When I was 13, I picked up The Sun Also Rises. All on my own, just because I wanted to read some Hemingway. I was geeky like that. Well, between the, um, adult content and his almost utter lack of identification of who was speaking at any given time, I threw in the towel, vowing never to read Hemingway again. I was convinced that everything people said about him was crap. He was clearly unreadable.
Then I grew up a little.
Later in my teens, and well into my 20s, I was all about the classics. I scoured thrift shops and used book stores for Dickens and Lawrence and Austen and, yes, even Hemingway. (I'm happy to say that I have since read The Sun Also Rises again. All the way through this time. And enjoyed it. It's amazing what a little maturity will do.) Fitzgerald. Eliot. Forster. Waugh. Collette. Nin. The list goes on and on. I'm thinking about all this because recently Crazy Aunt Purl asked her readers to recommend five classics for her summer reading enjoyment (she lives in L.A., where it is already nearly summer, or at least summer-like). My eyes lit up, and I got to remembering those luscious afternoons with a musty old book, a cup of coffee (I was a Coffee Achiever back then) and a few hours to myself.
I'm afraid I couldn't cull my choices to five actual books, but here is what I came up with:
- A Farewell to Arms (who knew Hemingway could be so romantic, and still so, you know, Hemingway).
- A Graham Greene novel (maybe Travels with my Aunt, for a more typical Greene experience, or, if you can't help yourself, The End of the Affair).
- Our Mutual Friend (my favorite of the more obscure Dickens tales).
- The Mill on the Floss or Silas Marner (I'm torn). Okay, or Middlemarch. Just, you know, an Eliot.
- Oh dear, only one more? This Side of Paradise (F. Scott Fitzgerald), maybe? But then that leaves out DH Lawrence, and Flaubert.
Of course, there are so many more. If I made the list now, there would be five different choices. You know how it is.
What would you recommend?