Long days and sunny weather are in the forecast, and for me, that’s always meant tan time with a stack of my favorite books! This year, setting aside my unfortunate pile of chick-lit, I’ve decided to dig into some of the classics. Yeah, I know, mental groan, right? Dreary, with big words and a decided lack of anything particularly interesting. Well, that’s what I thought, too, until I decided to change my tune. Could I find any classics that were actually FUN?
After sorting through some of my old faves and inquiring from friends and family, I present you with a list of classics that are pretty awesome and decidedly unboring.
Jane Austen, 1813
Okay, if you’re into girly love stories, this book might not be for sure. But if you are into romance and grand guestures of affection and gentlemen and dances, then you can’t go wrong. Mr. Darcy will always be my first love.
Mary Shelley, 1823
Widely recognized as one of the first examples of science fiction, Frankenstein is about a monster created in a lab and all the human emotions he and his creator go through. Terrifying, creepy, and awesome all at once. Props to Mary for writing it when she was only eighteen.
Alexandre Dumas, 1855
As the girl whose Netflix queue doesnt even recognize the word “drama,” I still love this book. Here’s the Wiki summary: “It focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. However, his plans have devastating consequences for the innocent as well as the guilty.” There is buried treasure, hot pirates, and tons of page-turning action.
Bram Stoker, 1897
Although nowhere near as hot as Eric Northman, Count Dracula is still the original badass vampire. With all the adaptations and spin-offs, it’s a great idea to read how modern vampires got their start. Plus, if you like a certain amount of creep-factor, the Count will do it.
J.D. Salinger, 1951
Often cited as one of the best 100 books of the twentieth century, Catcher in the Rye is chock full of issues that we deal with every day – identity, belonging, connection, and alienation. It’s told from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, a 17 year-old in a mental hospital who describes the events at occured in his prep school the previous December. Fun fact: it‘s also got a lot of sex and cussing in it.
Any Hunger Games fans out there? Well, a friend described Lord of the Flies to me like this: “So, Lord of the Flies = a mixture of ‘Survivor’/Hunger Games, only it’s well-written. Also a quick read.” Sold, right?
Arthur Conan Doyle, 1892
There is a reason they made it into a movie. It’s action and crime and mystery at it’s best. Just imagine Robert Downey Jr. whenever you’re reading. Also imagine reading with an English accent; way more fun that way.
C.S. Lewis, 1950
Again, there’s a reason they made it a movie. Magical closets we all wish we had when we were little, talking animals, hidden worlds, and epic batttles. Oh yeah, and the main characters get to be kings and queens. It’s like the most amazing combination of fantasy and fun I’ve ever read.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
So, you probably had to read this in high school and hate the fact that I put it on this list. However, I dare you to go back and read it again when you’re not forced to write a comparative essay on it. Here’s how Cliffs Notes describes it: “The Great Gatsby follows Jay Gatsby, a man who orders his life around one desire: to be reunited with Daisy Buchannan,the love he lost five years earlier. Gatsby’s quest leads him from poverty to wealth, into the arms of his beloved, and eventually to death.” It’s set in the prosperous 1920s, so if you’re a flapper at heart this book is for you.
J.M. Barrie, 1911
Okay, I take back the Mr. Darcy crush; Peter Pan was definitely my first and most favorite boy of all time. And honestly, I can’t think of a better time to read about endless childhood and Lost Boys and fairies and flying than those self-same magical days of summer.
One of the greatest things about classics today is that nearly all of them are available online for FREE! The link on each title of the ten books I listed above will take you to the e-book or downloadable link for the book, in case you want to read them on your phone or computer on lunch breaks. Kindles and Nooks often have these available for free as well, as do websites like Goodreads, Open Culture, and ePub Bud.
So, have I convinced you yet? Will you add any of these to your “fun” summer reading?