If you had to recommend just one 'classic'

(130 Posts)
berri Sat 13-Oct-12 03:22:02

What would it be?

Going on holiday soon and I want to try something different - it'll be my last chance to get stuck into a book before the arrival of DC2 and I'm aware I haven't read any of the classics....what would you recommend if you had to choose one? Or maybe two, wishful thinking that I'll have time ;)

Startailoforangeandgold Sun 14-Oct-12 01:00:33

grin hitch hikers jolly well ought to count, thought provoking and amusing, that I can cope with.

evilgiraffe Sun 14-Oct-12 07:40:39

Different strokes for different folks I suppose. You are denying yourself a lot of beautifully written and thought-provoking literature if you insist on happy endings, though. I prefer to keep an open mind.

BalloonSlayer Sun 14-Oct-12 07:53:44

Lots of great recommendations here.

Would second "Great Expectations" or "David Copperfield" although perhaps not the latter if you are about to have another DC.

And can I say that the great Nevil Shute novel is "A Town LIKE Alice" not "A Town CALLED Alice." It's unusual to make that mistake if you've actually read it . . . the story is about turning a crappy little outback town into a thriving place people want to live, LIKE Alice Springs . . . sorry to be so pedantic but it makes me want to scream. Fantastic book though, might read it again myself soon (actually not sure about it for you in your condition, OP, as like DC it also has mothers and babies dying sad )

Phantom of The Opera.

marilynmonroe Sun 14-Oct-12 08:09:14

Grapes of wrath.

My dad said you will never forget the last page and he was right. Dh read it on our last holiday and he loved it and was moved by it.

BalloonSlayer Sun 14-Oct-12 08:28:19

I love the Grapes of Wrath too, and agree about the last page. But again, suitable for a woman about to give birth?

EnidNightshade Sun 14-Oct-12 10:23:14

Loads of great recs here, and a lot of the pre-1900 stuff will be available free on kindle/ibooks etc.

How about Edith Wharton? Age of Innocence is good if you like a bit of melancholy... A bit more fun would be Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh - intimidating title, but actually very funny in a sardonic sort of way.

GetOrfAKAMrsUsainBolt Sun 14-Oct-12 10:30:34

If I had to choose just one it would be vanity fair - it is such a modern book imo, very funny and cynical.

valiumredhead Sun 14-Oct-12 16:04:13

Rebecca by DDM.

PrincessSymbian Sun 14-Oct-12 16:15:17

Bleak House by Dickens, cannot believe it had not already come up. Also Anna Karenina and To Kill A Mockingbird. All three are fabulous wonderful books.
Also yy to The Women in White.

babybythesea Sun 14-Oct-12 19:28:34

Bah - wrote a message which MN promptly lost. Try again.
My favourite Austen is Northanger Abbey - I read it as a teenager when much of the subtlety of Austen went over my head but even then I saw the humour in it, and the Gothic take-off.
More votes for Rebecca, Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sorry, couldn't stand Lord of the Flies. I 'did' it at school so anaylsed every sodding sentence - I understood the meaning but I still thought "What they need is a girl. This is not a commentary on society but a disparaging view of the way little boys behave. They need to grow up."

I also like Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. I found it easy to read and entertaining.

BlameItOnTheBogey Sun 14-Oct-12 19:35:39

1984 - a marvelous, marvelous book.

ThalianotFailure Sun 14-Oct-12 19:46:41

I'm looking at My Favourite Books shelf and the classics on it are:

Lady Audley's Secret
The Monk (both very gothic)
The Go-Between
To Kill a Mockingbird
I Capture the Castle
The Razor's Edge
Goodnight Mister Tom
Rebecca

if you like crime Dorothy L Sayers is a brilliant 'classic' crime author

and some others that I love which probably don't count as classics:
The Mists of Avalon
The Pillars of the Earth
The L Shaped Room
Fatherland
The Princess Bride
Lord of the Rings
Atonement
Wolf Hall

and, for what it's worth, I absolutely loathe Wuthering Heights, 2 of the most self-centred, unlikeable protagonists ever to grace the pages of a book. Hate it.

ukfarmer Sun 14-Oct-12 21:40:28

P G Woodehouse, Blandings Castle my favourite- but be warned, as can be very irritrating you chuckling in bed as partner tries to sleep

3littlefrogs Sun 14-Oct-12 21:50:26

Rite of Passage by William Golding.
Testament of youth - Vera Britten

Not classics, but worth reading.

I remember really enjoying the Poldark novels years ago (when I actually had time to read books).

inabeautifulplace Sun 14-Oct-12 22:00:46

Steinbeck is my favourite author, but The Grapes of Wrath would not be my choice. East of Eden is a better book if you want an epic.If you don't then I would go for Cannery Row and its sequel, Sweet Thursday.

mrsfuzzy Sun 14-Oct-12 22:51:51

i love 'wuthering heights' and 'rebecca'

MrsMellowDrummer Sun 14-Oct-12 22:53:55

Oh, I was going to say East of Eden too!
Possibly the Best Book Ever. And you can also read Steinbeck's Journal of a Novel, which is a fascinating companion piece.

And yes, A Town Like Alice is a beautiful beautiful novel.

gillythekid Mon 15-Oct-12 22:08:01

To Kill A Mockingbird has to be one of the most beautifully written, accessible and poignant novels ever written. I studied literature to degree level and having pulled apart works of fiction to the point where I could no longer merely read for pleasure, it was re-reading Harper Lee's book in adulthood, that made me fall in love with the written word all over again. Perfection.

MamaMary Mon 15-Oct-12 22:12:25

Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina. Both about strong women who were shackled by the times they lived in.

Agree that it's utterly maddening Keira Wooden Can't Act Knightly is playing Anna in the film.

MamaMary Mon 15-Oct-12 22:13:50

I have read Grapes of Wrath but I can't remember the last page confused

MamaMary Mon 15-Oct-12 22:16:32

Oh, yes, I remember now. blush and sad

Homer's 'The Iliad'. Fab story.

gokhuvegeta Wed 17-Oct-12 12:16:39

Little women by Louisa May Alcott.

KeithLeMonde Wed 17-Oct-12 12:58:58

We recently read The Great Gatsby in our book group. It was a re-read for me, having read it as a teen and got nothing from it. This time round I absolutely loved it, there was so much in there and I'd not seen any of it first time round. I need to go back and re-read some of the other classics that were foisted on me as a teen (Vanity Fair, A Tale of Two Cities) and see if they've similarly transformed into wonderful reads........

Dickens would be my choice for a chunky lose-yourself read. Great Expectations or Bleak House of the ones I've read.

My favourite Austen is Persuasion. I love the story, the heroine rather past her best as a marriage prospect, nursing wounded pride over a broken engagement (and still rather taken with her old flame). It seemed such a timeless story - and Austen is such a fantastic writer.

What else? Some already mentioned: Edith Wharton (The House of Mirth as well as Age of Innocence), Jane Eyre (I also enjoyed Villette), Tess of the Durbevilles, Madame Bovary.

Some less well-known novels which are cracking good reads (not sure whether it's age or critical acclaim that makes a classic): Marriage by Susan Ferrier, Evelina by Fanny Burney, Mary Lavelle by Kate O'Brien.

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