One of my IRL friends is an English teacher, and came over to my apartment yesterday so we could work together (and also so she could mooch off of my wi-fi). She was putting together a syllabus for her high school students, which got me to thinking about the classic books that are assigned to students every year, and their actual worth to us as readers.
The subject of classics is a Pandora’s box within the bookish community – and with good reason. There are school classics that serve no further purpose on the curriculum, and which the modern day reader no longer finds relevant or – even worse – which actively hurts the modern reader with its outdated sensibilities.
However, there are a handful of classics from my own high school and elementary school days that I enjoyed back then as a kid or teenager, and that I still enjoy now as a twenty-plus-year-old. Check them out below!
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – A classic tale of good triumphing over evil, and the power of innocence, love, and a child’s determination to do the right thing. Also, Ava DuVernay’s movie was all kinds of amazing and beautiful!
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – Charming and full of summer magic, this story of a pig, a spider, and the power of creativity is a classic that every child should read.
The Giver by Lois Lowry – The dystopian novel that began my fascination with the genre. But please, don’t watch the movie.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – This tale of the ‘girl Robinson Crusoe’ is lush, descriptive, and captures the imagination like nothing else.
Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson – Who doesn’t live a good old pirate story? The OG pirate story, as a matter of fact!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – The quintessential Regency romantic comedy that also told its reader that the way for an alpha male to eventually get the girl is to stop being such an asshole.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Necessary reading in this day and age, as it seems the lessons of World War II aren’t being heeded by – well, anyone.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – An really excellent vintage detective novel. Makes for some really interesting reading, especially when read in conjunction with stories of Truman Capote’s life.
Le Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos – So far the only epistolary novel I’ve ever managed to finish, and one my gossip-loving self enjoyed immensely!
Dracula by Bram Stoker – The OG gothic horror novel that spawned a hundred incarnations, none of which managed to live up to this classic. My fave movie adaptation would have to be Francis Ford Coppola’s, starring Gary Oldman!
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Another gothic horror mainstay. Also, everything Oscar Wilde wrote is gay, don’t fight me on this.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – The original science fiction queen! Read it and weep, fake nerd bois. Science fiction as a genre was begun by a woman who was also a reformist and political radical.
What did you think?
☕ Were any of my favorite classics your favorites too?
☕ If not, what classics did you like?
☕ Do you think I should do a post on what recently published books I think should be added to school curriculum?