Rare is our time to read for pleasure as adults. When we are afforded such time, we often waste those precious moments trying to decide what to read since long gone are our adolescent days of mandatory reading lists.
Remember those lists? I have spoken to some people about the reading lists from their school days and I discovered that many dreaded and/or disregarded the books. One person told me that she was too busy with sports. Another said he was a slow reader and couldn’t finish all the books. And a couple of people said they just assumed that the books would be boring, after all a teacher assigned them. I realized that a lot of people have missed out on some great reads.
So, I decided to create a reading list for you. Although I supply my reasoning for these choices, they are still my opinion and I welcome you to add your own to this list. The following are in no particular order and by no means complete but it’s a good place to begin.
Remember, what seemed like drudgery at seventeen will seem like pure pleasure at…well, let’s just say at an age old enough to enjoy these classics.
- Anything by Shakespeare
Because, although daunting and intimidating, it’s so worth it. It is literature that when read and understood astounds with emotion and significance that transcends the years since it’s been written.
- “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
Because isn’t it time that you stop calling the monster Frankenstein and believing that two big bolts are an integral part of the plot? And because it’s a beautiful story about humanity and people’s greedy lust to play God.
- “Emma” by Jane Austen
Because this story is a smart romantic comedy, which feels as light and fun as a movie with its mishaps of romance yet is nuanced with real issues such as that of marriage and its affect on class.
- “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
Because it’s a story about adversity, struggle and sacrifice rewarded with a love hard won set in a forbidding mansion with a handsome and mysterious man. Who doesn’t love handsome and mysterious? Great gothic read.
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Because this story explores the difficult topics of class, race and gender roles and although set in the American Deep South in the late thirties these are subjects still in need of further discussion. In addition, the story gives the readers a hero who is moral, compassionate and courageous—a necessity in a world where there are always wrongs to be righted.
- “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
Because if you’ve experienced dreams unrealized, hopes dashed, felt disappointment in others, and longed for more than you have then you will not only sympathize with Willy Loman, you will understand him.
- “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
Because it is a story of struggle and hardship and the endurance of the human spirit played out in a family whose bond goes beyond blood—A family who struggles and loses their home due to economic hardship (a story heard often today). It teaches that it is not the condition of the weather (the drought) or the economy but the condition of man that affects our state of being. If we stop separating ourselves from one another, we learn we are stronger unified.
- “Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe” by Edgar Allen Poe
Because if you love the thrill of a mystery, the fright of a horror tale and the joy of a well-crafted story then you will delight in Poe’s writing. He is a master craftsman in creating stories that shock, scare and keep you thinking about them long after the book is closed.
- “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner
Because it is about the dissolution of family and a truth that is never known because everyone’s version of that truth is unreliable and changeable—just like that of most families.
- “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
Because it’s a story about a mother’s sacrifice for her child in a time of limited options and how one’s choice can “haunt” us long after it’s made. And most importantly the story’s theme of love and forgiveness is timeless.
So I hope this list provides a few good suggestions.
And although it was never on a list you missed in school, perhaps you could also consider my book, “Let the Willows Weep.”
Thank you for reading. I’m excited to hear what you think.