MenagerieThe comforts of the classics
The comforts of the classics
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March 29, 2015
Tags:
March 29, 2015

To read a book for the first time is an extraordinary pleasure. Borne from the anticipation of embarking on another journey through worlds beyond, the mere sight and smell of a new volume is enough to set the hearts of readers aflutter. Even after the nuances of modern fiction and non-fiction (sparkling vampires, post-apocalyptic battles, and self-help dogmas) have grown on us, we can always rely on the comforts of our favorite dog-eared classics for some much needed perspective. Much akin to revisiting an old and dear friend, it is always hearty for the soul to settle down with a comfortable classic hardback every now and then.

Here we bring you ten classic page-turners that have been much treasured throughout the ages. Pick one up and enjoy reading, as the long, lazy days of summer roll by.

 

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

No such list would be complete without a compelling account of one of the most memorable romance novels to date. Love and passion are the defining elements in Jane Eyre, and a thorough read will sweep you along the halls of Thornfield, where Jane, a governess, and Edward Rochester, the brooding and Byronic master of the house, struggle with both their principles and their burgeoning affection for each other. Time and time again, this classic novel has proven that love is a religion of its own kind, regardless of the era.

 

 

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

No, this has nothing to do with Bohemian Rhapsody. Set in the romantic country of France during the not-so-romantic period of the French Revolution, Scaramouche is a fast-paced read replete with sword fighting, perfectly detestable villains, imperfect heroes, and a plot twist that will make the reader bellow a Heathcliff-like howl of frustration for not having thought of the twist sooner. But what truly sets this book apart is the sparkling wit with which the author deftly crafts this tale.

 

 

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Here be some imagination, playfulness, and somberness rolled into one package. This light novella speaks to children and adults alike with its watercolor illustrations and heartwarming message. A poetic tale beloved by readers, The Little Prince upholds children and praises them for their innocence and their ability to see the essential truths in life. Structured as a fable featuring fantastical elements, this classic masterpiece is renowned for its many insightful observations on human life and relationships, particularly for its somber allusions to the lonely process of growing up.

 

 

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

Or for that matter, any compilation of short stories penned by God of goth, Edgar Allan Poe. Although Poe did write one novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, he is best known for his short stories and poems (and for inspiring generations of melodramatic teenagers). Poe has brought to life some of the most chilling characters – from the unlucky Prospero in his attempts to flee the Red Death to the tormented and insane Roderick Usher. Dark themes are his forte. But he weaves them so gloriously that even the least inclined to his genre cannot help but be captivated by his unique voice.

 

 

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

On the subject of wit, Mr. Wilde, famously known for his brooding and sulky creation Dorian Gray, was a master on said subject. So confident was he in his prowess that after the Irish author’s visit of America, so the story goes, he humbly had this to say, “I have nothing to declare except my own genius.” And a testimony to his genius is his play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Filled with delightful witticisms and hilariously nutty characters, the play is a wonderful read for a good laugh.

 

 

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It would be a crime to not have read this book. For as seems to be the vogue with Russian authors, this novel tackles topics such as depression and is set in the comforting setting of the scorching Russian summer and the appealing Antarctica-like temperature of Siberia. Even the famed Sigmund Freud, the great psychologist, greatly admired Dostoyevsky, and it is no small wonder that he did – Dostoyevsky’s works, especially this one, delve deeply into the human consciousness and portray a deeper picture of the human psychology. It is a tale of humanity – of failure, triumph, and hypocrisy, of despicable people and good people, and of love and hope in the midst of evil.

 

 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina is a complex yet worldly and passionate read – it provides a glimpse into the aristocratic lives of an elite set of characters and their interplay with stifling social norms and changes. The tragedy of Anna, the femme fatale of Russian literature, follows her sacrificial quest for love and happiness, which ultimately led to her downfall. Complementing Anna’s journey are the personal pursuits of her family and friends, whose successes and failures render this novel an increasingly lush and insightful read.

 

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

One of the well-loved books from one of the greatest British writers, A Tale of Two Cities is, at its core, a simple love story. And perhaps it is in this simplicity that the book has found such universal appeal. It speaks of Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay – both in love with the beautiful Lucie. This masterpiece speaks of love in its truest sense – and not only does the reader read about love, but she, in turn, falls in love with each of the characters; she laughs with them, she struggles with them, and she weeps with them, but most of all she remembers them – for they are simply reflections of herself.

 

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

One of the boldest and most feministic novels of its era, The Awakening recounts the tale of a Southern Louisiana housewife and her unorthodox struggle to deny the titles of ‘mother’ and ‘wife’ imposed upon her by societal constructs. Although initially thought to be too provocative by critics, the stark contrast and silent conflict between societal expectations and self-individuality and freedom render this novel a particularly moving and relevant read.

 

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

A riveting read for people fueled with wanderlust, On The Road is the archetypal, life-defining, and soul-searching novel whose protagonists embark on a physical and spiritual journey around post-World War II America to try and find meaning in their lives. Running the entire gamut of post-war Beat culture (jazz, poetry, liquor, sex, drug use), this classic describes Americana vividly and will take readers across freight trains and Frisco, carpe diem-style.

 

The aforementioned are only a few of the great classics. To list down all the breathtaking classics would take up a voluminous amount of paper (and our editors would not take kindly to that). There are many more great books out there, but the list above provides excellent material to start with. So, fair reader, fear not the seemingly terrifying tomes. The classics are more relatable than you think.