It’s become very rare to find a person who diligently reads for fun. Though that may not seem like a bad thing, if you haven’t read a few specific books by now then you are missing out on some very special works of literature.
Most of these books were either assigned in high school or suggested by the one friend constantly begging you to just “read one chapter please!” In any case, these books have become beloved by every generation – these are the kind of books that stay with you for a long time.
1. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee
This book is a masterpiece that deals with complex issues like race and accepting the differences of others. The story takes place in the late 1930s in Alabama, where a young African American man has been accused of raping a young woman. While most in the town believe he is guilty, a lawyer by the name of Atticus Finch strives to prove the man’s innocence while also teaching his young children, Scout and Jem, to look at other’s differences through their eyes.
Side note: It may not be a good idea to read “Go Set a Watchman,” Harper Lee’s original draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as it will probably shatter the perfect vision that all who have read her book possess.
2. “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you have a general idea of what this novel is about, it’s most likely due to the recent movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. While the movie was well-made, the book is filled with more sadness and beauty than any movie can show you.
The book takes place in the 1920s in fictional areas of Long Island, known as East Egg and West Egg, and follows Jay Gatsby, a man who literally went from rags to riches in pursuit of a better life and the love of a wealthy heiress by the name of Daisy. When Daisy’s cousin Nick Carraway arrives from the Midwest, Gatsby sees a chance to finally reconnect with his old flame, who is now married to the adulterous Tom Buchanan, but the reconciliation comes with some unexpected sorrow. This story describes the hardships and joy that come with the American Dream, while displaying one of the most beautiful tragic romances in the history of literature.
3. “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck
This novel showcases the brutality that comes with pursuing the American Dream through the eyes of two disgraced farmhands during the Great Depression; the intelligent, yet small, George and the large, yet slow, Lenny.
The two men were driven out of town due to Lenny’s childlike nature and find employment at a farm out West in order to fulfill their dream of buying a ranch of their own. Though the story is short, it relays themes of friendship and the hardships that come with pursuing something that appears to be out of reach.
4. “Gone with the Wind,” Margaret Mitchel
This is one of the most prominent stories to take place around the time of the Civil War.
Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara relentlessly pursues a man who does not love her while being pursued by part-time scoundrel, part-time gentleman Rhett Butler. As the novel goes on Scarlett becomes more than a housewife as she breaks the boundaries of gender inequality by running her own business and surviving the horrors of the Civil War in a very strong and courageous manner. This book not only tells the greatest love story of all time, but also gives a different perspective to the hardships of the Civil War.
5. The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
This series defined a generation of kids and created stories and characters that almost everyone can relate to. The series begins with a young a boy by the name of Harry Potter who finds out not only is he a wizard, but he may be the greatest wizard in existence as he destroyed the darkest wizard in history when he was only a baby. Because of this, he is able to attend the infamous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he meets friends, learns magic and comes into a constant battle of good and evil. A generation of kids have grown up with these books and movies and have learned lessons about love, friendship and standing up for what’s right.
6. The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins
This story is what began the fascination with the post-apocalyptic novel genre and began another generation-defining series. “The Hunger Games” follows the nation of Panem, that not only is divided into 12 districts with different forms of exports, but also sends a boy and girl from each district to fight to the death for the amusement of the rich and powerful who live in the bizarre city of the Capital.
The trilogy follows Katniss Everdeen, a girl who lives in the poor district 12 and is forced to provide for her family. When her sister is picked for the Hunger Games, Katniss takes her place and must fight to survive both the games and her corrupt government while navigating through her tumultuous love life. These books provide a strong moral message along with memorable characters and a lot of action-packed scenes.
7. “Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” C. S. Lewis
This is yet another magical book that often appeals to all types of audiences. Interestingly enough, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” has some religious undertones notably in the form of a talking Jesus allegory lion by the name of Aslan.
The book begins with four siblings, named Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, who are sent to live in a strange house far away from World War II in England, it’s there that Lucy stumbles upon a wardrobe that leads her to Narnia, which at the time was under the ruthless control of the White Witch. The four are soon forced to help save Narnia from the White Witch’s tyrannical rule with the aid of some of the most creative creatures to ever exist including the infamous Aslan. This book is an incredible story, right behind “The Lord of the Rings” when it comes to memorable fantasy worlds.
Each of these books is filled with intrigue and a strong moral message in the hopes to make people think more deeply. If you have not read any of these books or you’re just missing out on reading one of these books, don’t miss out. Stop reading this and go pick up a book!
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