In this series, I recommend five classics each month that remind me of that particular time of the year. For March I’ve decided to focus on a theme of change. Not only is the weather changing this time of year where I live, allowing our frozen bones to thaw, but unfortunate circumstances around the world are changing rapidly as we speak. Here are five classic novels that remind us of the unsettling, often scary, sometimes thrilling, always inevitable idea of change.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
This is one of my favorite Virginia Woolf novels. It pops into my mind at random times even though I last read it (and reread it) a few years ago. Whenever I read about Lily Briscoe and the Ramsay family and the lighthouse waiting in the distance I’m filled with a sense of uncertainty mixed with calm–a combination that only a masterful writer like Woolf can achieve. Here, Woolf demonstrates that even when things appear the same on the surface, so much can change inside.
“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
This novel from Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe shows how others’ perceptions of us can change how we view ourselves and live our lives. In an Ibo village in Nigeria, Okonkwo experiences changes of all kinds, including family and community dynamics, traditions, and intruders coming in. His story will make you reconsider the past, present, and future of how we interact with others.
“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Little orphaned Pip experiences incredible changes in this classic work of British literature. From economic circumstances and new perspectives on morality, love, friendship, and fate, Great Expectations encompasses numerous kinds of change for both better and worse.
“Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
As per usual, I find myself wanting to include a Faulkner novel in these lists. As I Lay Dying incorporates the idea of change on so many levels: death, family, identity as a woman, idea of motherhood, memories of the past, language itself. This is one of my favorite Faulkner novels!
“That was when I learned that words are no good; that words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at. When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride, who never had the pride.”
My Antonia by Willa Cather
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I have for years, ever since I was assigned to read it in one of my English classes during my freshman year of college. No matter how many changes the protagonists endures, he ultimately realizes that he will always have his vision of the past.
“Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this classics guide for the month of March! Also hope that you are all safe and healthy during this tumultuous time ❤
With books do you associate with the month of March? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Which books would you add? Let me know in the comments section below!