Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Autumn TBR

Once again, it’s time for another installment of Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl). This week’s topic is ‘Books on my 2021 Spring TBR’. But, as you know, I’m Australian so Autumn TBR it is! Here are some reads I’m really looking forward to starting this season.

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Over the last few months, I find that I’ve been gravitating towards more adult reads than I ever used to. However, lately there have been a few YA reads that have caught my eye, one of which is Our Year of Maybe. It’s about two best friends, Peter and Sophie. Peter is a pianist and in need of a kidney transplant, while Sophie, a dancer who has had a crush on him for years, turns out to be a match. Hoping the transplant will elevate their relationship to the next level, Sophie decides to donate. Things don’t exactly turn out as planned when post-operation, Peter finds himself drawn to Chase, a guitarist in his new band. I’ve heard that Solmon’s books read on the older side for YA and that she talks about a lot of topics which aren’t frequently represented in young adult books. I have high hopes for this one so fingers crossed.

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

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After finishing the last book in The Poppy War series by R F Kuang earlier this year, I am so ready for some more Asian inspired fantasy x historical fiction, and from an Australian author, too! What I’ve heard of this book so far has been fantastic (pleeasssee don’t be a disappointment). It’s pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and I’m just like…two of my favourite things? Yes, please! The story is about a brother and sister whose futures are predicted – the boy, greatness, but the girl, nothingness. After their family is attacked by bandits and her brother dies, Zhu takes on his identity to enter a monastery as a male novice and achieve his fated destiny. I was super lucky to receive an ARC of this book and I’ll definitely be getting stuck into it very soon.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

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It’s time to tick off another classic! I’ve been wanting to read Rebecca for years but always seem to talk myself out of it. I think I’m just worried it won’t be my kind of book because it’s more about the atmosphere and writing than it is about plot but I should really stop underestimating my ability to enjoy different kinds of novels. I was originally hoping to read it before I saw an adaptation but well, that failed…so here we are. As I’m sure everyone is aware, the book follows a young woman who meets and marries a wealthy widower named Maxim de Winter and moves into his large estate called Manderley. There she has to deal with the shadow Maxim’s former wife Rebecca casts over their lives. It’s all very gothic and creepy.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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The only Murakami book I have ever read (or attempted to read) is 1Q84 and it was…weird. Very weird. So, I’m hoping for a different result with my second attempt at his work. Norwegian Wood, on the other hand, is supposedly one of Murakami’s more straightforward books (no sci fi or magical realism) and funnily enough, it’s also probably his most popular. Even the author himself is confused as to why. It deals with a 37-year old man looking back on his life 20 years ago and his first love. It’s supposed to be a pretty dark read at times and heavily deals with things like suicide and mental illness. I get the feeling this one is going to hurt but then again, that’s not always a bad thing.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown – Talia Hibbert

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I definitely feel like I’ll be in the mood for some contemporary romance very soon because I’ve yet to read any in 2021. The bright yellow cover for Take a Hint, Dani Brown is definitely calling my name. As is the fact that it’s another faking dating story. I read the prequel, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, in 2020 and had fun so I thought, why not give the second installment a try? This book is about Dani who’s not really looking for a committed relationship right now. However, after she gets photographed being rescued by security guard Zaf during a fire drill, the internet starts shipping them together. Zaf asks Dani to play along to help with publicity for his children’s charity and Dani agrees. As you’d expect, cue sparks. This sounds like a sweet and sexy read so I hope it’s enjoyable!

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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Here I am again, reading another Colleen Hoover book, although one that’s a bit different from her usual novels. This one is about a couple named Leeds and Layla who try to get their relationship back on track after an almost fatal attack by staying at the bed-and-breakfast where they met. But then weird things start happening that can’t be explained and Leeds turns to another guest for comfort. I’m not really sure what to expect with this one other than that it’s a paranormal romance of sorts. Confession though, I’m already about a quarter of the way through and still really on the fence about what to think. Here’s hoping it ends up being a Verity sort of scenario, which I really liked.

This is How you Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

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I’ve never been much of a novella or short story reader. Usually I like books to have more room to breathe in terms of their narratives and characters. However, after enjoying Becky Chambers To be Taught, If Fortunate, I thought I’d give this one a go as I’ve heard so much about it. The novella deals with two time-travelling spies from different worlds, Red and Blue, on opposites sides of a conflict who fall in love via letters. I’ve seen two general reactions to this, 1) it was really confusing and weird and I was not a fan, and 2) This book was so amazing and I will need multiple re-reads to fully appreciate its beauty. My thoughts right now: intimidated. I really hope I like this and it certainly sounds really unique, but at least if it’s not my cup of tea it’s only around 200 pages long.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini

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I’m starting to realise that the books I’m tending to let sit on my TBR for extended periods are the doorstoppers. I’m afraid if I don’t start reading some of them, they’re going to launch a protest, rise up and bury me somehow. So, we’re going to try and tackle To Sleep in a Sea of Stars because it’s the scariest looking one and would probably be the ring leader in such an assault. This is a Sci-fi first contact story which follows a xenobiologist named Kira who comes across an alien artifact on a moon. This has big consequences for her and her crew, and triggers the start of an intergalactic war against humanity. It sounds really intriguing but I’m definitely worried about the amount of world building and whether the book will drag. Guess I’ll have to find out.

The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren

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So, this book doesn’t actually come out until May but hey, it’s still Autumn. I’m also including it because I know it’s unlikely I’ll resist reading it for very long after it comes out. As you guys probably already know if you’re regular visitors to my blog, I love a good CLo Romance and this one sounds really good! It’s about a single mum named Jess who signs up for a DNA based match-making service which claims to be able to find your soulmate. She ends up matched with the company’s founder, Dr River Pena, with an unheard of 98% compatibility. The company offers to pay her to give the match a chance as a form of promotion for its stock. It’s an opposites attract type story and I can already partially predict how the plot will play out but I’m still really keen.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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Little Women is another one of those aforementioned large books threatening to hurt me if I don’t read it soon. I’ve found myself glancing at this one on my shelves a lot lately (probably because of the pretty nature patterned, olive green spine) so I’m sure I’ll probably crack soon and just sit down to read it. The text is quite large in this edition so I’ll take comfort in the fact that it looks a lot bigger than it probably is. As almost everyone knows by now, this is a coming of age story about four sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, in 1860s Massachusetts. This novel is on my classics TBR so I’m looking forward to being able to finally check it off.


I’m feeling good about the next couple of months and hopefully I discover some more books to add to my annual favourites list. If everything could just be a five star read from here on out, that would be great. Thank you.

What books are you most looking forward to reading over the next few months of Spring/Autumn?

And That’s a Wrap 2020: Book Adaptations I Watched

If there’s one things that’s for certain, it’s that Hollywood will always turn to books instead of trying to come up with their own original ideas for movies and TV shows. Sometimes they’re good and others…err, let’s just say we’d prefer to forget them or hope for a remake.

Due to Covid 19’s impact on cinema access, 2020 was a difficult year when it came to movie releases but for streaming services like Netflix, it was golden. Here are the book adaptations released this year that I got around to watching (the titles with a star next to them are those I’ve read the book for):

Little Women

Film | Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Synopsis: Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.

While this movie came out in most countries in 2019, in Australia it wasn’t released until New Years Day 2020. I really enjoyed this one and have rewatched it several times since I first saw it in cinemas. The cast is fantastic and it was definitely the start of my obsession with Florence Pugh. The score is gorgeous, the costuming is great and it’s 100% pushed me to want to read the novel. We just have to overlook Emma Watson’s frequent accent breaks…


To All the Boys: PS. I Still Love You ★

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020) - IMDb

Film | Based on P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Synopsis: Lara Jean and Peter have just taken their relationship from pretend to officially official when another recipient of one of her old love letters enters the picture.

I was super excited for this release because I love the books and really enjoyed the first movie. I have to say though, I was kind of disappointed. While Jordan Fisher as John Ambrose is perfection casting if I ever saw it, the movie feels like it’s trying too hard a lot of the time and there are some frankly bizarre direction choices at points (the THREE different aerial shots of a car driving at the beginning, Lara Jean randomly lip-syncing down a school hallway, the bizarre floating kiss at the end?). On the whole though, the movie (as well as Lana & Noah) is still charming enough to be enjoyable, it just isn’t one of my favourites.


Emma ★

Film | Based on Emma by Jane Austen

Emma (2020) - Movie Posters (2 of 2)

Synopsis: Beautiful, smart and wealthy, Emma Woodhouse navigates her way through misguided matches, romantic missteps and the challenges of growing up — all to finally realize the love that has been there all along.

I saw Emma back in March and little did I know that it’d end up being my last trip to the cinema for 2020 (thanks Covid). There are a few changes from the original novel, especially in the later parts of the film, but they’re not entirely unwelcome in that they add humour, modernise the story slightly, and give audiences more insight into some of the characters. I enjoyed this movie. It drags a little around the middle (similarly to the book) but the scenery and costumes are great, Bill Nigh is fantastic as Mr Woodhouse, and I liked both Anya Taylor Joy and Johnny Flynn’s performances as Emma & Mr Knightley. Their chemistry is also great to watch. Overall, it’s a fun take on Austen even if it isn’t a perfect adaptation.


All the Bright Places ★

Film | Based on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Synopsis: The story of Violet and Theodore, who meet and change each other’s lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they discover that even the smallest places and moments can mean something.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the original book on this one and I felt pretty similarly about the adaptation. My issues with the mental health and suicide representation aside, there just isn’t all that much of a plot and the relationship between the two characters is really bland. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t rectify this. My sister and I were so darn bored watching it that we found ourselves checking how much longer we had to go several times. The film also cuts out quite a few key components from the book that contribute to the depth of the characters e.g. Finch’s abusive father. Book or movie, sorry, not for me.


Normal People ★

Limited Series | Based on Normal People by Sally Rooney

Synopsis: Normal People follows the relationship between Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron, as they navigate adulthood from their final days in secondary school to their undergraduate years in Trinity College.

This is one of those rare cases where I enjoyed the adaptation more than the book. To give you an indication of how much I loved it, I watched it twice within the space of about three months. The book and series are fairly similar but I really appreciated the adaptation’s switch to presenting events chronologically and the small changes it made to the narrative such as the altered ending (it makes so much more sense). The acting here is also phenomenal. The chemistry between the two leads is unbelievable and I’m telling you, it’s almost impossible not to feel something when Paul Mescal is crying. As a fun bonus, the soundtrack is top notch, too.


The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen's Gambit (TV Mini-Series 2020) - IMDb

Limited Series | Based on The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis

Synopsis: Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, Beth Harmon discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.

2020 was certainly the year of The Queen’s Gambit. It may be slow at first but once it really gets started, you’re just gripped. The cinematography is wonderfully done and I adored all of the period details from the cars to the fashion. Anya Taylor Joy is absolutely amazing in the lead role and I will never stop being impressed with hers and the rest of the cast’s ability to play all of the chess games from memory (the speed chess scenes are insane!). You don’t have to be a chess fan to get lost in this one.


The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor movie review (2020) | Roger Ebert

TV Series | Loosely Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Synopsis: After an au pair’s tragic death, a man hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with their chef, groundskeeper, and housekeeper. Little does the nanny know that the manor is haunted.

THoBM is quite different from Henry James’s novel but it uses The Turn of the Screw as a foundation for the story. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Haunting of Hill House so I was hoping that I’d enjoy this more. Unfortunately, no. It started out promising but I quickly grew bored with how insanely slow it was. By the end, I realised I didn’t really like the story of the lady in the lake and was frustrated by the way certain things were explained (or not explained). Honestly, the last episode was probably my favourite because it felt like an entirely different show but also because the acting by Victoria Pedretti and Amelia Eve was so good. I’m guessing I should give up on watching any further in this anthology.

After We Collided

Film | Based on After We Collided by Anna Todd

Synopsis: Tessa finds herself struggling with her complicated relationship with Hardin; she faces a dilemma that could change their lives forever.

Don’t ask me why I keep doing this to myself. I recognise the fact that this series is an absolute trainwreck. I really, really do. The plots are terrible and the relationship is as toxic as ever. It’s essentially just Hardin and Tessa alternating between fighting and having sex. Hardin does something stupid and Tessa forgives him. And still, I continue to watch. Then again, maybe we need the occasional bit of rot your brain garbage, and perhaps in 2020 more than ever. I can say though that Hero Fiennes Tiffin was slightly less of a wooden board acting wise than he was in the first one (but I guess that’s not really saying much, is it?).


Tiny Pretty Things

TV Series | Based on Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Synopsis: After tragedy strikes Chicago’s most prestigious ballet school, where every dancer is both friend and foe who compete fiercely for coveted roles, it threatens to unravel close friendships and to expose a constellation of secrets that could bring down a world-renowned institution.

Admittedly, I’m only a couple of episodes into this series so try not to spoil me too much in the comments. I’ve heard that the adaptation has some big differences from the book here. It’s set in Chicago rather than New York, the characters are less cutthroat, it’s centered around a mystery which isn’t a big deal in the novel, there’s a lot more sex, and the ending is altered. For me, this feels like just another teen drama except with ballet. It has those Pretty Little Liars vibes. Nothing particularly new but will I probably still binge watch the rest of it? Um…Yes.


Rebecca

Rebecca (2020) - IMDb

Film | Based on Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier

Synopsis: A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.

I really, really wish I’d read the book before watching this adaptation. I was going to hold off but Netflix kept bringing it up and next thing you know… As someone who didn’t know much about the story going in, I can say that while I found it intriguing there did feel like there was something missing, a hollowness of sorts, which kept the movie from landing the way it should have. I quite liked Lily James in the lead role but as much as I love Armie Hammer, I can’t help feeling like he wasn’t the right choice here. On the upside, visually the movie is gorgeous – the cliffs in Monte Carlo, Gothic shots of Manderly at night, Armie’s statement mustard suit, it’s a feast for the eyes.


Bridgerton

Bridgerton (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

TV Series | Based on The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Wealth, lust, and betrayal set in the backdrop of Regency era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family.

If you’ve heard that this series is basically Gossip Girl crossed with Pride & Prejudice, you’ve heard right. It’s far from a dramatic marvel but it’s a fun guilty pleasure watch for over the Christmas/New Year break. From what people have said, there are a few changes from the book series but it’s visually striking, sexy (beware if you’re planning on watching with family), and features a diverse cast. I should mention, however, that there has been some controversy over a particular sex scene in episode 6 so just be aware. Otherwise, if you enjoy a bit of romance, this would be a good pick. I’ll definitely be on the look out for season 2.


What were some of the best and worst book adaptations you watched this year? Which ones are you most looking forward to in 2021? Mine are Shadow and Bone, Conversations with Friends, A Discovery of Witches Season 2, The Witcher Season 2, and Daisy Jones & the Six!

Festive Reads: 10 Books To Get You in the Mood for Christmas

I honestly cannot believe there’s only around a week left until Christmas. Mentally, I’m still back in like…July. But that’s just 2020, isn’t it? If you’re like me and in need of a nudge to help find that Christmas spirit this year, here are 10 books bound to bring on some solid holiday vibes:

In a Holidaze – Christina Lauren

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With how popular holiday romances are, expect to see a few in this post. In a Holidaze, follows Maelyn Jones whose life is a bit of a mess. The bright spark of her year has always been the holiday season spent at a cabin in Utah with her family and their friends, including Mae’s long time crush Andrew. However, Mae’s good mood quickly disappears upon finding out that Andrew’s family will soon be selling the cabin. Things get worse when Andrew catches her hooking up with his brother, Theo. In desperation, Mae sends out a silent plea to the universe for help. The answer? A ground-hog day time loop which forces her to live through the trip over and over again. Now Mae will need to find a way to break free of her holiday purgatory and in the process figure out what will truly make her happy.


The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia 2#) – C. S. Lewis

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It would be impossible to forget this British classic about four children entering a magical land through means of an upstairs wardrobe. Upon arriving in Narnia, the siblings discover that it is ruled over by the tyrannical White Witch whose powers keep it locked in an eternal winter but without Christmas. Yet, once the witch’s powers begin to weaken and The Great Lion Aslan’s (the true king) grow, the children are greeted by Father Christmas who gives them each gifts to assist in the uprising to free Narnia.


A Christmas Carol and Other Stories – Charles Dickens

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A Christmas literary classic which has remained popular since 1843. Even if you’ve never read A Christmas Carol, I’ll bet that you still know the story or have seen it adapted in one form or another. It’s the tale of stingy, miserable grump Ebenezer Scrooge who on Christmas Eve is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come which encourage him to become a kinder, better man. As a story which promotes the idea of the Christmas spirit and importance of generosity, it’s easy to see why it’s a favourite at this time of the year.


Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Special Edition, Poirot by Agatha Christie |  9780008328955 | Booktopia

Just like romances, crime books also frequently feature holiday settings because there’s nothing like a bit of death to go with your pudding and presents. This mystery from the Queen of Crime features Detective Hercule Poirot trying to solve the murder of a wealthy patriarch. Simeon Lee is found dead after inviting each of his adult sons and their families home for Christmas with the intention of playing tricks on them. Clearly his plan backfired. This is classic Christie – an isolated location, set number of suspects each with a motive, a couple of red-herrings, and Poirot having to use his little grey cells to put it all together.


One Day in December – Josie Silver

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Another romance, don’t say I didn’t warn you. One Day in December is about Laurie and Jack who lock eyes through a bus window on a snowy December day. It’s love at first sight although the two never speak. Laurie spends ages looking for her bus boy but only finds him when he’s introduced to her at a Christmas party as her roommate Sarah’s new boyfriend. Cue 10 years of heartbreak and missed opportunities. While the story isn’t limited to December, a lot of its bigger events tend to happen at Christmas time, making it a good pick for this time of the year if you can handle the emotions.


The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand

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For a twist on the traditional A Christmas Carol tale, The Afterlife of Holly Chase gives us the story of a girl named Holly who, unlike Scrooge, failed to change her ways after being visited by the Ghosts of Past, Present and Future. Now she’s dead, frozen at the age of seventeen while her family and friends go on with their lives, and stuck working as the newest Ghost of Christmas Past. Five years later she’s assigned a teenage boy whom she has a lot in common with. It’s a light, kind of silly, fun, and feel-good read for the Christmas season.


Letters from Father Christmas – J RR Tolkien

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As a kid, it’s pretty common to write letters to Santa Claus. However, in Tolkien’s household every year the children received a special letter from Father Christmas in return, detailing the many adventures of him and his friends at the North Pole. Pesky goblins, a polar bear who falls through a roof, wandering reindeer, Tolkien details it all in loving detail and beautiful calligraphy. This book collects each of the letters written over a period of 20 years and, one again, showcases Tolkien’s creativity and attention to detail as well as his immense love for his children. As far as sweet, heart-warming Christmas reads go, this is a solid one.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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Little Women isn’t a Christmas book exactly but it’s often associated with the holiday season due to volume one being book-ended by it. The novel opens with the March girls experiencing their first Christmas without their father (who is fighting in the American Civil War), bemoaning that they can’t have a big celebration due to lack of funds. But in generous Christmas spirit, they end up using what money they do have to buy gifts for their mother and donating their breakfast to a family in need. The first part of the book ends with their father’s return on Christmas day a year later and them finding happiness in each other’s company. It’s a sentimental, selfless and innocent view of Christmas which people find comforting.


Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon – James Lovegrove

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Okay, it’s not Conan Doyle but if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan and looking for a Christmas themed mystery, James Lovegrove has one for you. Days before Christmas, Holmes and Watson are visited by a new client, Eve Allerthorpe, who claims that she’s being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit called Black Thurrick (a dark inversion of Father Christmas). Suspiciously though, Eve is soon to inherit a fortune but only if she’s found to be of sound mind. So is she actually being harassed by a frightening creature or simply someone seeking to have her institutionalized? Its up to our dynamic duo to find out.


10 Blind Dates – Ashley Elston

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This particular YA contemporary is a holiday two for one as it covers both Christmas and the New Year. After her boyfriend breaks up with her, Sophie takes refuge at her grandparents house where her large Sicilian family is gathered for the holidays. To brighten up her mood they devise a plan to set her up on 10 blind dates each devised by a different family member. And so begins a week and a half of ugly sweater parties, living nativities, and other surprises. It’s fluffy, sweet and all about that spirit of togetherness which many of us love so much about this time of year.


No matter where you are in the world right now and what may be happening in your lives, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season full of good food & laughter, and surrounded by those you love.

Future TBR: Classics I’d Like to Try Reading

I am not a classics lover. In fact, of the limited number of classic books that I’ve actually read, probably about 80% of them I’ve disliked. However, in the spirit of the whole ‘broaden your reading horizons’ vibe I’ve had going on in recent months, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about giving classics another chance. So, I’ve been doing my research (looking at the many ‘classics for beginners’ lists available across the bookish web), thinking back to classics adaptations that I’ve enjoyed, and making heart eyes at the Penguin Clothbound Classics editions. Finally, I have myself a list of 8 classic novels that I’d like to give it my best shot at reading and hopefully enjoying.


Emma – Jane Austen

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Technically I’m already 100 pages into this one but as I’ve yet to finish it, it counts. As I mentioned above, there aren’t many classics I can say I’ve read and enjoyed but Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is one of the few. So, why not try another of her books? At this point I’ve seen two adaptations of Emma (plus Clueless) and really enjoyed them. As a character, Emma is full of herself and bit of a spoiled brat, but I kind of love her for it. The story is basically just her setting people up and meddling in people’s affairs. As you can imagine, romantic shenanigans ensue. Despite this lighter plotline, the book actually takes a great look at issues like social class and the oppression of women. Sure, there’s a somewhat…uncomfortable age gap between Emma and her love interest, Mr Knightly, but eh. Different times.


Dracula – Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This will sound weird, but I’m not sure if I’ve already read this. When I was in high school, we were studying representations of Dracula in film and TV but (bizarrely) did not have to read the book. Me, being me, borrowed it from the library anyway. However, to this day, I’m still unsure if what I read was one of those dumbed down/revised/changed language versions for students or the real book. I was sick at the time and it was about 11 years ago, so the only way to find out for sure is to read it (or re-read it?). I’ve always been a vampire fangirl and Dracula is pretty much the original vampire story. The book is about a lawyer named Jonathan Harker who travels to Transylvania to assist Count Dracula with a London house purchase. In doing so, he makes some horrifying discoveries which set off a chain of events back in England.


The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

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How could I possibly go past trying out a classic Sherlock Holmes story? The majority of Conan Doyle’s Holmes tales were short stories but The Hound of the Baskervilles is slightly longer, and probably the most famous. In perfect Gothic novel fashion, the story is set in a creepy mansion among the dark and misty, English moors. Here, a dark curse is believed to be upon the Baskerville family involving a spectral dog, said to hunt down any members who risk wandering the grounds at night. After the death of his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville, Dr. James Mortimer calls upon Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson, to investigate and hopefully protect Charles’s heir, Henry, from a similar fate. It’s said to be a little scarier than your average Holmes story but perhaps that’s why it’s so fun.


The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Going back to those ‘classics for beginners’ type lists I mentioned above, Dorian Gray is a book which seems to feature on a lot of them. This is probably for two reasons – (a) it’s shorter than a lot of other classic novels, and (b) the writing and themes are somewhat easier to grasp. This was the only novel Wilde ever published as the rest of his works were plays. While at university, I saw a production of The Importance of Being Earnest and thought it was fantastic so if I’m going to try classics, this seems like a good choice. The novel is about a man who sells his soul for eternal youth and ends up falling into a spiral of debauchery and desire. It’s full of morally ambiguous characters (yes!) and the themes are still highly relevant today.


The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere

Yes, I know. I’m already crying at the sheer size of this gargantuan book. It’s over 1200 pages long (blame publishers who though paying authors by the word was a good idea)! But, hey, at least if I end up hating it or bored out of my brain I’ll have a fabulous, new paperweight. Still, I’ve seen & heard some amazing things about this book. It’s a tale of adventure and suffering, but above all it’s about REVENGE! And I just can’t help loving a good revenge story. After being condemned for a crime he didn’t commit, Edmond Dantes is sent to the fortress of If. Here he learns about a treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo. Dantes becomes determined to escape, find it, and use it to destroy the three men responsible for his incarceration.


Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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I’m one of those people that as soon as they see a movie they really enjoy suddenly feels a strong need to read the book it was adapted from. Sometimes I’m able to wait out the desire until it goes away but other times, not so much. As you’ve probably guessed, I saw Greta Gerwig’s Little Women back in January and guess what, I still want to read it. Yes, I know there are issues with the ending and it’s not a small book by any means, but still. A lot of the classics on this list were written by English writers so it’ll be nice to see how an American classic compares. Also, a book about four women, written by a woman back in 1868? That’s pretty darn special in and of itself.


A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings

Have you really tried to get into classics if you haven’t given something by Dickens a red hot go? Apparently not, or at least so I’ve heard. A Christmas Carol is one of those stories that’s just massively loved and re-read over and over, especially at the most wonderful time of the year. It’s only a shorter read so I feel like it’ll be a good way for me to dip my toes into Dickens without getting stuck into one of his larger novels (which seem to have mixed reviews despite still being memorable “classics”). I’m also somewhat familiar with the plot here courtesy of it showing up in things like The Muppets and The Simpsons – this is supposedly helpful if you’re someone looking at trying out classic authors/books.


Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Okay, after the unpleasant experience that was Wuthering Heights, I’m willing to give the Bronte sisters another chance. Here’s hoping Charlotte does better by me than Emily did. Jane is another one of those romantic classics that people talk about a lot. I’ll admit, one of the reasons I’m inclined to read it is the strength and independence of Jane herself which, considering when this was written, is pretty admirable. I also like the fact that the two central characters in this book aren’t your typical romantic leads. Again, this is a classic I’ve seen an adaptation of so even if I have some difficulty with the writing style, I should still be able to follow what’s going on.


What do you think of my classics reading list?

If you’re someone who really enjoys classic novels, I’d love to hear which books you’d most recommend to someone starting out with them. Or better, what is your favourite classic novel and why?