Summer is a busy time for the classics section at Oxfam. We receive piles and piles of donations at the end of July from GCSE, A Level and university students who have finally come to the end of the year. They struggle in with heavy bags, eager to rid themselves of any course material that will remind them of long evenings spent at the library, scrutinising old texts. It’s a time of year when we get a huge increase in Shakespeare study guides, poetry and tattered old penguin classics.
One afternoon, I spent a good few hours sorting through the classics section in Oxfam, preparing it for the end of summer onslaught of new students armed with long reading lists. I love the classics section of any bookshop – I can spend hours looking at the different copies of my favourites and just as long discovering new titles to read. To give you a taste of what I like, here are my 5 favourites (from a very long list!)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I’ve been a big fan of this wonderful novel since I was a young teenager. It can be enjoyed by all age groups. As I’ve grown and re-read Jane’s journey of loneliness, pain, love and heartbreak, I’ve appreciated it in different ways. My younger self loved her honesty and rebellious streak as a child and my older self sympathises with her complex and emotionally charged life at Thornfield. But whatever age, every time I read Jane Eyre, I never fail to feel a shiver run down my spine when Jane hears noises in the night…
Don’t be daunted by the size of this book. Unlike some of Dickens’ work, David Copperfield is easy to get into and is bursting with some of the most colourful characters in literature. Of course, it wouldn’t be Dickens without some bleak moments, but young David Copperfield seems to be able to bounce back from anything. It’s a heart-warming tale with a few bag guys flung in to keep it interesting.
Right from the very beginning, there’s an eerie atmosphere emanating from the pages of this unsettling book. The tension is constantly building until you find yourself on the edge of your seat! Vampires are ‘the thing’ at the moment, with lots of Young Adult vampire romances flooding the shelves, but Dracula is the real deal. It’s scary, it’s intense, – quite simply, it’s a really good read.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
The anti-heroine of this book is the character I most love to hate. Becky Sharp is ruthless, manipulative and selfish, but I still can’t help but like her – although admittedly, she could do with a slap every now and again. Vanity Fair is witty and satirical, showing the greed and snobbery of society. It’s not necessarily an easy and uplifting read, but it does make you think.
This is a fantastic read for those who like a long and twisty revenge scheme. It’s exciting and adventurous; with escaped prisoners, thieves, back-stabbers and a life-long love affair. There are many complicated threads of story that tangle together and confuse the reader, but don’t worry, they all tie up by the end!
Did I miss your favourite? If so, there’s a big chance that I haven’t even read it yet! So let me know your favourite classics and why, so that I can add them on my never-ending list of books to read!