Lists of classic and must-read books can often seem repetitive, mentioning the same books from list to list. Here are a few treasures you might not have read!
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco: This surprising book tackles topics like skepticism, the relationship between science and religion, and the importance of laughter, but don’t think it’s dry or pretentious! It’s also a whodunnit murder mystery set in a medieval Italian monastery who inhabitants are convinced that the murders are a sign of the apocalypse.
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley: Orwell’s book 1984 usually gets top billing for dystopian novels, but Brave New World shouldn’t be overlooked. Huxley paints an intriguing picture of a society obsessed with pleasure and entertainment that may feel a little too familiar for comfort.
Diary of A Young Girl, by Anne Frank: Yes, this book does appear on most must-read lists, but it’s surprising how many people assume they know the story and don’t take the time to read it. Anne’s book stands out as a beautiful glimpse into the mind of an ordinary girl in an extraordinary situation.
The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery: Montgomery is best known for her “Anne of Green Gables” series, but older readers will be delighted by this book. The Blue Castle is the story of Valancy Stirling, who lives in an emotionally oppressive family situation, until the day she is told she has one year to live. The light, humorous story is set against the stunningly-described backwoods of Canada. This book is sure to elicit a belly laugh or three!
Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen: Hatchet is a classic survival story. A young boy, on his way to visit his father, survives a plane crash in a remote area, and has only his wits and a small hatchet to survive until he is rescued. Hard to put down.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens: Almost everyone has seen some version of this story, but most never take the time to read the original. You may be surprised by the subtlety of the original story, and Dickens’ picturesque way of describing mid-1800s London should not be missed!
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card: Ender is a young boy sent off to battle school to learn to fight the greatest enemy mankind has ever faced. Card uses innovative settings for his story, including a battle room where gravity is turned off, but this sci-fi story also addresses themes of childhood, innocence, and responsibility.
The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most literature courses in high school assign Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, but this book is usually overlooked. It’s a story about two families in New England, one of which has greatly wronged the other and profited by the crime. It’s full of wry humor and funny caricatures of the inhabitants of a small town.
O. Henry’s short stories. O. Henry was an American author legendary for his use of twist endings. His best-known story is “The Gift of the Magi,” about a young couple who sacrifices their most prized possessions to buy Christmas gifts for each other, but there are hundreds of others well worth reading. Some classics include “The Ransom of Red Chief” and “The Trimmed Lamp.”
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. Ellison’s classic is told in the first person from the perspective of a black man who lives underground and “off the grid” from mainstream society. He relates his story of growing up in the South, and time in Harlem, reflecting on race relations and other social topics. The novel won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953.
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