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What I’m Reading Now

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My grand plans for the day – go on a run (getting back on track, slowly but surely), shop for a new rug for the hallway (fun times), and head out on a girly date with Nicole.  Counting down the hours until adult time. Winking smile

 

In the meantime, I thought I’d ask for a book recommendation.  One of my tasks on my 29 Before 29 list is to read a classic book.  Here are a few classic books that I’ve read before – 1984, The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Metamorphosis, The Scarlet Letter, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Brave New World, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Awakening, Lord of the Flies, As I Lay Dying, Catch-22, Of Mice and Men, The Handmaid’s Tale (actually, that’s my favorite book), The Sun Also Rises, Things Fall Apart, Beloved, annnnnd pretty much everything William Shakespeare.  (In case you’re wondering, I pulled up a list of AP English Literature books to determine what counts as a ‘classic’ – wahoo, high school!)

 

So – any classic book recommendations?  I would like one that doesn’t put me to sleep, please.  I found Jane Eyre to be a snoozefest (sorry – I’m sure people find that offensive).  Speaking of books, here are two books that I’ve read lately and loved.  They aren’t classics (yet) but they sure were good!

 

First up – Bringing in Finn.  The author (Sara Connell) actually sent me this book to read. 

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The subtitle – “An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story” – sums it up quite nicely.  This non-fiction memoir describes how Sara and her husband fought for years to get pregnant.  Sara went through many rounds of IVF, experienced an early miscarriage, and went through a stillbirth of twins before her mother – who was a menopausal 59 year old – offered to be their surrogate.  Sara is an incredible writer, and I actually appreciated how she didn’t make her story into a bigger ethical debate about fertility and surrogacy.  Because to Sara and her husband, it wasn’t about that – it was personal, not hypothetical.  Finn’s birth made headlines around the world, and although you know how the book is going to end (thanks to a super cute baby pic on the back), it’s no less emotional.  I cried multiple times reading Bringing In Finn.  It really is an extraordinary story of motherly love and provided a human face to the pain of infertility. 

 

The other book I just finished up was Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent trilogy.

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I actually want to re-read Insurgent (and Divergent) because at first, I was just flying through it, trying to figure out what was happening.  Now, I want to go back and study it.  The series is going to be turned into a movie (yay!), which I’m super pumped for.  In the Divergent world, futuristic Chicago is divided into five factions along personality types – the intelligent, the brave, the harmonious, the selfless, and the honest.  The factions are intended to move humanity towards a more peaceful future, but by Insurgent, the groups are falling apart, attacking one another in an epic battle.  I really like the lead female character because she’s complex and imperfect but relatable, and of course, her man is one hunky hunk.

 

What are you reading now?  Any classic book recommendations?

{ 136 comments }

 

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  • Rebecca February 9, 2013, 11:12 am

    I’m currently almost 50% finished with Pride & Prejudice, according to my Kindle. It’s a little tough, but I’m making it through. Now I remember why I wasn’t a huge fan of it in high school… Hah.
    You might try The Things They Carried. I read it in Senior Lit and thought it was really interesting. The Kite Runner is also a good one–also a Senior Lit book. The Grapes of Wrath was required reading Junior year and most of us weren’t huge fans, but… depends on the person I, guess.

    Reply
    • Rebecca February 9, 2013, 8:55 pm

      Ooooh, is Ethan Frome on that list? I didn’t look. But I had to read that one in high school too and it was really interesting.
      Also maybe not a classic but really good: The Shawshank Redemption. I read the book and then watched the movie as part of a Film class and I remember really liking both the book and the movie.

      Reply
  • K February 9, 2013, 11:17 am

    Madame Bovary or Daisy Miller.

    Reply
  • Alison February 9, 2013, 11:17 am

    Atlas Shrugged! The Dollhouse is a play but was SO GOOD it has stuck with me since high school!

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  • Meg @ Anderstons in the Andes February 9, 2013, 11:19 am

    I would recommend Pride and Prejudice, Oedipus Rex, The Importance of Being Earnest, Little Women, The Bell Jar, The Woman Warrior, and/or Ethan Frome.

    It’s really interesting to see what’s on that AP list. Very different from when I was in high school! My husband and I doing a 52 book challenge while we’re in Peru. Our respective lists are on our blog and he actually has a book review post coming up today as well. What a crazy random happenstance.

    Reply
  • Malaya February 9, 2013, 11:19 am

    I just finished Insurgent last night! Absolutely loved, loved, LOVED them!

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  • Lori @ sporadicrunner.com February 9, 2013, 11:22 am

    Insurgent is on my list of books to read this year! I’m happy to hear you liked it so much!

    I haven’t read any classics recently, but one of my favorites (when I was in AP English back in the day lol) was Wuthering Heights. I haven’t read Jane Eyre, but hopefully Wuthering Heights isn’t as boring as you found Jane Eyre to be!

    Reply
  • Michelle @ SFTS February 9, 2013, 11:22 am

    The most powerful book I read in 2012 was called Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. She is an Iranian professor and the book is her memoir, her struggle to bring confidence and education to a small group of her female students in Iran. With your Operation Beautiful and Girls on the Run projects, I’m sure you of all people would appreciate the women’s studies theories at work. Even if you aren’t a feminist, I think that as a woman this book will re-frame how you view yourself and your culture (whatever that may be).

    Reply
    • Alli February 10, 2013, 10:14 am

      I second this suggestion. I am not a “woman hear me roar” feminist, but appreciated and loved every moment I spent reading and discussing this book in college. It made me look even more thankful for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States even more.

      Reply
  • Tonyne February 9, 2013, 11:24 am

    I loved, loved Insurgent and Divergent and the author Veronica Roth wrote this amazing blog post yesterday too about choosing to see things with a beginners eye, she just has such a unique way of viewing the world. I can’t wait for the next book and the movies!

    The World According to Garp by John Irving is one of my all time favorite books although I’m not sure it’s a classic. Also, The Golden Urchin, but I can’t remember who wrote it. Both are much older books and worth the read.

    Reply
  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras February 9, 2013, 11:26 am

    I recently reread Little Women, and was blown away by how good it was. I seriously wouldn’t shut up about it for days.

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  • Danielle February 9, 2013, 11:28 am

    Gone With The Wind!! I first read this in high school for my English class for a book report. We only had to read a few hundred pages for the report, but I could not put it down! There is also a sequel to the book, however it wasn’t written by Margaret Mitchell and not nearly as good.

    Reply
  • Haley @ fullnfit February 9, 2013, 11:30 am

    I suggest you read To Kill a Mocking Bird. I am not sure if you had to read it in high school, but I did.. and hated it. However, I reread it in college (on my own time) and loved it! It’s amazing how when you put your attitude aside (like the one we all had in English class in high school), classical books really are good! enjoy :)

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  • Kelly February 9, 2013, 11:34 am

    I always suggest The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. It is captivating and heart breaking.

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  • Caitlin February 9, 2013, 11:37 am

    I loved insurgence and divergence! I can’t wait for the third to come out this fall and this movies. I wish I could recommend a book for you but in currently working my way through a few books you’ve recommended. This week I’ve been engrossed in Aldous Huxley’s A Brave new world. I’ve heard Terra is a good one but I think you’ve already read that. Also, my library what list had a couple by Margaret Atwood, your recommendations again, as well as Gone Girl and Sharp Objects. I love that you and I have very similar tastes in books, always keeping on my reading toes! How’s your fiction book coming along these days? I’ve been anxiously awaiting a progress update! :) have a great day!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 9, 2013, 11:39 am

      Wow iPhone way to autocorrect t ever other word and make me look drunk at 11:30 am! ;)

      Reply
  • Kenz February 9, 2013, 11:39 am

    Pride and Prejudice and Little Women are both AMAAAZING!

    Reply
  • anne February 9, 2013, 11:40 am

    Some of my favorites from that AP list: My Ántonia, Invisible Man, and The Grapes of Wrath. They’re all as much portraits of communities at a particular moment in U.S. history as they are about specific people and their stories. I thought all of them were very vibrant and not boring, but I’m sure it depends on the reader!

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  • Rachel F. February 9, 2013, 11:42 am

    Crime and Punishment and Pride and Prejudice are my two favorites. A Tale of Two Cities has a lot going on, but it’s slow to start.

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  • Steph February 9, 2013, 11:50 am

    Wuthering Heights. It’s a riveting classic about love and loss. The kind of book you keep thinking about long after you finish reading it

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  • Michelle M February 9, 2013, 11:52 am

    East of Eden! One of my favorite books of all time. I also love all of the Jane Austen books.

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  • ali February 9, 2013, 11:55 am

    If you’re an Atwood fan (which, since you loved Handmaid’s tale, I’m guessing you are), I would highly recommend her earlier book, “The Edible Woman”. Feminist Lit before it was an ‘official genre’, it’s alternately funny and sad, and, in typical Atwood style, a sharp look at human relationships. HIGHLY recommend.

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    • Laura February 9, 2013, 2:04 pm

      The Edible Woman was hilarious and bizarre, and wonderful. Robber Bride and Cat’s Eye were also excellent Atwood books.

      We actually read Lady Oracle for a college Women in Lit class–it was good, but not as good as the 3 above in my opinion.

      Reply
  • Elisabeth February 9, 2013, 11:56 am

    I would suggest Gone with the Wind, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ethan Frome, Pride & Prejudice or Johnny Got His Gun. All good reads :)

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    • Anne Weber-Falk February 9, 2013, 1:23 pm

      Oh I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. One of my favorite books ever.

      Reply
      • Susan February 9, 2013, 6:44 pm

        Yes, yes, yes for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I love this book so much that I read it every summer. (more times than you would ever want to know). It is timeless and so heartbreakingly true with its characters and their emotions. Also, you should try Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and any of Jane Austen, especially Sense and Sensibility.

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  • Jessica February 9, 2013, 11:57 am

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
    I also struggle with needing something to pull me in and not bore me… I have started to read both The Catcher in the Rye and Madame Bovary – for the same reasons as you; to read classics – but I just could not get into them.
    I might start Pride and Prejudice next.
    How fun! I’m excited to see what you end up with.

    Reply
  • Sharon February 9, 2013, 12:01 pm

    How about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. This one has been on my list of books to read.

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  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 9, 2013, 12:05 pm

    LOVED Insurgent, can’t wait for the next one. And HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?!!?!?!?! It’s my favorite. Is it a classic? I should check the list…

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  • Hillary February 9, 2013, 12:06 pm

    I’m an English teacher, so you’re speaking my language!

    I cannot recommend The Odyssey or Frankenstein enough. They’re two of my favorite books to teach, and my eighth graders LOVE them. And if you want to go REALLY classic, how about some Shakespeare? I’m generally a big advocate of seeing/hearing Shakespeare instead of reading it, but Macbeth, Caesar, and Hamlet all translate well in print!

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    • Lauren February 10, 2013, 12:22 pm

      I second Frankenstein!! GORGEOUS book, full of intricate layers and incredible characters. Everyone I know who read it in high school and read it again in college hated it the first time and loved it the second time. It’s has a similar structure/tone to Wuthering Heights.

      A few books that aren’t classics but are still wonderful: Bel Canto (a utopia/dystopia mashup that’s stunningly written), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I haven’t seen my copy in months, it’s still circling around somewhere since everyone wants everyone else they know to read it!), I Capture the Castle (sweet coming of age story set in 1930s England), the Book Thief (takes place in Nazi Germany, and the narrator is Death), My Name is Memory (a boy can remember every life he’s ever had before this one–interesting take on reincarnation), and my favorite book of all time: Princess Bride (the book is SO SO much better than the movie!!)

      I spent my Christmas break this year reading Les Mis, which was the most beautiful book I’ve ever read, but at 1200 pages, it’s a bit of an undertaking ;) Happy reading!!

      Reply
  • Beth @ Running with the Sunrise February 9, 2013, 12:10 pm

    Have you read Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo? Also, if you haven’t read Franny and Zooey, definitely pick up a copy of that. The Gabriel Garcia Marquez books are also exellent if you haven’t yet read those and you don’t mind reading translations.

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  • Halsy February 9, 2013, 12:14 pm

    Pride and prejudice is my all time favorite book! I actually hated it in high school didn’t finish it and use spark note(???) to write a 10 page paper on it…which was way out of character for me. Felt bad so read it in college and about half way through the book I fell on love with it. Now I always finish books! It may be slow at first but it is so worth it! Another one I reread was Wuthering Heights! Good luck in your search! Hope you really enjoy the book you pick!

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  • Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes February 9, 2013, 12:18 pm

    I always recommend Jane Austen and John Steinbeck novels to people who want to read classics–absolute love “Pride and Prejudice” and “Grapes of Wrath.” Both are phenomenal! I enjoyed “The Great Gatsby” and vividly remember hating “Lord of the Flies,” which may have been because it was a required read for high school. ;)

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  • Bella February 9, 2013, 12:21 pm

    East of Eden by John Steinbeck or Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. They’re both on the larger side (Of Human Bondage in particular – and no, it’s not about bondage in that way…) but are hands down in my top 5 of all time. Amazing, I promise!

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  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action February 9, 2013, 12:22 pm

    I really enjoyed “Grapes of Wrath”. Very depressing book but it is beautifully written and really looks at the nature of people. I really enjoyed it!

    Both of your book suggestionds sound great as well- I will definitely be checking both of those out!

    Reply
  • Sarah February 9, 2013, 12:27 pm

    I LOVED the Scarlet Pimpernel!!

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  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 9, 2013, 12:28 pm

    I recently finished a book called The Defining Decade by Meg Jay. It’s all about 20 somethings and how we think and see our twenties and how to break that cycle to set ourselves up for the rest of our lives. It made me think, feel, get angry, happy but overall made me realize that I’m not alone to feel the way I do at this point in my life. AND it inspired me to realize what I REALLY want to be doing is not what I THOUGHT I did….amazing!

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  • Cate February 9, 2013, 12:30 pm

    I would second Rebecca’s comment about The Things They Carried. It was published in the 1990s and therefore may not yet have earned the “classic” label, but has become a staple in English classrooms. It is my favorite piece of literature about war, and it also has a unique narrative structure and insights about writing and the nature of truth. Read it now or read it later, but you really should read this book.

    As you seem to like dystopian novels, you could read Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, whose society has some chilling similarities to our own.

    Since you love The Handmaid’s Tale, you could also read another Atwood. One that is sometimes taught in AP classrooms is Oryx and Crake. I have not read it yet, but it is on my list of spring reads.

    Happy reading!

    Reply
  • Laura February 9, 2013, 12:31 pm

    I have been trying to get through The Idiot for what seems like forever! I’m trying to look at the snoozefest as character development. Best classic for me? Madame Bovary. It’s like a really, really well written soap opera.

    Got my run in this morning too! :)

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  • Jessica February 9, 2013, 12:32 pm

    I’ve got the perfect book for you. You seem to like dystopias and read a lot of the same books as me so I feel confident you’ll love it!

    Fahrenheit 451 by ray Bradbury

    It’s about a dystopian society where they burn books and the government want their citizens to be comatose robots. As with a lot of dystopian novels it is eerily similar to the way I see things in our society going. This one in particular of all dystopias I found to be right on the money about some things happening now. Which is impressive for it being a classic.

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    • Cassandra F. February 9, 2013, 8:27 pm

      This one is amazing!! Totally agree!

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      • Angie @ Pint of Goals February 10, 2013, 6:17 pm

        I third this recommendation. I use it in American Lit. and my juniors really enjoy and appreciate it.

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  • Laura February 9, 2013, 12:34 pm

    As far as classic books, I liked Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t consider it a snoozefest, but everyone is different. I second another reader’s recommendation of Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi.

    I also highly recommend Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, by Florence Williams. Not a classic, but a must-read!

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  • Vikki February 9, 2013, 12:36 pm

    I’m into romance novels and I’m re-reading Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series. As far as classic books go, Pride and Prejudice is hands down my favorite “classic.” In the classic books that changed my life category, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Their Eyes were watching God” are hands down the best books I’ve ever read.

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  • Katie February 9, 2013, 12:45 pm

    I second Gone With the Wind – one of my favourite books!
    I also loved Emma, by Jane Austen, especially because I knew the movie Clueless was inspired by it so it was fun reading it and being like, “Oh, so Harriet is Tai!” haha :)
    And as a Russian Studies major, I have to recommend some Russian lit – Anna Karenina is my favourite, although it’s long. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy or A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are both shorter novellas and are fascinating, gripping stories.
    I recently went on a Hemingway and Fitzgerald kick and would recommend Tender is the Night (by Fitzgerald) and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, although I prefer books with stronger female characters and I didn’t like Catherine Barkley in A Farewell at all.
    Happy reading!

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    • hush February 9, 2013, 5:42 pm

      I’m glad someone here finally mentioned the Russian greats! War and Peace is something everyone should read before they die.

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      • Ki February 9, 2013, 7:33 pm

        I agree! War and Peace is amazing! It gave me hand cramps to hold it, but ohhhh how I love Natasha! I prefer W&P to Anna Karenina, but both are so amazing, so so good. I wish I had the energy to re-read them regularly.

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  • Lekki February 9, 2013, 12:48 pm

    I love The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Beautifully written and reminds me of The End of The Affair (Greene). Which is also a phenomenal book to me. Both feel like classics, but I find are a bit easier to get through. You know… if 1/2 your brain is on a toddler or something ;)

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  • sarah February 9, 2013, 12:50 pm

    I’m an English teacher, and I plan on reading Pride and Prejudice next. I slogged through Jane Austen in college, but with the 200th anniversary of its publication, I just can’t avoid it any longer. I’m looking forward to reading it with a mature, more critical lens – something I definitely didn’t have in AP Lit!

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  • Jamie February 9, 2013, 12:52 pm

    I’d definitely recommend Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Farewell to Arms. Though just to warn you, that last one is a bummer. Personally, from what I’ve read of his, Hemingway has always struck me as a male chauvinist and his writing always has a tone that I don’t enjoy. However, for some reason I really liked A Farewell to Arms. Good luck picking and happy reading!

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  • Lisa February 9, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Native Son by Richard Wright- one of the most compelling, impactful works of literature I’ve read
    Uncle Tom’s Cabin is another great read as well

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    • Ericka February 9, 2013, 1:50 pm

      I second Native Son!

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  • Debbie February 9, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Loved The Winter of Our Discontent, and The Bell Jar.

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  • Stella February 9, 2013, 12:57 pm

    I’m a high school English teacher, for what it’s worth, so here are a few from your list that are either perennial favorites in the classroom (despite their status as “classics”) or that I think you would particularly enjoy:

    _The Awakening_: Students don’t love this one, I confess, but I think all mothers/wives should read it. It’s the story of a woman who doesn’t fit in her society and for whom the roles of mother/wife didn’t quite ‘fit.’

    _Home_: I didn’t scroll far enough on the goodreads list to see whether this newish work of Toni Morrison’s is on the list, but it is really marvelous. It is also shorter and more accessible than Beloved. Though Beloved is a must-read if you haven’t already . . . .

    _One Hundred Years of Solitude_: I’ve only taught this one once (it’s quite long), but it is one of my all-time favorite novels, and, of course, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a literary giant.

    Given your Florida roots, I also recommend Zora Neale Hurston’s _Their Eyes Were Watching God._

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    • dominique February 9, 2013, 9:54 pm

      I second beloved and their eyes were watching god but be warned. Beloved is rough and disturbing.

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      • MC February 11, 2013, 9:34 am

        Third on Their Eyes Were Watching God. Some of the best writing I’ve ever read.

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  • Allie February 9, 2013, 12:59 pm

    Some of my favorite classics: Animal Farm, Robinson Crusoe, Don Quixote, Gulliver’s Travels, The Canterbury Tales (totally raunchy! haha), The Count of Monte Cristo, The Call of the Wild, and The Lord of the Rings (the books are SO good, regardless of what you may think of the movies)

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  • Kim February 9, 2013, 1:05 pm

    A tree grows in Brooklyn!

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  • Cellabella February 9, 2013, 1:06 pm

    If the Handsmaid Tale was one of your favorites, I would highly recommend reading more of Margaret Atwood’s novels. I’ve been an Atwood fan since high school and have pretty much read all of her fiction (she also writes poetry and nonfiction). Some of my favorites are “Cat’s Eye,” “The Robber Bride,” “Oryx and Crake,” “The Blind Assasin,” and “The Year of the Flood.”

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  • Jamie February 9, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Gahhhh I loved Divergent and Insurgent! I just picked up Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the library and the first 15 pages that I’ve read so far are good. Also, I don’t know how you feel about reading plays, but I LOVED Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie as well as Oscar’s Wilde’s An Ideal Husband.

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  • Alexa February 9, 2013, 1:11 pm

    I wouldn’t call a lot of the things on that list “a classic”…awesome, totally, but not necessarily a classic. It is one of the awesome things about being in English classes these days…you don’t just have to read Hamlet, you get to read more modern titles.

    I would recommend Pride and Prejudice or Emma by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice has been used as a basis for so many more modern stories…like Bridget Jones’ Diary and such. It’s fun to see where it started off. Emma, of course, is the basis for the movie Clueless.

    I remember liking “A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster when I was in college. I read Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck for fun. Crime and Punishment is wonderful…but jeebus is is long. Even as an English major who loves to read, it took me 2 months to read it. A Clockwork Orange is disturbing, but it hits that dystopia nerve. It isn’t really a classic, but “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole is really good.

    Eh, I could go on forever. I’ll stop now. ;)

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  • Nicole Dyan February 9, 2013, 1:11 pm

    I really love Dostoevsky, Crime & Punishment and Notes from the Underground are great, but he is a really dense writer. For an “easier” read, I read A Confederacy of Dunces in AP lit and loved it.

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    • Nicole Dyan February 9, 2013, 1:12 pm

      Oh! Right now I just finished the third book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” (Game of Thrones series and am moving on to the fourth. These books are intense!

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      • Macrae February 9, 2013, 8:57 pm

        I love Dostoevsky too! The Brother’s Karamozov is my favorite.

        The book I’m reading now is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is the story of a little girl learning the past through her dad’s stories woven with the true story of Dracula….very intriguing story!

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  • lauren salak February 9, 2013, 1:13 pm

    maybe not a “classic”, but I just started Cutting For Stone, and it is SO.GOOD.

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  • Vicki February 9, 2013, 1:13 pm

    I second Gone With the Wind! My all time, go-to, favorite book. I read it for the first time in 6th grade and have gone through many copies reading it again and again (and again). It’s epic, historic, timeless, and a nice long one. I love good long novels.

    That list makes me realize I have a lot of work to do! Ahh!

    Is the Handmaid’s Tale considered a classic now? Hm. What about another Margaret Atwood? Alias Grace?

    Not a classic (yet), but I love Haruki Murakami’s work. It’s like reading someone else’s dream. Trippy, funky and so different. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle was my first of his to read.

    If you like history, I loved All Quiet on the Western Front. About a German soldier during WWI. The Great Gatsby is good too, and short. Right now I’m reading Jacob’s Ladder – another Civil War novel set in Virginia.

    Barbara Kingsolver is great. The Poisonwood Bible is a must read. Her memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is also a great one – it’s about her family becoming true locavores on their small farm in Virginia.

    Not a classic, but my friend gave me The Read Aloud Handbook when my little girl was born. The author discusses the importance of reading aloud to our children, the kind of impact it has on them, and how it turns them into excellent people. He also discusses how to read to children and what books are appropriate at each age. There’s an extensive list of suggested books in the book that I think is going to be very useful as my kiddo grows up.

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  • Lauren February 9, 2013, 1:13 pm

    I am so glad you enjoyed Bringing In Finn! Thanks so much for a great review Caitlin. XO

    Reply
  • Chattynatty February 9, 2013, 1:18 pm

    One of our favorite classics from my book club”Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Great story.

    I just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed-excellent! Happy reading!

    Reply
  • Leslie February 9, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Steinbeck’s East of Eden, hands down. If you’re interested in a modern classic of sorts, John Irving’s book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, is incredible as well. Classic or not, I can’t get into a book if I’m not captivated mostly by the interesting plot, and these books absolutely deliver.

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  • Anne Weber-Falk February 9, 2013, 1:28 pm

    Great Expectations by Dickens, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’engle, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and Watership Down by Richard Adams. I’ve read and reread all of these numerous times.

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  • amry February 9, 2013, 1:28 pm

    Hi Caitlin, I recommend that you read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier! It has romance, murder, and suspense all in one with a dark edge for a classic. I couldn’t put it down. The Tenants of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte is also great, a classic romance written from a man’s perspective!

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  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles February 9, 2013, 1:33 pm

    I’d recommend Wuthering Heights…seriously, one of my favourite books of all time.

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  • elizabeth February 9, 2013, 1:49 pm

    I’m reading Insurgent right now and am on board with wanting to read them both again! I can’t wait for the third book AND the Divergent movie that begins filming this spring. :)

    Reply
  • Ericka February 9, 2013, 1:49 pm

    One of my all time favorites is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve read it multiple times, and each time I find it more and more hilarious.

    I also loved The Picture of Dorian Gray. A classic but not a snooze-fest at all. It’s a story about narcissism and vanity at its best…the exact opposite of what Operation Beautiful stands for, but for that very reason you might find it really interesting and thought-provoking!

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  • Laura February 9, 2013, 2:06 pm

    I read Portrait of Dorian Gray recently and LOVED it–such a funny, spooky book. Great Gatsby has always been a favorite (mainly because I love the Jazz Age). I remember liking The Awakening in school when I read it. And I recommend that you try Jane Eyre again sometime–I read it in 9th grade, felt the same way you did, but then read it years later and loved it. Some things get better with age :)

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  • Shari February 9, 2013, 2:12 pm

    I agree about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I also loved Jane Austen’s EMMA – probably even more so than P&P. My highlighted copies from AP English are still on my bookshelf!

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  • Christine February 9, 2013, 2:12 pm

    My favorite book from AP English (that isn’t already in your list of ones you’ve read) was And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I also highly recommend Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya.

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  • Lindsay February 9, 2013, 2:26 pm

    Wuthering Heights is my fave classic, I think. I just finished The Fault in Our Stars which was amazing – such a good book. And I am just starting The Round House.

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  • Hilary February 9, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Lost Horizon by James Hilton! I read it in high school and it has remained one of my top books. It’s in the distopia realm and I think you’d really like it.

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  • Ellie February 9, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Loooove the Great Gatsby

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  • Emily February 9, 2013, 2:36 pm

    I’m reading a Tree Grows in Brooklyn right now and am loving it! I also loved the Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, an American Tragedy, The Good Earth… Carson McCullers is also great– I loved The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (she was only 23 when she wrote it!) and Member if the Wedding. One year I made a goal to read only classic books from the top 100 list and loved it because I read, and loved, so many books I wouldn’t have touched otherwise.

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  • Jill February 9, 2013, 2:47 pm

    I’d recommend Dracula. For being a classic, I found it very modern in its language. Plus I’m not a “vampire person” so I had my doubts when it was picked for my book group but I ended up loving it.

    I’ll also jump on the Tree Grows in Brooklyn bandwagon. Great read.

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  • Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant February 9, 2013, 2:47 pm

    Aristophanes’ “The Lysistrata” is a play but it is the best thing I ever read in college. It’s about how the women are sick of the men fighting and warring, and decide to take matters into their own hands–by denying them sex until they make peace. So funny and apropos it’s hard to believe it was written so long ago!

    Reply
  • Shari February 9, 2013, 3:13 pm

    Not sure if it is on the list but I remember reading Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood) in highschool and loved it!

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  • Allie February 9, 2013, 3:27 pm

    A tree grows in Brooklyn!!!! Cannot say how much I adore this book! Wuthering heights and great expectations are also great

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  • Tanya February 9, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Pride and Prejudice. Best book ever. I usually hate the kind of book where the hero is a jerk and the heroine falls for him anyway. This is the only book where that isn’t true. He’s an ass and I still want them to end up together. That’s good writing.

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  • Stephanie February 9, 2013, 3:33 pm

    My husband and I both loved reading Dracula as adults. It’s a pretty easy and enjoyable read. Also, Lolita and The Things They Carried.

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  • Clare @ Fitting It All In February 9, 2013, 3:44 pm

    I hear rave reviews of The Count of Monte Cristo, but I know it’s SUPER long. Worth it maybe?

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  • Brittany February 9, 2013, 3:45 pm

    One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest is a good one….as well as A Seperate Peace

    Reply
  • Cristin February 9, 2013, 3:50 pm

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my all time fave. East of Eden is a close second.

    Reply
  • Margaret February 9, 2013, 4:14 pm

    The House of the Spirits or the Color Purple. Those Two and the Handmaiden’s Tale are my favorite books that I read in high school lit classes.

    Reply
  • Kelsey February 9, 2013, 4:36 pm

    You should try Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. They just made a movie of it with Keira Knightly which might give you a good incentive to finish it since it’s so long!

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  • Anna February 9, 2013, 4:44 pm

    Classic books often put me to sleep, too. That`s why I gave up reading many of them. I personally liked Dream Novella, which was part of our compulsory school literature in high school. Other than that, I read the 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared last (review over on my blog) and really loved it a lot.

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  • Rosamund February 9, 2013, 4:47 pm

    I remember reading Jane Eyre for University English, it was the most painfully dull book I have ever read! The worst thing was I had to finish it and study the heck out of it to pass the class. Gone with the Wind is the ultimate classic, so romantic! I also recommend ‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt, it’s really addictive. A little more modern but it was part of a university course so surely that qualifies it as a classic.

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    • Cassandra F. February 9, 2013, 8:31 pm

      I didn’t like Jane Eyre, the more famous book by Charlotte Bronte, but I love Villette. It’s especially entertaining if you like watching for a British writer’s gentle pokes at French culture. ;) The love story between Lucy and her fellow teacher builds so subtly, while the other love triangles are more in the foreground, that by the time you reach the end you don’t even quite realize how much you are hoping to see Lucy happy at last.

      Reply
  • Bree February 9, 2013, 5:03 pm

    Little Women is my favorite.

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  • Krista February 9, 2013, 5:06 pm

    I loved The Awakening by Kate Chopin in university. It still resonates with me. It’s also quite short, so might be a good one for a busy mom.

    Reply
  • Jessica February 9, 2013, 5:40 pm

    A great classic that is also a quick read>> Ernest Hemmingway The Old Man and the Sea

    Reply
    • Jessica February 9, 2013, 10:19 pm

      Jessica # 2 seconds this!! It’s such a fantastic read.

      Reply
  • Gretchen February 9, 2013, 6:04 pm

    A Room with a View by E.M. Forster is great! Also I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, but I don’t know if it’s considered classic. I think it was written in the 1940s but takes place in the 1930s.

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  • Rebecca February 9, 2013, 6:21 pm

    Thanks for your recommendations! I just picked up Bringing in Finn from the library because of this post! :)

    Reply
  • Mel February 9, 2013, 6:23 pm

    East of Eden is a wonderful book. Steinbeck had an incredible gift with words, the kind that makes you empathetic or loathful of certain characters.

    And I agree about Jane Eyre! I found it too preachy and moral. (I decided to read it during a heat wave last summer though so that might have something to do with my dislike of it!)

    Reply
  • Robyn February 9, 2013, 6:32 pm

    I’m hoping to reread Great Expectations. One of those books I read in high school and didn’t really get but want to try and see if I can get into it now. Other classic author recommendations include DH Lawrence, Henry James and Thomas Hardy.

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  • Shannon February 9, 2013, 6:40 pm

    I second Anna Karenina. Quite possibly the best novel ever written. I don’t know anything about the movie though.

    Probably my favorite book of all time is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The prose is absolutely breathtaking.

    If Russian Lit is not your thing, I can’t recommend James Joyce enough. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is wonderful, and a pretty short, quick read.

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  • Erin February 9, 2013, 7:17 pm

    I’d also recommend Wuthering Heights, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, This Side of Paradise (I love Fitzgerald), Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Catch-22.

    I LOVED Wuthering Heights in high school. So so good and although I did enjoy Jane Eyre, much easier to read at least in my opinion.

    Oh! I also loved Rebecca

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  • Peta February 9, 2013, 7:26 pm

    The Bostonians by Henry James – it’s about a feminist!

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  • Rachel February 9, 2013, 8:04 pm

    Slaughter House Five by Vonnegut. It’s really good and very short.

    I just read Brave New World for the first time because of a similar goal as yours and it was horrible! There are some really bad “classics” out there so hopefully you’ll get some good recommendations.

    Some other classics: Tree grows in Brooklyn, Invisible Man, Disgrace by JM Coetzee (this is one of my favorite, most powerful stories! Not HS reading list appropriate), Joy Luck Club, The Color Purple, Watership Down, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Poisonwood Bible, Gone with the Wind (except its very long!). If you didn’t like Jane Eyre you won’t like Wuthering Heights–>I think its boring. There are lots of good books out there. I’m excited to hear what you chose!

    Reply
  • Cassandra F. February 9, 2013, 8:24 pm

    I love The Handmaiden’s Tale! I’ll second recommendations for Ethan Frome and Anna Karenina if you are looking for tragic, beautiful stories. I also love a story that should be listed as a classic (and her winning of the National Book Award suggests other people think so, too): THE LAST REPORT ON THE MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE by Louise Erdrich. There is no story like it. A woman disguised as a priest serves an Ojibwe reservation, while writing regular letters to the Pope about strange occurrences there. It’s one of the most beautiful fusions of White Catholic and Native American culture I have ever read.

    Reply
  • Kyla February 9, 2013, 9:17 pm

    I remember reading “Things Fall Apart” and loathing it. But I loved “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins. It was one of the best books I read in high school.

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  • Amber K February 9, 2013, 9:48 pm

    I LOVE the Divergent series. It’s so much better than The Hunger Games in my opinion. Although I probably shouldn’t compare the two. They are both great in their own right. But the final Divergent book better be waaaay better than the final Hunger Games book. Although Shailene Woodley is said to be playing Tris in the movie and I just can’t picture that… Hopefully she can act better than she does on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

    Reply
  • Carin February 9, 2013, 9:49 pm

    Which faction in Insurgent Chicago would you inhabit, according to personality type?

    Interesting post – great to see passionate comments from enthusiastic readers!

    Reply
  • Meghan February 9, 2013, 10:05 pm

    East of Eden or One hundred Years of Solitude would be my suggestions.

    Reply
  • Andrea G. February 9, 2013, 10:06 pm

    The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book of all time!

    Reply
  • Kate Dotson February 9, 2013, 11:32 pm

    I agree with Jessica- Fahrenheit 451. I think you would love it. I read it in middle school and it still haunts me to this day. I totally agree with her about it being right on the money about things happening now. It’s sort of terrifying to think about.

    Reply
  • M. Joan February 10, 2013, 12:01 am

    Try MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot. If you like classic books about powerful women who want to do good in the world, you. will. love it.

    Reply
  • Angela February 10, 2013, 8:09 am

    I loved The Colour Purple when I read it at school. Not sure if it counts as a classic but its one that I’ve bought and read several times since I left school. I’m not really one for classics. Something like Pride and Prejudice sounds like a total snooze fest to me. Shame though because UK TV is full of period dramas and everyone I know loves them.

    Reply
  • Bobbie February 10, 2013, 8:18 am

    I was totally going to recommend Jane Eyre and then as I read on … ha ha, that is my absolute number 1 classic pick! If you didn’t care for Charlotte Bronte (my fav) you could try one of the other sisters Emily or Ann Bronte. Emily, is famous of course for Wuthering Heights.
    Anything Hemingway is excellent..
    I’m also a huge fan of Dickens..there is Great Expectations and David Copperfield and so many more.
    Also it looks like you haven’t read any Jane Austen..how about Pride and Prejudice. Not a classic but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was awesome! Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I really could go on…
    I have an English Degree and studied a lot of 19th century British Literature…as you can see by a lot of my suggestions.
    I would also recommend Khaled Hosseini’s two novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. These are not classics but they are two of the best pieces of literature I’ve read over the last 10 years and I read a lot.
    Anyway, you asked…ha ha
    ;)

    Reply
  • Hannah February 10, 2013, 8:22 am

    I teach AP Lit, and my students read East of Eden by Steinbeck over the summer and loved it! It does take a while to get in to (he’s super descriptive in the beginning), but, boy does it get good after that!!

    Reply
  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change February 10, 2013, 9:00 am

    I’m on a reading kick right now! I made a New Year’s resolution to read a book a week, and so far it is working out great! Right now I’m reading Something Blue, it is a great book really funny!

    Reply
    • Anne February 11, 2013, 12:52 am

      I much preferred Something Blue to Something Borrowed. Great, easy, chick lit.

      Reply
  • Kate February 10, 2013, 10:44 am

    For “classics”, I recommend A Streetcar Named Desire.
    These might not necessarily classics, but Fahrenheit 451, Flowers For Algernon, and Interpreter of Maladies are also very good.

    I read Running With Scissors recently, and I loved it. It is now one of my favorite books. The prose isn’t anything esoteric or hard to understand, but it’s very honestly written and the author doesn’t out things that can be uncomfortable to talk about. I really really recommend this book!

    Reply
  • Marisa February 10, 2013, 11:21 am

    I’ve been trying to read several classics lately, too. None has been as good as my all-time favorite, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    Reply
  • Kim February 10, 2013, 11:44 am

    Brave New World is my absolute favorite, way ahead of its time with implications on how today’s society would operate (the book was written about 100 years ago I think) and great messages about equality between the mental “haves” and “have nots”.

    Reply
  • Amy February 10, 2013, 11:47 am

    I loved “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin or “Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton. Both were my absolute favorites in AP English back in high school.

    Reply
  • Jenn February 10, 2013, 1:24 pm

    Have you read anything by Kate Morton? Her book ‘The Forgotten Garden’ is magnificient, but I’ve also enjoyed her other books ‘The Distant Hours’ and ‘The House at Riverton’. Quite literally when one member of my family has one of her books we pass it around and its well broken in after all of us reading it within just a few weeks. Her stuff is really good.

    Reply
  • Tara February 10, 2013, 1:51 pm

    East of Eden by John Steinbeck. My favorite book and a must read! I read it in my early 20′s and it was the first book I remember wanting to start over after I finished it.

    Reply
  • Amanda February 10, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Personally, I’m reading Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage, and the Best American Essays 2012 edition.

    As far as classics you might enjoy, I’d recommend The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, and Surfacing, by Margaret Atwood.

    Reply
  • Maria February 10, 2013, 1:54 pm

    Gone with the wind and DonQuijote

    Reply
  • Vicki February 10, 2013, 4:09 pm

    I’m going to step slightly out of the box on this one, but Charlotte’s Web (even if it may be considered a child’s book) . I remember reading several books by EB White in my 11th grade AP English class (and laughing when I saw them on the reading list that year). But hey, it’s definitely an American classic!

    Reply
  • Mindy February 10, 2013, 8:40 pm

    I feel like I cant read your blog anymore because you don’t like Jane Eyre. lol half kidding

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is my favorite classic book.

    Room by Emma Donoghue is wonderful.

    She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb is my favorite modern book.

    Reply
  • LizP February 10, 2013, 9:24 pm

    How about some classic plays?

    The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, and No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre are all plays that I have read and enjoyed.

    For classic books- I absolutely loved Beloved by Toni Morrison, although it is graphic and disturbing in parts.

    Reply
  • Abby February 10, 2013, 11:45 pm

    Wuthering Heights is my all time favorite! I’ve been endeavoring to make it through Anna Karenina (my third attempt) all of the different names always kill me!

    Reply
  • Anne February 11, 2013, 12:50 am

    I’d also recommend Pride and Prejudice. I originally read it after I read Bridget Jones’ Diary (recommend both 1 and 2 of that as well), and she kept talking about the BBC version of the book. Also the storyline of BJD is based on P&P.

    Highly recommend the book followed by the BBC version. Sigh . . . Colin Firth.

    Reply
  • Katie February 11, 2013, 12:47 pm

    kite runner (i didn’t realize this was considered a classic?! but it’s on the list and is great!) and a separate peace are both really good

    Reply

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