I don’t know about you, but I think in high school I rushed through some of the greatest novels of all time because they were “homework.” But I believe a refined person is usually a well-read one. So in my adult life, I have reread a lot of classics and today am telling you my favorites (mostly because a reader asked and I like to write about what y’all request!). This summer you may just want to take one to the beach an grow a new appreciation for exceptional literature.
I think well-read women are not only smarter and more confident, but they are overall better conversationalists. Not just in vocabulary and diction, but they are able to pull into conversation anecdotes and literary and historical references that makes things a little bit more colorful and interesting. Can you tell when someone is well-read? I can.
A little aside: In our culture where we currently have a heightened awareness of political correctness, please know that in every single one of these books there might be things that are offensive to someone somewhere in the world. But these are all fiction. And I am recommending them because I enjoyed them and believe others would as well.
Please tell me your favorites in the Comment section, but here are mine:
My all-time favorite book. Unrequited love, rich versus poor, lifelong sacrifice, and the false perceptions we so easily make about people. A must re-read in my opinion. (Confession: I also love the Ethan Hawke/Gwyneth Paltrow modern film take of this classic!)
This might tie for my favorite novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald transports you to a place and time that we can all – just for a minute – imagine being a part of – East Egg, West Egg, where would you reside? (Note: I did not like the Baz Luhrman film with Leonardo DiCaprio but I’ll tell you what I did like: the Woody Allen movie with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams where he travels back in time and meets F. Scott and Zelda…).
The movie is a classic (still one of the highest grossing openings ever with adjusted inflation). But the book, as per usual, is even better. And the plot is a little different. I mean it when I say this: You cannot be from the South, and truly understand the South’s history and culture, if you haven’t seen the film or read the book (but read the book!).
I feel like you can’t be a well-read female without reading this at least once or twice (or more!). I just love Jane Austen, that time period, and how she was able to write (so beautifully!) the distress that class, land, and sex caused among families. Oh and Mr. Darcy. Why do we all relate to a relationship with Mr. Darcy?
Of course, a favorite! I haven’t read it in so long, though, and want to reread before Harper Lee’s new novel comes out (the details of which are still a bit shakey?).
But the reason I want to reread is because every year my Bible Study leader recounts the story of the mad dog running through town and how Scout it astonished when her quiet, boring, older than most father, named Atticus, is looked upon by the townspeople to shoot the dog. (She didn’t know that he was the best shot in town!)
Atticus kills the dog with a perfect shot and all of sudden Jem and Scout see their father in a whole new light. (You can see now why my Bible Study leader uses this anecdote!; although she tells the story much better, leaving everyone in tears!).
I know, another Jane Austen, but I just can’t help it. I might like Sense and Sensibility more than Pride and Prejudice! It is just shocking to me that Austen penned this first novel of hers when she was just 19 years old.
Sense and Sensibility is a humorous and delightful story over all and should be read by all teenage girls in my opinion. Maybe because I have three girls, but I have renewed enjoyment in the Dashwood sisters. (Note: I LOVED the movie with Kate Winslet when she was so young!).
When I was on bed rest for months on end, I could not bring myself to watch much t.v. Long story, but I was told that the baby I was carrying would most likely die upon birth yet (she didn’t – she’s five now!). But you can imagine why binging on mindless television shows was unappealing to me. But I was able to read novels. And I read a lot of them while in the bed for all those months.
So why Lonesome Dove? Well, my husband said that if I was going to be a True Texan I needed to read it. I never thought in a million years I would enjoy it, but I did tremendously. It gave me a deeper understanding of that cowboy era and what Texas and the frontier was like back then. It also gave me a little more understanding of the deep desire my husband has always had to be cowboy…
I know y’all are going to think this a strange choice. Warning: it’s a dark book about African colonialism. I was a Eurpeoan history major and think that’s why I first read this book – but it’s a classic, too, among the top 100 books of all time. There are many modern cultural references to this book, one of them being the film Apocalpyse Now which is based on this book (albeit a different location and time: the Vietnam War).
No better novel has been penned, in my humble opinion, about sacrificial love than Les Misérables. Victor Hugo was a literary genius. (The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a favorite, too!). I was a French minor and have a love for French culture and so this is just a favorite of mine (as is the musical!). I did not like the Anne Hathaway movie all that much, but did manage to cry a few tears because the story is just that good…
Okay you are not going to find this on the “Top 100 Books of All Time” list. But it’s one of my favorites. My dear friend Megan, who passed away when she was 26, loved this book as it told a special side of her hometown, Atlanta, GA. It’s fiction but it takes place right after the 1962 plane crash in France that killed over 100 of Atlanta’s cultural and civic leaders who were on a museum trip to Paris. It is such a sweet story about a little girl who reaches out to someone less privileged than herself and I won’t tell any more than that, but it’s really good…
Hope you liked my list! Thoughts? Comment below!