Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is a freebie week, so I chose to talk about my favorite classics! As I’ve explained before, I’m using the term “classic” loosely to mean anything in the recommended canon of literature (what you might read in English class).


Ben-Hur is one of the first classics I read (6th grade, I think) and it was a good introduction. It’s a bit heavy on the history and description, but also contains lots of intrigue and romance, so I didn’t mind too much.

The Count of Monte-Cristo

Read this back to back with Ben-Hur on a dare from my now-husband. The juxtaposition made an interesting study in revenge stories. Monte-Cristo was my first experience with the lovely classic tradition of weaving multiple storylines and not tying them all together until the end. Also full of intrigue and excitement.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel is a great early intro to classics. It’s short, relatively easy to understand, and super dramatic. I’ve nearly memorized one of the scenes (in the garden after the party, if you’ve read it) and I read as many of the sequels as I could get my hands on.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is like watching a soap opera play out on the heaths. Or watching a train wreck. Whatever the simile, you can’t look away. I’ve read it twice now and loved it both times. Better than Jane Eyre, I think.

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Mmm, I’m in love with stories set in France. Hunchback is extremely depressing, but beautifully sad. The descriptions alone are worth the read. But the characters, for the most part, are completely unrelatable. Still like it, but fair warning.

A Tale of Two Cities

French thing again. Probably Dickens’ best work, in my opinion. Bit sappy toward the end, but it will keep you on your toes. And there are some really gruesome descriptions, so that’s cool.

Fahrenheit 451

You can’t love books and not love Bradbury’s classic. This is another easy one for people unaccustomed to classics.

The Divine Comedy

I’m not going to lie: I don’t think I would ever manage to read through Divine Comedy for fun. But it was required as part of my English program and I’m happy it was. Even though it includes way too many references to Italian history and Dante’s personal feuds. The level of skill in the lyricism is incredible and the entire reading is a good rumination on life and values.

Pride and Prejudice

Austen is stinking funny and this is the easiest classic you’ll ever read. In a completely heretical twist: I actually prefer the 2004 movie (Matthew MacFayden and Keira Knightley, guys!), which pulls significant sections from the book.


This book is possibly one of the most thought-provoking reads I’ve ever had. Shelley creates a literary masterpiece through depth of story and also moral quandary. It is a painful read in ways, but only because it is so sad.


What are your favorite classics?


9 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I Love

  1. I’m gonna read the ones I haven’t read on your recommendation! I don’t like Wuthering heights quite as much though. I just find them noth immensely selfish and evil (He kills the dog).
    One of my fav classics is Gone with the wind. Also all of Jane Austen.

  2. You have so many great choices! A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite Dickens–and perhaps one of his least sappiest? I think it has something to do with his focus on Carton as the protagonist. Dickens can say some very sentimental things about his female characters. While Lucie is certainly idolized, she’s not as bad as Esther Summerson from Bleak House, who must always apologize for writing about herself in a book she’s narrating.

    And I love The Divine Comedy! I thought about doing a read-along for it once, but I wasn’t really sure who would read along with me. I think the Paradiso is the best and I’m sad most people only read the Inferno.

    • I do think Two Cities is the least sappy Dickens. It also has the advantage of being set in the French Revolution, which is definitely more exciting than the English countryside. I have yet to read Bleak House, but people tell me it’s a better Dickens.

      If you do a Divine Comedy read-along during the summer/when I’m not in school, I would probably participate! I’d love the chance to spend a bit more time copying really neat lines from it and writing about the themes.

      • Bleak House used to be my favorite Dickens, but there’s something about the narrative structure of A Tale of Two Cities that I find really beautiful. It’s so tight and neat. And upon rereading Bleak House I did find Esther a little annoying. There’s something hypocritical almost about writing your life story and then apologizing that you appear in it. That’s not humility. It’s just strange!

        I do want to reread The Divine Comedy so maybe I’ll do a read-along anyway. I’ll have to see what my schedule looks like in the summer. But at least I know I won’t be totally alone!

  3. The garden after the party in The Scarlet Pimpernel—I transcribed the whole chapter to one of my friends by email after I read it because it was so swoonworthy. I tremble with pleasure just thinking about it.

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