Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Classics: The Contenders

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to read one classic novel each month:

    JANUARY: A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller.
    FEBRUARY: Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
    MARCH: Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy.
    APRIL: A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster.
    MAY: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller.
    JUNE: The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz.
    JULY: To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
    AUGUST: Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert.
    SEPTEMBER: One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez.
    OCTOBER: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    NOVEMBER: Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne.
    **NOVEMBER BONUS READ**: The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.
    DECEMBER: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
    **DECEMBER BONUS READ**: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

I hadn't necessarily intended to continue the project, but a lot of the classics I read last year that I'd been avoiding for so long had turned out to be pretty great, so I'm thinking about doing it again this year. (Sure, a lot of them weren't really up my alley, but at least I know.)

The hardest thing last year was narrowing it down to 12 (in fact I actually only got it down to 14), and there are still way more classic books out there that I'd like to plow through before I die. Here are the current contenders:

    The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. Started this in college but never finished it & don't remember much about it.

    Death Is a Lonely Business, by Ray Bradbury. I love Ray Bradbury.

    Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. This strikes me as a parlor book, but it also kind of strikes me as a mysterious mystery, & I luvs me a good mystery.

    The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Recommended by someone.

    The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. Recommended by lots of people.

    Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens. This one seems like kind of a big deal & I should really just read it, especially since the only Dickens I've ever read is A Christmas Carol.

    The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Gushed over by so many people, including several of you.

    Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. See above.

    The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. People keep telling me to read this.

    Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Gushed over by several good friends.

    Tess of the D'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy. Heartily lobbied for by several of you last year.

    The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett. See "mysterious mystery."

    Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. I like to read one or two sci fi classics per year & sort of can't believe I haven't read this.

    The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. Everyone says this is great, plus it's like 300 pages.

    The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith. This one just sounds intriguing. Bonus points for a female author.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. This one was a pinch hitter last year but I didn't get around to it.

    The World According to Garp, by John Irving. Another one lots of friends have recommended.

    Ulysses, by James Joyce. I should probably be terrified of this one but I'm oddly intrigued.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey. I liked the movie.

    The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. Another sci fi classic; Don read it last year & loved it.

    Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. After One Hundred Years of Solitude, I feel the need to try another GMM.

    The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. I adored Beloved last year. (Or the year before? Can't remember.)

    The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Recommended by a couple of you, I think.

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Keeps showing up on lists of "Most Influential Books Written by Women."

    East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. Several friends have been telling me for years to read this one. I haven't been big on Steinbeck in the past but I'm willing to give it a shot.

    Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. See sci fi classics. Also Journey to the Center of the Earth was unsatisfying.

    Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse Five is one of my favorites.

    All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren. I find the summary intriguing.

    The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton. Recommended by several of you last year.

    The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde. Was talking about this book with friends recently (can't remember who) & it sounded like I should read it.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. See above.

    A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams. I've never read any Tennessee Williams & feel kind of ashamed about it.

    The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. See above.

So what say you, readers of classics? If I only choose 12, which must definitely make my list and why? Which would you skip? Where I've listed more than one book by the same author, which would you choose? Any favorites of yours I've missed?

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