Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recommended Reads: Classic Literature

Hello friends!

So if you haven't caught on by now, I love books. I mean, I really love books. I'm a collector and hoarder of all things literature and today I'm here to share a little bit of that obsession with you all. Specifically, we're going to talk about classic literature. You don't know how much it saddens me when I hear people say things like, "Classics are just for school." or "Classic literature are just giant, boring books." If you've ever said something like that, let me tell you friend, you're wrong, and I'm here to tell you why. So without further ado, here's seven must read classics you need to get your hands on right now.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

(Taken from goodreads). It was the time of the French Revolution — a time of great change and great danger. It was a time when injustice was met by a lust for vengeance, and rarely was a distinction made between the innocent and the guilty. Against this tumultuous historical backdrop, Dickens' great story of unsurpassed adventure and courage unfolds.

Unjustly imprisoned for 18 years in the Bastille, Dr. Alexandre Manette is reunited with his daughter, Lucie, and safely transported from France to England. It would seem that they could take up the threads of their lives in peace. As fate would have it though, the pair are summoned to the Old Bailey to testify against a young Frenchman — Charles Darnay — falsely accused of treason. Strangely enough, Darnay bears an uncanny resemblance to another man in the courtroom, the dissolute lawyer's clerk Sydney Carton. It is a coincidence that saves Darnay from certain doom more than once. Brilliantly plotted, the novel is rich in drama, romance, and heroics that culminate in a daring prison escape in the shadow of the guillotine.

  • IT'S ABOUT THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. I mean what else would you want in a book? Written by Dickens and a historical fiction? Um, yes please! Pro tip, as you're reading this, do some research on the French Revolution, specifically the storm of the Bastille. It really helps the story come alive, plus you're learning, so perks!
  • IT HAS AN AMAZING CAST OF CHARACTERS. Dickens has this beautiful talent of creating a huge range of characters and not letting one go to waste. It's amazing! Just as you think a character was of no importance, they suddenly jump back into the story and are doing something incredible. 
  • IT'S EXTREMELY QUOTABLE. What other novel do you know of that is equally known for its beginning lines, last lines, and everything else in between? The writing is beautiful, you just have to get use to the wordiness of Dickens' writing and then you're all set.
  • SYDNEY CARTON. What a wonderful, depressing, amazing, beautiful, complex character. 
  • THE CITIES. The entire novel takes place in either England or Paris, switching between the two cities depending on which character we're following. Who doesn't want to read a book set in Paris and England?  
  • THE KNITTING. Call me a grandma, but using knitting to pass along secret messages, absolute genius. Life goals, I'm telling you.

  • WORDINESS. Dickens has such beautiful writing and I love it, but oh my gosh is he wordy. 
  • TOO MANY CHARACTERS AND TIME JUMPS. I keep contradicting myself, but there were almost too many characters and time jumps, and it got confusing at times. But then again, I'm easily confused so it could totally just be me, 

2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne 

(Taken from goodreads). Nathaniel Hawhthorne’s most famous novel was published in 1850 and takes place in Puritan New England, focusing on a community where a beautiful young woman, Hester Prynne, and her illegitimate child are subject to persecution and ostracism; while the mother refuses to name her co-conspirator in adultery, and the father of her child burns up with secret guilt and shame. Hawthorne’s family history caused much of his interest in this time period, but his spiritual leanings toward the popular Transcendental movement precipitated this classic novel where oppression, injustice and intolerance – and their consequences – are explored in turn.

  • HAWTHORNE'S PERSONAL CONNECTION. So Hawthorne actually came from a Puritan background which he was deeply ashamed of and his ancestors were involved in the Salem Witch Trials. He wrote this to kind of separate himself from that, to show how he disagreed with his family's past actions. 
  • IT HAS A WITCH. Okay so I'm kind of being misleading here, but it's set right before the Salem Witch Trials, so you're kind of getting a view of how it all began. Plus there's also a "witch" in like two pages, so there's that.
  • PEARL. Pearl is the incredibly creepy, demon-like child of Hester's who has such amazing lines and plays such an important part of the story. I loved her character.
  • THE THEME. Basically any one could read this and come up with different themes, but one that really stood out to me was the way it promoted that the truth will set you free. You see Hester struggling with how society treats her, but with no personal guilt because what she's done is out in the open and she's repented of it. The father on the other hand is driving himself sick with guilt, for everyone treats him like a saint, and only he knows what he's done. It's ingeniously executed. 
  • THE MYSTERY. There's always questions you're waiting for to be answered. Whose the father? Will the truth be revealed? Will Hester find happiness? Even in its shortness, it's packed full of beautiful goodness. 
  • THE ENDING. Just, *sigh,* so very perfect. 

  • THE WRITING. I didn't hate it, but it was difficult at times. It's written in Old English, so sometimes it really is quite beautiful, it just doesn't make for a quick, easy read. 

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

(Taken from goodreads). The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into ten languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

  • THE BEAUTIFUL CHARACTERS. Harper Lee created amazing, lovable, fantastic, adorable characters that I just all want to give hugs to. Atticus is the best father in all of literature, I adore him. And Jem and Scout are so cute and sweet and my favorites. And there's a cast of side characters that are just equally as wonderful. 
  • THE WRITING. Simple, yet beautiful and full of punch. (I'm really good at descriptions, obviously).
  • THE STORY. Lee handles racism, innocence, ethics, and love all in one outstanding novel. This story is being narrated by Scout, a young girl, so everything you're seeing, you're seeing for a young child's view.
  • THE RELATIONSHIPS. The relationship Atticus has with his children, the relationship Jem and Scout have, and the relationships they have with their neighbors and friends are all just so feel good and lovely. 
  • THE ENDING.  Oh my goodness, this ended absolutely perfectly. Everything was wrapped up in such a clever, heart-tearing-in-half kind of way. It was just perfect. 

  • JUST KIDDING. This book is absolute perfection and no one can convince me otherwise. 

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

(Taken from goodreads). Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighborhood, the lives of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgments lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. If Elizabeth Bennet returns again and again to her letter from Mr Darcy, readers of the novel are drawn even more irresistibly by its captivating wisdom.

  • THE MEN. Yes yes, I can't talk about Pride and Prejudice and not mention the men. Specifically the one, the only, the dreamy, Mr. Darcy. Watching his feelings for Elizabeth progress is the best thing ever. BUT GUYS. Dear Mr. Bingly cannot be forgotten. He is so adorable and cute and sweet and I'm obsessed with him. The way Simon Woods portrayed him in the 2005 movie adaption was exactly how I pictured him! Gah, such a cutie.
  • THE SISTERS. The relationship Jane and Elizabeth have is such a beautiful representation of sisters and friendship, and the way they care for their crazy younger sisters and mother is so sweet. I just adore the relationship these two girls have. 
  • IT'S SET IN EUROPE 19th Century England focused on the gentry class, located in the beautiful countryside. Um, yes please. 
  • THE PARTIES. So much dancing, partying, and merriment, Makes me want to take their place. Seriously, whenever I watch the movie adaptions, I just want to jump in and start dancing with them,  and by them, I mean Mr. Darcy. 
  • FEMINISM. Jane Austen was definitely a feminist, you can tell so evidently from her writing. She portrays her heroines with intelligence, wit, and determination, and shows the injustice women had to put up with. She also dealt with a lot of other controversial topics during her time, such as social class and morals. 

  • NOT ENOUGH DARCY. Where is all the Darcy??
  • TOO MUCH CONFUSION. Honestly, so many of the character's problems would have been solved if they all just sat down and talked about it. Come on guys, you're adults, act like ones. 

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Taken from goodreads). He was in love with the golden girl of a gilded era. He was Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire who gave wild and lavish parties attended by strangers.
"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

She was Daisy Buchanan, a young rich beauty with bright eyes and a passionate mouth.

"High in a white palace, the King's daughter, the Golden Girl." Even her voice was "full of money."

great novel of a glittering era, of amazing richness and scope, this is the most dazzling fiction we possess of the Jazz Age's reckless revels.

fable of the Roaring Twenties that will survive as a legend.

  • THE WRITING. AHHH guys this is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. The imagery is outstanding, and his language is beautiful. He strings together words to create such breathtaking sentences and I can't even describe it but it's wonderful. Just read it.
  • IT'S SET DURING THE ROARING 20s. It truly transports you back to the jazz age, where  parties, dancing, beautiful people, and money were seen as the highest level of class. I've always had a fascination with the 20s and this novel only fueled it. 
  • ALL THE FEELS. So many broken people pretending to be put together, this book really punches you in the gut.
  • FITZGERALD'S CONNECTION TO GATSBY. When you read The Great Gatsby and poke around Fitzgerald's life, you'll realize the two aren't so different. It's always interesting to observe how the author used his own life to shape his novel and characters, and you can definitely see that in this book. 
  • IT'S JUST PLAIN BEAUTIFUL. I mean, look at it.
  • HOW IT ENDS. Tears, so many tears.

  • THE CHARACTERS. They're all kind of terrible people. I mean, you can have sympathy for some, but when you dig down deep enough, none of them have good intentions. It's just so hard to love any of the characters because of how deplorable they all are. 
  • THE LACK OF MORALS. Seriously, do these people not have a conscience? 

6. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, 

(Taken from goodreads). A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life from the vantage point of Screwtape, a senior tempter in the service of "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging and humorous account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

  • THE VOICE. It's written from the POV of a senior tempter, a devil named Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood. Screwtape gives Wormwood all the dirt, and tells him all about his past experiences tempting humans, and the tricks of the game. It's eerie and upsetting, but pure genius and amazing. 
  • IT'S A SATIRE. I mean, who doesn't love a good satire? The humor in this is amazing. The irony and sarcasm brings my heart so much joy.
  • IT'S ALL ABOUT TEMPTATION. Although fiction, this book is packed full of truth. It's all about human weakness and temptation, and wow did it sure hit me hard. C.S. Lewis was a genius in his execution of this topic. While still being funny and entertaining, it was also moving and deep. 
  • SO MANY GOOD THINGS TO QUOTE. So many, I promise you.  Like look: "It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out." Guys. 
  • IT'S WRITTEN BY C.S. LEWIS. Need I say more? 
  • THE FORMATTING. It's written in letter format, thus the title. You don't get to read what Wormwood is writing, but only what Screwtape has to say, so the entire book a little bit of a mystery, trying to figure out what is happening by Screwtape's reactions. 
  • THAT LAST LETTER. *round of applause* 

  • IT'S A BIT SLOW AT TIMES. But oh, the slow burning is so very worth it.

7. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

(Taken from goodreads). "She'll have to go back." Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead - a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

  • THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE. Anne is so cute and fun and I adore reading her story. And Mathew is one of my favorite characters ever, he's such a sweetie. And just all the characters are wonderful balls of sugar.
  • GILBERT BLYTHE. But Elizabeth, you already talked about the characters. Yea yea, I know, but Gilbert Blythe is pure perfection and deserves his very own category. He's the cutest, sweetest, gentlest, most amazing fictional boys of all time and if you don't like him, I will fight you (and if you like him, I'll also fight you, because he's mine).
  • ITS WHIMSICAL WRITING. I adore Montgomery's writing style. It's so whimsical and happy, and completely transports you into the story.
  • PRINCE EDWARDS ISLAND. Can I please please just move there and live there forever? Montgomery uses such vivid language to describe it and it sounds so beautiful and wonderful and I just want to go there and visit it and never leave.
  • ALL THE MISTAKES. Anne is honestly the klutziest person alive and just prone to making mistakes, but it only makes me love her all the more. I have never laughed harder at a character before., but it's more of a oh yeah me too laugh, because we've all been there Anne, we really have. 
  • IT'S AN EASY AND FAST READ.  This book is just pure fun and loveliness. It's pretty fast paced and reads easily, so it's perfect when you don't want anything too complicated. 

  • SKIPS OVER TOO MUCH TIME. A lot of the times the story would just skip over seasons and suddenly it's Easter when we were just reading about Thanksgiving. I get that Montgomery was trying to speed the book along and not use unnecessary space, but it seemed kind of awkward at times. 
  • NOT ENOUGH GILBERT. I mean, I don't think it could ever have enough Gilbert, but I needed much more than it gave us.

Have you read any of these books? What do you think of them? Have I convinced you classic literature isn't all that bad? Let's chat down below! 

Also, if you have any recommendations for me, please please let me know! I'm always up for discovering new books. And if you want me to do another recommended reads, leave me a comment below and let me know what genre you'd like me to discuss. 

Have a wonderful week!

With love,



  1. totally thinking about picking up a few of these from my library. i've heard of them so often, but it's taken me awhile to swing around to actually reading one. ;) great post, Elizabeth! i adore books and love to get new recommendations. x

    1. Read them, read them all, and then talk my ear off about them. ;)

  2. Ah yes, what worked and what didn't worked is such a perfect thing! Lovely!

    1. Aw thanks, I thought it would be a lot easier to read then my jumbled up thoughts and fangirling.

  3. Oh how I want to read another classic now! Have you read East of Eden by John Steinbeck? I would recommend it. 😃

    1. I haven't read it yet, but I own it and my cousin really wants me to read it. I'm going to have to pick it up soon :)

  4. this is such a cool way to format a post!!! Especially the whole "what didn't work" section. PLEASE DO THIS AGAIN SOMETIME <333

  5. I've read everyone of these, and I agree that they are must reads for everyone! Great analysis of each book! I LOVED THE GILBERT ONE! SO TURE!

    1. Aw thanks :) Aren't they great?? And yes, Gilbert is so beautiful <3

  6. I've read #4, #6, and #7 on your list. L.M. Montgomery has to be one of my favorite authors of all times. My mom thought she fell into too much description, but I'm like, "Nope." Her books make me feel like I'm hanging out with good friends which is not so frequent a feeling for me with books. You made me curious about #3. The way you described the writing makes me think I might enjoy it...

    1. My mom grew up loving those books, so now I'm carrying on the tradition. I really love her writing style too :) Yes must read #3, it's so good!

  7. I LOVED TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD SO MUCH!! 🎉 *flails* I read it in school but I really want to re-read it now because it was such a perfectly poignant and inspiring book. I named my dog Atticus so yes...a little obsessed.😂 So I do like some classics, but generally I prefer newer books because the tone/language of classics I find hard to absorb!

    1. Awww that's such a perfect name for a puppy! I really want a kitten to name Atticus.
      I totally get that, classics are really different compared to newer books, so it's hard to get use to them if you don't really like to read them. I'm glad you liked To Kill A Mocking Bird though, it's such an amazing read! <3

  8. I'm read some of these (To Kill A Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables), but not all of them! I don't generally read classics, because they often take more time to read than modern books do, but I do really like them. The Scarlet Letter seems like such a great and interesting book, and I'm pretty sure I have a copy of it. I'll probably try it out!
    -Jollygirl @ Reflections of a Jolly Girl

    1. I totally get that, they do take a lot longer to read. I'm currently reading Jane Eyre and I love it, but it's been taken me awhile to get through it. You should totally read The Scarlet Letter, it's quite good ;)

  9. asdkljfdslj To Kill a Mockingbird is great <3 I'm going to be reading The Scarlet Letter soon, and I have read Pride and Prejudice and A Tale of Two Cities. THIS WAS A GREAT POST THOUGH


  11. I've only read To Kill a Mockingbird off this list, but I've been really wanting to read more classic literature. And the way you set this post out was perfect, and so helpful!

    1. Aw yay, I'm glad!! Yes, read more, read them all!


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