Many of us will not be heading back to school in the fall, but there’s so much nostalgia involved with the conclusion of summer and the beginning of autumn that we thought it might be fun to dig in to some of literature’s classic tales. Many of these titles are books that we were supposed to read (and enjoy!) back in our school days but didn’t because, well, we were forced to read them. There are so many beautiful works assigned on school syllabi each year that go unappreciated because they’re required reading – but for those of us who aren’t in school, we can take time to really enjoy them! Here are some classic reads that we think are worth diving into:
A Separate Peace
John Knowles’s novel is a set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II. It explores the ups and downs of the relationship between the narrator (quiet, introspective Gene) and his best friend (athletic, outgoing Phineas). Known for being an undisputed classic for its overarching theme of loss of innocence, A Separate Peace explores this loss experienced by two boys, both because of the war and because of the choices they make within their friendship.
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald paints the reader a luminous picture full of parties, glitz, glamour, affairs, cocktails, and fireworks – and, on the flip side, a dark mural of betrayal, loneliness, heartache, power, and loss. This novel, set in the Jazz Age, is beloved by readers for portraying the classic struggle experienced when someone wants what they can’t have. Follow up your reading session by watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan portray Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of the book.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s novel won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for blending a court case, racial tensions, and an unlikely friendship into a heart-wrenching tale, a commentary about the core of human behavior. Readers fall in love with the book’s narrator, six-year-old Scout Finch, who not only has a way with words but also a pure, innocent way of viewing the world – and a poignant way of communicating how we should live in it.
Louisa May Alcott’s novel is the epitome of a timeless classic. Following the lives of four sisters, this book is beloved by readers for beautifully chronicling the growth of the girls as they transition into womanhood. Despite their inherent personality differences, Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth overcome obstacles to become part of a remarkable family. As captured eloquently on the book’s jacket, “this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.”
The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger’s novel is a quintessential character development story. The narrator, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, is a contemplative, introspective sort, one who is simultaneously simple and complex in ways that cause the reader to reflect on his complicated mind and delicate well-being. This story about beauty and exploration will captivate readers of all ages.