10 of My Favorite Classics

My Top Ten Favorite Classic Books

I’ve read a lot of classics, and for the most part I can find something interesting in just about any of them! Here, however, is a list of some of my favorites. With the exception of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Middlemarch, these are all stories I’ve read multiple times–and I hope to reread them all again in the future! For the sake of variety, I also listed only one book by each author.

What are some of your favorite classics?

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1

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”

I must have read Anne of Green Gables at least 20 times, and it has lived up to my expectations with every single reading. L. M. Montgomery is such a skillful writer and such a keen observer of both human nature and the natural world that her stories are poignant and immersive. Her books also always make me think the world is an immensely beautiful place.

Take our quiz to find out which of Anne Shirley’s friends YOU are!

2

Beowulf by Anonymous

Boys of Blue and Beowulf

“And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards, in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line.”

― Seamus Heaney, translator

Beowulf is a powerful and sweeping story about a man who vanquishes monsters that no one else can. But it is also a story of loss and changing times. The writing, even in translation, is beautiful, and I find myself with new questions to ponder and new dreams to imagine every time I read the story.

Read my full reflection “Beowulf: Epic Adventure or Tale of Loss?”

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo cover

“How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.”

I first read The Count of Monte Cristo in eighth grade, and I devoured the book, unabridged. I was swept into the life of Edmund Dantes who so justly deserved revenge and so cleverly executed it– even when I didn’t agree with every action he took. If you want a book with twists and intrigue, look no farther!

Read about how The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the books that made me fall in love with reading!

four

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

If you read this blog at all, you know The Lord of the Rings is my very favorite book– and it’s often difficult to explain exactly what is so wonderful about it. It is not, in my opinion, the action or adventure or even fantasy aspect; it’s that it’s thoughtful and beautiful and makes me wish our world were as deep and wise and wonderful as Middle-earth and its inhabitants seem to be.

Read why I think the “slow” opening of The Lord of the Rings is so valuable!

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch cover

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”

Middlemarch is an intricate and complex novel that weaves together the lives of multiple characters while keeping readers invested in Dorothea, the protagonist. It is remarkable for both its scope and its focus on the details that make us human.

Read our discussion post on whether Dorothea lives up to feminist ideals.

My Name Is Asher Lev

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

“I do not know what evil is when it comes to art. I only know what is good art and what is bad art.”

My Name Is Asher Lev offers a thoughtful and moving look at art, sacrifice, and being true to yourself vs. staying connected with your roots and your community. It’s a book I return to frequently to reread.

7

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

A Separate Peace cover

“As I said, this was my sarcastic summer. It was only long after that I recognized sarcasm as the protest of people who are weak.”

A Separate Peace is both heartbreaking and a bit horrifying, as it forces readers to look inside Gene’s soul– and then possibly their own. I’m not sure every sentence is as wise as I thought it was when I was younger, but the book always makes me think.

eight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anonymous

The Green Knight on the ground now gets himself ready,
leaning a little with the head he lays bare the flesh,
and his locks long and lovely his lifts over his crown,
letting the naked neck as was needed appear.

― JRR Tolkien, translator

This is one of the stories that helped me fall in love with medieval literature. It’s magical but also firmly grounded in reality, addressing questions of honor, temptation, bravery, and more. I’ve read it multiple times, in multiple translations, and always come away with something to think about.

Read my reflections on rereading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

nine

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Tenant of Wildfell Hall

“You may think it all very fine, Mr. Huntingdon, to amuse yourself with rousing my jealousy; but take care you don’t rouse my hate instead. And when you have once extinguished my love, you will find it no easy matter to kindle it again.”

The remarkable insight that Anne Brontë offers into protagonist Helen Graham’s psyche, however, as well as the unflinching portrayals of men giving into different temptations and debaucheries to the suffering of the women around them make The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a masterpiece I am sorry I did not read sooner.

Read why The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Krysta’s favorite work by one of the Brontë sisters.

The Wanderer by Anonymous

“Often alone, every daybreak, I must
bewail my cares. There is now no one living
to whom I dare articulate my mind’s grasp.
I know as truth that it is a noble custom
for a man to enchain his spirit’s close,
to hold his hoarded coffer, think what he will.”

Translation

An alliterative poem in Old English that recounts the past happy days of one who once served his lord but now lives in exile. Like Beowulf, this poem is powerfully moving, and it demonstrates that emotions can speak across centuries.

14 thoughts on “10 of My Favorite Classics

  1. mphtheatregirl says:

    Here are some of my favorite classics (might need to leave some off)

    1. Les Misérables
    2. Iliad/Odyssey- technically see these as a series
    3. Don Quixote
    4. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings
    5. Chronicles of Narnia
    4. A Christmas Carol
    5. Nicholas Nickleby
    6. Oliver Twist
    7. Hunchback of Notre Dame
    8. Little Women
    9. Secret Garden
    10. Bleak House

    Not all my favorite classics

    Like

  2. Fran Laniado- Author says:

    Anne of Green Gables and Tenant of Wildfell Hall would be on my Favorite Classics list too. I would like to give Middlemarch a reread at some point. I read it in college but I think I might get more out of it now. I also love Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (I’m a big Bronte fan!)
    Other classics I love are:
    Emma and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I love all her books but those are my favorites)
    Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
    Great Expectations and Bleak House by Charles Dickens
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
    Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
    I’m probably forgetting a lot!

    Like

  3. lulu says:

    Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books; my sister and I constantly quote it to one another!! I’d probably add Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to my list too.

    Oh, and LOTR is so good as well! This is such a fun prompt ❤

    Like

  4. nosyaboutnovels says:

    Anne of Green Gables is my favourite! I really want to read more Bronte books so the Tenant of Wildfell Hall might be next. I’ve only read Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey so far but from what I have read, I like their writing styles.

    Like

  5. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Beowulf is beautiful- even in translation! Love montgomery’s vision of the world too. Monte cristo is such a great book. And I need to finally read some anne bronte! It’s one of the only things on this list I haven’t read and I’ve been meaning to for years!

    Like

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