By Danielle Gorman
I don’t know about you, but when I’m expected to know something—and I don’t know it—I feel really stupid when someone brings it up. This becomes especially embarrassing when people assume I’ve read a book that, to be honest, I should’ve read before today. To be fair, I’ve read a lot of books. But different schools have different lists of required reading, so it’s a definite possibility that I won’t have read something from the list of classics we were each given as freshmen in high school.
However, I’ve been doing a lot of reading for fun these past months, and I figured it was about time I drew up a list of classics that I’ve always wanted (or felt obligated) to read. There were a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (I’ve read a shocking lack of Hemingway in my life), Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I just want to brag that I’ve read such a large and difficult book), and Dubliners by James Joyce (I know it has nothing to do with the Dublin that I love, but I love Ireland so much I should give it a shot).
So here is my list of classics I haven’t read yet and why.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Yes, it’s a musical. Yes, it has Wolverine in it. But did you know it was originally a novel? Clocking in around a whopping 1,500 pages, Les Mis exposes the world of 19th century France in all its splendor and grime. Jean Valjean starts the story off by stealing a loaf of bread, setting off a chain-reaction of events that lead him to the formidable Javert, the desperate Fantine, and a myriad of interesting characters who try to start a revolution.
I’ve tried to read this book. Several times I’ve started and stopped 50 pages in. For some reason, I can’t get past Valjean meeting the kind clergyman who gives him the benefit of the doubt, showing him there’s a better way to live.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I have been meaning to read this book for years. The story explores ideas of sin, immorality, and vanity among others. The take on those vices intrigue me (as does anything Wilde wrote) and I want to see how Dorian fares under his Faustus conditions.
I think that part of why I feel guilty that I haven’t read it is because my cousin—who is by no means a big reader—loves this book. And if she loves it, then I—an avid reader—am bound to find it engaging, well-written, and clever.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I feel obligated to read this, but I’m not sure that I actually want to. I know the basic premise because it is often compared to life today—humanity obsessed with being entertained and engineered to be perfect and beautiful while partaking in specialized drugs and sexual encounters of every variety. It’s for this very reason that I don’t want to read it. I don’t want to have the truth slapped in my face about how the world is now and how I wish it wasn’t that way; how I wish there were more decent people, like Bernard, who recognize that our way of life is wrong, that it takes the joy out of life and replaces it with momentary euphoria.
And there we have it. I’ll try and read these books this year (but knowing myself, I may put them off again). What about you? Do you have a bucket list full of books? Did any of mine make the list? Let us know in the comments!