This week’s list from the Broke and Bookish is books I can’t believe I haven’t read. I’m going to concentrate on classics. There are way too many of them that I haven’t read, but that makes sense, there are a lot of damn books through history. Now, I’m not necessarily saying these are books I’m desperate to read, just ones I can’t believe I haven’t read – or didn’t have to read at some point over three years of high school and four years of an English degree. How did I get through all of those classes without one of these hitting a reading list? Also, why did I have to read all the crappy books I had to read when there are so many better choices out there.
So, here’s a list of classics I can’t believe I haven’t read.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The poverty-stricken Raskolnikov, a talented student, devises a theory about extraordinary men being above the law, since in their brilliance they think “new thoughts” and so contribute to society. He then sets out to prove his theory by murdering a vile, cynical old pawnbroker and her sister. The act brings Raskolnikov into contact with his own buried conscience and with two characters — the deeply religious Sonia, who has endured great suffering, and Porfiry, the intelligent and discerning official who is charged with investigating the murder — both of whom compel Raskolnikov to feel the split in his nature.
The Hounds of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens’s tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters — the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, in Oliver Twist Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
When Emma Rouault marries Charles Bovary she imagines she will pass into the life of luxury and passion that she reads about in sentimental novels and women’s magazines. But Charles is a dull country doctor, and provincial life is very different from the romantic excitement for which she yearns. In her quest to realize her dreams she takes a lover, and begins a devastating spiral into deceit and despair.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Heathcliff and Cathy believe they’re destined to love each other forever, but when cruelty and snobbery separate them, their untamed emotions literally consume them.
At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
A feature story of Lovecraft’s celebrated Cthulhu Mythos, “At the Mountains of Madness” is the story of an expedition deep into the barren wastes of Antarctica, where a discovery so horrific and impossible is made that the survivors dare not report the truth until they must to save the lives of another expedition.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is not only the finest, most terrifying writer of Gothic horror tales ever to have lived, he also wrote extraordinary poems. Here, Poe writes of the torments of ingenious, malevolent persecutors and of a mind’s own sickening madness. The Pit and the Pendulum is a collection of works from a dark and brilliant genius.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.
Now, I’m not really one to get buddy buddy with shame, but our friendship is blossoming over this list. I should have read these books and I’d really much prefer if I had. This year’s challenge is rereads. Maybe next year’s will be classics…