Boring classics vs. truly magnificent classics
When people hear a mention of classics, the word that constantly pops into their heads is boring. I know, most of the classics were written quite a long time ago, and the use of difficult to read the old-school language, pages and pages of descriptions, and torturously slow-paced plot makes these books quite perfect if you are looking for a quick way to fall asleep. Especially when these texts are forced on us by the teachers at school, the rebellious self is almost prepared to hate them despite their actual quality.
Although I myself find quite a lot of classic literature, although quite worthy to read, not my favourite type of genre, there are a few texts that I would like to recommend to everybody who was ever intimidated by the age of the book. While you might have struggled reading Russian literature like Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, or did not find F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby mesmerising (as have I), I can assure you that there are books that have been written quite a number of years ago, and are never boring. On the contrary, some kept me on the edge of my seat, had my full attention, and captivated me so completely that no 21st-century book newer could. It would be a shame to let the truly boring classics discourage you from picking these stories up.
My Top 3 Classics that I absolutely adore
So here are my absolute favourite classics that changed my perception on books forever:
3. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
I believe that everybody knows the story from the many existing adaptations of this classic story. Especially the insanely successful masterpiece that is The Phantom of the Opera musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Although my ‘slight’ obsession with this wonderful adaptation led me to pick up this text, I did not expect to like the book as much as I did. Since it was first published in 1909, I had quite low expectations for the book that was more than 100 years old. However, the writing style was wonderful, never too descriptive or boring. The pacing of the book, although slower than the current novels, never failed to keep me on the edge of my seat, actually adding to the magical setting of the story. The book and the musical had so many differences, that it was impossible to guess the final outcome of the story. And it definitely was an emotional ride. I rarely cry this hard when reading any book.
I will not go much into explaining the story, because if you don’t know it, then what exactly have you been doing with your life? (Shame. Shame. Shame). But I can guarantee you that this classic is definitely worth the read, especially when you reach the end.
2. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
This book is not that well-known around the world as I would like it to be, but it definitely was a big hit in Lithuania. Recommended by my parents for years, it was laying on my shelf for years due to scepticism towards older generation likes. I finally decided to give it a try last summer, and it absolutely changed my life.
The book follows the Cleary family through a number of years, it is an epic family saga of life and struggles in an Australian sheep farm, and the journey of Maggie Cleary, the heroine of this book, and the people that surround her. Although reading what the book is about, does not immediately sell you on the story, I can assure you, it is much more than it seems. It definitely is a type of book that lures you in unexpectedly and makes it impossible to stop reading until your life is changed forever.
Although The Thorn Birds has been written not too long ago (in 1977), it still has a feeling of a well-written classic. The writing style is sublime, the storyline is complex and alluring, and the characterisations feel so real and relatable. This is one of the books that demand your full attention, captivate you so completely and drain you emotionally. But it gives so much more in return.
So if you have not read this already, what are you waiting for? It is truly wonderful.
1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I guess it is no surprise that Gone with the Wind would be number 1 on this list. It is definitely one of the best, most tragic, emotionally draining, complex and wonderfully giving stories ever written. After its publication in 1936, it continues to dominate the discussion of 20th-century literature and is still one of the most iconic stories in existence. So if by now you still have not picked this classic up, it sure is time to do so, because this book is the reason why I love reading so much.
Everybody knows the tragic story of Scarlett O’Hara and all the struggles she had to face in the midst of Civil war in America. The book has everything: the insanely strong, yet conniving, childish and stubborn female lead, who’s journey to hell and back is the heart, the soul and the core of the story; the complex plot, where the story does not stand still: the setting constantly changes, and when the old horrors are resolved, new ones are ready to surface; and the wonderful romance, that is torturous, and is not a primary theme of the book, yet the wait for these scenes adds towards the incredibility of it.
So I definitely recommend this book. It is not an easy read. Although the writing style flows superbly, the tragedy leaves you emotionally drained completely. The length of the story might also be an intimidating factor, however, the text is so rich, that it will never be boring. Although it has its faults, after years have passed since I have read this masterpiece, it is still my favourite book to date.
So these are my all-time favourite classics. Although there are more classic books that I have enjoyed, these three have affected me so deeply that they just top all the lists.
And if you have any recommendations of your absolute favourite classics, I am always eager for new reading material. As if my never ending TBR needs more additions.