Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Top Five 'Classics'

 Hello there! How have you been enjoying the lovely sunshine? I don't know about you, but for me, in the summer there really is nothing better than sitting outside, with a drink of your choice, and a good book to read. I know a lot of people who do not study English can view the 'classic' texts as a bit scary and hard, but actually among these there are some of my favourite books. I thought that I would do a round up of my top 5, and hopefully provide some recommendations of books that you would like to read! I don't believe that you have to read all the classics because some middle aged white man decided that you should when they first put together the canon, but rather view these alongside books that aren't classed as 'classics' and note all of them for their literary worth. I also don't believe in the 'classics shaming' ie. 'Have you read such and such book? 'No'. How can you not have done? It's a classic!'. I am recommending all of these as I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one, and I know that they are texts that I will read again and again.









































Antony and Cleopatra: William Shakespeare 
Now I don't know if this is classed as a classic, but as it's Shakespeare I'm going to assume that it is! A really easy way to start reading older texts, is to read plays. Out of the many Shakespeare plays that I have studied, Antony and Cleopatra is by far my favourite. A sassy woman and an indecisive man, caught up in their loyalties to their countries; what more could you want? I have also found with plays that it can be really useful to listen to a Youtube recording of the play, as you'll be able to hear all of the different characters! 

Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Thomas Hardy
 For me, Tess of the d'Urbervilles was one of the first proper 'classic' novels that I read, and I absolutely fell in love with it (and Thomas Hardy as a writer). It tells the tale of a young girl (Tess), who is a part of an impoverished family (the Durbeyfields), who discover that they are actually descendants of the stately 'd'Urberville' family. The story follows Tess moving from her teenage years into adulthood, and with this the type of Victorian society that she lives within. Once you have read it, you must watch the BBC adaptation of it! (Eddie Redmayne plays Angel- that should be enough reason for you to want to watch it!).

Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë
 I think if you're just starting off on reading classics, go for Jane Eyre. With a mix of growing up/mystery/love, this novel really does cover a lot of genres, and so will appeal to a range of people. It follows the journey of Jane (surprise surprise) growing up as an orphan in her Aunt's house, to eventually working as a governess within Thornfield Hall that is owned by the elusive Mr Rochester. It's a really interesting read, and the mysteries presented at Thornfield Hall leave you wanting to read more to discover the truth! What is also really interesting about this novel is the fact that at the time it was published under the name of 'Currer Bell' who was supposedly male! (All of the Brontë sisters had respective pseudonyms with the last name Bell).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll
 Okay so I know most people will know the basic story of Alice in Wonderland, especially from the Disney animation. However the actual novel is quite different, and there are a lot of elements that the Disney film misses out. It is supposed that Carroll (which is actually a pseudonym for his real name 'Charles Dodgson') told a story of a young girl who was bored and goes looking for an adventure, whilst he was on a boat trip with Henry Liddell and his children (one of who was named Alice).
 This novel is honestly just a load of nonsense, but that's not a bad thing! From a baby turning into a pig, or the unanswerable riddle from the Mad Hatter, this book is full of imagination that completely differs from any of the texts that I have already mentioned. Even if you didn't like the film versions, I wouldn't knock this- give it a go! It's a really easy and enjoyable read. 

Wuthering Heights: Emily Brontë
 Okay so another one from the Brontë sister trio! I've found that Wuthering Heights is like marmite; you either love it or you hate it. I'm including this one, because it is one that a few years ago I thought I 'should' read it because it seemed to be one that 'everyone' had read at some point. Now, I'm not going to lie, I hated this in the beginning. But, I think it was because I was too young at the time when I first tried to read it, and I gave it another chance and loved it. It's the tragic story of the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff, and how it becomes an obsession of Heathcliff's, which leads him to do strange and dangerous things. There is also a really good adaptation from ITV of this which stars Tom Hardy as Heathcliff, but I would definitely recommend reading the book first, as this adaptation changes the sequence a bit (in a good way, but it's better if you've read the book to understand this first).

So there are my top five 'classic' recommendations! Like I said I am in now way saying that you should read this because they are classed as a classic, but rather because you want to read them, and who knows, you might discover a new favourite.

What are some of your favourite books?

Love Jess xxx
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