While watching the first episode of Jamestown, my wife made a comparison to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.
“I haven’t read it,” I said.
She’s often surprised by what I haven’t read. My reading history has the strangest gaps in it. Many of the books commonly assigned in high school were somehow never assigned in my classes. When I was approaching the end of high school, the school’s College Counselor suggested St. John’s College in Annapolis might suit. The school offers a single program, called the Great Books Curriculum, in which students study Greek, French, and a course of classics of Western thought; at the end, they earn a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts.
This idea was vetoed after family discussion, as I was expected to major in something more career focused.
The joke was on me, though, since my degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences (my final major was actually Rhetoric, which sounds fancier than “Creative Writing”), and I still haven’t read The Odyssey. Or Animal Farm. (I read 1984 on my own the summer before I started Library School.) Or, as I’ve mentioned before, any Austen at all.
I’ve read two books on this Bustle list of 14 Classic College Books You’ll Want to Read Again as a Real Adult: Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein, both of which I read on my own sometime after finishing grad school.
I see Camus’ The Stranger on lists of “classics you should read” all the time. I haven’t read it. But I did read The Plague for AP English. I have a vague recollection that I read it over Winter Break in order to be able to discuss it as soon as we came back in January. Festive, eh?
Actually, speaking of vague memories, I think I may have read part of Frankenstein in college, along with “selections from” Homer. I did take a pair of classes to satisfy a Western Civilization requirement, but as with many survey courses, we read bits and pieces of lots and lots and lots of things, never really getting to delve into the nuances of any one.
I’ve toyed with the idea of working through the St. John’s Reading List as a way of filling in those gaps. While I was trying to figure out a couple of unfamiliar names (there are quite a few science essays in there), I stumbled on the Classics Club Blog.
I love this.
From the site, the club basics (short version):
- – choose 50+ classics
- – list them at your blog
- – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
- – e-mail the moderators of this blog with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
- – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
- – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!
They also have some mini-challenges and games, like the Classics Club Spin, to shake up any reading ruts.
I have been working on my list, with a start date of January 1st, 2019. And, yes, The Scarlet Letter is on there.
Are there classics you wish you’d read? What’s on your Reading Bucket List?