A few years ago, classic fiction made up about a quarter of the books I read in a year. Particularly modern classics, such as F.Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, George Orwell (to name but a few). In the last couple of years, no longer studying English literature, classics have not only slipped away from my compulsory reading lists, but they have disappeared from my reading altogether. Which is a shame, because some of my favourite books are classic novels, and I’m certain that I’m missing out on the opportunity to find a new favourite, every month I go without adding a new classic to my TBR. There is something almost as magical in a classic as a fantasy novel; gaining an insight into the past through the eyes of the past; through the eyes of influential individuals whose work has stood the test of time.
I’ve recently been noticing my reading tastes beginning to change. While my reading lists have mostly consisted of YA books for the past six or seven years of my life, I am finally beginning to want to read some of these stories less and less (I’m planning on writing a more in-detail post about this at a later date). With this change, I’m beginning to really want to read some more classics again. I’ve already mentioned a few on recent lists, but I’ve also been thinking about the classics that I want to read, not necessarily imminently, but at some point in my life.
So here is a list of just five of the classic novels I want to read in my lifetime; the ones I’m not setting a time limit on getting around to; stories that have lasted through the years and still hold prominent, renowned spaces on our bookshop shelves to this day.
Title: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Author: Victor Hugo
Date Published: 1831
I’ll be completely honest with you, it was the Disney movie that has always made me want to read this book someday. It’s my third favourite Disney film (after Pocahontas and Beauty and the Beast) and I feel that a read of the novel that the film originated from (even though I am aware that they are very different!), is necessary. My novel that I’m working in at the moment is also a little inspired by the Disney film (the story came to me while watching one scene in particular, and the setting is very much inspired by that area of Paris) so that makes me even more determined to finally read Victor Hugo’s original story.
Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Date Published: 1847
I remember seeing display boards of information and essays on Wuthering Heights at school. I also remember starting my A Level in English and being certain that we would study this book. I was very upset when I found out they were changing the final year reading list to plays, rather than novels! Since then, I have always wanted to read the classic, and a beautiful hardback copy I snapped up in a charity shop years ago, still stands on the top of my bookshelf, waiting patiently for me to finally flip over that first page.
Title: Lord of the Rings
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Date Published: 1955
(To Finish It)
I have already read The Hobbit, and The Fellowship of the Ring, but I never quite got around to the final two books. I really want to finish this fundamental fantasy trilogy, which stands, in my mind, at the top of the list of fiction intrinsic to the fantasy genre – can I even call myself such a lover of fantasy without finishing this trilogy?
Title: The Phantom of the Opera
Author: Gaston Leroux
Date Published: 1909
This is yet another case of having seen an adaptation, and wanting to read the original novel it was inspired by. (If you have not by any chance watched the 2004 film version, you really need to!). I am especially fascinated by French classics, (or anything set in Paris, to be honest) and so this is, of course, on my list.
Title: To the Lighthouse
Author: Virginia Woolf
Date Published: 1927
I once did an online quiz titled: “Which classic is your perfect match” (because I completely trust these very reliable and accurate online quizzes!). The answer was To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, which I haven’t read. Usually I ignore the answers to these quizzes (they’re just a bit of fun), but the description that it gave of this story sounded like just the sort of book I would love – slow and meditative, reflective and pensive, are just some of the words I’ve seen used to describe this novel, and they certainly make me want to pick up this story.
Have you read any of these classics? What did you think of them?
What is the classic you most want to read in your lifetime?
Let me know in the comments!