Classic Reads 2013
This blog hop is sponsered by four great Indie authors be sure to scroll down and see their latest books.All worth a read:)
there is also a spread the word prize draw
What do we think is a ‘classic’? Between 1/3 to 1/7 you can share some of the thoughts on this subject. Do they have to be old, controversial, heartwarming – what are the things that catapult a book from a great read to a must read? Can any book be a classic. Click on the classic reads picture above to see what other writers think.
When I was a girl, and began my reading life, I knew, absolutely, what a classic was. I kept this knowledge over many decades. But the past two decades I find Imust re-evaluate what I thought of as a classic.
An important criteria, is that the book must have stood the test of time. On this basis I considered that a book published in my lifetime could not join the ranks Of course I was forgetting that I was no longer 27 years old! (the age my mind still insists I am) and that in fact a great many of my favourites, published in my reading lifetime, have been in print for well over six decades, how much time do they have to stand!
I joined a classics reading challenge in 2012, which had different centuries in the challenge. My instinctive reaction on seeing the 20th century in the list was to pooh-pooh the idea entirely, or to allow that maybe those written very early in the century (the first decade) could maybe sneak in. I looked the lists of suggestions, finding books that I had read as a child. The Borrowers, a classic? The Secret Garden?
One of the disadvantages of growing older, is that one has already set parameters in life decades previously and it takes a real effort sometimes to shake them loose and allow the new in. I like to think that I can do this but it does take a real effort. Certainty of one’s views is akin to a security blanket, and as we grow older we feel the chill more and enjoy our blankets!
My criteria for what constitutes a classic hasn’t really changed, but what I have done this last year’s widen the scope.
During the Second World War new books were rare because of the paper and author shortage. I was fortunate in that I was born into a family of pack-rat readers my parents, and later my grandmothers, who moved in with us, had substantial numbers of books. I was not aware of the shortage because I had thousands to browse through in my own home. I cut my reading teeth on the Victorian the Edwardian writers.
Young readers today maybe fight shy of reading Thackeray, Dickens and Elliott, maybe Gulliver, does not appeal, because of the sheer size, the style and the mistaken idea that they have no relevance to today’s reality. This is a pity, because they do. I have read from others that Steinbeck is dull. Dull? I confess I never have found him so.
Of all the tales that have been related to us, and printed, very few have stood the test of time. We can go back to the Iliad and Odyssey, we have Beowulf, then of course there’s Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Milton’s Paradise Lost, please we must not forget Shakespeare. These all tower in the classics list. But what made these particular books remain ever popular, I think I must add that popularity in the case of classics is merely that enough people have wished to read them therefore keping them in print over the decades.
Another criterion which is necessary to produce a classic is the ability of the author to transform 26 letters, which constitutes our alphabet, and from which all our words are gleaned, into something magical. There were plenty of other writers around during all the centuries probably writing more popular books at the time. They have sunk with barely a ripple. But the few that survive are those in the main that have employed their words to ring clarion clear across time. Not always in high academic pleasure, the Canterbury Tales after all appeal to the high spirited vulgarity in us all. Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno, do not let us forget Dante, use language in such a magnificent way as to inspire awe, grandeur and terror still, centuries later. The writers of classic works, help to shape the language and thought not just in his time but more importantly for the readers and writers of the future.
Not all of them of course will invent hundreds of new words such as Shakespeare did! They will be the cutting edge of their time, they will be the writers that are experimental, innovative; those who are bold enough to break with traditional forms of style, those brave souls who seek and succeed in presenting radical newness. They will inspire and change the very creation of writing.
Another criteria I am certain makes a classic is the ability to write about universal truths is such a way they engage with the reader not just it their present but, transcending time, down through the ages, so that, although the style of writing and the language used, are different and maybe demands a little more effort in the reading, still resonates to each generation. There are many themes to do with the human condition many of them profound; love, loss, justice, society, race and politics. A classic author is able to discuss, portray and critique the social and political issues of their time but the spark which separates them from others of their generation is an uniqueness in their writing which renders the stories personal and relevant today.
Another criterion I believe is necessary to create a classic is the fact that the story becomes part of a cultural treasure, enriching the nation’s language, history and culture. And within the population enrich the individual. Enriching, because of its power, its beauty in the crafting, the plotting and the substance, in the richness of thought observation and invention. And in the ability to help the nation, and the individual to define itself.
When I look at different lists I find I have been lucky enough to read and enjoy a great many of the accepted classics. Especially as now I have enlarged my timescale to include the 20th century as well. From the more recent books that I have read, and when I say recent I am actually talking about 50 years ago! I find many of my favourites such as the Fellowship of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm and 1984.
I would like to think that Lord of the Flies, Catch-22 and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest will make the grade in another twenty-five years or so:) all of which I believe do fit the criteria. Of course that will depend on the public – will they see that spark and blow on the flames.
My time scale is not as furiously fast as many these days, and I still believe that under 50 years is too soon to declare a book a classic – ‘possible classics’ maybe:)
I’m not so sure about some of the very recent ‘must reads’, they feel like fads to me, but time will tell. I suspect that most of the classics that we except as classics were slow, rather than fast, burners in their day. By the very nature of their break with traditional writing, their innovation and radicalism they do not stand first in line to be accepted and understood. I probably won’t be around in another 25 years see if I am correct.
Our sponsers and their latest offering
Mark of the Loon – Molly Greene
Synopsis: What happens when a workaholic serial remodeler falls in love with an old stone cottage built by an ornithologist and his eccentric Irish wife? If you’re Madison Boone, you kick your budding romance with handsome Psych Professor Coleman Welles to the curb and lose yourself in a new project.
Madison renovates distressed homes in addition to her busy real estate sales career. When she hears about a quaint house on a private tract of land overlooking Lake Sonoma, she climbs in the window for a private tour and falls in love with the place. Good fortune enables her to purchase the Blackburne’s property, but far more than a new home and lush gardens await discovery during this renovation.
As Madison works on the remodel, she’s drawn into an old love story with dangerous consequences. She unearths buried secrets and discovers herself in the process. Good thing she has three wise, hilarious friends to advise her along the way! Mark of the Loon is the skillful combination of history, mystery, and romance in a novel that explores deep friendship, choices, and how individuals cope with loss.
In Leah’s Wake – Terri Giuliano Long
Synopsis: A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace
As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves—turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes—In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.
Recipient of multiple awards and honors, In Leah’s Wake is a compelling and satisfying reading experience with important truths to share—by a new author with the voice of a natural storyteller and an unfailingly keen understanding of the human condition…at every age.
Second Chance Grill – Christine Nolfi
Synopsis: Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen—or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.
Welcome back to Liberty, where the women surrounding the town’s only restaurant are as charming as they are eccentric.
Second Chance Grill is the prequel to Treasure Me, 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist, which The Midwest Book Review calls “A riveting read for those who enjoy adventure fiction, highly recommended.”
Broken Pieces – Rachel Thompson