There’s never been a better time to reread a favorite classic—or start the one that’s been sitting on your nightstand forever! Here are some favorites from the Agate team.
Jacqueline Jarik, Publicity Manager
My favorite “classic” is probably The Bell Jar—I reread it every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is a tradition i started in high school. It’s a beautifully written book and I discover something new about it every year.
I have a beat up paperback i’ve been reading for the past 12 years, and I also have a first edition hardcover that my godmother found and gave me as a college graduation gift.
Jane Seibold, Production Editor
I’ve been continuing my journey (re: slog) through War and Peace by Tolstoy during quarantine. I can’t say I’m riveted, but the process has been made much more enjoyable by the “Tolstoy Together” project, held by Yiyun Li and A Public Space. They have invited participants to read 15 pages of the novel a day, and discuss the section on their social media. As Li says, “I have found that the more uncertain life is, the more solidity and structure Tolstoy’s novels provide. In these times, one does want to read an author who is so deeply moved by the world that he could appear unmoved in his writing.” Check it out here!
Looking for the appropriate cocktail to swill in one hand while you read War and Peace with the other? Vodka Distilled has everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Russia’s unofficial national drink.
Rachel Hinton, Associate Director of Content Development
I have been rereading Mann’s The Magic Mountain. It weirdly works for me to be reading a book about a sanatorium.
If you love a good Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age tale, try Burn The Place, the true story of chef Iliana Regan’s journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth.
Diana Slickman, Director of Operations
I would recommend Wilkie Collins’ The Woman In White. It’s a real Victorian potboiler with a strong, resourceful female protagonist and the obligatory, if charming, male hero. Great characters, lots of intrigue and action. Like Collins’s better-known The Moonstone, the narrative is passed from one character to another, each as engaging as the next. Good stuff.
I’ve also been reading Les Miserables on my phone for about a year. But I’m having a hard time getting through it (obviously) and it doesn’t help that I’ve been slogging away at it so long and the little marker beside the page tells me I’m only on page 1,245 of 3,762.
Marielle Issa, Publishing Intern
My favorite classic is Jane Eyre, which I plan to reread after finishing my current book, and the National Theatre’s acclaimed adaptation is free to stream for a few more days at this link!
For theater buffs, we recommend Ensemble, Mark Larson’s in-depth, first-of-its-kind history of Chicago’s internationally celebrated theater scene.
Doug Seibold, President and Publisher
I don’t think it’s anywhere near “classic” status as yet, but I just emerged from 1800 pages of Cromwell trilogy, and something about that deep immersion in pre-Enlightenment Europe drew me back to The Song of Roland, which I think I first encountered in a kids’ illustrated version when I was 9 or 10, and which I acquired as a Penguin Classic more than 35 years ago during a great purge, i.e., super-discounted sale, of older versions of that line at the bookstore where I then worked, to make room for a new line of updated and refreshed Penguin Classics. I got something like three dozen of the old black-jacketed editions for the price of a quarter each—about my budget at the time as a broke recent grad. I try to read one a year but haven’t truly kept up, as I still have at least 10 that I’ve never gotten to over the decades. Fun fact for lovers of classic British mysteries—my edition was translated by none other than Dorothy Sayers, who created the Lord Peter Wimsey series between the wars.
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