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I am someone who suffers from “Book A.D.D.” By this I mean that I can’t just read one book, finish it, and then pick up another. Instead, my bedside table is covered in book stacks of all different genres; some fiction, others non-fiction. Based on my mood, or perhaps what I had for breakfast, I’ll pick up one, read for a while, then switch to something else. As a result, even though public libraries are one of my sacred spaces, they can also be overwhelming. So many good books, so little time.

Inspired by the blog post Classics Initiative of 2012–written by a talented writer who also happens to be my dearest friend–I’ve decided to include at least one classic in my arsenal of books at all times. Fiction writers often feel the need to keep up with the latest trends so they can hopefully write “The Next Big Thing.” Yet even though there are many wonderful new books out there, I suspect many of us who fell in love with reading at any early age were hooked by a classic–a book that continues to speak generations after it was written.

This spring, my post-Downton Abbey blues were tempered by the PBS Masterpiece adaptation of Great Expectations. Since I’ve never read the book, I decided to start my Classics Initiative with Charles Dickens. As I add to my reading list, I’d to hear about your favorites. What makes for “a classic”? What were the  books that sparked your imagination and made you a lifelong reader?