From a young age, I learned not to discriminate books, not to judge them by their cover, and to give them at least a fair chance before forming an opinion. That is why with books, as well as with movies, I always begin on page one and very, VERY rarely leave it unfinished. Somehow, no matter how bad it is, I have to see how it ends. This has led me to, like many people before and after me, read almost anything. Starting with the Phone Book, following up with dictionaries and encyclopedias, I have read some interesting stuff. Some have been good, others, not so good; a few have been bad and some others have been, plain and simply, terrible.
However, there are books that just stay with you, that somehow define who you are, how you think, what you read, and what standard you use to grade other books. These are my classics.
1. Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), by Gabriel García Márquez.The best novel I have ever read. Incredibly well written plot, characters, ambiance, dialogues. This novel is almost a true story of Hispanic countries, and it also has a little prophetic streak in it. It's beautiful, terrible, crude, inventive, complicated, magical. I wish I knew how to better express myself, but suffice it to say that it won a Nobel Prize and it was well deserved. Loved it! I, however, read it in Spanish, my native language, so I can't vouch for the translation.
2. Persuasion, by Jane Austen. This is a beautiful, sweet, tender, extremely well written novel. I loved Pride and Prejudice, but Persuasion is on a whole other level. Every character is well developed, every feeling so wonderfully expressed... It is the first time I have encountered a male lead so deeply moving. The letter he wrote to Anne near the end... it let me speechless. And the following conversation with her... I'm speechless again. Just beautiful. Anne is a very sweet character, her family is laughable, and you get a sense of who everybody is, what moves them. Remarkable, lovely, excellent.
3. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. I was 13 years old when I read this novel, and it changed me, it moved me. I loved it, cried over it, and made it my favorite. I was so engrossed in it, that every time I took a break from reading it, for me it was like pausing a movie. Maybe now, 24 years later my opinion would be different, but any book that can stir the emotions this one did at my 13 year old self deserves a classic treatment from me.
4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I devoured this novel. It was funny, tender, a great romance. Again, Jane Austen was a master at developing characters, their quirks, their expressions, what moves them. I loved how Lizzie spoke her mind, how vulnerable her eldest sister was, how ridiculous her mother was. But most of all, I loved how clueless, rude and ultimately charming Mr. Darcy was. This is a wonderful novel.
5. Grace Unknown, by R.C. Sproul. Not a novel. This is the theology of grace explained in layman terms. R.C. Sproul is a great theologian and what makes him great is the way he can take the most confusing and difficult doctrines and explain them in such a way that you wonder how you did not understand it before. Also, two other classics of mine that complement Grace Unknown beautifully are Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith, by R.C. Sproul, and Doctrinas Claves, by Edwin Palmer (I think the title in English is Five Points of Calvinism, but I read it in Spanish). I highly recommend these titles to anyone looking to better understand or learn about the reformed faith.
So these are a few of my classics, the ones I like most, anyway. Nothing better than loosing yourself in a good book.