Top 3 Classic Books Assigned in School That You Should Actually Read
The Great Gatsby
I'll start off by saying that Fitzgerald is a word genius, and also where my car got its namesake, so if you are not a fan, you should skip over this section.
This book has rightfully earned the title of a classic because of the almost lyrical way it is written and Fitzgerald's way of freezing and immortalizing the Roaring Twenties. Rarely is there a book that captures the day and age it is written as a constant theme of the novel, and none to my knowledge done as well as Fitzgerald.
Not only is it a pleasant, quick read that has you clinging onto every word and phrased syllables, but it has captivating characters that entrance the readers so that, at times, the plot almost becomes background noise. In a good way.
The plot is well-written, too. Not a dull moment causes the reader to pause and the entire book flows with inspirational fluidity. The novel raises the right questions about the time period and Gatsby and Gatsby and Daisy's relationship, and answers all the right ones--what drives Daisy to dislike her husband, what kind of atmosphere the twenties had, etc.
There are a lot of twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of their seats without using shocking events simply for the sake of surprise.
I highly recommend this novel for people searching for an easy, quick, but memorable read. It also gives good advice about relationships that teenagers especially should be wary of. Maybe in another article I'll discuss my theory about Gatsby and Daisy's not-so-lovey-dovey romance, but for now I'll just end with saying; go read it and then come back so I can say I told you so!
Pride and Prejudice
This book is one of my ultimate favorites. At first the length of the book and the old English language can be intimidating, especially for teenagers, but once you get past that, Austen's novel is a sweet and hilarious satirical piece dealing with feminism and misconceptions.
The heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, is one of the best written characters I've ever read. She's complex and does not become a backseat character after a love interest is introduced, as so often happens in novels with a female protagonist. Elizabeth's feelings and thoughts remain pertinent to the story and she remains throughout as a lovable role model, even through all of her assumptions made about other characters, namely Mr. Darcy.
I've heard a character like Darcy called unrealistic--namely by an English teacher of mine--but I've met a few Darcy-like characters in real life. Darcy, too, has his flaws--and this is, in my opinion, Austen's biggest strength; perfectly flawed characters.
The cast of the book is wonderfully colorful, and the story itself is sweet as honey. Also, the level of sass Austen portrays through Elizabeth and her satirical Mrs. Bennet can not be contained.
If you have not seen the 2005 version and are more of a movie-goer than a reader, I highly recommend it. It's surprisingly very close to the book, and the cast is near perfect.
Heart of Darkness
Now, typically teenagers hate to annotate. I'm one who loves it--I even get the urge to do it when I'm reading classics for fun. This book was so fun to edit. When I couldn't sleep, I'd get up, grab a red pen and a pad of sticky notes, and annotate until I was too tired to find anything more.
This book talks a great deal about imperialism and hypocrisy, the second of which being what a lot of people these days need to watch out for, and the first being what people need to see signs of.
It has lessons that readers can utilize today and for generations later on. Not to mention it has great symbolism.
Marlow is a great narrator and Kurtz is the perfect person to hate. I wouldn't exactly call him an antagonist, since he doesn't present much challenge for Marlow.
The entire idea of trying to find the enemy--whether it's the jungle and the "savages" or if it's Marlow's indifference at the happenings around him--is brilliant and really makes the reader think.
So in conclusion, school board actually somewhat knows what they're talking about when picking literature for their students to read, though I don't know if I can forgive making us read Shakespeare almost every year.
Have a problem with any of my choices? Have your own list?
Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!