As part of Penguin’s ongoing 75th anniversary celebrations, Penguin Classics named 10 Essential Classics that every well read person should experience. If someone was to only read ten classics in his or her lifetime, Penguin recommends these: Inferno, Walden, Oedipus Rex, Metamorphosis, Moby Dick, Hamlet, The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Of Mice and Men. There is a video for each selection, complete with an example of what happens on a first date to the man who hasn’t read one of the ten essentials. How many have you read? I bought six, I’ve read five, and could probably participate in a conversation about the other five. In the right situation, I would read them. If I were to tackle Inferno or The Odyssey, I’d like to join a group or class, I think I would get more out it.
Many are unhappy with Penguin’s selections. Where’s Tolstoy? Dostoevsky? Dickens? Joyce? Franzen? (Okay, I put that in there for humor, he’s not dead enough.) Penguin is giving all us the chance to choose our own ten essentials. This isn’t a mad free-for-all though, Penguin provides a list of 100 books (some of which wouldn’t make my top 100 classics, but they didn’t ask me) and everyone gets to choose ten. No worries, you’ll find enough terrific classics. Plus, there’s a prize, three people get a tote bag and three Penguin Classic Deluxe Editions. So, what’s to lose? Head over and vote for your favorites before November 1st.