Books that are considered classics often have two things in common: they are old and can be difficult to read. While ancient stories may seem disconnected from the world today, they usually still contain important messages that transcend time. Or maybe these books are acclaimed for being fun and interesting for the reader, whatever the deeper message is.
Either way, I find there is no better way to spend a winter vacation than to wrap up in a blanket while reading a good book. Because classical literature is appealing for its reputation, but can be intimidating due to its archaic style, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books worth reading:
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austem
Despite the high title, this novel boils down to a classic tale of enemies to lovers. The plot follows Elizabeth Bennet, one of the five daughters of the Bennet family. After news reaches the wealthy newcomer home at a nearby mansion, the family sets out on a fateful journey to visit the new occupants.
The following is a warm greeting from Mr. Bingley, which catches the attention of Elizabeth’s sister, Jane. His greeting is in stark contrast to his friend Mr. Darcy, who is apparently calm and cold. While the introduction between Darcy and Elizabeth leaves them both feeling unfavorably towards each other, unforeseeable events cause their paths to become entangled as the two get to know each other better.
This novel covers the complexity of prejudices between social classes in a love story that still holds today.
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
Young orphan Jane Eyre lives with her abusive aunt and cousins after the death of her parents and uncle. Deemed too heavy, she was sent to a strict school for orphans.
After graduating from school and getting a teaching job, Eyre wanted to leave and start a new career. She is hired as a housekeeper for the ward of the wealthy owner of Thornfield. When the generally absent owner, Mr. Rochester, returns to visit him, mysterious events begin to unfold. A conundrum itself, Rochester involves Eyre in the Strange Events.
“Jane Eyre” is full of twists and turns, making this novel a page turner. The mystery surrounding the characters and events creates confusion as to what is really going on in Thornfield.
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
This book tells the story of the coming of age of Pip, an orphan who lives with his kind uncle and harsh aunt. Pip goes to his parents’ graves when he is confronted by an escaped convict asking for food. A seemingly unrelated chain of instances occurs, with the rest of the book tying together how they’re all connected.
As Pip grows up, he struggles to determine what is most important to him: family, love, or money. He meets a variety of quirky and weird characters who influence his decisions and make him decide what he really enjoys.
The memorable characters alone make this novel worth reading. On top of that, the commentary on issues of social class and pride remains relevant over time.
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
“Little Women” tells the story of the four March sisters as they grow older. Although from the same family, the sisters have different goals and interests. Because of this, they each face challenges unique to their own journey, showing how economic and social norms can cause relationship breakdowns and difficulties.
As a child, the March sisters befriended their neighbor’s grandson, Laurie. Growing up alongside the sisters, he gets involved in their lives, which sometimes complicates them.
This heartwarming tale combines the ups and downs of family relationships with the sometimes difficult path to self-discovery.
“Emma” by Jane Austem
The main character, Emma Woodhouse, is a wealthy and spoiled woman who meddles in other people’s relationships. A proud go-between, Woodhouse tries to form couples among her friends, including her new and poor friend Harriet Smith.
When matchmaking attempts fail, Woodhouse must come to terms with her own feelings, as well as those she hurt with false hopes.
A satirical piece, “Emma” is full of hilarious and bizarre characters who poke fun at a posh class of societal elites. Besides humor, this novel also shows how personal growth is an essential element in finding contentment.