Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught X 101

Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If I Taught 19th Century Lit 101

Pride and Prejudice- The original bad girl novel. Today, Elizabeth is a role model and inspiration for young women to speak their minds. In Austen's day, Elizabeth was scandalous. Not as scandalous as Lydia, but hey. All and all, it's a fun, and important portrait of 19th century life: what they found important, what they thought was crazy.

Jane Eyre- Whereas Elizabeth had it easy (even though they think they're poor), the first half of Jane Eyre shows how much it could suck to live in the 19th century. The plot twists have probably influenced every modern romance book, movie, and tv show (soap opera) in some small way.

Oliver Twist- This novel explores the underbelly of London, full of criminals, prostitutes, and murderers. Sounds like an HBO show, right? Wrong, it's about an innocent orphan struggling to survive. In a world of 'Please, sir, I-want-another-video-game,' it's important to remember how hard things could be from a child's point of view.

Treasure Island- I'm probably a little biased for this one. Mostly, I'd teach it for fun. It's the grand-daddy of many great adventure and pirate stories and it's cemented in pop culture. It's influence is everywhere and it's a nice example of a coming-of-age tale.

Middlemarch- Although Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre are fun, Middlemarch is a slightly more realistic take on 19th century life. Ladies back then didn't always hit the jackpot in the dating department. It has important lessons about knowing who you are, what you want out of life, and having a plan.

Walden- Thoreau was save-the-Earth before Captain Planet. He was a rebel and out-of-the-box thinker. It's an important read because he not only stood up for nature, but also asked the big life questions.

Uncle Tom's Cabin- It's an important novel to read because it caused a lot of stir when it was released. Abe Lincoln actually blamed the author for starting the Civil War. It shows the power of literature as a means to inform others of issues, as well as, how far we've come.

The Importance of Being Earnest - Nothing like a little comedy to make a class fun. And, no, this isn't about Ernest P. Worrell, (equally fun). All the modern characters with alter-egos probably have this play to thank. That and many situational comedies.

Dracula - Vampire, vampires, vampires! Today they are everywhere. Yet, it's surprising how many people have never read Dracula, the book that began the horror and sub-genre of romance craze. In many ways, it shows how far women have progressed in literature, from helpless innocents to strong vampire slayers.

Poems by Emily Dickinson - In most lit classes, you cover a play, poems, and sometimes several novels or short stories. I'm not much for poetry, but to me, Emily Dickinson is some of the best. There's a lot of nature and beauty in her work, as well as, some unintended humor for obtuse people like "I heard a Fly buzz."


  1. I love your list! It's fun to see where we overlap. Middlemarch and Uncle Toms Cabin are on my to read list soon. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

    1. Yes! I was happy to find another blogger with a similar list. :) Happy classic reading.



Related Posts with Thumbnails