Schools have been canceled so many days here, my grandson Nate (who hates school) is beginning to miss it. Thankfully, he’s a senior in high school and graduates this year. He has no intentions of going to college. He has ADD/ADHD and sitting in a classroom is close to torture for him. But damn, that kid is smart.
Yesterday, he dropped in to visit with us, since he didn’t have anything better to do. (When a kid’s 17, you know where you rate–behind almost everything:) He’d rented a movie, though, and he wanted me to watch it with him. I’d never heard of it–Into the Wild. But once we started it, I knew why it appealed to him. Nate loves the use of language. He loves ideas. The movie is about a boy, close to genius level, who graduates from college and walks away from everything to “live” life. He burns his money and makes his way across country by finding odd jobs or living off the land. And his true passion is books. He reads in his spare time. The movie’s worth watching. It’s based on a true story. Its ending demands Kleenex.
When school was canceled again today, Nate came again. And this time, he told me that he’d like to start reading books with “substance.” He wanted to know what the classics were. I couldn’t remember. We had to look them up, the 100 books that were deemed important enough to withstand time. Some of them, I’d read. Some of them, I’d avoided. I have to admit, even though I admire Charles Dickens and his social conscience, he’s the only author I ever cheated on and read cliff notes so that I wouldn’t have to finish the book. I know he’s an important author, and I’m glad he made the lists, but he won’t make mine. The official list we found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_Classic_Book_Collection
These lists made me think. If I had to choose 5 or 10 books that I considered “must” reading, which books would I list? What about you? What would you advise someone to read as a “classic?”
My list: (I’ll limit this to 5 basics and hopefully, you’ll tell me what your top 5 would be–in random order):
- The Devil and the Good Lord by Jean-Paul Sartre (a play)
- The Odyssey by Homer
- Dead-Eye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut
- Macbeth by Shakespeare
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- (for girls): Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- (for girls): the Bronte sisters–Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre
- (for younger readers): Harry Potter
- (for mystery lovers): Agatha Christie–okay, I’m pushing it now. Sherlock fans will throw things at me, but I like Agatha more.
- (for pure joy of ideas and language): e pluribus unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon
I admit, this was tough. I’ll probably change my mind about what should be on my list once I think about it more, but what would you recommend?