Welcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.
This Wednesday’s theme is books which are Gateway Books To My Favourite Genre. Now, whenever I do these type of lists, I always seem to end up writing about Fantasy, specifically YA Fantasy so, for the sake of some variety (as I hear it is allegedly the spice of life), I have decided to talk about another of my favourite genres: Classics.
To be quite honest, the entire concept of having a genre as wide-reaching and wide-ranging as, simply, Classics baffles me. Especially since Classics are basically just books we (/someone) decided were important (for whatever reason) and so they remained in the culture and in the book world for years. Basically Someone Deems It Quality + Time Passed Since Publication = Classic. There are contemporary books today that could well become classics in the future, that’s just how it works.
All of this rambling is my way of saying that because the genre is so large and woolly, I understand when people feel they ought to read more classics yet don’t really know which ones to reach for. Maybe they had a bad experience of being forced to read a “classic” at school and so are put off the entire genre? Maybe they think they’re too difficult to read? Maybe they think they take too much time/effort to read, so they’d rather reach for something else. These are all entirely understandable reasons.
But I also know many people who say “oh I wish I read more classics” and then feel at loss as to how to start on that mission. I could go about basically saying “read some Dickens” or “read some Austen” or “read the Brontes” or even “read some Hardy” (if I really hated you)… instead of that I’ve decided to recommend some classics that specifically fall into the Classic Gothic fiction genre. Generally speaking, the Gothic genre is considered to have began in England in the latter half of the 18th century, growing in popularity into the 19th century, and continuing to this very day in fact. Common Gothic tropes include gloomy, decaying settings (i.e. a big scary castle), supernatural beings (an odd ghost or vampire or two), curses (gotta love a cursed mirror), some kind of transgression (oo sexy) etc. etc.
The reason I wish to recommend this genre in particular is that it’s about as far away as possible from the realist novels of the long nineteenth century which are usually taught as classics. Because of this, it would be easy to assume that this is what all classics are like but I assure you that’s not the case! And maybe you might end up finding something that tickles your fancy!
Now I’ve given an introduction that will probably be longer than the post itself… let’s get into the actual books: