Mark Twain once defined a classic book as, "'Classic' — a book which people praise and don't read." However, the ones that do not read them are missing out on some of the best literature ever written. Many of the great authors wrote about important issues of the times and were eloquent writers, versed in words and descriptions. This is a list of some of my favorite classics that I have read, and I hope that you will be intrigued into opening them up well.
1. "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck
George and Lennie, two roving farm hands, find work on a ranch in California. They dream of making enough money to own their own farm one day where Lennie can have rabbits, and the pair will be their own bosses. Everything is going according to plan at their new job until Lennie has an encounter with the rancher's son's wife, and George has to make a tough decision. Steinbeck tackles some hard subjects in this book such as the plight of migrant workers during the Great Depression and if murder is ever mercy.
"I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you."
2. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennett is the second oldest of the five Bennett daughters. Because a girl can not inherit the family's estate, their mother makes it her mission to ensure that her daughters marry well, so she and they will be taken care of when her husband dies. Elizabeth, however, is determined to marry for love, not solely for money. When a wealthy young man buys a house near them and sweeps her older sister off her feet, Elizabeth becomes acquainted with his friend. Their first encounters do not go well, but Elizabeth soon learns that first impressions are not always right. Jane Austin is known for her novels on the lives of the higher society in the Victorian era and her strong female characters. This novel has both and is a great introduction to Austen literature.
"I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."
3. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer is a mischievous, adventurous boy growing up along the Mississippi River. He and his friends play pranks and go on many thrilling adventures including faking their deaths and getting lost in a cave. Mark Twain was a wonderful storyteller, and he drew inspiration for many of his books from his life on the Mississippi.
"Well, everybody does it that way, Huck."
"Tom, I am not everybody."
4. "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens
Oliver is an orphan who must live in a miserable workhouse where the conditions are terrible, and the people are even crueler. He eventually ends up in London where he is recruited by a boy to join a gang of pickpocketers. However, he is found by some good people and is adopted but not without some bumps and harrowing predicaments along the way. This novel was Dickens' condemnation of the treatment of child laborers in London at the time, and he probably drew on his own experience like one as a boy.
"Some people are nobody's enemies but their own"
5. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
Scout Finch is a tomboy growing up in rural Alabama during the Great Depression. She, her brother Jem, and their neighbor Dill get into mischief all over town and try to catch a glimpse of Boo Radley, their mysterious neighbor who hardly ever goes outside. Trouble comes to town, however, when their father, a lawyer, must defend an African American man accused of raping a white girl. Lee's gripping book about racism and equality has been a favorite of readers since it was published.in 2018, the novel was voted the best-loved book in America last year and held the lead during the entire five-month voting period.
"I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."
6. "Night" by Elie Wiesel
Night tells the heartbreaking story of Elie Wiesel's captivity in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Weisel and his father are separated from the rest of his family and must try to survive the horrific conditions of the camp. Wiesel struggles with his faith and other personal questions during his time in the camp and must come to terms with the evil of mankind. The book is an advocate for the humane treatment of all and a reminder that such atrocities must never be allowed to happen again.
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky."
7. "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
Animal Farm is a commentary on the Russian Revolution and Stalinist era, and Orwell's warning of the dangers of Socialism when taken too far, which is kind of ironic considering he was a socialist. The animals on the farm are tired of the way the farmer treats them, so they run him off the farm and establish their own rule. The pigs become the leaders of the animal's society and promise that everyone will be treated equally. Things quickly turn south, however, and their utopian society begins to crumble.
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
8. "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton
Ponyboy, his brothers Sodapop and Darry, and their friends are Greasers, poor kids from the wrong side of the tracks, who are constantly picked on and mistreated by the rich kids known as Socials or Socs. When his friend Johnny accidentally kills a Soc one night, Ponyboy and Johnny must go into hiding. Hinton wrote this book while she was still in high school because of the social rifts in her school and the lack of realistic young adult books.
"Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold."
9. "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Although Treasure Island is Stevenson's best-known work, to me, Kidnapped was better. The book is centered around David Balfour who has just become an orphan. He travels to meet his uncle who has David kidnapped in order to get his inheritance. David escapes, and he tries to get home with the help of a colorful Scotsman. While traversing the Highlands of Scotland, they get into several scrapes and meet many dangerous and interesting characters.
"There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people."
10. "The Complete Works of Flannery O'Connor"
This book is a collection of short stories written by O'Connor during her lifetime. Most of her stories center around the South and the people who live there, and a common theme in her stories was people finding grace or learning a lesson just a little too late for it to benefit them. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are even a little morbid, but they are all beautifully written. My favorite story in the collection is "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and is about a family going on vacation who comes across an escaped convict.
"I found out the crime don't matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you're going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it."