Lately I’ve been digging through some Classics. If you’ve read any of my books, you know I keep returning to these beloved favorites. I return to them, again and again, because, not only are they beautifully written, but they’ve endured for so many centuries by touching upon truths that remain vibrant — and true — today. We recognize ourselves in these stories – or we find something new that we finally acknowledge was always present.
Here are some I’ve been reading lately:
Shakespeare. I’m revisiting a few of his plays. Now that I’m older, I appreciate his genius much more. There was much I didn’t catch or give due reverence to in high school and college. Written for the playhouses, Shakespeare conveys truth and humor is an unparalleled format. It also astounds me that about 400 words we use commonly — he simply made up. I’ve made up one word – but I highly doubt it will catch on. (I’ll share it here – gloaming. It basically means that someone is hiding their gloating in moaning so that they don’t sound like they’re bragging.)
I just put down The Great Gatsby. This wasn’t my first read, Fitzgerald’s language and turns of phrase are so masterful they deserve a reread every few years. I may not like some of the characters, but I do like how they’re expressed.
Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Yes, I know return to this again and again, in both reading and writing. I may be up to fifteen readings by now… One would think I’d get enough of it, yet I never do. Austen is brilliant at laying out a huge character struggle within a small framework. The magnitude of her genius almost gets lost in the precision of her work. Well… It doesn’t. We know how how great she is. Persuasion remains my favorite because Austen stretches in a different way here. She is more sparse in some respects yet there’s a pain and poignancy. There is such pressure on Anne Elliot, the main character, that I keep revisiting her story to find out how Austen made me feel all the tension without spoon-feeding it to me.
What are some of your favorite Classics? Or do you read Classics at all? And… Do you have contemporary suggestions for me? I am always looking for the next great read!
I’d love to know what you think and what’s on your bedside table these days…