In January of 2003, I made a New Year?s resolution. I decided I was going to spend less time reading about current events and more time reading classic literature. I had been through a classic literature kick about nineteen years earlier, which focused on classic English novels (by Dickens and Hardy), Russian novels (by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy), and American novels (by Faulkner and Hemingway). This time I decided I was going to adopt a reading list that would force me to read some authors I hadn?t yet read. I also wanted to spend more time on ?modern? classics.
I came upon such a list one evening in Barnes and Noble while I was perusing the Spark Notes (much like the old Cliff?s Notes I used in high school) for War and Peace. In the back of the notes, I found a list of all 160 books and plays for which Spark Note summaries are provided. That became my new reading list. Fortunately, I had already read 45 of the books on the list. Sixteen months later, I have now managed to run that number up to 137. I thought I would take a break from my summer reading to recommend some of my favorites from that list. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
1984. I know that just about everyone reading this list had to read Orwell in high school. For me, that was over twenty years ago. Because I work at a public university, I am reminded of Orwell on a daily basis. The Office of Campus Diversity reminds me of Orwell?s ?Ministry of Peace? which, in Orwell?s words, ?concerned itself with war.? This book is more relevant today than ever. Even those who have read it should take the time to read it again.