As you put together your good intentions for 2020, consider adding some classics to your reading list. I know what you are thinking: But weren’t these books written to be read by whiny high school students and no one else? Whether you were forced to read some of these in school or not, I think you will be surprised by how much you actually enjoy these books as an adult. Give one or two of them a try this year. They’re classics for a reason!
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
A boy and a runaway slave make the journey of a lifetime in search for freedom only to discover in the end the whole thing was pointless. Or was it? Huck Finn is an American odyssey: the tale of an impossible friendship forged on the River searching desperately for a safe harbor.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre has everything: gothic castles, fiery bedposts, creepy laughter, and emo moments in the woods. All alone in a man’s world, Jane wrestles with her value as woman. To find herself, she must navigate the temptations to follow her heart, caution be damned, with Mr. Rochester or to follow her head and quench all passion with St. John. And BONUS: Something strange is lurking in the attic.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
You’ll be laughing with every turn of the page as Austen’s frivolity comes to life. The deft author’s dry wit cracks and snarls under a thin veneer of British gentility. What makes for a good marriage? Every character seems to have an opinion, but what does the author–herself unmarried—believe? And what about you?
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
A heartbreaking and inspiring tale of an American hero. Unlike the at times melodramatic Uncle Tom’s Cabin, this is a plain-faced portrait of Southern slavery from a man who experienced it. Douglass’s accounts answer questions from detractors that still linger today: If slavery was so bad, why didn’t more slaves run away? Why didn’t slaves speak out about poor conditions? Weren’t bad slave masters the outliers? A black man escapes a world bent on degrading his nature, and it begins with learning the A, B, C.
The Aeneid by Virgil
Set sail with Aeneas and a few survivors as they escape the burned rubble of Troy in search of a new home. Sure, it’s a propaganda piece advocating for the legitimacy of Caesar’s power in Rome, but it’s got a whole lot more gore and action than any thriller you’ll see in theaters! Plus, you will feel like a smarty-pants reading it.
1984 by George Orwell
Everyone is putting all-seeing, all-hearing, all-knowing Portals and Amazon Echo Dots in every room of their homes. Fake news, redacted stories, and doctored bylines threaten to rewrite history every second. Sound like 2019? Nope. It’s 1984, and your world is about to end. Two protagonists hunger for human connection in a digitized police state. Can they find love before it’s too late?
Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
What if I strung together every thought my three year-old daughter said aloud and turned it into a novel? Welcome to the addled mind of Holden Caulfield, whose ambling narrative reads much like the Facebook comments section. You want to look away, but for some reason…you just have to know what he’s going to say next. This past year may have you asking, has the world gone mad? To steal a line from JAY-Z, Salinger turns the question on its head: “But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane…”
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Bunyan’s novel is a triumph of early English literature and a book that should be read by all Christians of all stripes. This allegory illuminates theological truths and puts in concrete form the feelings, thoughts, and groanings of believers who are walking the pilgrim way. Whether read for enjoyment, devotional meditation, or as a part of family worship, Pilgrim’s Progress will remind you that on this journey of faith you are not alone.
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Who’m I kidding? There’s no way I’m going to convince you to read this one. It’s your loss!