Surprise! I’m not SJ.
I’m Samantha (or Sam, up to you), and I blog at Bookshire, where I talk about books, from reviews and analyses of habits of the reading and writing world, to digressing into flash fiction and raving about my favorite books (and occasionally movies). I’m so grateful that SJ suggested doing this collaboration! It’s been a lot of fun.
Today I’m here on SJ’s blog to talk about twelve of my Very Favorite Classics in no particular order, excluding books by Lewis or Tolkien, because otherwise this would turn into a Lewis And Tolkien Appreciation Post. Which would be amazing, but not entirely what I’m going for. 🙂
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
“Humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people—those who find comfort in literature, those who find comfort in personal adornment, and those who find comfort in food.” “How can I go down on one knee when I’m in the middle of my tea?”Elizabeth Goudge
This was one of my absolute favorite books growing up–I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. I love Gouge’s penetrating but subtle commentary on human nature, alloyed with a beautiful story of a girl who’s willing to give up her pride to make things right, all set in a fantasy-esque manor estate.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
“Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor.”
“We were born to stive and endure.”Charlotte Brontë
This was the book that made me love literature class. I suddenly realized that even if a book is required reading, it can be absolutely amazing. And this one is. I love Jane’s determination to do the right thing, her fearlessness, and her capacity for forgiveness. She’s probably one of my favorite female characters in classic literature.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end.”Louisa May Alcott
A classic. Well, I mean, they’re all technically classics, but this is a…classic classic? I think this was actually one of the first “adult classics” I encountered as a kid–my mom read it aloud to me! I still have really good memories of that. It’s just such an enduring story, with the right amounts of growth and heartache and love and sisters.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!”Jane Austen
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
How could I leave Jane Austen off the list? Pride & Prejudice won my heart from the moment the ridiculous Bennet parents came on the scene, and…still hasn’t given it back. The amounts of snark! The humor! The handsome and altogether too relatable Mr. Darcy! (Honestly, if I had to describe myself in one character…it might have to be Mr. Darcy.) Plus, the sister game is strong with this one, too. Win!
Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
“Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old.”L. M. Montgomery
“Have you ever noticed how many silences there are, Gilbert?”
I have a confession to make. The first Anne book is actually…not my favorite of the series. Anne’s so very talkative and imaginative and idealistic and makes so many mistakes at the beginning that it drives me slightly nuts. I like Anne much better as she ages and mellows…at least a little! I wouldn’t want her to lose her essential Anne-ness. Windy Poplars is probably my very favorite of the Anne books–it’s told in letters, which is a form I absolutely love, Anne is more mellow but still her lovable self, and there’s a tremendous amount of growth. All of that besides the phenomenally described setting of Windy Poplars itself.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”Harper Lee
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
I’m not sure how I didn’t get around to reading this until last year? Because it’s amazing. Having the narrator really keeps it from being too heavy and preachy by (in my experience) actually almost taking the reader back to the time when they saw things in a simpler way. And so Lee is able to deeply drive home her point about racism, but in a really subtle (almost…enjoyable?) way.
The Aeneid by Virgil
“Even when Greeks bring gifts, I fear them, gifts and all.”
“Shall a single woman drive you out of line, breaking our formation?”Virgil
What’s not to love about epic poetry? This poem is like a mix between the Odyssey and the Iliad, with around equal parts epic journeys and epic battles. I love the flow of the language, the amount of quality theme-age, and Aeneas! That man is awesome.
The Princess & the Goblin by George MacDonald
“Princesses don’t always have their handkerchiefs in their pockets, any more than some other little girls I know of.”George MacDonald
“The less his mother said, the more Curdy believed she had to say.”
I still have extremely fond memories of my grandmother bringing this one with her on a visit and reading it to me for an hour each day! It’s a fairytale for children, but it’s not afraid to be unique and subtle and mysterious. It’s just the right amount of mix between fairytale and fleshed-out book, with characters who…honestly make more sense than many fairytale characters.
Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
“If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence.”G. K. Chesterton
“It is this silent swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything.”
When SJ suggested this idea to me, she suggested we leave out Lewis and Tolkien, but she didn’t say anything about Chesterton! So I’m free to nerd out about one of my new favorite theology books. Orthodoxy is the only nonfiction book on this list, but it’s one of the most brilliant books about Christianity I’ve ever read. Chesterton has a gift of opening his reader’s eyes to how amazing the thing he’s writing about is, and he definitely does that here; I came out of the book amazed at how cool Christianity is!
Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather
“This church was Sada’s house, and he was a servant in it.”Willa Cather
“Doctrine is enough for the wise, Jean, but the miracle is something we can hold in our hands and love.”
I love this beautiful and slow-moving picture of a holy bishop trying to evangelize in New Mexico. The setting almost feels alive, the characters are so real and beautiful, and while the plot is definitely slow, it’s deep and impactful.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
“Logic is mingled with convulsion, and the thread of a syllogism floats unbroken in the dreary storm of thought.”Victor Hugo
“And then, do you know, Monsieur Marius, I believe I was a little in love with you.”
I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did! But it’s a brilliant philosophical discussion of justice, mercy, and the poor, wrapped up in the story of several extremely compelling characters, including my favorite, Jean Valjean. I loved it all the way through, and even loved the part about the Parisian sewers!
Antigone by Sophocles
“These are the laws whose penalties I would not incur from the gods, through fear of any man’s temper.”Sophocles
“The time in which I must please those who are dead is longer than I must please those of this world.”
It’s only a play. Very short. But it packs a punch! It’s about the importance of the natural law over the laws of man, and the story of the young girl who knows this better than the king does. It’s about bravery and humility and the importance of wisdom and humility in leadership.
So there you have it! Twelve of my favorite classics, in no particular order. 🙂
SJ has a post over on my blog with twelve of her favorite classics, which you can read here, if you’re so minded!
Thanks for reading! And a big thank you to SJ for having me!
Have a lovely day
What did you think? Are you a fan of Classics? Were there classics on the list that’s also your favourite? Let Sam and I know your thoughts in the comment below; we’d love to chat with you!