Hi guys! I haven’t done a recommendations post in a while, and I found myself really wanting to recommend you guys some books that I’ve enjoyed.
I was thinking today about Little Women, which is one of the first classics I ever read (I believe the first two were The Secret Garden and Heidi, which I enjoyed). I first read it in Grade 4, after watching the movie (with Winona Ryder, my forever love), and absolutely fell in love with it. Little Women was a sort of gateway book, I suppose you could call it – I had heard my older friends and peers talk about how hard classics were, and how boring they could be. But since I fell in love with Little Women, and later found out it was a classic, I never really had any reservations when it came to classics. I was always open to read them, and while classics can be insanely problematic and aren’t even always good, they’re important – classics are classics because they were important to the development of literature.
These are the books that I would recommend to those who struggle to get into classics – people who want to explore books that are considered classics, but don’t really know where to begin, and feel intimidated whenever they try. Because of this, these are all books that are relatively easy to read. I didn’t want to recommend classics that are harder to read and require more intense concentration, since this post is meant to show people who generally avoid classics just how well written and important classics can be.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is the heartwarming story of the March family that has thrilled generations of readers. It is the story of four sisters–Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth– and of the courage, humor and ingenuity they display to survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.
The synopsis of this book is really short and simple, but, like I mentioned earlier in this post, this is such a wonderful book. Anyone who reads this book will be able to relate to one of the March sisters in some way – Jo, who is bookish and a tomboy, Meg, who is fanciful, Beth, who is sweet and quiet, and Amy, who is vain but loving.
Little Women is sweet, and follows the March sisters as they grow up – it follows Jo’s point of view, and we get to see the way her life unfolds. It also has its fair share of tragedy, and has definitely made me cry. Little Women is one of those books that always leaves me feeling nostalgic, and is genuinely such a wonderful classic. I would honestly recommend it to anyone – especially those who place importance on strong family relations. The most important thing about this book is the love between these four sisters.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father ― a crusading local lawyer ― risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
I’m really not sure what it is with classics having really short synopses, HAHAH. But To Kill A Mockingbird is really one of the most important classics of all time. I first read it in Grade 5, and if any of you know anything about the American public education system, it really doesn’t cover enslavement, segregation, or even the Civil Rights era with any justice.
To Kill A Mockingbird was what really introduced me to the severity of racial inequality throughout history, and opened the door to my ever-growing passion for racial equality and justice – it’s a book that genuinely changed me and impacted me at such a young age, and I would recommend it to anyone – this book will never stop being important.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.
These classic synopses really don’t do their books justice! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a genuinely beloved book – it was one of the Books of the Century, selected by The New York Public Library, and is a classic coming-of-age story.
It’s a slower-paced read, but I don’t mind that at all – it really allowed the book to be fully fleshed out, and wasn’t difficult to read at all. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn could be really sweet, but could also be so heartbreaking – there were times where it brought tears to my eyes.
“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies.
If you guys know me, you know that Sylvia Plath is one of my all time favorite writers, and that The Bell Jar is one of my all time favorite books. It’s such a brutally honest and beautifully written journey of mental illness – I could personally relate to Esther a lot, and it often felt like she was pulling words and feelings and experiences out of my head because of just how well I could relate to her.
Some of the content can be a bit hard to read, in terms of it being difficult to read about Esther’s suffering, but I really do think that this book is important. I haven’t read a single book besides this one, classic or not, that has offered such a wonderful, harrowing, honest, and in-depth look at mental illness. The Bell Jar was also actually a semi-autobiographical novel, so I felt like I understood Sylvia Plath more after reading it.
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
1984 by George Orwell
‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .
FINALLY – an actual synopsis! I know that 1984 was required reading for a lot of people, but it’s really such a quick, well-written, fantastic, and important read. I know I keep saying the word important, but all these books really are. 1984 is a classic dystopian, and provides us with a look at a totalitarian regime, where there is absolutely no autonomy. 1984 is really so insightful, and really made me think about how it applies to our own society/how it could potentially apply more to our own society. 1984 really made me see books differently, and it’s one of those books, classic or not, that has continued to stick with me.
So, these were the 5 classic books that I would recommend anyone! I hope this post was somewhat helpful, because I really do love all these books and genuinely believe that they’re really important (that word again…).