Thursday, December 19, 2013

Classic Books Which Are Actually Fun to Read

Following on from the previous - two entries, here's another book list.
The target this time is classic books which I actually enjoy reading.
Usually when I decide to tackle a classic, it's because I feel like it's something I should do--like I feel like I really should be reading more classics, and not because it's something I think I would enjoy.
And yet, some of these classic books, I actually enjoyed reading.
This is a list of all the classic books I actually enjoyed reading, and can recommend to someone looking for a book to read for pleasure.
A couple rules for this list: First of all, I'm going to define classic as anything written before World War I.  Anything from the modern era is a lot less intimidating, and the purpose of this post is to make a list of old books which might seem intimidating, but are actually not.
Plus, you've got to have some sort of cut-off date, or else just about anything can be considered a modern classic.  (I once saw in Australia the first three books from the Flashman series bound together in a leather edition and being sold as a classic.)
So, nothing after World War I on this list.  (Although just by the by, if I were including modern classics, I enjoyed and can recommend: Babbit, Catch 22 , East of Eden , For Whom the Bell Tolls , Homage to Catalonia , It Can't Happen Here , This Gun For Hire ,and The Long Goodbye.)
Secondly, I'll confine myself to just listing books that I've read since I started my book review project.  I'm not going to try to plum the depths of my memory to go back into childhood, although I do have fond childhood memories of classic books such as The Jungle Books, Tom Sawyer, Peter Pan, The Iliad, A Tale of Two Cities,  et cetera.

Okay, without further ado, here are classic books which I actually enjoyed reading:
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Really a lot funnier than you expect a book this old to be.

A highly readable delightful little comedy and adventure story.

 Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Very readable, very enjoyable and, for most of the Sherlock Holmes stories, very short.  Also recommended is The Lost World, by the same author.

The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
Agree or disagree with him, Thomas Paine writes a hard-hitting polemic that still packs quite a punch 200 years later.  He was the Christopher Hitchens of his day.
Fast paced, plenty of plots and intrigues, and very readable prose, this reads more like a modern day paperback than a 200 year old classic.

It's long, but if you don't mind picking away at a long book for a few months, then it's highly readable.  The whole story is character driven, so unlike other huge Russian classics you don't get bogged down in philosophical discussions.  And the characters are such life-like three-dimensional people that you don't mind spending 1500 pages with them.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky - The Purpose of Education
From’s meat addiction is slaughtering the planet  (I'm not a vegetarian, but this article has gotten me thinking.  Half of all carbon emissions! I'm not sure it's realistic to ask people to stop eating meat, but this certainly makes  a case for trying to eat less meat.)


Joel said...

Treasure Island

and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Joel said...

The Time Machine

Joel said...

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Joel said...

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Joel Swagman said...


Arsene Lupin: