Five Classic Books Worth Reading
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Five Classic Books Worth Reading

Jasmyne Jeffery April 30, 2022

Older novels can seem a bit dull, but lots of them are actually pretty good! Here are five classic books worth reading.

I love reading, but the thought of having to read all the ‘classics’ for my English degree made me shudder. I thought they’d all be dreary and long, but quite a lot of books pleasantly surprised me. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were definitely dreary (I’m looking at you, Wuthering Heights), but here are five classic books that I think are worth the read.

1. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Jane Eyre’s superior retelling. Rebecca is a subtly gothic tale full of twists and turns that constantly has you unsettled. It is a long one, but it’s well worth it. Once the book gets to Manderley, it’s a surprising page-turner full of crime, deceit and love, and an ending to really get you thinking. Plus, I’m a sucker for an unnamed narrator. If you like gothic but aren’t a fan of actually being scared, Rebecca is definitely the novel for you.

2. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Often considered Steinbeck’s greatest book, Grapes of Wrath is the story of the Joad family migrating across America in hopes of a better life. I found this novel heartbreaking and a brilliant character study, whilst criticising the capitalist motivations of America during the Great Depression. I was definitely the only one of my friends to love this one, so it’s certainly a book that will start a debate. However, just like my lecturer told my class, make sure everyone gets to the poignant end before discussing it.

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3. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

I first read this at A level and, for a little while, it was my favourite book (don’t ask what my favourite is now, I literally have no idea). I even memorised the opening passage which now makes me sound like a bit of a swot. Set in 1920s America, it’s the tale of Jay Gatsby, told through the definitely unreliable eyes of Nick Carraway. It’s a book swelling with obsession and greed and not many of the characters are actually likeable. But it is one of the best things I’ve ever read. Fitzgerald criticises the absurdly wealthy, the unachievable dream and justice with the watchful gaze of Dr Eckleburg. It’s not too long and it’s brimming with tension. Don’t settle for the Leonardo Dicaprio film (although I love that too), and read it for yourself.

4. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s short and sweet and contains possibly my favourite line in any book (‘ “If he be Mr Hyde”, he had thought, “I shall be Mr Seek” ‘). It’s incredibly unlikely that you don’t know the ‘twist’ of Jekyll and Hyde, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should avoid it. With symbolism everywhere you look, it’s a literary masterclass. Plus, all my friends and I agreed it was great, so it really must be good.

5. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

Whenever I tell people how much I love A Clockwork Orange, they always look a tad worried. Trust me, this isn’t a book for the faint-hearted. It’s a dark, dystopian story about Alex and his extremely violent lifestyle (and I mean, extremely), yet it’s absolutely spell-binding. It’s not the easiest read as Alex uses ‘Nadstat’ – a fictional language that the troubled youths of the story use. However, once you get your head around it (and you will, trust me), it’s an intriguing story of morality, justice and free will. It really asks, ‘What makes us human?’ by viewing the world through a truly despicable person. Plus, it’s been banned on multiple occasions across the world. If that doesn’t intrigue you, nothing will.

Read next: The best books set in London

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.