One of my favorite times to curl up with a good book is during the holidays. With the cold weather outside, there is nothing better than having a cup of hot cocoa, a warm blanket, and a great read. Every year in December, my taste in what I want to read ranges from the classics to historical fiction to autobiography. However, the holidays are a time for nostalgia, and I always find myself reaching for a classic novel. For this month’s “Writers Who Read,” here are my fellow writers and my top classic book picks.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The story of Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, and the deep South is a tale many people know and love, including writer Denise Heidel. “I love history, and for some reason, I love an unrequited love story,” stated Heidel. First published in 1936, Gone with the Wind is set in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. Some historians and writers describe the novel as a coming of age story for the main character, Scarlett O’Hara. Mitchell depicts the struggles O’Hara encounters as she faces the war, poverty, and love. According to Heidel, “Scarlett is the epitome of one who purposefully throws away happiness with both hands out of sheer stubbornness and pride.” Gone with the Wind was the only book Mitchell wrote during her life and has a theme of survival. In 1937, the novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and two years later, was made into a film. “Margaret Mitchell summed up Gone with the Wind in one word: gumption,” Heidel concluded.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In 1925, author F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby, a book that would become a classic for many decades. The novel gives readers insight into characters living in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on Long Island, New York. Set during the Roaring Twenties, the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway, tells the story of a mysterious, young millionaire named Jay Gatsby. Carraway rents a house in West Egg, next door to Gatsby’s mansion. Gatsby is known for his flamboyant parties and love for Carraway’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan. Through many twists and turns, Fitzgerald creates a tale about the American Dream, resistance to change, and idealism. The Great Gatsby is a favorite classic of mine. I have read it multiple times and plan on reading it a dozen times more. And let’s not forget the timeless quotes Fitzgerald wrote, including one about the change of seasons from summer to fall: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Last year, I started a new tradition: reading A Christmas Carol every Christmas. The story’s plot is about Ebenezer Scrooge, a stingy and not-so-nice businessman who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve. Also during the night, the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take Scrooge on the journey of his life, which includes his interactions with others, including Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit. Taking the spirits’ lessons to heart, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder man. Dickens wrote this classic novel in 1843, a time when British citizens were rethinking Christmas traditions and starting newer ones, such as putting up Christmas trees. A Christmas Carol contains experiences from Dickens’ life and the mid-Victorian rebirth of Christmas. In addition, it has influenced modern Christmas traditions, such as family gatherings, dancing, games, and a season of giving. Fun fact: A Christmas Carol was published on December 19th, 1843 and the first edition was sold out by Christmas Eve.
Over the years, many books have become classics. Everyone has their beloved reads that no matter how many times you’ve read them, it is like beginning the story for the first time.