Thursday, November 01, 2007

Read Classic Literature: #5 of Ten Things for a Young Person to Do

Dear Stevie,

#5 is read classic literature. We talked about this, I know, but how can I write #6 here without including #5. So, let me 'splain, no, there is too much, let me sum up.

When I was your age, I think that I missed an opportunity. I did some good things and I read some good things, but I missed some good things too. I read non-fiction. Your father warned me. "Why don't you read fiction?" he said. I failed to heed his warning for quite a while, but he was right.

So, I pass along to you this recommendation. Read fiction, but read good fiction. And I'm not quite sure how one might define that. I think it must be different for different people. I think it should be fun but not necessarily easy. I think you should train your reading eyes with books that are recognized by many as classics. However, when you look at the lists of 100 best books of all time, of which there are many, you will be surprised that they are each horrifyingly unique, which can only mean that no one agrees about "best" in books.

Random House
NY Times

Here are my ten starter novels and maybe I'm saying they are my ten starter authors. They are not top ten because I don't think I know the top ten yet.

Adam Bede by George Eliot
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hamlet by Shakespeare
The Last Gentleman by Walker Percy
The Plague by Albert Camus
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Father Sergius by Leo Tolstoy

You might say, "hey there, ho there, this is more than ten!" But one is a play and one is a short story, so I can get away with it. I would include The Living by Annie Dillard, but her best writing really falls into the non-fiction category.

So, that's it.

MOM aka brd

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

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