Readers' Favorite

April 4, 2016

C is for Classic Literature #AtoZChallenge #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

A while back I asked readers what made a book a classic. The consensus seemed to be that the book was timeless, usually it challenged societal norms, and that these issues were still present today. What do you think makes a book a CLASSIC?

I actually like reading classic literature. I didn't mind being assigned most the books were assigned in high school. Did I read them all? No, but that was just because of the mere amount of books assigned and other classwork. I've been trying to make progress on the classics for the past couple of years. Thanks to audio books I get through a few more while also keeping up with all the books for review.

English: John Steinbeck
English: John Steinbeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here are just a few of my favorites.

Two of my top favorite American authors are John Steinbeck and Mark Twain.

I loved reading The Grapes of Wrath. When I think "great American novel", this is the first book I think of. There is so much commentary on society of the time, wrapped around memorable characters. Steinbeck's writing is very accessible, too. It is plain language, yet very descriptive. Even now, thinking about the novel I see scenes as if I watched a movie, but I don't remember ever seeing a movie addition of this book.

It is a little harder to narrow down my favorite Mark Twain novels. I read a bunch of them the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college because I volunteered at my local library and that shelf happened to be close to the desk. I would say it would be a toss up between A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court or The Prince and the Pauper.

I think a lot of people are a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. I think this is when I fell in love with Roaring 20s when I read this book. It is almost like the American version of Downton Abbey.

And to wrap up my favorite American Classics, I enjoy Willa Cather (O Pioneers!), Edith Wharton (Ethan Fromme), and John Knowles (A Separate Peace).

Madame BovaryWhile I do love American Classics, there are a few British, and even one French, authors who I enjoyed reading.

I've read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens more times than I can remember. After reading the iconic opening lines - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of the times" - I usually then skip to the carriage being pulled over and the message being delivered. That's when the story really begins.

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is another favorite. I based my senior term paper on the symbolism in the novel.

Probably the first book of translated literature I read (or at least realized was a translation) was Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. It is a book I would like to read again as it has been more than 20 years since I read it.

What are your favorite classics?

Donna Huber: founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres (NO horror or erotica), but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances. 

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  1. I still need to read the Grapes of Wrath. Big time. I'm not typically a huge Steinbeck fan, but I love the concept of the story.

    C is for Cheese

    1. I didn't think I was a Steinbeck fan because Of Mice and Men didn't grab me like it seemed to do for so many, but Grapes of Wrath was just awesome from start the finish.

  2. When I was a girl JANE EYRE got me through some really troubled times. I must have read it 10 times and I loved her for sticking up for herself. I also love a lot of Thomas Hardy, Dickens, and, of course, Louisa May Alcott.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends

  3. Growing up: Alcott, Burnett, Montgomery, and Carroll (THE most imaginative wordsmith). Nowadays, I also add Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Shaw, Wilde, and Dorothy Parker. The more snark in my classics, the better.

  4. I agree with you - Grapes of Wrath is the great American Novel. The movie version with Henry Fonda was also fantastic.

  5. Life is too short for the books you want to read...
    Am book marking this..
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Seena from
    Thinking Aloud

  6. Dependng on your definition, my favourite classics must include the Hitchhikers Guide series and almost anything by Isaac Asimov. Otherwise: Shakespeare, Dickens, some Trollope, and one I had to read in 17th century French at school in the 1960s; Voltaire's Candide

    Keith Channing A-Zing from

    1. Did you check out the post Chris did on April 1? It is a bit of tribute to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhikers Guide.

  7. Hi Donna, It's such a great topic to get people started on and really shows how much variety there is out there for the reading public. I don't have a book that leaps to mind when asked, but two hover around. Austen's Pride and Prejudice - humour and a flawed hero and heroine and Don't Play Games by Emma Darcy (and this one was a M&B) woman as trophy who 'turns' and sticks up for herself. anne stenhouse Novels Now

  8. I define a classic as a book that gives you something new each time you read it. Jane Eyre is my favorite, but I reread Dickens, Tolstoy, and Orwell on a regular basis.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

  9. I'm so happy to have found your blog through the A to Z Challenge! As an avid reader, I love book blogs. (My blog is not about books or reading so please don't feel bad if it's not your style.).

    Classics are among my favorites. I love both John Steinbeck and Willa Cather, but have never been able to find enjoyment in Mark Twain's books (love his quotes though) or Hemingway or Faulkner.

    Other favorites include Anna Karenina (I found her much more sympathetic than Emma Bovary) nearly anything by Dickens, Middlemarch and other George Eliot novels, and Edith Wharton. I regularly reread Jane Austen novels. Her wit and sarcasm are overlooked by people who think she wrote romance novels.

    1. I'm not much for Hemingway or Faulkner, though I prefer the former to the latter.

      I realized that I forgot to add Hawthorne among my favorite American classics.

  10. It is amazing (and a bit embarrassing really) that I've gone my entire life without reading Mark Twain (which soon will have to change because I am studying American Literature at the moment). Edith Wharton is p h e n o m e n a l! And I was so happy to see her on your list. Her ghost stories are so witty and so much more than ghost stories.

    Jane Eyre used to be a favourite of mine, too -- but now I particularly love Jean Rhys' spin of what Bertha's life was like before Thornfield Hall.

    We wrote on criticism today, if you'd like to read about it!