Monday, November 29, 2010

The Classics - Do you read them?

What I'm writing: I'm in the editing phase now - starting with Gods Willing
What I'm reading: Nothing! Ack! I went looking for the copy of Eat, Pray, Love I picked up this summer, but can't find it
What I'm knitting: Mitten 13/14

For the past several years I've begun reading some classic literature. I sprinkle in a bit here and there to spice up my usual fare of bestsellers and recommended reads. There've been some hits and misses along the way. Just because a book is considered a classic, doesn't mean everyone's going to love it.

What I've read:
Everything by Jane Austen - I adore her writing. To me, her humor and snark are as relatable now as they must have been in the 1800s. My favorite: Emma - I think because for this tale, the woman wasn't constricted by poverty. She could have chosen to live as a spinster and been financially sound. I'm sure I'll read most all of Ms. Austen's works again.

Bronte Sisters - I bought a hardcover edition of their works intending to read it all as I had with Ms. Austen's. I managed Emily's Wuthering Heights and Charlotte's Jane Eyre. I disliked them both. I still can't figure out how any of the Wuthering Heights' main characters could be seen as sympathetic or likable to readers. And Jane Eyre seemed like so much romantic tosh that I barely made it through the novel. I apologize to the legion of fans the sisters have, but I didn't get it in the least.

Lucy Montgomery/Anne of Green Gables- Again I bought a large hardcover that held the three novels of the Anne series, I enjoyed Anne of Green Gables, though parts of it seemed a bit contrived. I planned on reading the other two, but have thus far not done so.

Frances Burnett/Secret Garden - Loved it! It was emotional without the feeling that the author was trying to wring the emotion from the reader. Well paced and great character development. This is one I plan to read to my granddaughter some day.

Arthur Doyle/Sherlock Holmes - I bought all the stories in two paperbacks. I read two... maybe three... but couldn't get emotionally attached to the characters.

J.R.R. Tolkien - Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are amazingly wonderful. I've read LotR multiple times. The pacing can kill me when I'm immersed in it - following Frodo and Sam for hundreds of pages and then howling when I'm suddenly shifted to Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimley - and howling again when, hundreds of pages later, I'm shifted back again. I haven't read his other works.

Jack London- I adore White Fang but haven't tried any of his other novels.

Wilson Rawls - Where the Red Fern Grows. Several years ago when Brian had to read this for English, I took advantage and read it to Mark at the same time. I bawled so hard at the end that I could hardly speak. Now that's pulling emotion from a reader. Bravo!

There are probably others, but I can't think of them right now.

My next endeavor will be The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. I listened to a radio program about Fitzgerald yesterday and it made me really want to read the book. I believe I might blog about this one as I read it, just as an experiment in reviewing and an endeavor in trying to deconstruct a classic. Since I really know nothing about it, I'll come at it with fresh eyes.

I actually felt a little better about my own writing when the radio commentator stated that the first drafts of  Fitzgerald's works were quite pedestrian. I spent a few days in the doldrums of thinking my first drafts are such utter manure that I wonder why I even bother. LOL. So, yeah, it was good to hear that about Fitzgerald and give myself back a little perspective.

Really, though, I think (from what I read and conversations with other writers) we're a lot who either think we're brilliant or horrible - and we can easily go between extremes in any given hour.

So, tell me what classics you've read. Did you enjoy them? Are they worth my reading?

Also, if anyone wants a copy of the Bronte Sisters works or the complete Sherlock Holmes, drop me a line and I'll send them to you.

(and update on Mark: His guitar instructor 'graduated' him out of lessons - he said Mark is faster than he is and has gotten to the point of teaching himself. Mark is really going to miss his lessons, but Ben said to give him a call if Mark ever needs to ask him questions or just wants to jam with him. We bought Mark's one and only Christmas gift this year over the weekend: A burgandy Jackson Randy Rhodes edition electric guitar. Now if Brian would only think of what we can get him for Christmas, I'd be coming along well!)

~~ Amy~~


  1. You write incredibly well, Amy. Your blog is so interesting, I can only imagine how good your novels are - or will be soon!

    As far as classics, I have always loved John Steinbeck - Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden. Powerful stuff, though kind of a downer at times. I have to be in the right mood for it.

    It's not a classic, but if you'd like a great read similar to Lord of the Rings, read Guy Gavriel Kay's Fionivar Tapestry. Kay writes the most eloquent dialogue and weaves a darn good story in all of his books that I've read, i.e., Song of Arbonne, Tigana, and the Fionivar Tapestry (3 books, can't think of their individaul names right now - The Burning Tree?) Anyway, he's a great writer and I highly recommend him.

    Congrats again on meeting your goals, nearly completing your mitten project, and writing such an excellent blog.


  2. Jackie,
    Thank you for your kind words!

    Steinbeck - I haven't read any of his work since High School. Mark just read Of Mice and Men for English Class and really liked it. I will put him on my 'to read' list.

    Kay's novels sound very interesting - I'll have to give them a look as well. Thanks for the rec!

    The mittens are driving me insane! Since it's a double knit pattern, each mitten is almost the same as knitting two. When I off-handedly said to my hubby back in the spring, "I should knit a pair of wool mittens for each guy on your crew," I should have known how irritated I'd get knitting the same pattern over and over again. Well, live and learn.