Top Ten Literary Couples

In honor of the day before Singles Awareness Day Valentine’s Day, here’s my favorite romantic relationships from literature (in no particular order):

Tatyana and Eugene from Eugene Onegin

Tatyana is a bookish country girl who writes a love letter to Eugene, a worldly and cynical city boy.  Everything falls apart from there…  The complex story and character building make it my very favorite romantic novel, and I absolutely love the Met Opera’s 2014 production (due soon for a rewatch).

Arthur and Amy from Little Dorrit
Little Dorrit is like a Cinderella story where the prince is also in trouble.  In the 2008 miniseries, Matthew Macfadyen and Claire Foy brought these two characters to life, and I still can’t watch this without major feels for them. 

Percy and Marguerite from The Scarlet Pimpernel
Breakups and adulteries tend to take center stage in literature, so I especially love a good story about a saved marriage.  A bit of swashbuckling doesn’t hurt, either.

Natasha and Myshkin from The Idiot
In the eyes of elite society, Natasha is “damaged goods” because of sexual abuse she suffered as a child.  Myshkin understands her and vows to always love and respect her.  It’s my favorite proposal scene of all time.

Nastenka and the Narrator from White Nights
The ultimate story of unrequited love between two strangers.  It’s the stuff of Hollywood…but somehow, Dostoyevsky makes it work.

May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn’t such a moment sufficient for the whole of one’s life? 

Mina and Jonathan from Dracula
Two intelligent characters who stay true to each other through the worst of experiences.  Literature needs more couples like them!

Phileas and Aouda from Around the World in Eighty Days
Verne isn’t known for romance, but I always liked these two.

Well, friends, not being too romantic myself, I did my best and could only come up with seven.  Any favorites from this list (or ones I missed)?

Top Ten Classic Friendships

Haven’t participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a while, but I’m excited for this week’s topic: top ten platonic relationships from books.  Families, friends, and mentors – classic literature is chock-full of great examples!

  1. Davey Balfour and Alan Breck Stewart from Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) – I have to reread this book every so often.  I just love the complex dynamic between two friends who have such different backgrounds, views, and goals.
  2. Gandalf and Pippin from The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien) – Another duo who don’t get along too well at the beginning – Gandalf, the no-nonsense wizard, and Pippin, who is just a bit clueless.  Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, they’re on each other’s side and find common understanding.
  3. Mudpuddle, Jill, and Eustace from The Silver Chair (C. S. Lewis) – Probably my favorite group of characters from the whole Narnia series!  I admir how they’re all three loyal to each other and their quest.  Maybe less realistic than some of the other Narnia portrayals (e.g. Digory and Polly, whom I also love), but still great.
  4. Dorothy and Scarecrow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum) – Childhood favorite.
  5. Holmes and Watson from the Sherlock Holmes series (A. C. Doyle) – One of the most unlikely friendships in literature, and also long-lasting!
  6. Onegin and Lensky from Eugene Onegin (Alexander Pushkin) There’s a lot you can learn from the rise and fall of this friendship.  Even so, I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand what happened.
  7. Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) – Enough said.  🙂 
  8. Orual and Psyche from Till We Have Faces (C. S. Lewis) – Another great portrayal of sisters. 
  9. Jim Hawkins and Dr. Livesey from Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson) – More of a father-son relationship, this friendship is tested by events and other characters in a really interesting way.
  10. Pip and Joe from Great Expectations (Charles Dickens) – In some ways this is a father-son relationship “gone wrong,” but at the same time, it’s incredibly compelling and realistic.  Quite a tearjerker.

Well, that’s my ten.  Who did I miss?!

Ten TBR Classics by My Favorite Authors

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday challenges us to come up with to-be-read books by our favorite authors…

1. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
Yes, I probably sound like a broken record, but I still haven’t read this one.

2. Joseph Conrad: Nostromo

3. Franz Kafka: Diaries
Diaries…that’s a little awkward. 

4. Jules Verne: From the Earth to the Moon

5. Agatha Christie: The rest of the Poirot series
It’s been over a decade since I read it, so I might just start over.

6. Charlotte Bronte: The Professor and Emma

7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Firm of Girdlestone
This is getting obscure, but Doyle’s lesser-known works rarely disappoint.

8. J. R. R. Tolkien: The Fall of Gondolin

9. Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment

10. Soren Kierkegaard: The Concept of Anxiety

My biggest takeaway from this list is that, barring Dostoyevsky and Kierkegaard, I’ve scarcely discovered any new favorite authors in the past 6–8 years.  Pretty sad. 

Ten Books for Spring – Classics and Beyond

It’s only taken me several days, but I think I’ve come up with a good list for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday:

1. The Kill, by Émile Zola
Making an exception in my “no more reading challenges” resolution – I plan to read The Kill for Fanda’s Zoladdiction event next month.  It’s one of Zola‘s shorter novels and, from what I hear, an interesting one!
2. Ben-Hur, by Lew Wallace (re-read)
I just started Book 2, so I have a ways to go yet.  🙂
3. North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society, by Jieun Baek
How do people share information that’s illegal, and what information would a person risk their life to access?  This topic appeals to me for both historical and universal reasons.

4. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, by Bandi
“Bandi” is an author in North Korea, whose short stories from the 80s and 90s were smuggled out and published recently.  Saw this while browsing my library’s ebooks and thought it would be interesting.
5.  Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay
Found out about this through O’s review… has it been nearly a year ago?!  I like a good psychological mystery.

6.  The Castle, by Franz Kafka
Spring takes me back to college days, when I was stereotypically discovering Kafka instead of reading my textbooks.  The Castle is, I believe, the last work of fiction I haven’t read by him.
7. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (re-read)
Though I read this book two or three times, many years ago, I never properly understood or reviewed it.  Perhaps it will propel me to finish the Brontë sisters’ novels as well (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Professor are still TBR).

8. The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H. G. Wells (re-read)
I was recently reminded how relevant this little sci-fi/horror classic is.  Need to read it again and review it in full.

9. George: A Novel of T. E. Lawrence, by E.B. Lomax
What if Lawrence’s accident wasn’t fatal?  From what I’ve seen, this is the best-rated historical fiction novel written about Ned, and the concept intrigues me.

10. (wildcard)
Lately I’ve stumbled across a variety of books that I want to read soon, some of them quite random.  Hopefully I’ll get to at least one of them this spring!

Top Ten Classics Still TBR

This Top Ten Tuesday theme is about books that have been on the TBR list the longest.  It’s been a busy week, but the topic appealed to me so much I didn’t want to miss out, even if late. Here’s what I have, according to Goodreads:

Alexander Hamilton portrait by John Trumbull 1806

1. The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
At one point in high school, I had started this and even intended to write thoughts on each section.  I think I will read it someday, but now I’d like to start with Democracy in America or Common Sense (which are as equally embarrassing to have not read).

2. The Mark of Zorro, by Johnston McCulley
One of my favorite film scenes is the duel between Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power.  I’m sure this is a book I’ll enjoy, but somehow I keep forgetting to read it. 

3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
With Charlotte’s The Professor, this will be the last Brontë novel for me to read.  I’ve been remembering it lately, so hopefully in the next year or two it will get read! 

4. Hornblower and the Hotspur, by C. S. Forester
Third chronological book in the series.  I love the Hornblower TV series, but the first two books seemed boring by comparison.  (I really want to find a great Royal Navy book series at some point.)

5. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
From what I’ve heard, this one warrants a serious investment of time and concentration.  Someday… 

6. Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott
Social commentary in the form of math humor?  This sounds fun, but again, I sense it may take more brain work than I can spare at present. 

7. The Aeneid, by Virgil
I started this one once. 

8. Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad
I started this one several times.  Conrad is a bit hit-and-miss for me.  From the subject matter – turmoil in a fictitious South American country – it sounds exactly like a book I will like after I’ve read it.  It’s just terribly hard to get into. 

9. Almayer’s Folly, by Joseph Conrad
Been on my list since college.  As with The Mark of Zorro, I have high hopes for this one, and might need to move it to a different list as a reminder. 

10. Scaramouche, by Rafael Sabatini
Years ago, I followed a blogger who had the opening line at the top of their blog: “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”  I was intrigued.  I love a good swashbuckler so this is staying on the list.

This is a drop in the ocean of my entire TBR list… I wish I had the discipline to stop adding things to it.  At my current reading rate, I won’t have the lifespan to read everything there.  It’s weird knowing that some of these will never get read, but such is life.  🙂