Review: Five classic books that are actually worth the read

Photo by McKenzie Heileman

When thinking about literature, many individuals think about books considered to be “classics.” However, not all classics are actually worth reading. 

Yet, there are several classic books that are worth the time and effort to read and understand them. They are enriching and interesting stories that can tell us a lot about the present, though they were written years ago. 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, published in 1960, is a story told by Jean Finch, a 6-year-old girl, nicknamed Scout. Scout’s widowed father, Atticus, is a lawyer defending Tom Robinson, a Black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. Atticus takes the case, though the townspeople know he has a slim chance of winning. 

Lee tells an amazing tale about anti-Black racism and how it exists in the world, especially in the past. Though this novel is set in the era of the Great Depression, readers can learn how past events affect the present.

The novel is a classic, but it has been criticised for being a prime example of “white saviorism,” which is when a white person provides help to a non-white person for self-serving purposes. Lee’s novel also denies Black individuals within the book any sort of autonomy.  

This story is narrated powerfully and beautifully, which is part of the reason readers from all generations are drawn to this novel. It is a story that reads easily and quickly, making readers forget that this story is a modern American classic. 

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, published in 1847, is the type of novel many individuals remember when thinking of classic books. It is a Gothic coming-of-age story about Jane Eyre’s life, trailing her from childhood to her eventual marriage. 

Though “Jane Eyre” is a story that seems simple, it is rife with experiences and emotions that are relatable to all people, as the novel deals with love, loss and morals. Readers, no matter who they are, can see themselves in Jane, or at least one of the many characters.  

[Photo of the books: Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo]
Photo by McKenzie Heileman | The Arbiter

This story, at the time of its publication, was revolutionary for its writing style, as it’s told in the first person narrative, bringing readers into an intimate telling of the novel’s heroine. 

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, published in 1823, is a short classic book. It is a story that follows scientist Victor Frankenstein and his creation of a sentient creature through a strange and unpracticed science experiment. 

This novel is masterful and though it is more of a tragedy than it is a thriller, it is a novel worth the reader’s time. Several consider it to be the first novel of the science-fiction genre, although it is infused with many romantic and gothic elements.

Shelley’s novel is practically flawless, told in a tight, action-packed manner. Readers will speed through this centuries-old classic for its fascinating and influential story. 

“Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo, published in 1862, is the longest of these recommendations, finishing at over 1,000 pages, but every page is worth the time. It is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, telling the story of several different characters in five separate volumes, though modern publications combine all five volumes. 

Hugo masterfully weaves all of these character’s lives in an intricate way without being confusing. Each character is dynamic and full of depth, with a story that is unique to them. Readers will see themselves in at least one of these fascinating characters. 

At its time of publication, the novel was received with mixed reviews, but it is now considered a powerful and skilled classic novel. 

“The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, published in 1844, is an exciting adventure novel, recounting the tale of a man wrongly imprisoned and his plan for revenge against those who betrayed him. 

This was the first true classic I had ever read, and I still love it with a great passion. It is a long but exhilarating, and often very funny story that is now thought to be a literary classic. Dumas writes a fun and fascinating story that is sure to satisfy readers. 

The novel is one of Dumas’ more popular works, and for good reason. It is a novel that readers will love and return to.

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