One of my reading goals for this year was to read a minimum of six classic novels. We’re a little over halfway through the year, and, so far, I have read four. Which definitely isn’t bad. But one thing I also want to work on is reading more diverse literature and books by authors of color. So, I thought it would be interesting to combine the two and seek out classic novels by authors of color.
So far this year, the four classics I have read are The Odyssey by Homer, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – I have decided the last three count as modern classics (and they should be). Seriously, if the Kundera book is listed as a classic on Goodreads and was published after Kindred, and just a few years before Norwegian Wood, they all count.
Which means I have read one translated classic and two by authors of color. Not too bad out of four! But, if I can read two more classics by authors of color, that puts me at over fifty percent, which is amazing! Especially considering most books we consider “classics” were written by white people. I’m not saying those books are bad (there are some pretty amazing ones), but the literary world is pretty biased. And I want to work on featuring more under-represented books and authors on this blog.
Anyway…. Today I thought I’d share the classic novels I am planning on reading during the rest of this year.
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
I absolutely love Rebecca and need to fix the fact that I have not yet read a single one of du Maurier’s other books. I own a few of them, so I picked this one out of the stack. (Sadly, My Cousin Rachel does not come in the matching editions that I love so much, otherwise I probably would have chosen that one.) Frenchman’s Creek a dark romance involving a runaway lady of the British court and a pirate, and I am here for it! I really don’t read very much historical romance – I can’t handle those covers – but I will read one written by du Maurier. (The fact that the cover isn’t cringe-worthy definitely helps.)
This just sounds intriguing and dark, and I think it will make the perfect fall read this year. I’m always in the mood for darker books when the weather turns cool. This was already on my reading list for 2020. It’s also fairly short (and I have the audiobook), so I think it’s a good pick to even out the longer book that is next on this list.
Since this is yet another classic by a white author, I do want to make sure the other two books on my reading list are classics by authors of color. Starting with…
I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
The second I read the synopsis of this book, I added it to my TBR. It is told from the point of view of a cat, satirizing the frivolousness of upper-middle-class Japanese society in the early 20th century. Basically, it’s a five-hundred-page book about a kitten who things humans are foolish. Don’t tell me that doesn’t sound awesome. It’s considered a Japanese classic, and I think that might be really fun to read.
Really, though, this sounds right up my alley. A satire with a cat main character? I cannot wait. I’m really curious how it goes because this book is so long, but I’m hoping it’s worth it. Though, I will tell you know, I might have to DNF this if there is any sort of animal abuse or the cat gets hurt. I genuinely cannot handle animals in pain. But I do want to at least try to read this one. Because it sounds like a classic that is actually a fun read. Which I will definitely need to balance out this next book…
Twelve Years a Slave by Simon Northup
I think because I have only ever seen the movie cover of this book, in my head it was more modern historical fiction. Which would still be fine and probably a great book. But if I had paid more attention, I would have realized earlier that this is not only a classic, it is also a memoir. So this is a perfect way to hit a lot of my reading goals: diverse book, author of color, classic, and nonfiction. Any way I can multi-task just makes me really happy.
I will say, I have not seen the movie (yet). I have heard amazing things, it just seems like it might not really be that easy to watch. And I generally watch movies and TV mostly for pure entertainment. I prefer reading the darker stories. Not all the time, but most of the time. When I sit down to watch a movie, it’s usually because I’m too exhausted or distracted to read, so I tend to go more for rom coms and action movies. I don’t know why I just spent an entire paragraph justifying that like anyone cares. Moving on…
I think this is going to be a very educational and impactful book. I might end up going with the audiobook for this one – if any of you have read (or listened to) it, let me know what format you think might be best in this case. Audiobooks tend to make me slow down and pay more attention, so I might have to take that route.
That’s it for the classics on my TBR for the rest of this year! Yes, I know my math is off and this will technically be seven instead of six (which is my goal). But since when have I ever not tried to be an overachiever when it comes to reading? Also, I’m really not mad about adding more diverse classics to my reading.
That said, I would definitely love to read more in the future, so let me know in the comments: What is your favorite diverse classic or classic by an author of color?