‘Classics’ are a very tricky topic of conversation, partly because some people seem to feel so passionately towards them! For me, I don’t think anyone HAS to read any so-called ‘Classics’ book, and it’s worth acknowledging sometimes what we define as a ‘Classic’ is non-inclusive. Still, before I got really into reviewing, I did manage to read a few, partly also thanks to school and university, so today I just thought I’d touch on some of my top rated ones.
Dracula – Bram Stoker
I got pretty into vampires in my teens, and tried to get my hands on as many vampire novels over the next few years as I could. (The biggest surprise to me in my Dreaded TBR posts is how many zombie books there are and how few vampire ones so far!) But I didn’t actually get to read Dracula until I was at uni, and was able to borrow the book. I loved it. It’s so ridiculous – I never before realised how a book could be simultaneously prudish yet sexual. It’s full of contradictions, and there are some brilliantly unintentional humorous moments, yet the race to get to Dracula and destroy him is still packed with tension, and Dracula himself is built up to be creepy as hell. It’s no wonder vampires have proved to be so enduring.
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
This is such a good book! I read this in 2019, wanting to read it before watching the Netflix series. (Which I finally got around to during the first 2020 lockdown) This book is haunting and beautiful, as a group investigate the odd Hill House. The Netflix series hugely changed things, but kept the core ideas and really did a great job of capturing some of the themes and elements from the book and translating them to a more family type drama.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this when I finally read it in 2016. I find some books from around this time to be a bit hit or miss as to whether I enjoy them or not. I couldn’t stand Emma but that was one I had to read for school, and I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice much more. Jane Eyre though is one I remember really clearly getting really into. The creepy atmosphere, Jane’s determination, and the hidden wife in the attic all combine to make this novel stand the test of time.
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
I read this for university, and the thing that struck me the most about it was how sympathetic Hawthorne is towards Hester. It’s not the easiest thing to read, but I remember actually enjoying it more than some of my A Level texts (looking at you, Emma!). The themes are still applicable today, and you can see the influence of this on later works such as The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
I read this as a teen, and it’s definitely one that made an impression on me. Again, it wasn’t the easiest to get through – I think that’s the main thing with some of the classics, the language and style can be a bit tricky. But once I got used to it I got completely engrossed in the story, and again it’s one that has inspired so many others.
So there we have it – a few of my personal top rated classics, and why they’ve stuck with me. It’s been quite a while since I did pick up a classic, but revisiting some of these has made me consider maybe picking up a few this year. We’ll see. Do you have any favourite classic novels?