Ten Must Read Classics
If you love reading or are a self proclaimed bookworm , you should ne constantly on the lookout to update your prized bookshelf. Fiction and non fiction is no longer a good consideration point when it comes to reading material given our vast selection. However, anyone well read will tell you, you can’t go wrong with the classics!
Here we came up with a list of the top ten books you should read. If you do not have it, we will advise you to go book shopping with this list. It will look impressive on your bookshelf and when your date comes over, it will be a good conversation topic. All men loves an intelligent woman and you can’t go wrong with this list.
To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Ostensibly a middle grade novel with an elementary-school aged main character, this book will appeal to anyone looking for an easily readable, gripping, page-turning good story. It is about disturbing events, love, and hometown life in the south. The author’s skill with description and characterization is palpable. The book, published in 1960, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. In 1999 the Library Journal voted To Kill A Mockingbird “Best Novel of the Century”.
A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
To truly experience an event in history, the emotional involvement of reading a novel can help you feel it almost as intensely as if you were one of the characters in the story. In A Tale of Two Cities, you become part of an extremely turbulent part of history – the bloody, terrifying French Revolution. You’re probably thinking, “Scary! I don’t want to go there!” But what motivated these crazy people? Don’t you want to find out? Meet Madame Defarge.
You’ll learn what it was like to live in Paris at that time, juxtaposed with chapters about life in London. Besides the contrast in the two cities, you get a contrast between people – from the pure and innocent, to the wickedly hateful. The novel is not cheerful or light hearted, but is a good witness to the best and worst in the human condition.
Charles Dickens wrote many other wonderful novels. We’ll also recommend Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.
The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
This short but emotionally charged classic novel is one of the greatest anti-war stories ever written. The year is 1863, the scene is the Battle of Chancellorsville during the American Civil War. A young soldier wanders around the battle area, at times taking part, and at times backing off. Critics have remarked that the story is amazingly realistic and true to historic detail.
If you are just starting to get into reading classics, this is an attention-grabbing short read that will bring you closer to an understanding of the reality of what the Civil War was about, and what all fighting is about.
by George Orwell
We consider this novel so important for a young person to understand, I read the entire thing out loud to my dyslexic teenage son a few years ago. Orwell had a unique understanding of the political future planned for the world by powers we’re not supposed to know about. He put this picture together in his horrifying novel about a society gone mad with control. The characters want to live normal lives, but are prevented at every turn by “Big Brother” – the eye of the government.
Orwell also wrote Animal Farm – a much shorter novel about how power corrupts. The characters are all animals – a strange thing in a novel intended for adults. We consider both his books to be VITAL reading for informed citizens.
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
We’ve read almost everything Steinbeck wrote, and loved it all. But to recommend just one of his books, we’ll choose The Grapes of Wrath, a heart-wrenching story of a family forced to resettle – from dust-bowl Oklahoma to poverty-stricken California emigrant camps. Life isn’t easy, but the human spirit overcomes all trials. If you read this, you’ll be glad you have a roof over your head.
Of course we recommend all other Steinbeck stories and novels too, for example, Cannery Row and East of Eden.
Gone With The Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
Do NOT do what we did, and wait until you’re in your late twenties to read this book. Gone With The Wind is the ultimate love story, the ultimate Civil War novel, and the ultimate late-night read. Wow – you’ve just got to read this one. Forget the movie, it doesn’t hold a candle to the real story. Reading the novel you get underneath the simpery movie-version of Scarlett O’Hara to find the person who changes from a silly and self-centered young rich girl to a woman totally capable of managing her life and accepting her fate. It takes a while – this is a long and rocky journey for Scarlett, but well-worth learning about.
Warning: You won’t want this novel to end.
A Farewell To Arms
…by Ernest Hemingway
Before we read this book we used to wonder what the title meant. Did it mean no more arms as in no more weapons of war? Or did it refer to someone who lost his arms due to war injuries? The suspense kept building as the meaning of the title didn’t become obvious until the end of the novel.
This is another war story – this one takes place in Europe during World War I. The main character, an ambulance driver, falls in love with a nurse. Through his somewhat detached viewpoint you see the terrors and traumas of war at that time. Hemingway was very young when he wrote this novel, but his amazing unique writing style is something to learn from and enjoy.
We also recommend The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway – a much shorter book, in case you want to start with something less intimidating than A Farewell to Arms.
…by Herman Hesse
we read this novel long ago, when we were teenager. It started us on a journey of reading everything by Hesse that we could get our hands on. Nothing stood up to the beauty and perfection of Siddhartha, in our memory. Words cannot say how touching and memorable this novel is. Even today we remember certain scenes with awe.
Cry, The Beloved Country
by Alan Paton
This novel takes you traveling through South Africa from the point of view of a dignified black minister looking for his sister and his son. He observes the way the country has changed, and is greatly saddened by what he experiences. It gives us a look at a land we may never have been to (most of us) and a time we will be glad we didn’t experience (1940’s Apartheid). This is a trip through another culture, where human nature is examined and explored.
The Call of the Wild
by Jack London
We’ve read a lot of stories by Jack London, and we think this one qualifies as a short novel. If you want to read about a dog challenged by the elements of nature, facing the cruelty of humans, living on the edge, seeking safety in the snow-bound wilderness of Alaska, this novel will take you there.
Jack London, once a citizen of the town in which I was born, Oakland, California, wrote all his amazing classic stories early in life, and died at the very young age of 40, in November 1916.
So there you go, the ten classics you ought to have displayed on your bookshelf.