Who was it that said that there is no friend like a good book? “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.” – Grouch Marx
An avid reader anyway, I have been walking my 14 year old through the really good books. And I have been having such a great time doing it! Since it is gift giving time, complete with a little vacation time to go along with it, here are a few classics you may have missed:
My Antonia by Willa Cather is the story of a boy meeting a Bohemian immigrant girl on the Nebraska prairie. Cather artfully tells both of their stories in her realistic style.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in a modern translation is a delightful medieval chivalric tale. It is a short read and delightfully entertaining. Gawain is one of the knights of Arthur’s round table and his story is the finest of them all.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens stands out to me as one of the greatest novels I have ever read. The characters are unforgettable. There is no one quite like Mr. Wemmick, in my estimation. Except for the cannon, I wish he was my neighbor.
Beowulf, the translation by Seamus Heaney, is worth a read, even if you read this ancient epic in high school. Modern super heroes pale in comparison to the original super hero. Their antagonist villains look like cartoons compared to Grendel and his mother.
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, credited with being the first modern novel, is timeless in its humor. I laugh with all those who have been laughing at these antics for 500 years.
Henry V by William Shakespeare, yes it is a play, but read it anyway. I had pretty much ignored Shakespeare’s history plays until I read Julius Caesar last year. Boy, what a mistake that was. His comedies and tragedies downgrade to pretty good when you hold them up against Shakespeare’s historical plays. Whose troops couldn’t use a little touch of Harry in the night?
And if you are looking for a guide to understanding Shakespeare (or some enlightenment on what makes Jame Austen so amazing) may I introduce you to Peter J. Leithart? Brightest Heaven of Invention helped me read Shakespeare more critically and for greater understanding of some of the more subtle themes the Bard tackles.
Girls enjoy National Velvet by Enid Bagnold for the horse story. Adults enjoy it for the family dynamics of the story. The story is nothing like the movie. It is rich in characters, and little is said about the horse. I can identify with Araminty and the houseful of quirky kids she raises.
What great book have you rediscovered lately?
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