Towards the end of every year I work on my list on intentions. I do this no matter what and I work on those lists all year because, well, I just don’t want to be the kind of person with a larger list of regrets than accomplishments.
I know that over the next year, one of the things I was going to put on my list was “read all the classics.” The more that I thought about that though, the more difficult it became to figure out WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? What makes something a classic? Is it the time that has passed in direct ratio to it being considered influential? You can break it up into time periods: Pre-Civil War, Industrial Age, Antiquities, Vintage, Contemporary, Romantic, Greek, and on and on and on. Is it if it became popular? Or banned? What about great YA or Sci-Fi?
See what I mean? OVERWHELMING.
What would be on your list of classic books?
But what if you are a book person?
My biggest issue is most of what people would recommend, I have already read. I was lucky to have teachers for grandparents so a love of books was instilled early. Growing up overseas, I got to visit so many inspirational places that many writers frequented all over Europe. There is nothing like going to Stratford-Upon-Avon to study Shakespeare or reading The Prince before visiting Florence, Italy.
I am very, very lucky.
But I know there are things I have missed. While I have only finished sections of it, one of my first to finish this month is The Art of War. There are a number of political theory books I want to revisit and Shakespeare plays I want to go through. I am thinking of going back through Rice’s Lestat series and then move on to more traditional things I may have missed. When you have read most Steinbeck by the age of 13, it’s hard to find things to put on the list. No matter how hard I try, most of what has ever been on Oprah’s lists, I just don’t care for. Same for the Nobel Prizes…just didn’t love The Goldfinch the way I hoped I would.
So tell me, what is on your list? What is a book you continue to recommend to people? Has it changed, as you have gotten older? My tastes have always been crazy eclectic. If you like horror, I again and again recommend The Historian. I devoured that book.
In case you are interested, here are a couple of lists I found. Enjoy!