elements of a classic that can be present in any combination. So if a book just meets point 1, that’s not enough to view it as a classic but if it meets (say) 4 or 5 points then we can elevate it to that status

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      2. This is such a fascinating topic. I believe that you are on to something! For example, if we take Calvino’s 1st point. I always say that I am re-reading Bill Bryson (my son always says this too). But that alone would not make it Classic Literature. So, let’s take a different point from Calvino. “A classic is a book which even when we read it for the first time gives the sense of rereading something we have read before.” For me this is true with many books, e.g. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (in a large part this is due to the fact that I already knew the history behind the story). So, perhaps a true classic needs to achieve multi points on Calvino’s scale. And, perhaps Calvino’s points were not all created equally (with some ‘counting’ more than others).
        Yup, definitely a wonderful topic for discussion. Thank you for initiating this!

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  11. Reading the classics is a BIG one on my ToDo list. I slogged through HS English but when I went for the MFA, I enjoyed reading all the short stories and novels by the greats. It was just the tip of the iceberg, so I need to return to it. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Thanks, Antoinette – I’m glad to see that reading more classics is at the top of your To Do list. If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby in a while, I highly recommend it. Jane Eyre too!
      I hope that your own writing and book-related work is going well. I greatly admire all that you accomplish as a writer.

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  12. I must confess I’m not a great lover of classics though I do love Jane Austen.

    I’m actually going to see the play Animal Farm this weekend and am sure we were forced to read the book in school but remember little about it now, so that should be interesting.

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  13. Hi, Deborah – Thanks so much for dropping by. Once we are finished with our Brontë books, our book club will then go on to read Jane Austen. Even if we read just Austen’s six major novels, that will likely take us most of next year. (Do ask Jo an interesting design she has in mind for when we read these books). 😀
    Enjoy Animal Farm. I’d be interested in knowing if any of what you read in HS comes back to you during the production!

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  14. I’m reading lots of middle-grade books these days as that’s the genre I’m trying to write for. I just finished a great read called The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. My newest one is The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.

    I’ve also read Flashes of Life. I read it in one sitting because it was so good. When I taught 5th and 6th grades, I read Call of the Wild to my students.

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    1. Hi, Peter – Great to hear from you. I read Flashes of Life in one sitting as well. It was so uplifting and inspiring I didn’t want to put it down. Reading in the genre of what you are writing makes great sense. Good luck with your writing. I hope that all is going well for you.

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  15. I love your top-ten reasons to read classics, Donna. Especially the last one, haha. Even though I didn’t grow up in an English-speaking country with English books. 🙂 Very insightful, inspiring, and encouraging. So lovely to see Pam’s book here as well. It is a joy to read.

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    1. Thanks so much, Liesbet. I’m glad that you especially enjoyed Reason #10. Since I was a HS English Teacher (at least briefly) I felt that I could sneak that one in. I’m glad that you also enjoyed Pam’s book. It was truly an uplifting read.
      I hope that your travels are continuing to go well.

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  16. I’ve not read Call of the Wild and I just gave our copy away on the fence. Perhaps that was a mistake. I did come across a quote by London and it made me hesitate, but we’re swimming in books so they have to go.Might track it down at the library.

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    1. Hi, Lydia – Awesome to see you here. I totally understand about ‘swimming in books’. I regularly need to do a book culling and donate to our local second hand bookstore. I greatly admired Jack London’s writing, but the relentless cruelty was difficult to take. I found the Call of the Wild to be quite haunting and am glad that I avoided reading it as a child.

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  17. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite. Sadly, in a rush to purge due to our upcoming move, my Mother’s copy of it got donated. I never really thought of myself as a classics reader, and was surprised to be refreshed on how many I’d actually read after checking out some of the links. Interesting post!!

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    1. Hi, Tracey – The reading of classic books can sneak up on us. Even if we don’t think we’ve read that many, over time, we’ve probably read more than we first realized. You have given me a great reminder to go ‘borrow’ one of my mom’s favourite books from her place. I will have to check out what book treasures she has stored.
      I haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird for a while. Definitely time for a reread!

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  18. I just started reading What Could be Saved by Liese O’Hall Schwarz. I’m not too far in, but so far I like it a lot. Perhaps for my next book, I will select a classic. My brain could use some nourishment.

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  19. I’ll be joining. As usual, I’m a day late. Surely there is some symbolism in that? 😉 I liked your take on why we should read the classics. Very good points! I am fascinated by the sweep of history and find it interesting to read about how some things have changed and how some things have remained the same.

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    1. Hi, Laurie – That ‘sweep of history’ gets me every time. I’m always stunned by how many things have stayed the same. And I’m often saddened how we (humankind in general) so often have failed to learn from some pretty harsh lessons.
      I’m delighted that you will be joining us again this month. It’s our posting schedule that may be mixing people up – (3rd Friday of the month in Australia, 3rd Thursday of the month in North America…..but, this month the 3rd Thursday in NA was the 4th Friday in Australia. Confused yet? We were too.) 😀

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  20. Oh my gosh, I’m reading this post, nodding my head in total agreement, and then I came up to your list of your month’s reviews – and MY BOOK IS THERE!! Thank you for the beautiful review. I had no idea it was on Goodreads (yes, I’m quite amiss at reading my books’ reviews). Anyway, you can imagine my joy that you enjoyed Flashes of Life. Thank you beyond measure.
    I really like your listed reasons to read classic novels. I’d add another one – by reading an “old” book we find out how much things (people/emotions/thoughts/philosophies) really don’t change over time. That a character in 1810 feels/thinks the same way as we do, in the 21st century. And the lessons we learn from these characters!
    Not sure this is a classic, but I’m reading (listening to) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Robbie Cheadle had reviewed and recommended the book on Audibles. I read it when I was 14 years old, and saw the movie at least half a dozen times. Listening to it now with an adult viewpoint is eye-opening. Yes, it’s racist, but to me that’s how we learn – in this case, how the Southerners in that time, the wealthy ones who owned plantations etc., viewed their world. And Scarlett! What a b – t-h! But as a young teen, I thought her mesmerizing. So that’s another point of reading the classics that maybe we “had” to read in high school. Now, as adults, we may read a book totally differently.

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    1. Hi, Pam – I’m delighted to have added some joy to your day. I found Flashes of Life to be totally uplifting and inspiring — I highly recommended it to others.
      I so agree that we can read early works and find ourselves relating to the characters’ thoughts and emotions, finding them remarkably relevant to our present day. I always find that so remarkable. In reading the Brontë books, I had the aha discovery that the sisters are often considered to be early igniters of the feminist movement.
      I like that you are rereading Gone with the Wind. There is much research confirming what you already know. Our age, circumstances, and life experiences have a huge influence on what we are reading. Jo (from And Anyways) loves Wuthering Heights. When she read it as a teen, she thought it was a passionate romance. When she read it a decade ago, her biggest takeaway was the cruelty. On her recent reading, she saw WH as a complex, multi-layered novel, with deep historical, psychological, 19th-century classism and feminist messages (to name only a few).
      I’m so glad that you dropped by today, I was hoping that you would!

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      1. Classics are wasted in the youth in many ways! When I tutored in the high school classes, the students’ eyes would roll backward (as in close-to-napping) when the English teacher explained a novel, while I sat upright, at the edge of my seat, drinking it all in. 🙂

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    1. Hi, Natalie – Thank you so much for joining in. I greatly appreciate it. War and Peace is an impressive classic. I read it in University but would love to get back to it for a rereading. I agree with you that our opinions on books that we reread can significantly change over time. I am off to read your Recent Reads and Fall Colours now. See you there!

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  21. Rereading the classics is an excellent idea. As I have aged I bring a different. perspective to a book I read as a much younger woman. Our souls at night is one of my favorites.

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    1. Hi, Bernadette – I’m glad that you enjoyed Our Souls at Night. I found it to be such a simple but deeply moving novel. I completely agree about bringing a different perspective to books as we age. The Washington Post and Goodreads have suggested their top recommendations to read from Age 1 to 100. I’m not sure that I completely agee, but it is a fun list to peruse! https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/137243.The_Washington_Post_s_Books_for_the_Ages

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      1. Hi, Bernie – Like you, I was surprised by some of the book choices — especially if the suggestion is to read them chronilogically by our age. My conclusion was the same as yours – the list was very fun to peruse (but perhaps a bit subjective). 😀

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  22. Hi Donna – my reading is more my finding an interesting book – buying it and adding it to those I’ve got left here – I have taken a whole load down to the 2nd hand bookshop – more to follow … but after I’ve read them.

    I’ve just listened to Bernadine Evaristo – winner of the Booker Prize in 2019 with Girl, Woman, Other – about her latest book ‘Manifesto: On Never Giving Up’ – and her journey to where she is now. She had some fascinating insights that really hit home to me … I was listening to the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week (5 part precised version of the book) – she read it herself – yes I bought them both! Hopeless … still after next week – there’ll be more proper reading.

    I’m keeping this post as a reference point … and will be back – love all the links and friends you tie in to – cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary – Thank you for your kind words. Inspired by one of your blog posts, I’ve ordered Diana Kennedy’s ‘Nothing Fancy.’ I am still waiting to receive it from our library (that can take a while). I look forward to reading it.
      Evaristo’s book also sounds fascinating. Once again, I greatly appreciate your recommendation!

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  23. Hi, Donna;
    I’ve avoided classic literature like the plague, but you may have convinced me to give it a try 🙂
    I don’t know if P.G. Wodehouse counts as classic literature, but I went through a ton of his books decades ago, and am now enjoying them again as audiobooks 🙂

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    1. Hi, Aimer – It’s great to hear from you. I would definitely count P.G. Wodehouse as a Classic Comic Novelist. If there is a list of top Comic Novelists of the 20th Century, I am sure that his name is near the top. What a great idea to reread them via audiobooks. I’d love to know if/how your current impression of them differs from when you read them years ago.

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      1. I remember laughing out loud. Haven’t done that yet, but I’m only on the second book 🙂
        I’m trying audiobooks for the first time, something to listen to while I knit. Still prefer reading though 🙂

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  24. I love Our Souls at Night! I recently reread Joy in the Morning, Tomorrow Will Be Better, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…..my fav is still Tree Grows in Brooklyn! Upon recently reading Gilead (future classic?!), my hubs remarked that it reminded him of Old Man and the Sea in some ways, so that’s my next classic reread. Classics are books that always have more to say!

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    1. Hi, Carol – I love when the reading of one book leads us directly to the reading of another. I haven’t (yet) read Gilead but I have heard good things about it, and was aware that it had won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I wholeheartedly agree that “classics are books that always have more to say.”

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  25. I like your observation about how classics are easier to read than one’s h.s. teacher might have intimated. I avoided them like the plague after college, but the one thing retirement does is allow one to open the mind a little bit more. I struggled with Trollope a little bit a few years ago, but enjoyed Dickens without the pressure of an essay afterwards. 🙂 – Marty

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    1. Ahhhh, the pressure of writing an essay after reading. That just trigered a bit of PTSD for me! 😀
      Funny that you mentioned Dickens. Our youngest son is a huge reader (he’s a Geography Professor). He said that he recently began reading Bleak House but simply couldn’t finish it. That sort of (and its a bit “sorta) made me want to read it to find out what was so bad.
      I hope that your party planning (and associated household chores) are coming along nicely!

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  26. Reading is such a great past-time, Donna! My mom instilled our love for reading at a very early age…by 4 I could read. A day before we would leave for our annual 2-3 week camping trips to Yosemite, we stopped at the local library and loaded up a box of books. I would read every one of them during that time. There is something special about reading a good book while sitting on a sunny mountain meadow. I read when my family fished. Fun times. Great memories. Your reasons for re-reading the classics are spot-on. Many I need to read for the first time. I took science fiction as literature (option for English) both in high school and college, so that genre ended up being my classics 😉

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    1. Hi, Terri – It’s awesome that you come from a family of readers, and have been reading steadily since a young age. Regular reading has been associated with numerous benefits (including ones that I wouldn’t have thought of like fighting depression symptoms and lowering blood pressure and heart rate). Sadly, I have never been a Sci Fi reader. I know that there is much that I have missed out on because of this! 😀

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    1. Thanks so much for dropping by. Once finished with the Brontë sisters, our book club will then move on to Jane Austen. I love the Brontës but am greatly looking forward to Austen as well. I will keep an eye out for Doctor Glas!

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    1. That’s an excellent question, Janis! Author Christopher C. Smith defines classic literature as “any book that is not a new book, one that merits re-reading, 5, 10, even 100 years or more after its publication.” Entertainment Weekly released “The New Classics”—100 of the “best reads from 1983 to 2008” (https://ew.com/article/2007/06/18/new-classics-books/). This diverse list includes Bridget Jones’ Diary, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Stone Diaries (I strongly agree with the latter). Once again, this supports that the concept of ‘classics’ is fluid. Although I don’t agree with Smith on a book reaching ‘classic status’ 5 (or even 10) years after publication, having fluidity in the definition makes sense to me.
      How is everything there? Miss you!

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    1. Thanks, Frank. It is often hard to tell how many books that we have read, especially when we don’t visually see them piled up. That’s one of the many reasons that I love Goodreads. It is also a great system to get book recommendations from friends.
      All is well here. I hope that all is well there too. I am off to your site now. See you there!

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  27. i read a ton of classics when I was younger (I was an English major), but I haven’t read many in recent years. This month I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale (for the first time–finally), and it is wonderful. Atwood’s writing is breathtaking.

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  28. Donna,
    I read pretty often, but my taste tends toward crime and mystery novels, with Nelson DeMille, Lee Child, and John Grisham among my favorite authors. I have read almost all of the Travis McGee series by John McDonald. I know I need to expand my mind a bit, but I was pleased to check eleven of the top 100 off the list as completed. I consider Huckleberry Finn as a classic and have read it twice. As a teenager, I envied and was inspired by Huck floating down the Mississippi on a raft helping a runaway enslaved man find freedom. Great post! Joe

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  29. Hi, Joe – From the authors that you have listed, it sounds like you are doing a great job expanding your mind while reading what you love. When I was growing up, I was also inspired by Huckleberry Finn and wanted to be floating down that raft too. Actually, I believe I still have my childhood copy of this book. Thank you for the reminder to dig it out and give it a re-read. Hope all is well for you and Helen.

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  30. Hi – I will try and join this challenge – I have a few books from September !
    And also – enjoyed your defining of the classics –
    And #8 appealed to me the most – I checked out the link (Brain on Jane Austen) research regarding the classics and attention!
    The cognitive dynamics and focus we bring to reading is so interesting and many of those writers would turn I their grave to see what this brain scans can show us with their works!
    Thanks for sharing so much juicy stuff here and the photo of that very tall book case was fun!

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    1. Hi, Yvette – I’m glad that you liked the ‘Your Brain on Jane Austin’ link. I love that article.
      I fully agree that most classic writers would roll over knowing brain scans show from reading their works. More than that, since many of those writers struggled for recognition in their lifetime they would likely be SHOCKED to realize that their works are so widely read today…and studied in school! 😀
      I’d love for you to post to this challenge. Since your last post fit this theme so well, I went ahead and added it to the main body of this post.

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      1. Oh thanks so much for adding a lingo to my post! You really edified me with that kind gesture – I have been a little busy with life stuff and have cut back on blogging so I kind of feel a disconnect (plan to resume my normal mode in December or January) and so the smile I have right now is from your kindness and inclusion – thanks

        Oh and when I do share my three books from September – one of them is called “hormone boost” which had some helpful health tips but had a terrible title – IMO – and will share more when I post about them – even if it is in November (because I assume this is monthly?)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Yvette – I just saw your comment about my link to your post giving you a boost. I’m so glad. Yes — #WOYBS is monthly. You can join in anytime at all. No rush, no stress. We are very happy for the participation and the dialogue! 😀

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  31. Hi again
    I forgot to add that I read a good chunk of Les Mis by victor hugo earlier this month
    And one more takeaway to add to reading classics might be the perk of seeing some things are timeless
    For example – there is a section where Hugo shows that two different newspapers reported Jean valJean’s court appearance – and both articles were biased and incorrect! Sadly news today is also often biased and incorrect and lately had Become so “colorized” for politics – sad and reading Hugo’s examples reminded me that humans have a tendency to behave this way – then and now and maybe in antiquity

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    1. Les Mis…another wonderful book to add to my ever growing pile! 😀
      It’s so true that the classics remind us that things that seem so specific to our current time period, were often very relevant more than 100 years ago. Biased/incorrect news is a great example!

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  32. I love this challenge. Janis suggested I check it out and tag my last post since it was about re-reading. So I did. As a retired middle school librarian, I appreciate that you are encouraging the classics. I love Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope is my go to when I want a cozy read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Anna – It’s wonderful to meet you here. Any friend of Janis’ is a friend of mine!
      I am a retired Middle School Principal/Deputy Director and an English major. Sounds like we have much in common. I also seldom read a book twice for the same reasons as you (but I have begun to do this a bit more lately). I’m off to visit your site now. See you there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Amanda – I’m currently in three different bookclubs. (During the early part of pandemic lockdown I was in 5).
        Our Classics Book Club met this evening. Somehow we never run out of things to say! 😀

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  33. Donna, a wonderful literary post! Your ten reasons for reading classics are terrific and I agree wholeheartedly with them all. NO. 8 Nourishes our brains particularly stands out for me as I feel we should never take the gift of our brains for granted and they need some TLC as well. The article was fascinating and I enjoyed scrolling through the top 100 books – and I’ve read a lot of these. At university, I read many German Classical Books (German being my degree) and I love Goethe, Schiller, Kleist etc. Your review of the Charlotte Bronte biography is captivating and I’ve snagged myself a second-hand copy. As young we lived near Haworth and often visited the Parsonage – their little writing books, written both ways, were charming and moving!

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    1. Hi, Annika – That is so cool that you lived near Haworth. I’m totally jealous that you had easy access to the Bronte museum and surroundings. I haven’t yet read Goethe, Schiller or Kleist. I need to look up their translations. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A good one to start with and shorter than many of the others is ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ – a 1774 epistolary novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

        Talking of Bronte museum I have by coincidence come across one of their brochures from the early ’80s, all marked with paper notes in my childish scrawl – obviously in preparation for an essay!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That so cool about finding the Bronte House brochure – scrawled with your youthful notes. That is definitely a keeper.
        I looked up The Sorrows of Young Whether on our library site. It cautioned, “Realists could handle it, but dreamers beware.” Are there any other German classics on your list that may be a bit less sorrowful?

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