2020 has been a year that involves young adults, adults, kids, everyone, spending the majority of their day inside. And with more lockdowns seemingly around the corner, what better way to spend your afternoons than reading some good classics? Even if you’re not a young adult, this list is full of classics you will enjoy.

I find that I generally stay away from classics and instead focus on all the new books coming out. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, reading books from a different time period is very eye opening. Especially when you start cracking open books that are written when writers were thriving and really feeling all their creativity. Classic authors are around to this day because the books they wrote are still relevant, and worth reading. My favorite is when I see our political views being echoed back in time and get to compare how American politics have created this cycle we seem to be stuck in.

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Here is my list of the top 10 classics I suggest you read. This list is based off the classics I have read — these are the ones that I did not hate. 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders- a classic young adult novel
One of many cover variations for this young adult book

The outsiders is a modern classic that depicts the life of a teenage boy. This boy, called Ponyboy, is trying to decide what right or wrong is; in a society which views him as an outsider. Did you know, the author was only 17 when this got published?

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To kill a mockingBird
The same as the one I read for school.

This book looks at racism in southern U.S and how trying to defend someone who is of another color during this time impacts more than you think. While this book covers a hefty topic, its an amazing read that dives into issues that still are effecting our world – without going so deep you loose the story and the point.

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1984 by George Orwell

This book is too close to our daily lives.

This book was written many years ago, and yet it still highlights surveillance issues we are still fighting today. (Check out Snowden if you really want to know.) During this time if the author saw how much our government is watching us today, I wonder how much the story really would change.

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger

The Catcher and the Rye
Themes of angst and alienation

Angry at the world for being expelled, Holden Caulfield sets off to go back home to New York. Not telling anyone he is there, we get to glimpse into his life and see what caused him to set out on a quest to get the ‘phonies’ of the world. Any young adult who has been in highschool can somewhat relate to him and having a really bad day.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
Written in 1925

Set in the roaring 20s, we follow a man who falls in love, but is not rich enough to win the girl. He then becomes a part of the bootleg business during prohibition, and we watch how that affects his life, his love and the life of those around him. (The movie based off this book is pretty good as well! And the movie’s sound track is still my favorite.)

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 

Fahrenheit 451
A dystopian novel

This book is basically a summary of any book lover’s nightmares. This takes place in a world where books are banned and ‘firemen’ have the authority to burn any and all books. In this dystopian novel, we see how books really shape young adults and help you to understand the world around you, and how that is dangerous. For our young adults, this book can show you the importance of reading and how books are important — even if they are not your favorite.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver
Utopia vs Dystopia. Which one do you live in?

Utopia vs dystopia. How the world is portrayed as one way when in reality your world is a lot harsher than the government wants you to believe. This book has been on the ‘banned book list‘ for young adults – I will leave it up to you to decide why.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I know why the Caged Bird Sings
Coming of age story.

This book follows the life of the famous poet Maya Angelou. It highlights that her love of literature and being a strong , independent woman, helps her overcome themes of racism and trauma in her life.

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinback

Of Mice and Men
Published in 1937

This book is set in time during the great depression in the United States. This was a time of great struggles, and to survive you needed to constantly move around following migrant jobs. In this story we follow two brothers who set out on their life path, just trying to make end meet for the both of them. Even if one needs more help than the other…

The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea
Short Novel

This story has a theme that I think is important for young adults to understand and see. Your success is for you and you alone. You get to decide what makes you successful and you get to decide what are your victories in life.

Hopefully you find this list helpful in picking up a classic that is not as lengthy as Les Míserables, but still fills your day with adventure and purpose.

Even if you decide not to read these, just jump on google and read the summaries for each. All these books are rooted in every book lover’s heart and can help you to understand what your favorite novels were inspired by.

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