Weekly Geeks: 2009-03

weeklygeeks In the third Weekly Geeks of 2009, it is all about the classics. Ali is defining classics as anything 100 years old or older – I’m going to be more liberal with the definition because I have some great classics to share with you which were written in the 1930s.

1) How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don’t get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

When most people think of the classics, they think of Dickens or Austen or Tolstoy or Wharton. And while I have read from these classic authors, they can be a little intimidating (although War and Peace is still in my top 10 reads of all time, and Anna Karenina is a must read for readers who want a good taste of classic literature). I also think immediately of John Steinbeck when I think of classics. I’ve read several of his books, but my favorite is The Grapes of Wrath (read my review).

But what about the lesser known classics?

For readers new to this type of literature, I would recommend books by Edna Ferber who wrote in the 1920s. So Big, her novel about a gambler’s daughter, won her the Pulitzer Prize. I loved this novel which is set in the farm country outside of Chicago (read my review).

Another engaging author of classic literature is Pearl S. Buck. Written in 1931, The Good Earth is the first in a trilogy about a Chinese farmer. The book has been banned in China, but it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 (read my review).

Sarah Orne Jewett wrote in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Her work is almost poetic and she was skilled at creating character. The Country of Pointed Firs (written in 1896) is perhaps her best known work – and a story I simply loved (read my review). Set on the coast of Maine over the course of one summer, it is a delightful and easy read.

Lastly, Daphne du Maurier wrote classic gothic novels in the 1930s – and Rebecca is perhaps her most famous (read my review). Filled with suspense and quite atmospheric, it is one of the best in the genre.

Other books I can recommend for classic reading are:

  • How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn (written in 1939 and winner of the National Book Award) – read my review
  • Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak (translated from the Russian in 1958) – read my review
  • The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins (written in 1868) – a classic detective/mystery
  • Candide, by Voltaire (written in 1759) – read my review

3) Let’s say you’re vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don’t find her a book, she’ll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?

There are plenty of good “new classics” out there. Here are a few I think cousin Myrtle might like:

4) As you explore the other Weekly Geeks posts: Did any inspire you to want to read a book you’ve never read before—or reread one to give it another chance? Tell us all about it, including a link to the post or posts that sparked your interest. If you end up reading the book, be sure to include a link to your post about it in a future Weekly Geeks post!

This was a fun week! I enjoyed reading through other bloggers’ posts. Some that stood out for me, and introduced me to some “new” books to read were:

Suey from It’s All About Books reminded me of some classic authors I should pick up one of these days (including John Galsworthy and George Eliot)

Marineko at Dreaming Out Loud who mentioned some classic childrens books which I want to read or re-read (such as The Wind in the Willows and The Railway Children)

Gavin at Page 247 introduced me to some brand new authors and books (including The House on the Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson, AND The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic)

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5 comments

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  1. Thanks for the classics recommendations. I read Voltaire long ago and didn’t really understand candide for some reason, but maybe I should try that one again.

    • Gavin on January 29, 2009 at 17:52

    Thanks for the mention! I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while now. Have to put your link on my blog. “The Damnation of Theron Ware” actually came from Frances at Nonesuch. I’m not sure how to add the link. I am very new at this.

    I can’t believe I’ve never read Edna Ferber! I’ve added “So Big” to my TBR list. I forgot to put Willa Cather on my post, she’s one of my favorites.

    • Ali on January 29, 2009 at 18:45

    I love that you had all those great reviews to link to in this post. I’m keeping So Big and The Country of the Pointed Firs on my list for when I next need a classic to read. Thank you!

    • Lexi on January 31, 2009 at 14:24

    I’m reading Doctor Zhivago right now!

    • Wendy on February 1, 2009 at 09:38
      Author

    You’re welcome, Serena. Candide is hard to understand, I think – but I read it as part of a book discussion group which helped immensely in my appreciating it.

    Gavin: Oh, thanks for the correction! Guess I read that wrong 🙂 You really should read a Ferber novel – she is a wonderful writer. I have yet to read Cather!

    Ali: You’re welcome!

    Lexi: Oh, I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on Dr. Zhivago!

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