Welcome back to the second round of our Read or Skip series. This time we are looking at some of the best classic books that you should read or avoid all together. These titles have been chosen by our classic-loving librarian, Jane.
Books to Read
- 1984 by George Orwell. When I first read this book in school, I was creeped out. After reading it a few more times since graduating, I love the creepiness of O’Brien and the world Orwell created. If you’re only going to read one of the books from this list, choose Orwell.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker. One of the best books I have ever read.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. This book showcases mental illness extremely well. It is based on Plath’s own stay at a Sanatorium and the characters are inspired by people who helped her. It is one of the darker books on this list but I truly can’t recommend it enough. It’s probably my favorite book of all time. Please note: this book does address suicide.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. A classic through and through. Every time I read this, Mrs. Bennett slowly becomes my favorite person. If you like this one, I recommend reading Emma next.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I love this book. This is definitely a book that stays with you long after you read it.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have read this book probably 10 times throughout my life. Beth is still my number 1, with Jo as a close second. When I read this, it’s like reconnecting with an old friend. I recently re-read it this past December and as much as I hate it, Amy has moved up from being tied last with Meg for my least favorite.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This has everything: betrayal, love, friendship, and a woman who never can stop wearing her wedding dress.
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I read this during lockdown and it is absolutely stunning. I felt that I was a part of the Nolans’ lives and Francie is the best.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Follows a strong, fierce woman finding her voice and her own way in life.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. What other book can say “it was a pleasure to burn”? I’m waiting.
Other good reads: Frankenstein, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Huck Finn and The Great Gatsby
Books to Skip
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I hate and loathe this book. One of the worst books I have ever read.
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Boring, just boring. I hated all the characters.
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Charlotte and Anne are far better writers.
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt. My friend recommended this book to me and I got around to reading it in lockdown. I have never before read a book with a plot that made me feel dumb. This book centers around a group of classics student who kill a fellow student, but it is boring. Before going into this I knew a lot of things about classics and this book still made me feel bad about not knowing more.
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. This is one of Hemingway’s dry books, I think his other books are crafted better and the writing is more interesting.
- Barchester Tower by Anthony Trollope. If you’re interested in learning about life in rural England, this is the book for you. It is long and at many points very dry.
- Paradise Lost by John Milton. Milton sucks.
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I found the story to be quite dull.
- Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. Weird book. I am a fan of the southern gothic work but I would choose Truman Capote or Cormac McCarthy than read this again.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The concept is cool, the writing is bad. Orwell’s better.