Dec 12, 2018

11 Classic Books Worth Reading

Classic books are classic for a reason: they’re something everyone should read at least once. Unfortunately, classic novels get a bad rap. When we read them in school, they’re dry and dull. And trying to work your way through a complex literary work on your own in between life’s responsibilities feels like a far too difficult task. Countless people have tried to tackle literary classics only to give up on them.

Yet classic literature doesn’t have to be as challenging – or as boring – as it appears! You just need to settle in with the right classic book, one that’s interesting, relevant, and engaging for readers of all kinds. From adventure to fantasy, moments in history to modern storyline, the best classics have something for everyone. Check out this collection of classic books that you’re sure to enjoy spending time reading.

  • Vampires may be a huge pop culture phenomenon now, but they certainly weren’t in the late 1800s when Bram Stoker created the world’s most popular vampire tale. Dracula wasn’t the first vampire story, but it’s now the best-known – and it’s a classic that explains all of the vampire lore and “facts” we know so well today. This classic novel describes how Dracula cast a spell of death and terror over London, and how a team banded together to kill him.

  • A true American classic, Harper Lee’s famous novel about a young girl growing up in the South during the Depression is both heartwarming and apt nearly a century after its publication. This book perfectly captured life in the South with a cast of characters now beloved to readers everywhere. Scout’s lessons become the reader’s lessons as we learn from Atticus Finch about morality. To Kill a Mockingbird explores themes still relevant in today’s world, from race to isolation to the danger of rumors and stereotypes.

  • A portrait of Chicago, its immigrant community, and its money-making meatpacking industry, The Jungle was written to disturb and upset an entire nation. Considered one of the most vivid and gruesome depictions of the meatpacking industry at the turn of the 20th century, Upton Sinclair’s novel still shocks readers over a century after its initial publication. Filled with descriptions of the poverty in which immigrants lived, the horrifying work conditions in meatpacking businesses, and the suffering caused by economic misfortune, The Jungle is one of the most eye-opening classic books you can find.

  • Idyllic beaches, freedom from adults, and the chance to build a new world from everything they lost: Lord of the Flies is a classic adventure story. A great classic for adults and children alike, Golding’s tale of a kid-run civilization with no rules is filled with adventure, excitement, and shocking twists and turns. A short novel, this classic is a quick read for those looking to avoid a difficult, lengthy tale from centuries past. Lord of the Flies is still relevant, too, carrying lessons about anarchy, cruelty, and what happens when a society loses its morality.

  • There’s perhaps no literary classic as alluring as The Great Gatsby. Its pages are filled with the glitter, wealth, and extravagance of the 1920s before the Great Depression, and F. Scott Fitzgerald invites readers into a world we all wish we could experience. However, among the splashy, over-the-top parties thrown by the ever-inviting Jay Gatsby and the wealth of Tom and Daisy hides another story about relationships, lost love, and desire. This classic also warns readers about the darker side of America’s wealthy.

  • Night is a more recent classic, published in the mid-1950s, but its impact is powerful. A classic book that’s important to the legacy of those persecuted during the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel offers a unique insight into the terrifying life Jewish people lived in Germany at the height of Hitler’s power. Wiesel writes his first-hand account of the horrors of life in a ghetto and at multiple concentration camps, painting a vivid and emotional picture for modern readers of what life was like for both children and adults trying to survive in midst of horrific circumstances.

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is terrifying and heartbreaking, funny and deeply emotional. Though it’s a famous film, many people haven’t read the original novel. Featuring a cast of characters who are almost caricatures thanks to Ken Kesey’s narrator, Chief Bromden, the frightening and despicable Nurse Ratched, and the laughable Randle McMurphy, this classic novel is entirely different from other storied classics. It’s a story that gives insight into the terrible conditions and treatment of those in mental institutions, and readers have long loved the story’s mix of humor, humanity, and hope.

  • One of literature’s most famous monsters, Frankenstein’s monster is known for so much more that happened beyond his origin story: films, comic books, and even additional short stories and novels. However, the original book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is worth a read for anyone who enjoys a little horror, a bit of science, and understanding the monster’s perspective. This classic book holds quite a few surprises for those who think they know Frankenstein the scientist or his famed monster.

  • A dystopian nightmare for anyone who enjoys books or reading, Ray Bradbury’s famed science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 is a must-read classic. Set in a distant future in which books – and reading – are banned and even destroyed to prevent the spread of knowledge, Bradbury shows us what a future with only technology would be like. Filled with danger and interesting technological creations for its time, this book reiterates the importance of books in even those who aren’t big fans of literature and offers an important warning for progress and the future.

  • Part terrifying fiction, part cultural warning, 1984 gave haunting predictions of what the world could become after World War II. With a world built by Orwell to include its own language, a terrifyingly real monster in Big Brother, and lessons on the power of propaganda, this classic leaves readers trying to determine truth just like its characters. Though the book’s warnings of dystopia didn’t come true by 1984, totalitarianism is still a real problem for millions around the world – and Orwell’s most famous novel still serves as a grave warning for readers.

  • An important classic book written from a woman’s perspective during a time when so few women were writing, Charlotte Bronte’s first and last novel Jane Eyre is worth reading for its unique lens and its surprising take on colonialism. Jane Eyre’s story tells of an orphan with big dreams, fiery independence, and a strong will that only intensifies as she grows older – and when she finally gets a chance at happiness and good fortune, she discovers a shocking secret that derails her romance and sharply criticizes Victorian society.

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