I’m interested in reading Kevin Smokler’s book, Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School, about his journey to re-read 50 books that are often assigned to teenage students. What classics have you missed? I’d suggest giving these great classic books another chance and listening to Smokler’s discussion of why some books are worth revisiting.
On Your Kindle
Persuasion, by Jane Austen
While Pride and Prejudice is the most popular of Austen’s stories, Persuasion is a lesser-known gem about disappointment and mistaken choices. At a young age, Anne Elliot was persuaded against her better judgment to reject Charles Wentworth because he was poor; a responsible and kind individual, Anne is trapped within her shallow aristocratic family and their status-conscious circle. When Anne and Wentworth are thrown together again as adults, he is now an eligible bachelor, while Anne’s existence is perilous and lonely.
On Your Smartphone
“Celebrating 12 in 2012,” by Julia Keller
This Chicago Tribune slideshow from columnist Julia Keller offers 12 classics to reread for 2012, including A Moveable Feast and Animal Farm. Why not try to reread 13 or 14 classics for 2013-2014? Keller also recommends revisiting some of your childhood favorites, which may be great fun for fans of children’s literature.
On a Podcast
Listen to Smokler tell NPR’s Talk of the Nation about the differences between his initial reading of certain texts and his experience of them as an adult reader. Smokler shares that, like many, he was an “idiotic” teen who read too casually and missed some of the deeper symbolism in these books, like the death of Holden Caulfield’s brother Ali in The Catcher in the Rye.
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Morrison’s heartbreaking first novel focuses on the challenges facing working-class African Americans living in the Midwest in the 1940s. While young Pecola Breedlove dreams of having the blue eyes and blonde hair of her favorite doll, her family struggles to survive and ultimately falls apart. Beginning with the shocked perspective of the Breedlove’s neighbors and Pecola’s childhood playmates, the novel depicts the horrors of the Breedloves’ lives in stunning prose. The Bluest Eye is a serious and powerful novel about the costs of poverty, racism, and self-hatred.