If you had to choose 1 classic and 1 contemporary book and why....

(80 Posts)
Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 10:40:18

Mine would be:

*Classic- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins*- A man walking home comes across a young woman dressed in white who is frightened and needs to find a cab to get into town to the safety of her family. You help her. Then along comes another group who tell you the woman has just escaped from a mental institution and is very dangerous...does he tell them where she has gone, who is lying and who is dangerous....

A great, grabbing opening that turns into a thumping great read

*Contemporary What is the What by Dave Eggers*- A novel based on the true life story of a Sudanese boy who is orphaned in the civil war, escapes the attack and makes it on foot to the border and becomes one of the lost boys without a country living in a border camp, coping and trying to learn about life. Eventually sent to America where there is an even steeper learning curve...heartbreaking story of human spirit and also wonderfully written

mumslife Wed 10-Jul-13 10:43:47

My daughter has to do this in preparation forher alevel english lit she picked the room and madame bovary

Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 10:47:13

Gosh that sounds much more fun than my experience of A level English...I would have loved to hear about everyone's choices rather than spend 4 solid terms on Anthony and flippin Cleopatra.

I don't know the room.....off to Google

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 11:02:43

This is so difficult, especially the Classics.

Classic - Wuthering Heights
I just live angst and Tradegy and not nice people. I enjoy the darkness and prose.

Contemporary - señor vivo and the coco lord by Louis de Bernieres. I usually pick his Birds without Wings but whenever I find myself recommending his books I seem to recommend Señor Vivo.

Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 11:15:54

Ooh I have senor vivo on my kindle but not yet read...smile

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 11:25:49

LDB is a bit marmite. I sbs

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 11:27:33

Sorry - I love his writing. It genuinely makes me laugh, cry and snort.

Señor Vivo in particular is very violent so bear that in mind. It is part of a trilogy all of which are great but Señor Vivo has stayed with me.

Classic: you want me to choose ONE? The Woman In White is a great choice, but I like 'No Name' even more. I want an Austen but I can't decide which, so for now I'll say Sense & Sensibility.

Modern - I want Lolita but it's not modern enough, so another Dave Eggars here - A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius OR Isabel Allende's Paula. Can't choose.

Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 17:09:34

Remus, you have slightly blown a gasket in my head as I ummed and ahhed between The Woman in White and No Name and Armadale and wonder if I should have gone no name after all grin

We sound like the same kind of books so I'm going to read Isabel Allende's Paula based on you choosing it! I discovered her a few years after this one & have never read.

sooperdooper Wed 10-Jul-13 17:19:59

Classic, Wuthering Heights for me too, all the characters are just so bloody horrible to each other, it's not a boring lovely dovey love story

Comtemporary, Beloved by Toni Morrison, utterly beautifully written but a heartbreaking story that's losely based on the true story of a slave women, I need to read it again soon, it's been too long

'Paula' is based on the death of her daughter, so is part non-fiction and part magical realism and all just utterly exquisite writing. I don't always like her (and her recent stuff has been pretty lousy) but at her best, I think she's sublime.

What else do you rate? I'm specially looking for post 1930s recs and books that are efficiently but well written, with no showing off. smile

Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 18:35:20

what is recs?

It is the lazy person's way of asking for book recommendations. smile

Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 18:40:14

Ah sorry, being thick!

Will have a think as my diabolically behaved hound drags me round outside for a bit.

evelynj Wed 10-Jul-13 19:09:58

Hmm, some stuff to look up here so thanks

Classic-Great Gatsby

Contemporary-loved cloud atlas

(loved both dave beggars & room recs). Am sure everyone has read-curious incident of the dog in the nighttime, the lovely bones, his dark materials trilogy. Liked Kate atkinson's Jackson Brodie series also, will update later if I think of any more.....

NotYoMomma Wed 10-Jul-13 19:51:25

noooo this is so hard!

I have to say The Great Gatsby for my classic. I have loved it so much for many years! I can read it again and again.

For my contemporary Book I just want to say The Princess Bride, because it makes me laugh so much!

The Princess Bride is lovely. smile

I was horribly disappointed with Room.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:21:58

Well if we are allowed an Austen then I am having Persuasion. Willoughby was my favourite character in S&S.

I want to read some Allende. I have Eva Luna and Daughter of Fortune on the shelf. Which should I start with?

I quite like magical realism, LDB is inspired by Garcia Marquez but I have only read Love in the time of Cholera which I love but lacks magical realism.

I could actually list off classics, so hard to chose but The Woman in White comes up on MN constantly so am definitely going to give that a go.

Both are okay. Daughter of Fortune better than Eva L iirc.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:25:28

Remus - I also recently discovered Lloyd Jones via book club. We read Mister Pip which I loved and I picked up Biografi in a cheap book sale. He writes recent historical fiction, Mister Pip is set in the civil war in Papua New Guinea and Biografi is about the Albanian dictatorship. He elicits the same reaction in me as LDB.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:26:22

Hmmm, sounds like they aren't the ones to start with. House of Spirits is her famous one isn't it?

Have read Mr Pip - I liked it. Couldn't get into the other one.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 10-Jul-13 20:27:31

Mill on the Floss an amazing novel with an extraordinary female protagonist that has one of the most moving accounts of the effects of sibling rivalry I have ever read. A book that is both philosophical and emotional. The GG would have been my second choice.

The Road is an amazing novel; bleak, powerful and ultimately uplifting.

Yes, I think so - and it is magical realism through and through. smile

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 10-Jul-13 20:30:19

Mr Pip is great, teach it for GCSE, at times the whole class go noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:30:48

Have you tried Elif Shafak? I have only read Forty Rules if Love which is about Sufi mysticism. I really enjoyed it. She has also written about Armenian/Turkish relations in The Bastard of Istanbul (they even charged her with treason or something, I can't remember the details), and Honour is about honour killing. Her writing is a bit try hard in places but overall I like her style.

Immediately thought of Wuthering Heights for the classic - must be the only classic book I've read 3+ times.
Contemporary(ish) would be The Secret History - love it so much I have two copies! So disappointed by Donna Tartt's other book (The Little Friend), couldn't even finish it

Thanks, Mixed. I'll have a look - have been getting on very, very badly with female writers lately though. confused

tumbletumble Wed 10-Jul-13 20:41:34

I'm going to write my post without reading the thread so I don't get influenced by other people's choices.

Classic - it's got to be Pride and Prejudice. Bet I'm not the first person to say that! Jane Austen was a genius.

Contemporary - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Now off to read the thread!

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:42:16

GCSE!!! That makes me want to pop back for an evening class. I only got a B so I could do with improving. Although I remember enjoying the texts we studied.

CookieMonster1980 Wed 10-Jul-13 20:46:38

Hi, can I join in?!

Classic - so so hard. I love Pride & Prejudice for the wit and brilliant disection of social manners. I also loved A Woman in White - haven't read it in ages and am now inspired to dust it off again. Also Middlemarch and a bit of Dickens - maybe either Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend. My DH complains Dickens is just sentimental tosh but I love the way he describes things is fantastic.

Modern - not sure when to date from, but Rebecca, The Great Gatsby, 1984, or even more recently something by Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale is my favourite of hers

Aargh - I'm supposed to only pick one aren't I? Mmm - ok, so Pride and Prejudice and 1984....

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 20:49:21

I think Austen deserved a separate category since we all seem to want her and another classic.

I consider 1984 classic too. We need more categories.

Classic classic
Modern classic (Gatsby/Orwell etc)
Post WWII modern
Contemporary Modern

PoppyAmex Wed 10-Jul-13 20:50:49


"One Hundred Years of Solitude", Gabriel G. Marquez - I could read it every year (in fact, I probably do). Plenty of magic realism on this one, mixedmamma

or "The Little Prince", Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Contemporary: "All the Names", Jose Saramago.

Oh The Little Prince is lovely.

Austen - S&S..no Persuasion...no S&S
Classic classic - I've changed my mind: I'm having the collected Sherlock Holmes stories
Modern classic - Lolita
Post WWII modern - Lord of the Flies
Contemporary Modern - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Translated classic (!) - Paula

znaika Wed 10-Jul-13 21:20:11

I like this thread!! Mine would be "A hero of our time" for classic and for contemporary "White Teeth", I just reread it a week or so ago and she was just so young when she wrote that - very talented.
I must pick up some suggestions, I find myself to be so lazy to read after DD was born, I like the reading part but have less time to read hte reviews and keep on top of what's being published

CookieMonster1980 Wed 10-Jul-13 21:29:54

Austen - P&P
Classic - Actually, not Dickens but Wilde - A Picture of Dorian Gray
Modern Classic - The Great Gatsby
Post WWII - 1984 or A Clockwork Orange
Modern - I find this one so hard. A Handmaid's Tale or Rushdie - Midnight's Children. I want to stick a Murakami in here too, but maybe not classic enough...

I'm not doing well at one choice per category I'm afraid smile

Oh gods - yes to A Clockwork Orange.

Lose the Eggers - I want the Orange instead! smile

CookieMonster1980 Wed 10-Jul-13 21:33:42

I know, that period has so many great books - in the same vein I love Huxley, and Fowles' The Magus

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 21:38:26

Austen - Persuasion
Classic - Wuthering Heights
Modern Classic - Cold comfort farm
Post WWII - I actually cannot think of one.
Modern - sticking with Señor Vivo
Translated classic - difficult. I think I am going for Madame Bovary

MacaYoniandCheese Wed 10-Jul-13 21:48:34


Classic - torn between Jane Eyre and WH.

Modern Classic - Jamaica Inn and Rebecca. Of Mice and Men. The Group.

Austen -Persuasion

Modern - Adrian Mole

CookieMonster1980 Wed 10-Jul-13 21:49:24

Cold Comfort Farm - I love that

Translated Classic. - the Master and Magherita

shazbean Wed 10-Jul-13 21:54:32

Classic -Anna Karinina
Contemporary - a clockwork orange. The only book that ever really shocked me when you find out how young Alex is.

ImaHexGirl Wed 10-Jul-13 21:54:59

Classic - Pride & Prejudice, love the language, the descriptions of society in that era and the strength of the characters.

Modern - More difficult. If we're talking truly modern then The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova or Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro. Neither are real literature but I can happily re-read both. If a Modern Classic then without doubt it has to be the Anne of Green Gables series, ultimate comfort reading for me.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 21:55:48

Master and Margarita is on my reading list, I am excited at the prospect of reading that.

ImaHexGirl Wed 10-Jul-13 21:56:01

Sorry meant to also add, the Shadow of the Wind series by Carlos Ruis Zafon (sp?)

celestialsquirrels Wed 10-Jul-13 21:58:20

No question

The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger (is that classic enough?)

A Sitable Boy by Vikram Seth

MacaYoniandCheese Wed 10-Jul-13 21:58:37

Ooh...I love Anne of Green Gables. If we're having a juvenile category then I say that too...and I Capture the Castle. And everything Antonia Forrest.

chocolatebuttiiins Wed 10-Jul-13 21:59:57

Pride and Prejudice. You're cheering for the underdog - and she wins.

Wolf Hall/Bring up the Bodies. Just didn't want them to end, was so involved in their/his world.

Classic: Victor Hugo Les Miserables. Perfection.

Contemporary: Natalia Ginzburg Lessico famigliare.

shazbean Wed 10-Jul-13 22:00:25

Agh forgot about the master and margarita! I found it hard going in the beginning but its in my top 5 favs now. Too much choice!

Just started The Woman in White. And loving this for more ideas.

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:00:56

Categories keep growing.

Juvenile - goodnight mister Tom. I cry lots, always.

And another contemporary: Jumpa Lahiri Unaccostumed earth

joanofarchitrave Wed 10-Jul-13 22:03:18

classic - war and peace. spent 15 years avoiding it, finally read it and it is FUCKING amazing.

contemporary - a fine balance by rohinton mistry

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 10-Jul-13 22:08:31

Classic: Moby Dick, Emma, or Jane Eyre
Modern Classic: To Kill a Mockingbird
Contemporary: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:10:34

I do read To Kill a Mockingbird regularly.!

intarsia Wed 10-Jul-13 22:13:42

Classic -White Fang by Jack London
Contemporary - Ines of my Soul by Isabel Allende
Both fantastic stories.

Juvenile - agh decisions...Maybe Ballet Shoes or maybe Charlotte Sometimes or maybe Tom's Midnight Garden

znaika Wed 10-Jul-13 22:24:46

Modern classic- this is my favourite category!! so many to choose, to kill a mockingbird is a beautiful book, has anyone one read :cancer ward" by Solzhenitsin? It is a sad yet joyful book that always has me weeping. this is my "rec".
I've written loads of these down and will start with the woman in white, which I'd never even heard of -oops

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:28:55

I have a couple of Solzhenitsyn but not Cancer Ward but was heartily recommended on a Russian lit thread.

My favourite Solzhenitsyn is a novella, Matryona's place.

Jane Eyre

To Kill a Mockingbird

I think these were the books that I read as 12/13 year old that really made me love fiction. Books are like blankets. I re read wife in the north regularly as it makes me both laugh and cry and resonates with my life.

What about a children's book? What would be the one book for your child you would read?
Hungry Caterpillar and Harry Potter series here.

Juvenile is The secret garden

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:40:59

Children's - I think Room on the Broom and Pongwiffy by Kaye Umamsky (pre Winnie the Witch).

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:41:51

My nan brought me a children's Catherine Cookson when I was about 8. Our John Willie - gave me a lifelong passion.

shazbean Wed 10-Jul-13 22:44:31

Juvenile - A Little Princess.

znaika Wed 10-Jul-13 22:45:22

ooh juvenile- of course le petit prince, I love Dr Seuss too- the cat in the hat-so funny and clever, and Roald Dahl books- which to choose? Don't think I can do it.

znaika Wed 10-Jul-13 22:48:32

mixedmama- Cancer ward is not as depressing as it sounds- it's a beautiful love story as well as a commentary of SSSR

mixedmamameansbusiness Wed 10-Jul-13 22:55:14

Znaika I think it has to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Matilda a close second.

Armadale Wed 10-Jul-13 23:04:13

somehow I think juvenille is harder than adult ones.

znaika Wed 10-Jul-13 23:12:43

but what about George's Mervellous Medicine? AAAaaargh- can't do it, Dahl should have a separate category of his own, actually, like Austen.

Classic: Brideshead Revisited. Modern: Cloud Atlas

My classic would be James Hogg's "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner" published anonymously in 1824 it has inspired many writers since but still seems relatively unknown.

I am not sure what my contemporary book would be, but for now I will go for The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien (pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan) .

I think they are brilliant books for anyone to read, but they would be great to study and compare. Some reviews
here and here are well worth a read - much more eloquent than me.

Juvenile Dahl Charlie the Champion of The World (modern classic) and Edward Lear Nonsense Poems (classic) and Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo (modern).

SixPackWellies Wed 10-Jul-13 23:55:06

Sorry, you absolutely cannot reference Wilkie Collins without talking about The Moonstone, which is so multi-layered and just so darn funny. (Gabriel Betteridge and Miss Clack anyone?'.)

Modern.. YY to The Accidental Tourist. Or Kate Grenville's The Idea of Perfection.

So many great books out there. smile

SixPackWellies Wed 10-Jul-13 23:57:49

The books I read and re-read;

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The Overcoat by Gogol (makes me sob)

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

One Hundred years of Solitude...... and also a Chronicle of a death foretold

Anything by Maeve Binchy

pollywollydoodle Thu 11-Jul-13 00:10:04

upthread re isabelle allende.
Either House of The Spirits or Paula are superb but don't read alongside each other. ..it becomes really apparent that stories that seemed to come from an amazing imagination in HotS are actually family stories ,also told in Paula. When i read Paula i felt really disappointed in HOTS in retrospect...like i had been hoodwinked. None of her other books really moved or intrigued me

pollywollydoodle Thu 11-Jul-13 00:33:46

classic : Enchanted April, Elizabeth Von Arnhim
modern classic : either A Fine Balance,Rohington Mistry or Enchantress of Florence,Salman Rushdie
Child's classic : Velveteen Rabbit
Childs modern classic : Any David Walliams if dd's reaction is anything to go by
Young adult : Borderliners Peter Hoeg

ask me next week and i'll probably have another list grin

evelynj Thu 11-Jul-13 00:49:46

Can't believe I forgot Murakami, doh! The wind up bird chronicle - possibly the oddest but my fave of his so far & loved loved loved the road -a quick read which is sometimes good.

Sixpackwellies-the robber bride as a re-read? I don't tend to re-read but just finished this & can't imagine anyone going back to it. She has written so much better IMO

Loving this thread-when all the junk is out ofmy dining room & I can see my books again will add some more recs.

Cookie monster-love all your picks so some more recs from you please?!

CookieMonster1980 Thu 11-Jul-13 09:50:14

Morning! Slightly off topic, but if you like Allende and Marquez, I really liked Mario Vargas Llosa. I haven't read too many of his, but I loved The War of the End of the World about a millenarian cult in Brazil.

Children's classic is very hard. As a child I loved Lord of the Rings (maybe a bit marmitey!) Now I think I'd pick Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials.

Feeling very inspired by all these suggestions. I haven't read Lolita or War and Peace so they are now on my list!

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