Classics Club August Meme: A Favorite Classic

The Classics Club has moved off of Jillian’s blog (A Room of One’s Own) and moved to a blog of its very own.  The ever-growing club needed the room to spread out and other moderators to help it along–the new space can be found here.  One of the new activities is a monthly meme.  August’s meme:

What is your favorite classic book?  Why?

I’m no stranger to reading or hoarding a gluttonous supply of novels and reference materials.  [This should come as no shock with my BA in English and an MFA in creative writing.]  However, I have two distinct problems with this kind of question:

  1. I find my mind picks and chooses “favorites” based on my mood when asked.
  2. My feelings/impressions of a book are not always based on my actual memory of the plot.

For example, I remember damn little about Stendhal’s The Red and the Black.  What I do remember is that this book blew my mind as a teenager!  I remember feeling sad and angry and frustrated.  I remember that it made me wonder why all novels weren’t written the same way.  But could I offer you a plot summary?  Not on your life…  [Which is why I am re-reading the book as an adult.]

I read Scott O’Dell’s book, Island of the Blue Dolphins, more times than I could count in elementary school.  Why?  Because who didn’t want to be a tragic heroine left alone on an island to fend for themselves?  Yes, I was a weird kid.

I loved the German tale of The Nibelungenlied.  Awesome.  Bloody.  Epic.

I love Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  I love Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues.

There are tons of books that I could rattle off–both for me enjoying the story or for the emotional impact it had on me at the time I read it–but this meme is about a favorite.  What is most important I think is understanding what it is about a book that gets to me…

  • I like a good adventure.  It doesn’t even have to be a swashbuckling kind of adventure, because even the quieter domestic adventures of Austen are worthwhile.  It just has to be a story filled with opportunity and misfortune, relationships, and changes of scenery.
  • I like the mystical.  I prefer stories with things that skirt the edges–whether that means through religion, beliefs, or reality.  The unknown is a big place and I am curious.
  • I like good language.  Give me Poe and Twain and Sylvia Plath.  And, then, give me Seuss!
  • I like, above all, to feel something.  If the author cannot evoke any emotion from me, the book–no matter how highly regarded by literature standards–will not register in my mind once I close the cover.  Life is too short to read dull books!

Ok.  So that’s my two cents without naming a favorite.  😀

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4 thoughts on “Classics Club August Meme: A Favorite Classic

  1. Oh yes… I love your list, especially your last point. A good book will make me feel something – love, loss, happiness, grief… just something and that is what I hold on to. I usually only remember the vaguest of plot points, especially as time passes, but I will usually retain that emotional reaction.
    – Sarah

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