For many people, the idea of reading a classic book can be daunting, and not always appealing. This attitude is understandable; bad high school English classes can turn young readers off forever, and if an ambitious reader looking for his first classic picks up one that is boring or incomprehensible (these do exist, unfortunately) he is likely to get scared off and believe that classic literature is just too hard to understand. Fortunately, however, this is not the case. Classic literature can be fun, and everyone, from grade schoolers to retirees, is able to enjoy a well-written classic novel.
For children, classics can increase intelligence and equip them with developed reading and writing skills. Some entertaining, enjoyable books for young readers are:
The Prince and the Pauper – This historical novel from Mark Twain is both humorous and touching, sure to delight younger children, especially those interested in royalty and old England.
Island of the Blue Dolphins – This book is a must read for everyone, child or adult. It tells the story of a young Indian girl who undergoes great hardships, and deals with exploration, family, friendship, and courage.
The Garden under the Sea – This delightful story of sea creatures who decide to build an undersea garden is almost sure to become a favorite, for its memorable characters, quaint humor, and wonderful writing.
Peter Pan – Written for children everywhere, both young and old, this charming adventure is sure to make its readers laugh, cry, and imagine the world in whole new ways.
Among the classics are many great adventure novels, complete with reckless heroes, riveting plots, and an element of mystery. Some fantastic starters are:
The Three Musketeers – One for all and all for one! The four (yes four) main characters of this novel, while often foolishly reckless and questionable in their morales, nevertheless stand as the supreme example of friendship and loyalty, and have been winning readers’ hearts along with duels for many, many years.
Dracula – Chilling, suspenseful, and even somewhat romantic, this dark adventure is a page-turner that will have readers holding their breath to the very end. Will the gallant heroes overthrow Count Dracula? And how many lives will he claim before they do? Read it and find out.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Often acclaimed as the “great American novel” this book details the adventures of a young Southern boy and a runaway slave in their search for freedom on the Mississippi River. Filled with colorful characters and unfailingly honest observations about the human race, this is another must read.
Of course, the classics contain many great romances, from Jane Austen to Emily Bronte. Some of the most celebrated and most enjoyable reads are:
Pride and Prejudice – For lovers of romantic comedy, Victorian England, or Mr. Darcy. In this novel, Jane Austen delivers hilarious, sometimes biting comments about human nature, and portrays the birth and development of true love, which persists despite all our efforts.
Jane Eyre – One of the greatest romances ever written, splashed with mystery, suspense, and tragedy, this is the story of a young girl who struggles to understand the world and its inhabitants. Her confidence and passion have endeared her to countless generations of readers.
The Importance of Being Earnest – Admittedly, this is not a novel, but a play. Still, it should not be overlooked merely because of its form. This uproarious romantic comedy will have readers laughing out loud through the clever writing and ingenious mind of its creator, Oscar Wilde. Watch the movie with Colin Firth afterward.
The Once and Future King – This is not exactly a romance in the traditional since of the term, though its account of the love triangle between King Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot is probably the best in written literature. However, it also contains magic, adventure, and plenty of humor, all described with such imagination and beauty, it will lead riders on a roller coaster ride through delirious happiness, child-like wonder, disastrous tragedy, and gentle hopefullness. Fans of the musical Camelot might be interested to learn that this is the novel which inspired Lerner and Loewe’s celebrated play. Beware, however, the book might just be even more wonderful than the movie.
Hopefully this list of classics will excite and inspire readers who have hitherto found classic literature overwhelming and impossible. Please comment if you would like to suggest any other books for aspiring readers.