When I was about nine years old, my grandfather gave me what became my most treasured posession to date: a beautiful, 100th year anniversary edition, hardcover copy of Gone With the Wind. I had never read the book before, and the ~2,000 pages felt absurdly heavy in my childhood hands. I thanked my grandfather politely, ran upstairs, and shelved it.
I didn’t open that book again until three years later, the day before my twelfth birthday. It’s weird how you remember the details when such an amazing book is involved, right?
Anyway, I decided to crack open the pages and read Gone With the Wind. The cover was really pretty, after all. For the next week, I could not stop reading. Never before had I been so wrapped up in a book that has always been considered a “classic.” I always had the childish notion that classics were for academic reading, and contemporary fiction was for leisure reading. Never had I thought that the two could merge together.
But now, older and wiser (I hope), I realize that some books written decades ago still have thematic relevance in my daily life, and so I enjoy reading them. And some books written days ago still have the literary technique of those “classics.” Here are some of my favorite classics.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: So much more than a historical romance, this book follows stubborn but charming Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara before and afetr the American Civil War. The best part of the novel is that Scarlett is simply not a likable character, and yet the reader feels her tragedy as if it is their own pain. Well written, a beautiful read.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I admit it; I did not like this novel the first time I read it. Another romance, Austen manages to perfectly capture the essence of a relationship’s beginning. Her characters are imperfect, and their position all too realistic- her novel is highly relevant, even now.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: The novel is a journey, an attempt to understand the human condition. The plot is essential, of course, but even more compelling are the blunt, almost-too-easily-understood statements that describe something that never changes: society, perhaps, or arrogance, love, marriage, freedom.
I hope you all come out of your shells and look into some other classics, too! And just a shoutout; Dawn Treader on Liberty St. has plenty 🙂