Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Now taking suggestions...

On classics one really should be acquainted with. Rather, classics with which one should be acquainted.

Some background: I think a fair share of the DVC's success is the intellectual decline of our modern times. Its pseudo-history makes the uneducated think they're learning something, when it's as much like literature or history as ketchup is a vegetable.

Once upon a time, I was denied a job at my alma mater. My embittered, retiring teacher gave me her key to the supply room and said, "If you can carry it, you can have it." Wow. I thought I'd already taken carte blanche when I had to inventory the books for our Advanced Placement English class some years before; now this was the social studies and foreign language textbooks, too. So I took copies of the history books that had been retired ten years before, for being "too demanding" anymore. And the art history text made obsolete when the teacher retired. A copy of everything by Shakespeare I saw, including a hardcover Complete Works. Et cetera.

Now, with all of this furor over the DVC, and thinking about my kids' education, I'm re-evaluating what I read. All of the popular fiction in the world isn't going to help me if my kids have questions from school. Chances are, Oprah's book club suggestions aren't going to be on my kids' summer reading lists. And I don't have a water-cooler to discuss that stuff around, anyway.
It's like the line from Pink Floyd: "I've got thirteen channels of sh*t on the TV to choose from." I don't want a hundred more of the same. I'll settle for three good ones.

I know our oldest is only going to be in kindergarten, but reading great books isn't like knocking off a romance novel. I figure I'd better get on my horse.

So, suggestions of favorite classic novels are politely requested from my dozen regular readers (and those who happen by occasionally). Those mocked in high school and reconsidered in adulthood will be given preference, as I've finally actually read Tess of the d'Urbervilles last year. I'm told in that class we also read Madame Bovary, but I don't remember any of that one.

I'll tell you this, too, sort of as a point of pride: I've read all of Les Misérables in both French and English. Don't worry that your favorite 1500-page tome will overwhelm me. Thanks in advance.


At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Kate P ( said...

Hi Heather--I don't know if these fall under the definition of classics, but I have loved many of Louisa May Alcott's books. Not so much "Little Women" (maybe's that's b/c I had to read it for 9th grade), but my main favorites are "Eight Cousins" (there's a sequel called "Rose in Bloom" but I don't think it's as good) and "An Old Fashioned Girl." I'm a Jane Austen fan too! Happy reading.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous S.M. Stirling said...

I'd recommend Wilder's "Little House" series -- vastly better than the TV series, of course.

Extremely authentic, and charmingly written; a window into another age.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Are these for "kids" or "grownups?"

As a younger teen my favorite classic was "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." I read it EVERY summer.
Mark Twain's short stories are wonderful, as are the novels....Poe is also good. And I went through a Steinbeck phase for a while.
Grownups--anything by Flannery O'Connor (you won't be sorry!)

At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Peony Moss said...

Second the recommendations of Alcott, Austen, and Wilder.

"The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame.

"Anne of Green Gables" and its sequels, by L.M. Montgomery.

I also liked the Prydain books (and almost everything else) by Lloyd Alexander.

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths.

"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Thank you all for your suggestions. Some were actually already on our "read to them" lists!

Little Women: we read the Great Illustrated Classics one to Madeleine before Rachel came along. It will be reread soon, while I read the original.

The Jane Austen I think will be a nice change of pace after Dumas.

We started the Little House series with the kids, but bogged down around the fifth one. Will pick it up sometime, since we own that one. And Mr. Stirling, did the "Little House" series inspire your recent series?

barb--the classics are for both kids and grownups. I don't have a whole lot of time to read, so I want it to be well-spent. And the kids grow up so fast, I'd hate them to never know "Charlotte's Web". (Mental note: Amazon that one...)

peony--We have D'Aulaire's; I remember some of the art! I just wish I knew where I'd seen it before: library or school text. And we'll have to get the Green Gables books--I've never read those; I never read the "Little House" books until after Madeleine was born, either.

Thanks again, all, for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!


At 7:38 PM, Anonymous S.M. Stirling said...

"And Mr. Stirling, did the "Little House" series inspire your recent series?"

-- not exactly inspired, but certainly very useful.

Particularly "Farm Boy".


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