Must-Read Classics

Ellen Heltzel, book critic and author of "Between the Covers," joined us today with her list of the 5 classics she thinks everyone will enjoy.

 1. "Emma," by Jane Austen. Who can't learn to love Austen, especially when this book has not only a movie version starring Gwyneth Paltrow but also an updated film version, "Clueless." The story revolves around a well-meaning young woman who loves to play matchmaker for everyone but herself. 

2. "The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When if not now (in the wake of Bernie Madoff and the robber barons of Wall Street) to read this story of a guy who reinvents himself, from a Midwestern wannabe to a rich dude on Long Island, during the Roaring '20s. The ambition for fame and money is THE American story, told here with all its tragic consequences. 

3. "To the Lighthouse," by Virginia Woolf. Another novel from the '20s, this one by an English writer whose name speaks of two things: the modern era, and a woman's search to find her voice. In this book, the dual and often conflicting ambitions of making a home and finding self-expression come in full view. 

4. "Things Fall Apart," by Chinua Achebe. This novel by a Nigerian writer, probably the most celebrated literary work about Africa since Joseph Conrad, is a contemporary classic written after World War II. It tells the tale of what happens to an African tribe after Western powers invade the continent.  It's also a timely commentary on our global economy, showing how outside forces can erode a community.

5. "One Hundred Years of Solitude," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Another contemporary classic, this one by a Latin American author, also came out in the middle of the 20th century. More than any other work of fiction, it introduced Americans to what's called magic realism, a world of fantasy that in other cultures is not fantasy but part of the reality of living. It's a beautiful, fable-like story of one family through six generations. Definitely not "The Forsythe Saga"!  
 

For more information about Ellen Heltzel, check out her Book Babes website.

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