Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Makes A Classic?

A conversation with one of my close friends last week got me thinking about which books become essential to us and how we each define a classic. She noticed that my to-read shelf on the right side of my blog had To Kill A Mockinbird listed and was stunned that I had never read it (and I was an English major in college!) Somehow through middle school, high school and college I was never exposed to the book, and though I want to read it I haven't gotten around to it yet. Add to that Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Catcher in the Rye and I feel much less well-read than I sometimes think I am! On the other hand, I consider John Steinbeck one of the best American writers and The Grapes of Wrath an absolute must-read while others have an adverse reaction to his writing. It's humbling to realize that there is still a wide world of literature to be read and exposed to and so fascinating to see what each person considers a "classic."

Are there any classics that you haven't read? Any that you're planning to get to or don't feel bad about skipping?

1 comment:

  1. i was also an english major and managed to sneak out of high school AND college without ever reading 'the adventures of tom sawyer'!

    i love the classics and teach a ton of them every year. 'the glass menagerie', 'of mice and men', 'a raisin in the sun' and '12 angry men' are a few popular choices in my classroom. i didn't read any of them until i started teaching them!

    but i have studied obscure poets like stevie smith (novel on yellow paper, 'not waving but drowning') and others. we didn't have many survey classes in college and pretty much read what the professors either loved or studied themselves.