Classics I *Actually* Enjoyed

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which the modern day reader no longer finds relevant or – even worse – which actively hurts the modern reader with its outdated sensibilities.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!

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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 LaclosSo 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.

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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?

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19 thoughts on “Classics I *Actually* Enjoyed

  1. Oooh I’ll definitely be looking at this post later on because I really want to get into classics more, but also, so many classics are just BAD and I want to actually read the ones that are good and I’ll be able to finish LMAO. I REALLY want to read the Picture of Dorian Gray because it sounds so captivating and scary and interesting?? Also I want to read Agatha Christie!! (idk how to spell her name)

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  2. I’ve moved on from my classics phase, but I have to say, Frankenstein is a masterpiece. It’s just so brilliant and Shelley SNAPPED!!

    And YES, I’d love to see a post on books that should be in the curriculum!! That’d be such a cool and interesting post! 💛

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  3. Pingback: BOOKISH SPOTLIGHT AND A CHAPTER EXCERPT || ENLIGHTMENT BY RENO URSAL – Camillea Reads

  4. I am legit jealous that you got to read Frankenstein and Dracula in high school! I have some issues with the required reading I had (primarily how white and stigmatizing of genre fiction it is), but I also read a handful of books that I really enjoyed & probably wouldn’t have reached for otherwise.

    Great list! The ones I have read from your list are also books I’ve enjoyed reading!

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    • Ooh yes please, read Frankenstein!!!

      Liked Great Gatsby as well (although I find a lot of people tend to misunderstand its message…) and OMG YES!! I need to read The Color Purple!

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  5. Loved this list Kate! I actually have a copy of Island of the Blue Dolphins and Frankenstein collecting dust somewhere in my room. I ought to get to them one of these days, haha. My fave classic books of all time has got to be LM Montgomery’s Blue Castle (which I highly recommend) and her Anne of Green Gables series.
    And yes PLEASE write a post about new books that ought to be in the school’s reading list. I’m still so effin pressed that we had to read old American short stories in high school and then study their significance to AMERICAN society at the time. Like binch why…? Tho to be fair we also read a Sappho poem once and my best friend and I kept giggling at our teacher not realizing the BIG GAY energy in Sappho’s work lmao

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    • How….how do you not realize the BIG GAY energy in Sappho’s work….. 👀 and alsooooo ughhhhhhhhhhhh the colonialism is real!!!

      Ooooh I shall check out Blue Castle and Anne of Green Gables!

      Yessss I’m planning on making that my discussion of the month post!! If you have any suggestions, let me know!!

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  6. I love reading classic novels, while I do agree that many of have racist and misogynistic undertones, I have found many to be a sort of commentary on society. I love how subtly women authors from back then wrote against the patriarchy. I always have to be careful when choosing the classics I read but the exploration is worthwhile.

    I haven’t read Treasure Island! Have you seen Treasure Planet though? Hahaha that is one of my fondest childhood movies. The Picture of Dorian Gray was just heart-breaking. I don’t think I will ever get over it.

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    • GIRL. TREASURE PLANET IS A GODDAMN GIFT AND I AM SO SALTY THAT SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE NEVER SEEN OF LET ALONE HEARD OF IT. STEAMPUNK SPACE FANTASY FEATURING BBY JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT AND A KICK-ASS FEMALE FELINE CAPTAIN???? SDIAHSDKJASH

      You’re absolutely right about classics being a good commentary on society, and how you have to be careful but it’s worth it when you find the good ones!

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  7. Dracula is on my syllabus this year! And I am really looking forward to it! I am glad it is on your list! I really loved reading Pride and Prejudice too! Have you read North and South by Elisabeth Gaskell? I really enjoyed that as well and there are many similarities between that and P&P😍

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    • I hope you enjoy Dracula, it’s one of my faves!

      Haven’t read North and South yet, but if it’s similar to P&P I may have to check it out!

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  8. I don’t think I’ve read any of the books on this list yet—I’m not a big classic reader :,). But one classic I really enjoyed was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier! And though I don’t read classics that much, the picture of Dorian gray is one of the few on my TBR

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