Here, courtesy of the syllabus for my Rediscovering the Classics class, are nine books that I think are important, well-written, revealing… but mostly importantly, they are interesting–engrossing even! And best of all, they can easily be read during the course of the 2008-2009 school year. If you start with September, and read one a month, you’ve got nine more classics under your belt! That’s no small matter!
I have listed them here in reverse order of publication, because one of the mistakes that I think school systems make is to start kids off on Shakespeare. Of course they’re going to have trouble if you throw them right into a language and culture that is so many years removed from their own. I think readers will have much better reactions to classic literature if they start with the more recent books and work their way backwards, getting used to language and customs that get more and more antiquated as they go.
And so, without further ado…
Rediscovering the Classics—Syllabus
September 2008-May 2009
- September : Kartography by Kamila Shamsie, published 2002 (not a classic yet, admittedly, but Kamila Shamsie is one of my very favorite contemporary authors. Her prose is pure poetry, and her characters and plot in this book are honest, moving, and sublime.)
- October: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, published 1970
- November: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, published 1945
- December: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, published 1929
- January: The Awakening by Kate Chopin, published 1899
- February: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, published 1860
- March: Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert, published 1856
- April: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, published 1814
- May: Hamlet by William Shakespeare, published 1602
Now obviously, this list is by no means complete, but it is full of books that I hope would inspire readers to look for other books by those authors. If you choose to read any of these–any month of the year–I hope you will drop in and comment, and let me know what you think.