Personal Great Books · The Classics Club

A Question for August: Favorites?

With the advent of the new Classics Club blog, a new monthly meme of classics-themed questions has begun. Some of the questions are fun to think about, so I thought I’d answer a few here and there.

August’s theme is favorites: what is our favorite classic and why?

And I’m in trouble already. I have a terrible time picking favorites. I can name a favorite tea, a favorite dessert, a favorite food, but neither a favorite meal nor a favorite color (I have two) nor a favorite song nor a favorite movie. And especially not a favorite book, classic or otherwise.

I used to call Jane Austen my favorite author, but truth is it’s been so long since I’ve read any of her books (most recent was probably about ten years ago), that I’m not sure I can fairly claim that anymore, at least not until I actually reread a book or two. And even then, I could never pick a favorite among the main six.

Of course, I could be terribly literal and turn to the definition of “Classic” as the ancient Greeks—but no, I have no favorites there. Maybe The Odyssey, but it’s been too long since I’ve read that, I might actually like Medea or Antigone or Oedipus Rex better. Or not. So that’s not a good idea.

If I go with my most reread classic, Dracula is the only Victorian I’ve read twice. Actually, it makes a good candidate for favorite, as I enjoyed it very much, both readings. Only, it didn’t even make my mental possibilities list until I started categorizing books I’ve read more than once, so perhaps it hasn’t made sufficient impression to be called favorite.

If I’m going with books that have made an impression—no, I can’t do that, I can name classics that left their mark—The Grapes of Wrath, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Crucible—but that isn’t fair; I never while reading any of those thought, “Oh I love this book!” No, I can’t call a book favorite because I’m merely impressed by it—I must embrace it.

So perhaps I must turn to beloved childhood memories: A Little House on the Prairie; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; A Little Princess; Anne of Green Gables. Oh, I loved Anne! Irrepressible, exuberant, Anne! But how can I pick her over Sara the storyteller—her stories so vivid I could imagine myself there. Or Laura and Mary, living history, stories so real I choose Laura for my 4th grade biography project; steadfast Lucy who made me love Aslan too; courageous Meg and Charles Wallace.

No, it doesn’t seem possible to pick between them.

I scan my Classics Club TBR list, my various other project lists, and there are so many books I am excited at the mere thought of, so many wondrous worlds and words to explore. They taunt and tempt me with their promise. I think perhaps that my favorite classic is one I haven’t yet read. Although maybe I’ll reread Anne of Green Gables just in case…

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14 thoughts on “A Question for August: Favorites?

  1. I think perhaps that my favorite classic is one I haven’t yet read.

    That’s a GREAT answer! (But isn’t your favorite the memory of your dad reading you Tolkien? He read that to you, yes?)

    If I had to guess, I’d say your favorite is Anne of Green Gables. You mention it often. 😉

    1. Thanks! And I can’t believe I didn’t think to mention Tolkien, at least that memory. Interestingly, although I’ve reread the books several times, I don’t think of them as favorites…

      If forced to pick (but I hate to do so!), I’d probably go with Anne, so I think you’re spot on!

  2. I’d be hard pressed to say anything but Dracula to this one since I’ve proclaimed it my favorite novel hands down for many many years now. I can’t remember anymore how many times I’ve read it, but it has been many. The Lord of the Rings would probably be next in line and only second because I came to it much later than Dracula. A Tale of Two Cities would be near the top as would plays by Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

    1. All such good choices! Are you determined to turn the comments section into a “books Amanda must (re)read list”? 🙂 Although I’m determined that The Lord of the Rings will be reread sooner rather than later… (Started The Hobbit the other night!) I also have to admit, there’s a part of me that thinks “how can anyone NOT love Dracula?

      1. I agree, re: Dracula.

        And I should have mentioned that I love the Anne of Green Gables series as well. I had hoped to get to them this summer for a re-read but things just haven’t worked out that way.

  3. I so understand your dilemma! After I put down Ayn Rand, I began to wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t have put down Daddy-Long-Legs because I think I’ve read that over 5 times…but like for you, it wouldn’t be my only favourite.:-/

    And I get Anne of Green Gables….such a cozy, fuzzy, warm series. 😀

    1. I’m terrible at making (unimportant) decisions like this anyways, and then when I consider how many absolutely lovely, wonderful books I’ve read…it’s near impossible! I think there’s something about books we read when we are young which makes it easier to latch onto them wholeheartedly and keep them close to our hearts for life.

  4. I think that anyone who really enjoys reading and enjoys a connection with books cannot pick a favourite work. There is something about the diversity that just makes every book special. Maybe if the question were: “which is your favourite book in detective fiction from the 20th century written by a woman and published in English?” Maybe, and only maybe being that specific you can name your favourite book. But, comparing them all, with their differences and their particularities? Nope, impossible.

    1. Depending on the question, I might still have trouble–seeing that I sometimes can’t even pick a favorite book by a single author. But it would be a lot easier if we narrow the question down! (Example: at the moment my favorite Victorian novel is probably Dracula.)

    1. Thank you! It certainly seems an excellent reason to keep reading new-to-us books, but there’s always the fun of returning to old favorites.

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