He’s Read, but He’s Not Well-Read

For the past two weeks, I’ve been devoted to the classics—those ever-present works that have appeared on every reading list since the dawn of the high school book report. Those books that, while they might show some age around the binding, prove that they still have staying power. Those books that get a special section and fancy covers at Barnes & Noble.

I’ve written previously about my clunky transition into reading ‘adult’ books. To make a long story short: a teacher shamed one of my reading choices and, out of spite, I started reading books well above my reading level.

There’s a second part to this story that didn’t reveal itself until fairly recently.

During my spite-filled reading frenzy, I stumbled through a lot of classic novels that were so exciting and vibrant—supplemented by a healthy dose of random fantasy and Janet Evanovich novels. But by the time I arrived at college, that style of reading dried up. I was ripping through more contemporary stories and class readings, which more often than not were plays.

Recently I was browsing the shelves at my local library when I stumbled across a much-loved copy of Jane Eyre. It’s a story I’ve heard countless times, but it felt right to finally give it a chance.

Reader, I loved it.

Since then, it’s opened me up to so many great books I’ve never made time for. War and Peace. The Wind in the Willows. A Tale of Two Cities. The Turn of the Screw. Of course, I have a to-be-read pile that’s back to growing—with Pride and Prejudice sitting right on tip.

That’s where you come in: what’s your favorite ‘classic’ novel that I just have to read?

And as always, read on for more of my bookish updates and other news on this week’s State of the Stacks.


Circulation Desk

Currently Reading: All the Devil’s are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera

Just Finished: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Up Next: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

TBR Pile: Miss MacIntosh, My Darling by Marguerite Young


Publication Day

One book reviewed here at Plucked from the Stacks recently celebrated its Publication Day, meaning it’s officially out in the wild in libraries and bookstores.


Reading About Books

If you’re not reading a book, the next best thing is reading about books. Here’s a selection of news and essays I enjoyed this week:


That’s that— the State of the Stacks.

17 Comments

  1. While I’m glad you’re enjoying the classics, boo on that teacher! Shame and reading should never go together…

    My initial taste in classics follow a popular vein: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories, Poe’s creepy stories, H. G. Wells’ science fiction. In the past two years I’ve really enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo and Moby-Dick. (I completely understand Moby is the brussel sprouts of literature. It might be good for you, but definitely an acquired taste.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is such a great way to put it: shame and reading should never go together. Fortunately, there are so many amazing teachers out there who actually promote healthy reading.

      And I love that you call Moby-Dick the brussels sprouts of literature! It really does feel like everyone either loves it or hates it. I just snagged it from the library a couple of days ago, so fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not the biggest classic reader but I had the same experience with Jane Eyre. It was assigned reading in college and I dreaded it and then couldn’t believe how much I liked it. And I could also reread Rebecca endless times and never get tired of it. Catch-22 is my closest-to-a-classic that I completely love, I guess, although it’s much more contemporary than what I think you have in mind?

    How are you liking All the Devils Are Here? I’m reading Dark Towers right now, about Deutsche Bank, and it’s amazing. It’s so compelling and insightful that it’s making me realize I want to read more about the financial crisis and banking issues peripheral to that but not sure where to start. (And definitely check out Dark Towers if it’s not on your radar yet. So horrifying but so, so good!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane Eyre shocked me with how engaging, odd, and ultimately satisfying it was. It’s a reading experience I just wasn’t expecting. Catch-22 totally counts, and I actually have a copy that’s been waiting on my shelf for way too long. If you love it, then I’m bumping it up.

      I’m really, really enjoying All the Devils Are Here. I’ve read quite a bit about the financial crisis, but I’d say this is one of the best written in the early aftermath. Too Big to Fail is another great one from that period. The only books in this area I’m not a big fan of are the memoirs from banking or government officials—they’re usually defensive or uninformative or worse. The one exception might be Yanis Varoufakis’s Adults in the Room. He served as Greece’s Minister of Finance in 2015 and, while he’s sometimes full of himself, he formed a comprehensive view of what was happening in that country and beyond.

      I’m not familiar with Dark Towers, but it sounds amazing (and horrifying). Definitely adding it to my TBR pile! It’s just a wild topic that I don’t think we can explore enough.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Engaging, odd, and ultimately satisfying” is the most perfect descriptor of Jane Eyre I could think of. I’m interested in following your reading here to see what else you discover in that vein! Catch-22 is one of my favorite novels, it just blew me away. It was so funny that I had to put it away at one point while reading it on the subway because stifling my laughter was becoming too difficult and I was getting looks. I’m excited to hear what you think of it!

        I remember Too Big to Fail is one you really liked, I’ve got that on my list. Totally agree with you that I’m not interested in their memoirs, I think there’s very much an agenda in those and some spin that they’re doing to protect their own reputations or justify behavior. Good to know about Varoufakis’s though, I hadn’t even heard of it! Dark Towers just came out and I was trying so hard to wait for a library copy but ended up just buying it, I was so intrigued by it, and I didn’t regret that purchase at all. It is astounding. I’m not sure how much will necessarily be new to you since you’re much better versed in this area than I am, but it was jaw-dropping. I feel like I’ve followed the news around Deutsche Bank pretty well too, but the author imbues a personal aspect and the backgrounds, personalities, and cultures of the figures that puts all of it into a more understandable context that I found helpful. Definitely can recommend that one, I think it’s totally up your alley.

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  3. I don’t read a lot of classics (although many are on my TBR!) but I love Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are my favourites! And boo to that teacher who shamed your reading choices! I’ve never understood that at all… Grr

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always been a big reader of classics but a couple years ago I made a point to read several that I hadn’t gotten around to and really should have already. Jane Eyre was one of them and I was so mad I hadn’t read it sooner! Same with A Tale of Two Cities.

    One of the books I read during this classics spree was Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It was much different in tone than her other books, namely because it was a satire on the popular gothic novels being published then.

    Ooo, speaking of gothic novels- you should read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins if you haven’t already. That book had me utterly gripped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt the exact same way about both Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities! Both had been recommended to me so many times, but I kept putting them off. So worth it to finally read them, though.

      I’m thinking I need to get around to all of Jane Austen’s backlog. Every single one of her books looks like a five-star read to me, but I’ve never gotten around to any of them. Northanger Abbey is up there though!

      The Woman in White sounds amazing, too—the perfect gothic novel for these dark winter evenings.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This desire to read/reread more of the classics is one driver in my gradual quest to cut back on ARC’s. It is just such an addictive system. There are older books I want to read. Even your naming them out evokes memories and long hidden quotes that well from deep within. I want to share life with Pooh again; I only read Anne of Green Gables for the first time about four years ago. It’s nice to be reminded all those books are still there, still calling my name.

    Liked by 1 person

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