Let’s face it: language changes. Language evolves. Heck, every single year the biggest dictionaries in the world add new words and modern day lingo after a series of serious vetting processes. So it’s no wonder that I, a child raised in the 90’s, would have a hard time digesting literature written in the Victorian era.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried reading Tolkein’s The Hobbit, or even Jane Austin (shock, I know), but I’ve begun to wonder if I’m missing out. There’s a reason why so many reviewers and publishers use these classic authors to comp modern novels. But I can never seem to see what they do because I’ve never read them.
So here’s my reading challenge for myself: I want to read ten Victorian era novelists in 2023. You’d think I’d have done this by now, considering my love for historical fiction. Well, it’s time to catch up with everyone else. Here are ten Victorian era authors I’d like to read this year.
William Thackeray (1811-1863). I don’t know why, but I feel like I’ve heard this name before. Wikipedia tells me he was a “writing rival” of Dickens, but then again, wasn’t everyone? Apparently he wrote Vanity Fair, and I HAVE heard of that. Never knew before today that it was written in the mid 1800s! He’s also penned The Irish Sketchbook, The Luck of Barry Lyndon and The Virginians. I think I’d like to go off the beaten path and attempt The Christmas Books of Mr. M.A. Titmarsh, because the title itself is friggen hilarious on its own!
Charles Dickens (1812-1870). I’ve seen A Christmas Carol dozens of times since childhood, as my uncle performs it with a local theatre group every year. Many family members also love Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and A Tale of Two Cities. I think I’d like to try something of his that I’ve never heard before: The Old Curiosity Shop.
Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855). Okay. I know there’s a possibility I’m going to get throttled for this one, but I have never had an inclination to ever read Jane Eyre. Trust me, I understand the importance of this particular work, but it just never appealed to me as a 20 year old who loved Star Trek more than any other genre (at the time). So I think it’s time I finally give Jane Eyre a try.
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). Now I’ve heard of Thomas Hardy but am unfamiliar with his work. It’s funny how it can be the opposite at times: you know a person’s work but not their name. Born a good thirty years after Dickens and Thackery, Hardy would’ve been very familiar with their stories as a child. Of his works, I think the title I find most intriguing is Two on a Tower, a romance.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). Ah yes. The originator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It’s his Sherlock Holmes work that was features on several episodes over several seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation. And that, my friends, is how I first heard of this author as a child watch 90s tv. Have I ever read anything by Sir Doyle? Nope. Have I seen his references absolutely everywhere? Yep. So I think I’d like to start with the novel that began it all: A Study in Scarlet.
HG Wells (1866-1946). Born near the end of the famed Victorian era, Wells’ life spans several eras: the Victorians (ending 1901), the Edwardian era (1901-1910), and saw the beginning of the so called “Modern Era.” These shifts are represented in Wells’ works. According to Wikipedia: “A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web. He penned The Magic Shop, The Door in the Wall, The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, just to name a few. Without knowing anything about it, I think I’d like to give his The Magic Shop a read.
Whew! That’s a lot of new (old) books! I was able to buy each title I mentioned in today’s list for a very reasonable price apiece, so who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to read all these titles by the end of this month! Okay, maybe by the end of February. I don’t like setting unrealistic goals for myself. So from Charlotte Bronte to HG Wells, those are the six Victorian era authors I’d like to read this year. Happy reading!