Favourite Classic Book
Ah, the classics. Last year our book club decided to have a year of the classics. We’ve been together for just over a decade and thought it would make an interesting experiment as we all, voracious readers though we are, have gaps in our reading, untouched classics that really should be part of our reading experience.We tweaked the criteria a little because some of the members thought that a year of ‘classics’ as we’d been defining it might be a little onerous. Thus, we decided that it had to be a ‘well-known book, published prior to 2000.’
I think my entire book club would agree that the year was a bit of a bust. Reading-wise, that is. I was hoping to revisit some of the classics I’d enjoyed when I was younger, Jane Eyre, perhaps or Wuthering Heights. (Our rule is that you aren’t allowed to choose a book you’ve already read, so I wouldn’t have been able to choose either one of those myself: I picked Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca.) Instead, we sort of had a mish-mash of books as diverse as Zorba the Greek and The Great Gatsby. It was a relief when we started again last month and went back to picking whatever in the hell we wanted.
Despite our rather lackluster year, I still think classics are important. Sure the writing can some times be laborious and the plots slow-moving, but those characters and stories have stood the test of time for a very good reason. As I’ve mentioned before, Jane Eyre was my first childhood adult book and I absolutely loved it. But I read it 35 years ago and haven’t read it since. Wuthering Heights is another book which I credit for kick-starting my love of angsty tales of doomed characters. As a teacher I frequently revisit classics like Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird and I understand why these novels are still part of high school curricula. What Canadian female wouldn’t add Anne of Green Gables to her list of beloved classics? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl. Little Women.
So, do I have to choose a favourite? Really? Okay – I choose A Little Princess. I’ve read it multiple times. It never fails to make me cry and fill my heart with joy. It’s magical. And Sara Crewe is a character who has stayed with me always. There is nothing about this book I don’t love.