All-Time Favourite Classics #3

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Yay I’m on a roll with these posts! (or I might have just done them all in a batch and scheduled them… but whatever) For those of you who are new here (hi!) or missed my last few posts (where were you?! JK 😉 ) I’m currently sharing my lovey-dovey feelings about my favourite classics. I went into how I was doing this in (probably too much) detail in the first week, so I’m not going to bore you with it- suffice to say this is part three of four and each week has a vaguish theme. This week it’s EPIC! (I mean the theme, not the post- though if you think my posts are epic, have a prize banana, I salute you 😉 )  Well sort of epics, some of these are just bunched into this group because they address BIG IDEAS.

count of monte cristoThe Count of Monte Cristo– boy this book has scope! From the ship docking in the opening chapter to the ever expansive horizons the protagonist treads, the reader is taken on quite the journey. On the surface, it is a wonderful adventure story- however simmering under the surface is a classic tale of revenge- one which holds many lessons.


theogony and works and daysTheogony– if we are talking scope, no story has more than the Theogony. We are talking the literal origins of the universe, from a Greek perspective of course (it’s upto you whether you take that literally 😉 ) And my goodness, Hesiod might have been one of the world’s most adept misogynists, but dude sure can spin a story. No matter how often I read this, I’m always entertained by these myths. Oh and Works and Days is great too 🙂


aeneidAeneid– I own the most atrocious translation of this- and yet this still struck me as one of the most powerful stories ever told- which says everything. If the majesty of such a story could shine through a translation (so bad it made me laugh out loud) then you can imagine just how good it is. One thing I love about it is how it manages to splice the basic narrative structure of both the Iliad and the Odyssey together, combining the two into one incredible tale. It may be technically unfinished- nonetheless it is one of the most tightly woven stories I have ever read.


war and peaceWar and Peace– I honestly never expected to love this as much as I did. For years, I saw it as little more than a challenge- but when I finally read it WOW– it blew me away. I was instantly wrapped up in the characters, the philosophical discussions, and the beauty of the imagery that crossed the boundary a translation often erects. Of course, it took a lot of commitment, yet ever since I read it, I’ve been itching to give it a reread (it did completely kill the adaptation for me though, cos nothing could live upto that level of epicness).


grapes of wrathGrapes of Wrath– speaking of language, this book has some of finest writing I have ever seen. I don’t care what you think of Steinbeck’s philosophy, no one can argue that the writing here is anything less than profoundly stunning. There are few books that have blown me away as much on sheer imagery alone and this is one of them.


TheGreatGatsby_1925jacket.jpegThe Great Gatsby– and yet another beautifully written book. Here, my taste for lyrical, flowery prose shines through unashamedly again. As I’ve mentioned before, I love the Romantics and Fitzgerald drew heavily on their seductive style. Ergo, I adore this book. And if that wasn’t enough, I find the study of human nature in this book so compelling- especially because the characters are so ridiculously unlikeable. (Yes, I love to hate characters sometimes)


eastofedenEast of Eden– I actually love this for very different reasons to Grapes of Wrath. Yes, it has a lot of the same skill in terms of writing and yes, it likewise has a magnificent scope. However, what I love about this is the family drama and mirroring of the Kane and Abel story at the heart of the book. It is such a fascinating exploration of humanity, I cannot help but find this one of the most compelling family epics in existence.


the chosenThe Chosen– moving from a story about brotherly and fatherly love, to one about friendship. This story is a gorgeous modern day allegory about two friends who grow from being enemies on the baseball court to best friends. What I loved most about this was how it tackled Jewish philosophy and struck at the heart of the universal question of baseless hatred.


daniel derondaDaniel Deronda– I know that normally people are especially fond of Middlemarch by Eliot- and that’s cool, whatever floats your boat. Yet while I’ve read it twice and have been struck by the characters both times, the provincial life setting prevented me from fully forming an emotional connection. This book on the other hand… I do not expect everyone to be as in love with this as I am, yet I was fundamentally blown away not only about how it had mature philosophical debates and drew realistic Jewish characters (in a non-Holocaust book! without being anti-Semitic!), but also how it managed to show that people are not simply their group identity, they are textured and complex (I know *shocker*)


heart of darknessHeart of Darkness– this book is a puzzle- and yet I enjoy cracking it. Layer upon layer of meaning is coated onto this slightly bizarre, tightly woven book. I do not know that I will ever get to the bottom of it- all I know is that there is something which compels me to read and reread it.


fahrenheit-451Fahrenheit 451– well I had a burning desire to put this on the list 😉 (gosh- apologies for that appalling joke, I am thoroughly ashamed of myself 😉 ) Seriously though, this is one of the most illuminating, powerful books I’ve ever read. The imagery from beginning to end is burned into my brain. With a grand vision, this book illustrates the true horrors of collectivism.


1984 book1984– while I often envisage Fahrenheit 451 as depicting Nazism, 1984 strikes me as the cold knife of communism. Twice in my life I have read this book and twice I have put it down with no intention of picking it up again. Not because I dislike it, but because this book shakes me to my core. The imagery is terrifyingly realistic, the messages echo across time and the book paves the way for every dystopia that follows. There is nothing quite like it.

Previous Posts:

All-Time Favourite Classics #1

All-Time Favourite Classics #2

So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! This feature will be back again next week… for the last time! (well for now)


84 thoughts on “All-Time Favourite Classics #3

  1. Nel says:

    Number 1!!!!! YESSSS! Oh god, now I want to read it again. Only other book I’ve read on this is 1984 and I think I liked it but I read it back in high school so I can’t remember and not sure I have any desire to reread it, haha. Did you know Fahrenheit 451 is being turned into an HBO Special? I don’t know if it’s a movie or TV show though. And then when I saw the book East of Eden I thought of an anime but it’s called Eden of the East so definitely not the same thing, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Ohh, I read The Great Gatsby (again like with Picture of Dorian Gray it was simply because the movie had been released and I’d been to see it in the cinema!) Also I’ve heard some really good things about Fahrenheit 451, and given there’s a movie coming out based on that book I guess that will be another classic I’ll have to get around to soon, good thing it’s on your all-time favourite classics list, that way I feel like I know it’s a good book! 😀
    Great post, and great picks too. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joelendil says:

    Great list! What translation(s) of the Theogony have you read? I can’t remember which one I read but it was lousy and I’d like to try it again. Also, which Aeneid translation? I’ve tried a couple and though neither were terrible there was certainly room for improvement…so which one do I need to avoid next time around? 🙂

    Daniel Deronda might have to go on my TBR… just read my first Eliot (Silas Marner) a few weeks ago and greatly enjoyed it. That is such a rarity to find realistic/sympathetic Jewish characters in classic lit…the anti-semitism of some authors that I otherwise like just makes me cringe sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you! The version of the Theogony I have (and I tend to reread that one cos I like the translation, though I don’t remember the edition I first read) is M L West- personally I really like it because it hasn’t tried to force it into poem form (with uneven meter and poor rhymes) it’s just the text translation and really easy to read as well. The Aeneid version I have is by Fredrick Ahl- and irritatingly my professor chose it because he wanted us to get a sense of the rhythm and meter- but that means a lot of the syntax and translations sound off in English. So yeah, definitely worth avoiding that one. (oh and they’re both the Oxford World’s Classics by the way) Hope that helps 🙂

      Brilliant! I need to read more- I’ve only read Middlemarch apart from this (also excellent) and I have Silas Marner on my kindle. It really is unfortunately- most are either reinforcing the blood libel or negative stereotypes (cringey to say the least), so Daniel Deronda was a pleasant surprise!


  4. Book Admirer says:

    I love this list. There was only three I had never heard of. I loved The Count of Monte Christo and remember being surprised by that. I agree. Definitely as some scope. Also loved Fahrenheit451. Unfortunately I haven’t finished East of Eden or Grapes of Wrath but not for lack of interest. Rather I just seem to read them at the most inopportune time. I will keep trying though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Peachy says:

    Finally, someone’s showing some love to my Count of Monte Cristo – I love this monster of a classic. Dumas writes such compelling characters and plot, and I had a million page flags – so quotable! The Great Gatsby is definitely a classic – probably one of the quickest reads, but and Fitzgerald’s oh-so-beautiful prose! Fahrenheit 451 – man, it is a pleasure to burn 😉 it’s funny how you used “illuminating” to describe it… don’t know if you did that on purpose. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yay I’m just glad you like Monte Cristo too 😀 I really agree!! It’s a wonderful book 😀 Yes so true!! Ahh love that pleasure to burn quote too 😉 hehehehe thank you- I’m glad you picked up on that- I love my puns 😉


  6. lucindablogs says:

    Wow, this is an impressive list. I’ve read 1984, The Great Gatsby and Fahrenheit 451 and loved them all. I’ve had East of Eden on my TBR since forever too. You’ve definitely inspired me to read more “difficult” books *glances at copy of Gravity’s Rainbow that’s been on my bedside table for over a year*.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. FranL says:

    What I find interesting about The Great Gatsby is that it does feel “epic” even though it’s actually fairly short as far as novels go. My edition has about 110 pages.

    I remember reading The Chosen years ago but I don’t remember the book itself very well.

    I love East of Eden. It’s one of those books that I’ve been meaning to reread for a long time.


  8. John W. Leys says:

    Lots of great books here. I recently reread 1984 and had much the same reaction. It’s chilling in that it’s so easy to see what it depicts as coming true, especially in this age of “fake news”


  9. Zezee says:

    Ah Gatsby. I love the writing in that book. I actually don’t care much for the story.
    And I really liked Heart of Darkness too. I liked the suspense in it about what happened to Kurtz. I was so hooked.
    I need to try another Stienbeck. I’ve only read Of Mice and Men and that was years ago.


  10. Jay says:

    I got to fall in love with so many of these when I reread them as an adult, outside of the classroom.
    Fahrenheit 451 in particular – I can’t wait for the new movie.


  11. Angelica (TheBookCoverGirl) says:

    I love the Great Gatsby!! And 1984 is by far one of my favorite classics! I’ve been meaning to read The Count of Monte Cristo since forever and keep putting off. Or rather its large size keeps putting me off lol. Great list! I’m definitely adding some of these to my TBR!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Kristina Steiner says:

    I need to read 1984! But I’ve read both Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. I read them both during my studies and fell in love with them. And don’t get me started of The Great Gatsby; I’ve read it twice already.


  13. Andie says:

    Of course I think your posts are epic! May I have a prize banana now? 😆
    Woah, there are so many of the books on my TBR on here… this definitely served as a signal boost for those!
    I think I’ve only read The Great Gatsby from your list? And adored it, naturally. And I watched the movie for The Count Of Monte Cristo and I thought that was brilliant! I know it’s probably no match to the book though…
    Great post!


  14. Nicola @ Thoughts on Fantasy says:

    Another great classics list! I’m very keen to read The Count of Monte Cristo and have been for ages, but just haven’t gotten to it yet (it is intimidatingly epic after all). So I’m glad to hear it gets the seal (or banana?) of approval! And 1984 really is a chilling, unique book – definitely one you don’t forget, and don’t pick up again lightly.
    To be honest, I probably won’t ever read War and Peace because all my instincts are telling me it’s not for me, but I raise my glass to anyone who is brave enough to pick it up! And I confess to not personally being a huge fan of Heart of Darkness… but maybe I was too impatient (or to young – I read it in school) to even try to crack the puzzle 🙂


  15. A Paradoxical Millennial says:

    I also love the Aeneid – such a great story. I’m always a little surprised it is not as well known in popular culture than the Iliad – in some ways it is better-structured story and would probably make for a pretty solid film series (or netflix special 😉 ).


  16. Eva O'Reilly says:

    My son came home from school a few years ago and we had the following conversation:
    Him: I found the most amazing book in the library today.
    Me: Wonderful. (Aside to myself: yes! Yes! He’s reading.) What was it about?
    Him: About a man who gets framed for a crime and imprisoned. But he escapes, becomes super rich and goes on this awesome vengeance spree.
    Me: Wait, are you reading The Count of Monte Cristo?
    Awwww … my baby’s first classic novel!


  17. Winged Cynic says:

    Love this list! Like you say, Monte Cristo offers so much scope, and the writing in Grapes of Wrath is beautiful (despite the fact that I threw it at the wall when I first read it in high school lol). Oh, and I agree! Great Gatsby, Chosen, Fahrenheit, and 1984 offer such interesting studies of human psyche in different ways. All are such insightful books!


  18. Nicole says:

    Great selection! I still need to read 1984 (for the first time — crazy, I know!). I want to re-read The Aeneid and Fahrenheit 451, too. Some of those classic epic books just need to be revisited every so often. (I feel this way about Brave New World, too.) And you’ve reminded me that Heart of Darkness has many layers but I’ve only looked at the top layer or two. I guess it’s time to re-read that one, too. 🙂


  19. Krysta says:

    You have so many great picks here! I love Alexandre Dumas and really need to find time to read some of his books again. They are so long, sometimes I feel like I don’t have time. And I’m glad you have The Chosen! I don’t see many people talk about Chaim Potok, but I really love his work.

    I still have to read Daniel Deronda. I’m glad to see it made your list!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Vera says:

    Steinbeck’s books speak to my ❤️. I read most of his novels and apart from his beautiful writung I also appreciate how well he dives into human characters. I love both of those books of his.
    I grew up with The Count of Monte Cristo and have many fond memories associated wit it. 👌😊

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Kat Impossible says:

    GATSBY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!! I like how I always find at least one classic that I have read on these lists hahaha
    Also, I might be tempted to read War and Peace because I heard there was a new translation that might be easier for me to get into. We will see!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Miss Gentileschi says:

    It’s scary how much I agree with your choice of all-time favourite classics every post, but I do! Especially the Greek/Roman classics (The Aenid is epic – in every sense of the word 😉). And I’ve just started reading The Great Gatsby again – totally love it!! 😊


  23. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom says:

    I LOVED East of Eden! I had to read it in high school and it completely blew me away. I also enjoyed Grapes of Wrath, but like you, for different reasons. Many people don’t care for Steinbeck, and I just don’t get it?! I’ve also read & enjoyed The Great Gatsby and Fahrenheit 451.

    Kudos to you for reading War & Peace! I don’t know if I will ever gather up the courage to tackle it…

    1984 has been on my TBR forever and is probably highest up on my Classic TBR list at this point. I may give the audiobook a go here soon.


  24. Captain's Quarters says:

    I have read six of these and found them all to be wonderful. Good list. The count of monte cristo is one of me favorites. I read a very short “good parts” version when I was a kid and the unedited version when I was a little older. I adore both. Nice post.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

  25. klkranesya says:

    I always loved reading, but The Count of Monte Cristo was the first book where I realized I loved literature. I even remember reading it while listening to Led Zeppelin (an odd pairing of lit & music that actually worked well) on my Walkman during a road trip for Spring Break in 7th grade. I am not one who remembers my childhood in great detail, but I remember that. (And, yes, I’m old! I had a Walkman when I was 12, not an iPod.) I’d always read a lot and liked books with darker themes, but I think it was the first time I obsessed over a book that wasn’t written by Stephen King and realized there was more to the world of reading than just the paperbacks in the top seller section.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah I understand 😀 That’s so cool!! haha don’t worry- I also had a walkman- with cassettes! I thought I was so cool lol!! I read this when I was younger and ended up obsessing over it too. I think that’s amazing that this book did that for you 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

    I read the last two and absolutely loved them too. Did you see the trailer for the HBO movie adaptation of Fahrenheit 451?! It looks awesome!!! Although I believe it’s going to deviate from the source material a little though heheh And whaaaat? Heart of Darkness? A puzzle? I got a copy of that one that I now totalllly need to pick up!!! Great list of favs again!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Awesome!! Ahh yes!! It looks so good- and I agree- I don’t need movies to be slavishly loyal to their source material. hehehe yeah, more a puzzle in that there’s layers and it’s complicated, rather than it being a mystery, but I really hope you like it!!

      Liked by 1 person

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