We’ve all been forced to read Shakespeare and Mark Twain in school—books most of us would never pick up of our own volition. And let’s be real, we’ve all read the Spark Notes analysis and chapter reviews the night before a test after not completing our reading assignments. Even as an honor student who was an always an avid reader, someone who appreciated English classes, I found myself on Spark Notes from time to time.
When my junior year AP English class read The Great Gatsby, I didn’t do all of my readings. But, during the class discussions for Gatsby, I would get so into the story and all of its nuances that I always regretted not doing my readings. So, I reread The Great Gatsby after I graduated, and that was the start of my classic novel phase.
I haven’t read a ton of classics; there are still so many on my to-read list. But I’m a believer in the beauty of novels written decades ago, painting pictures of past cultures and yet still relating to today’s world. We moan and groan when Romeo and Juliet or The Grapes of Wrath are forced on us in class, but those books truly contain wonderful lessons—both of the worldly and literary sort.
So, without further ado, here are my top five favorite classic novels:
- The Great Gatsby—The book that introduced me to the wonders of classics and, in my opinion, The Great American Novel.
- The Bell Jar—Plath’s writing style is phenomenally descriptive and visual. The Bell Jar has the lyrical cadence of the poet that its author was yet the raw, gritty, realness of the true human experience.
- The Catcher In The Rye—Holden Caulfield is a fascinatingly unreliable narrator who is impossible not to relate to.
- Pride And Prejudice—Must I explain myself? Greatest romance of all time, enough said.
- To Kill A Mockingbird—This is just one of those books that stick with you. It gives me the warm, nostalgic feeling of a children’s book that your parents would read to you over and over.
- The Outsiders
- Fahrenheit 451
- Their Eyes Were Watching God
Classics I think I’d appreciate more now than when I originally read them:
- The Scarlet Letter
- Animal Farm
- Romeo and Juliet
- A Tale Of Two Cities
What are your favorite classic novels? Who are your favorite classical authors?