Good morning, moths! It is Tuesday, and I’ve never attempted to do the top 10 Tuesdays! However, seeing as I do not keep up with such things as “the categories are listed ahead of time here and here,” and have absolutely no idea what the theme for this week is, I’m going with my own! (Wouldn’t it be great if I was accidentally doing what everybody else was?! …)
Okay, so here we begin — 10 classics that I feel aren’t being given enough attention in the 21st century, and that I’d like to see readers give another shot.
- A Tale of Two Cities: When it comes to Charles Dickens, all the schools are teaching Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. I am forever grateful that one of my high school English teachers chose A Tale of Two Cities. It’s a unique historical drama, that puts aside most of the political issues of the day, to concentrate on the humanity within, the families ripped apart, the suffering of very mortal souls. Because of that, it remains one of my favorites, and will make my top 10 list any year.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel: Whereas a lot of students will at least have heard of A Tale of Two Cities, many are not familiar with The Scarlet Pimpernel. Another personal tale of obstacle and heartache during the French Revolution, it was not only written by an aristocrat herself, by, well, a woman, in a period when being an author was not considered a “good” thing for women at all, especially women of a certain class status. Such things are important to remember…
- To Kill a Mockingbird: Wait, you say, how can I be putting one of the most beloved novels of the 20th century on a list of books that need to get a second chance? Well, for those of you who were aware of the whole Go Set a Watchman debacle (and if you’re not aware, I can explain in the comments), you’re probably painfully informed of how much love of To Kill a Mockingbird has waned lately. I think it’s important to recognize publishers’ mistakes and not hold them against an author, and also to give the author some grace for creating a story that does still resonate with us and gave us so many cherished moments for a previous 60 years. Let’s make it 60 more.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: I can see you staring at your screen in confusion at this one. But the fact is, a lot of kids aren’t reading the novels these days because the movies have been released. Now, I love these movies, and I highly recommend them to families. However, there is a lot to be said for reading the book, too, whenever you’re talking about a novel-to-film adaptation (of anything). And note that there are 7 Chronicles of Narnia and only 3 films.
- The Lord of the Rings: Stop looking at me like that! Seriously, again, since the release of the movies (as well as the movies of The Hobbit), how many of you have thought, “Hmm, I never read those — oh, never mind, I’ll just watch it.” Having read and watched both (of all), I can honestly say that, while the films (especially the LOTR trilogy) did a great job of transferring Middle Earth and its major tales to the big screen, there is still much to be gained by reading Prof. Tolkien’s original text. His style — following closely in the style of the Old English/Anglo-Saxon folklore he was so fond of — is a bit unusual to our modern perceptions, so it takes a little getting used to, but I still stand by my first and foremost guideline — if it’s based on a book, at least give the book a try.
- The Last Unicorn: How many of us have seen (and worship with sacrifices of chocolate and precious jewels) this movie? How many of us have actually read the original novel? (Are those crickets I hear?) It may be because the film was made in the early 1980s, a time when a lot of kids were watching TV more than reading (unfortunately), but even I honestly didn’t know until about 15 years ago that there is a novel. And it is extremely moving and beautiful. (Trust me, as this comes from the half-Vulcan.)
- Wind in the Willows: The next generation definitely knows Charlotte’s Web, but what about this other talking-animal kids’ classic? How about picking this one up for your children/nieces and nephews/students instead? Or spending some time with it as an adult?
- Anne of Green Gables: For the last time, quit trying to reach through your screen and throw something at me! I swear, Anne of Green Gables is among the once-thriving classics that are now losing ground among new readers. I mean the kids. Again, maybe it’s because there are several movie versions to choose from, but there are a lot of current students who have not read this novel. Honest confession: I never have, either. But I want to. I fully intend to — just, please, allow me until Muffin goes to daycare, and I actually have the time/energy to finish it.
- Little Women: Remember what I just said? Get away from those snowballs! Yes, Little Women belongs on this list as well, since its popularity is quickly falling, since some silly kumquats have decided that it’s “sexist.” It is not sexist, it is an accurate portrayal of how women were expected to behave in that time period in middle-class America. You have to understand the context of everything, you daft plums. And when you consider that, you can just enjoy the story for what it is — how a group of 4 sisters develop their relationships and their own selves over the years. I imagine many of us can relate to that.
- Tuck Everlasting: With dystopia being a major thing right now, I think, in favor of such tales as Ender’s Game and The Giver, Tuck Everlasting has been sort of slid to the back. That needs to be corrected. Tuck Everlasting was among the first “modern” novel (published in the 1970s), and addressing child readers (with dignity and not lecturing, by the way) to tackle the intense and essential question of what’s really worth living, and dying, for. I’ve read this one several times, and seen different film versions, and it is a story certainly worth holding onto.