32 New Things: Read The Color Purple

Confession: I am occasionally reluctant to read The Classics.
  Like most recovering English Majors, I’ve had my fair share of over-rated, over-blown classics that made me roll my eyes and grown “Who actually enjoys this stuff?”

But, I also felt rather embarrassed that last year’s 31 New Things read was Twilight.  So, um.  Let’s remedy that, shall we?

The Color Purple is set in rural Georgia, in the 1930s.  Without giving away the spoilers or depressing you with the realities of race and gender relations during that time period, the book centers on two sisters: Celie and Nettie.  They’ve been separated by circumstance (Nettie’s a missionary in Africa and Celie’s been forced to marry a man she doesn’t love and raise his children in Georgia).  The book tells the stories of their lives through the letters they write to each other.

Here are some of my favorite bits:

“I am making some pants for you to beat the heat in Africa. Soft, white, thin. Drawstring waist. You won’t ever have to feel too hot and overdress again. I plan to make them by hand. Every stich I sew will be a kiss.”

“Oh Celie, she say, stepping out the car, dress like a moving star, I missed you more than I missed my own mama.”

“I feel a little peculiar round the children. For one thing they grown. And I see they think me and Nettie and Shug and Albert and Samuel and Harpo and Sofia and Jack and Odessa real old and don’t know much what going on. But I don’t think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.””But if God love me, Celie, I don’t have to do all that.  Unless I want to.  There a lot of other things I can do that I speck God likes.

Like what? I ast.
Oh, she say.  I can lay back and just admire stuff.  Be happy.  Have a good time.
Well, this sounds like blasphemy sure nuff.
She say, Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church?  I never did.  I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show.  Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too.  They came to church to share God, not find God.”

What classics do you love? 
I love Pride and Predjudice (obviously), David Copperfield and Anna Karenina. Which classics do you think are over-rated?

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  1. Nessbow

    I haven't read the book yet, although it's on my "Books to Read" list. I have seen the film though, and I don't think that any film has made me cry as hard as that one did. I loved it though.

    I'm currently reading "Oliver Twist", after unearthing an unread copy that my grandparents bought me for my tenth birthday. I can't believe I've owned it this long without even opening it. It's great so far.

  2. Little redhead

    I had to read Heart of darkness in uni, absolutely hated it. Was quite an achievement to finish the damn thing. Not my cup of tea for sure.
    Classics I love are of course the Jane Austen books, most of the books by the Brontë sisters, Madame Bovary, Tess of teh d'Urbervilles, the grapes of wrath, Charles Dickens is usually great too, Gone with the wind..
    All great! And of course there are many more that I can't think of right now.

  3. Ellie Di

    I feel your classics-related pain. I've been an English tutor for over eight years, and I still have to turn down work because I haven't read "Moby Dick" or "Great Expectations" or anything by Jane Austen (don't judge me!). My 12th-grade experience with "Grapes of Wrath" pretty much killed any drive I had to read classics.

    That said, I did love "A Separate Peace", "A Brave New World", "Catcher in the Rye", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", and all the Sherlock Holmes stories. Hrm. I think I'm sensing a theme here…

  4. Kylie

    The recovering English major thing is so true! It took me years to want to read anything other than the most banal fiction. I'm back into it now thankfully. I love 'The Colour Purple' (Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' is also awesome). A modern classic I couldn't get into was 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' – it's been a while so I might give it another go, I really feel like I should like it… 'Great Expectations' rocked, as did 'Gulliver's Travels'. Tolstoy is next on my list of classics.

  5. LC

    Oh man. This post is so what I needed today. I'm on a quest to read Anna Karenina before the end of the month. But it's harder to find at the library than I thought!

  6. TheatreChick73

    I couldn't get through Great Expectations. I've tried several times but have never finished it. But I read The Martian Chronicles every year without fail. Love it!

  7. Suzy

    Hello! I've been reading your blog for ages and I love it! I found The Colour purple a few months ago in a charity shop and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it – I've never been big on classics (although I'm trying to read more). We did read "Of Mice and Men" at school though and I thought that was pretty brilliant 🙂

  8. Chelle Lynn

    I feel exactly the same way sometimes. I think it was Mill on the Floss that officially broke me. So, I went on a celebrity autobiography binge (for which I will be forever ashamed.) Now I've been tempering my fluffy NYTimes Bestsellers with serious literature.

    I also collect my favorite quotes from literature, movies, tv, people, etc. Some people collect art, I collect words. The book I write them in definitely makes the save-two-things-from-a-burning-building list.

  9. Danielle

    I absolutely love The Color Purple. The letters give the already well told & interesting story a different twist. It also has the bonus of being not so terribly long that you want to bludgeon yourself with it (I'm looking at you, Every Russian Novel Ever.)

    I've never been able to get through The Great Gatsby. I hear over and over that it is so amazing but for me it is just not doable.

  10. Kristie

    I'm actually working my way through the classics right now! I'm working on Sense and Sensibility and I just finished Northanger Abbey, so obviously I love Jane Austen. I also really loved The Count of Monte Cristo. The story has so much more to it than the movie portrays. It's so good and I highly recommend it.

  11. Audi

    I spent most of my 20's and 30's devouring as many classics as I could get my hands on, precisely because I was NOT an English major and felt I didn't have enough of a literary basis to fully appreciate a lot of the references in modern works.

    Some of my favorites are Lolita, A Tale of Two Cites, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and the Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope. I got halfway through Ulysses before I realized I was just torturing myself and put it down. Brilliant sure, but enjoyable? Not at all.

  12. Secret Squirrel

    I have a Thomas Hardy addiction. I read one a year and eah time, it feels like my skin is being peeled off (that sounds very odd, I mean that in a 'being woken up' sense). This year it was Tess of thr D'Ubervilles and I loved it.

  13. KiwiMichelle

    Has anyone managed to get through War & Peace? I've tried twice now……FAIL.

    I've been trying to read everything on the BBC's Book List Challenge. It's meant that I've been able to re-read some favourites (Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children) and find some new favourites (currently Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited).

  14. eemusings

    LOVE the Color Purple. One of the best books ever. Didn't really enjoy Beloved, though.

    Was a comms major, not lit, so I haven't actually read that many classics. I HATED The Scarlet Letter and thought the great Gatsby was a bit overrrated, but I did enjoy The Grapes of Wrath. Also just read the Master and Margarita – a lot of that went over my head but enjoyed it.

  15. Meghan

    I loved A Tale of Two Cities. It's my favorite book. I thought The Sun Also Rises and most things by Steinbeck are overrated.

  16. Marie

    I recently read Jane Eyre and enjoyed it though it took me a month to read! Classics certainly are harder than modern novels!

  17. Anonymous

    Ooooh, this is a fun game! Whoever above said they disliked Mill on the Floss, you made my heart hurt–I actually love that one! Others I love are of course most Jane Austen novels (Pride and Prejudice of course at the top), novels by Charlotte Bronte, and Dickens, most of the time. I agree that Margarita and the Master was a great read!

    Also agree that Wuthering Heights is overrated. Furthermore, I have a great hatred for Thomas Hardy novels. Lorna Doone was also very difficult to get through.


  18. Brett Minor

    I am halfway through Charles Dicken's GREAT EXPECTATIONS and I am bored out of my mind. I hope his other books are better. I am working my way through the 1001 books to read before you die list by Peter Boxall.

    Many good ones, but a lot of losers.


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