5 Books that Prove Classics are Anything But Boring

Hello, dear readers!

What’s your first thought when you hear “classic books?”

I think of leatherbound tomes thick with that lovely old-book-smell (a scent which seriously deserves its own name). I feel a spark of curiosity because, even though it’s a bit daunting, there’s an irresistible wisdom in many of the classics I’ve encountered. I remember a few of the classic books that transformed my perspective on different matters.

But maybe your reaction is quite different.

Perhaps it brings to mind the essays you scrambled to write for English class and dry literature with archaic wording. You might think classics are irrelevant to our modern times or just plain boring.

Whichever example you lean toward, I have five books to share that utterly oppose the stigma of classics being difficult to understand or dull.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This book is one of my all time favorites. It’s gloriously witty, filled with vivid characters, and is unputdownable. Austen’s sentences can get a little long and dense, but eventually the pages breeze by as you get caught up in the Bennet sisters trying to secure their futures and avoid the haughty Mr. Darcy.

Austen is a master at making her readers care deeply about homely, ordinary lives. Elizabeth Bennet is a wonderful heroine to follow, being incredibly perceptive at times and relatably blind at others.

2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

A long time ago (alright, it was just last year), I made a writing advice post using what I learned from this short story, and I still think this book is a great one for writers to study. Beyond that, it’s an engrossing classic with a very direct, straightforward style. Hemingway doesn’t mince words, use pretentious language, or waste time. The Old Man and the Sea is simple in the best way.

Hemingway makes readers care about this old man trying to catch a fish, proving what a brilliant writer he is in less than 150 pages. This is even more astonishing when I contrast it with a recent read where the author barely made me care about a climactic clash between super-powered groups when she had 500 pages to do so. Alas.

Sometimes, the classics justly deserve the praise they receive.

3. Animal Farm by George Orwell

This story falls under the “deceptively easy” category. It’s a quick read, but it’s such an eye-opening look at freedom vs. oppression and the ways we lose our liberties.

Though it’s about animals who throw off the tyranny of their farmer only to find themselves in bondage to one of their own, this book’s messages are so applicable to our own world. The most powerful stories don’t have to be complicated, and that’s what Animal Farm shows.

4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Yes, this is a children’s story, but I couldn’t leave it out. I adore this book. Lewis packs so much into this charming, allegorical story. He breaks most modern writing rules and still manages to create a childhood favorite of many. I suppose you can do things like when you’re one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is delightfully full of magical worlds, courage, and faith. Not to mention, it dispels every notion of classics being hard or boring to read.

5. Beowulf by Seamus Heaney

I make a list of approachable classics, and I include an Old English epic poem?

I regret nothing.

Sword fights, monsters, daring warriors, and best of all– dragons. This book is brimming with all the elements I love. While I can’t speak for every translation, Seamus Heaney’s is clear and flowing, providing a fabulous medium for this story. I was slightly skeptical going in, but I ended up enjoying this epic poem and the questions of honor, revenge, and society it raised.

I enjoy numerous classics, but these are a few that especially defy the stereotype of them being slow and onerous. Hopefully a few of these caught your interest, whether you typically avoid old books or devour them.

What classics do you find anything but boring? I’d love to hear from you.

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