"Classics" You've Heard of But Maybe Never Read

These are books I'd heard of forEVER but never got around to reading until recently. (well, some I read a while ago.) There are still some I've got to read, like Frankenstein and A Clockwork Orange... But I'll get around to them. Eventually. Anyway, here goes:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This is a book about a woman who realizes, at age 28, that she doesn't like being married and wants freedom. She goes about getting it by little acts of rebellion - refusing to receive visits from the "society ladies", painting obsessively, and moving from her big house into a small one which she rents with her own money (while her husband is away for the winter on business). I thought this book was okay, but it didn't draw me in as much as some other classics.

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
This novel is a collection of short tales told by people on a pilgrimmage. Each traveller must tell his or her tale, and the best will win a prize. The tales range from romantic and chivalrous to drunken humor to feminism (yes, even back in Chaucer's day there were feminists). Pick it up, read a few tales (skip the Knight's Tale if you don't like chivalry and courtly romance), see what you think.

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
This is an excellent book about a black priest in South Africa and his journey to the city to find his prodigal son. Unfortunately, his story doesn't end as happily, but it makes a great book. It's told in a really interesting style - you follow Kumalo, the priest, and his storyline, then there's the camera zooming-out effect and you see the voices and viewpoints of white society - the "big picture". It provides a really good contrast. Oh yeah, and the story is great, too.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Yes, it's the infamous P&P, but I have to say I enjoyed this book. I ended up reading it at the last minute (while I was sick and should have been sleeping) in one day, but that gave me time to get into it. It's the story of Elizabeth Bennet, the one interesting daughter in a family of five girls. The mother's only purpose in life is to see all five daughters married, and the father, though rarely seen, provides a biting wit. Although I don't think the book is "universal" (and I wrote an essay about it) and all the characters except Lizzy seem a bit shallow and one-sided, but on the whole, it's an amusing and interesting book.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It's the story of a black woman's journey through life, her trials and her triumphs and her realization that she needs to follow the path that brings her happiness, not the one her neighbors think she should. Although we're told this over and over in books and in real life, the story of how Janie, Their Eyes's protagonist, comes to this realization makes a really interesting read.

More to be added later! send me your suggestions!

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This list compiled by Sparky ( kumquat37@hotmail.com )
Last updated 02/01/98