There are so many classics out there, and it can sometimes be overwhelming to just to choose one to begin with. Classic books are sometimes thought to be lengthy, stuffy, and boring. However, these classics are classics for a reason. They are books that tackle issues with society and epic journeys through time.
Some of the most highly regarded classic books have also been banned in different countries at different times throughout history. They spark debate to this day-no easy feat for a piece of literature surrounded by a multitude of other published stories.
If you’re looking to begin your foray into the world of reading classic books, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 classic books to help you start on your adventure. These books are all relatively short, fast paced and captivating. These classic books are chock full of adventure and intrigue-hopefully they’ll open the door for you to get started on your classic reading list.
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5. Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – A Jazz Age Classic
Set in the roaring 20’s when jazz is life and booze is bootlegged. Narrated by a third Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby recounts the events of the period in which he lived next door to mysterious and elusive multi millionaire Jay Gatsby. The events are recounted as flashbacks and not always chronologically, giving the text a more realistic feel.
Nick recounts a star struck love story between Gatsby and Daisy — the girl who got away. Gatsby attempts to impress Daisy with a lifestyle he seems to have created simply in order to win her favor. But Daisy has a life- one she’d already established before Jay returned to her in a flurry of glitz and glamour. Daisy finds herself with a difficult choice to make; who to choose?
While this narrative is taking place Nick is also reminiscing on his love for famous golf star Jordan Baker, the lavish parties that his neighbor Gatsby throws, and his life. As the truth comes to light and parties begin to confront one another, all Nick can do is to look back in anguish at what was and what might have been.
4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – A Perfect Classic For Moody Days
A classic gothic tale recounted in letters from brother to sister from Robert Walton, who’s on an expedition to the North Pole and is writing to his sister. In Walton’s letters he tells the story of having rescued a frost bitten man from the cold named Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein tells him an unbelievable tale, which he recounts to his sister.
Victor Frankenstein’s childhood and his passion for philosophy and chemistry consumed him and made him desperate to uncover the secret of life. After many years of trial and error, he was convinced that he’d found the way to life everlasting! But his discovery turned out to be grotesque and terrifying to him, and would haunt him for the remainder of his days.
Frankenstein explores themes of scientific discovery and the very idea of humanity, as well as what it can mean to play God. In the world of classic books, this masterpiece was famously originally thought up by a young Mary Shelley while she was vacationing with her husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron among others. They had a competition in order to see who could write the best ghost story. Spoiler alert: she won.
3. Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne – A Classic Packed With Adventure
Ah, to fly around the world, many people’s ultimate goal in life. This 1872 Jules Verne classic follows the protagonist Phileas Fogg. Fogg is a wealthy, slightly peculiar Englishman. He likes things a certain way and is determined to get his way. He has no social life to speak of, preferring to lead a life based on scientific fact.
The only time Fogg makes an attempt to be social is when spending time at the Reform Club. During one of these outings, he finds himself getting into an argument with the other club members about whether or not one could reasonably travel around the entire world in only 80 days. Determined to prove his theory-and with his entire fortune on the line-Fogg sets out on the adventure of a lifetime. Classic books are often filled with adventure, but this one is at the top of the list for fun.
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – A Youthful Summer Classic
Huck Finn’s story picks up after The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Huck begins his adventure down the river after his father kidnaps him in an attempt to steal all of his money. After having to go so far as to fake his death and escape his father, he runs into his friend and escaped slave, and together they make a raft and travel down the Mississippi river together.
Having to remain on the run, because a rumor spread that the slave has actually killed Huck, the two boys continue their adventure downstream, encountering all sorts of people, places and things along the way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn features the kind of whimsy that all children’s’ classic books should have, filled with friendship and imagination.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The Top of American Classic Books
To say that a novel like To Kill a Mockingbird is important would be a gross understatement. The story tackles with difficult topics such as racial issues in the South (and all of the United States) as well as sexual assault, recounted from the perspective of a young girl removing her rose coloured glasses in order to understand the world around her. Atticus, father to narrator Scout, is a man of steadfast morals that make him serve as a hero of sorts for many readers. Many young readers are inspired by the character, as well as the text’s use of the events that inspired such an influential piece of literature. If you are interested, the history channel has a great article on it.
Set in the deep south, Harper Lee also used her medium to touch upon gender roles, courage, and societal divides. The time period is the Great Depression and tensions are high in her little southern town. Jean Louise (Scout), her brother and their funny friend Dill are all spending the hot sweaty summer outdoors, and are fascinated with their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley. Many people in the town have not seen him in years and do not talk about him for reasons unknown to the curious kiddos.
Over time, the kids begin to form a friendship with Boo Radley, who seems to know hoe harmless their curiosity is. Around this same time Atticus takes on the case of a black man who is accused of raping a white woman, which in Southern town at the time would have surely meant an immediate death sentence.
He is determined to defend the man and give him as much of a fair trial as he possibly can. This doesn’t sit too well with the heavily racist townsfolk who direct their wrath towards Atticus and Scout. The tension between the town and Jean Louise’s family is thick. When the time for a trial comes, Atticus is determined to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accusations against his client are false. Classic books such as this are relevant to this day, and Harper Lee has left a mark on the world forever.
Jump starting your reading of classics should be fun, and full of adventure. Hopefully these books are a great way to help you begin you journey with classic books!
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