Armchair BEA: The Classics

Today’s focus for Armchair BEA discussions is “The Classics”:

Today, tell us all the reasons why you love classic literature. What are your favorite classics? If you could give a list of classics to someone who claims to hate them to make them change their mind, what would be on it? How would you convince them to give classics a try? And why do you keep coming back to those old favorites?

I suppose we could argue about the definition of a classic. Is it anything over a certain number of years old? Is it something that fits into a certain body of work? Do certain authors count more than others? I guess I go with the “I know it when I see it” standard: If it feels like a classic to me, then I consider it a classic!

My favorite classics are:

  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  2. Any/all stories by Edgar Allan Poe
  3. The works of William Shakespeare
  4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  6. Anything and everything by Jane Austen
  7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

If I were trying to convince someone that classics are not all dusty and boring, I think I’d give them a few of the above, especially:

  • A Tale of Two Cities: This book really has it all! Drama, intrigue, plots, suspense, legal drama, historical fiction, mistaken identities… all the elements of modern-day TV dramas, in one terrific book.
  • Pride and Prejudice: I think it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t been exposed to at least one TV or movie version of Pride and Prejudice or any of the dozens of modern fiction retellings, sequels, and monster mash-ups. I think the popularity of the story helps keep it fresh and accessible, and it tends to be a good jumping-off point as an introduction to the rest of Jane Austen’s works.
  • Little Women: This is one that really feels universal. Do girls still read this growing up? The four sisters, their ups and downs, games and romances, successes and disappointments, are truly timeless. And again, given the numerous movie versions and the pop-culture references (remember the Friends episode where Joey read Little Women??), this doesn’t seem like an old, forgotten book.
  • Brave New World: If you haven’t read this one in a while, I strongly suggest going back to it. It’s amazing, really, to see how much the author got right. So many of the science fiction elements of this book can be found in our world today — it’s downright eerie!

As for why I keep coming back — well, there’s always something new to discover! I just re-read¬†Jane Eyre for the first time in about 10 years, and was amazed to discover how fresh and sharp the dialogue is. When I stumble across some random “classic” short story and realize how much it gives me to think about, it makes me want to pull my older books off the shelf and read them all over again. True classics still have something to say that relevant even in a different time and a different society, and those are the ones that really last.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Super Long, Super Funny, or Just Plain Super Awesome Book Titles

Public domain image from www.public-domain-image.comTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is a Top Ten Freebie – no set topic, pick your own! I decided to keep it light and breezy this week. My topic: Those long, silly, fun book titles that always catch my attention.

My top 10 books with super long, super funny, or just plain super awesome titles:

1) The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams. Although I could just as easily have picked pretty much any other book by Douglas Adams for this list. Other favorites are So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Douglas Adams was a brilliant, humorous, wonderful talent, gone too soon.

2) Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore. Christopher Moore makes it onto most of my top 10 lists, one way or another, and while this may be the goofiest of his book titles, it’s actually not my favorite of his books. Still, any Christopher Moore book is a damn good book. Other terrific titles: Fluke, or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings and The Stupidest Angel.

3) My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me by Kate Bernheimer (editor). This collection of 40 new fairy tales is weird, original, and a great book for when you feel like reading something in bits and pieces. And I just love the title.

4) The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks. Oliver Sacks’s non-fiction books about weird science always fascinate me, and they tend to have terrific titles as well. Other good ones: An Anthropologist on Mars and The Island of the Colorblind.

5) To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. I haven’t read this one yet, but I intend to! Part of a time travel series, this book grabbed my attention with its title, but I’m intrigued by the content as well. I have a few of the books in the series — now I just need to find time to read them.

6) Will The Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? by Allyson Beatrice. Subtitled “True Adventures in Cult Fandom”, this book is supposedly an inside look at the world of superfans. I picked it up as a used book sale and haven’t read it yet — but the title makes me giggle.

7) The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. A book for kids by Neil Gaiman! Can’t beat that.

8) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Awesome book, terrific title. Another by the same author with a great title is the short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

9) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. All of this author’s tween-oriented books have amazing titles, including Knocked Out By My Nunga Nungas and It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers.

10) And for my final entry, I’ll smoosh together a couple of books I’ve heard about from various friends and book sites, but haven’t actually read myself — yet:

  • The One Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

plus a couple more that I’ve read and enjoyed (and didn’t think of until I’d finished this list!):

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

What did I miss? Let me know your favorite long, funny, or otherwise awesome books titles!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Favorite Book Covers of Books I’ve Read. I’m a sucker for an eye-catching cover, so my main challenge this week will be in limiting myself to just ten.

To get the full effect, I’m leaving most of the pictures here BIG size. ‘Cuz they’re just too pretty to shrink.

In no particular order:

1) Soulless by Gail Carriger. Proper Victorian lady, crazy-ass parasol, top hat and goggles. Not to mention the tagline at the bottom: “A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves, and Parasols”. I love the screaming pink title as well. Here’s one cover that is visually appealing and at the same time completely conveys the feel of the book.

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

2) Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler: Book one in the Jane True series introduces us to a small-town girl whose world is about to get blown open as she discovers her secret heritage — as a half-selkie! I love the punky feel of this adorable cover:

Tempest Rising (Jane True, #1)

3) Lamb by Christopher Moore: Specifically, this special edition of Lamb, featuring a leatherette cover, gilt-edging on the pages, and a silk bookmark. Quite Biblical, wouldn’t you say? And totally appropriate for Christopher Moore’s one-of-a-kind view of “The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”. One of my favorite books ever… especially with this cover.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

4) The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: This is the book that — for me — completely defies the “don’t judge a book by its cover” rule. As soon as I saw the cover, I fell in love. Had to have it. The fact that I ended up really enjoying the story (timeslip romance, Scotland, Jacobites, etc) is just a plus. This is just gorgeous:

The Winter Sea

5) The Silent Land by Graham Joyce. This book is fantastic, and the starkness of the cover, with its eerie landscape and empty chairlift, is a perfect portrayal of the book’s mood and setting. It’s hard to tell from just a picture, but the book jacket is translucent white, with the black areas showing through from the book itself. Amazing.

The Silent Land

6) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: The book that started the classics/monster mash-up craze! I know we’re probably all sick of them by now, but P&P&Z was really an original at the time. I love the cover — you could easily walk right by it in a bookstore, assuming it’s just a portrait of a traditional Regency-era young woman… but then the teeth or throat jump out at you and practically force you to do a double-take. So simple. So clever.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

7) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman: The girl on the cover is just so beautiful, and I love the sepia tones and uncluttered layout. The cover gives the book a classic yet exotic look. Stunning.

The Dovekeepers

8) The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater: I like these books individually, but love them when you put them all side by side. The colors, the changing seasons, the wolves — it all works. Plus, the print inside the books matches the color theme on the jackets, which seemed weird at first, but actually works nicely once you get used to it.

9) The Radleys by Matt Haig: White picket fence… with just a drop or two of blood. Not your average day in the suburbs, that’s for sure.

The Radleys

10) Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll.¬† This is one odd, twisty book, so hard to describe — but I really love the intricacy of the black and white cover, with just a touch of red for added oomph.

Bones of the Moon

Wait, what? I’m up to ten already? How can that be? As I do on so many top 10 lists, I must give a shout-out to my honorable mention books. I love these covers too, not necessarily any less than the ten above — but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right?

My honorable mention — but I really, really love them — book covers are:

  • Under the Dome by Stephen King
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham

SunshineSisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Someone stop me!

So what made your top 10 list this week? Do tell!

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