Without summer concerts, camps, or sporting events, you’re bound to have a bit more time to read this summer. We suggest making the most of it and putting together just the right summer reading list.
We pulled together a list of classic novels that are relevant today, especially in 2020 — the year of the pandemic and racial unrest felt around the world. Here are our top pics that we hope offer a bit of much-needed perspective and levity.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain’s classic tale of friends Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer will never lose its poignancy. This is another book that explores America’s dark past as Huckleberry escapes his alcoholic father, teams up with a former slave, Jim, and heads down the Mississippi River to what they hope is a better life.
Humor and tragedy collide in this classic novel written by Joseph Heller. Set near the end of World War II, follow along as Yossarian braves the scores of people trying to kill him each time he takes to the skies as part of an American bomber squadron based near Italy. But his own army and the Catch-22 in which he is stuck may actually pose a greater danger.
Big Brother is watching. In light of recent events, perhaps a trip back to George Orwell’s 1984 is in order. This book explores themes of government overreach, surveillance, and totalitarianism. Those who have never read it will discover the origin of terms such as doublethink and thoughtcrime.
For those who want to delve into themes of systematic causation behind Black crime, Richard Wright weaves an interesting tale. Without excusing the horrific crimes committed by the protagonist, he does show the role of society in how they came about.
To Kill a Mockingbird
At a time when racial tensions are high, revisiting Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book is a great way to get some perspective. The novel treats issues of segregation and inequality because of race with the a bit of humor and compassion.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
This tragic tale by African American writer Zora Neale Hurston was not initially well-received but later became a classic. It follows the life of Janie, the granddaughter of a slave, as she (somewhat) unsuccessfully searches for love.
Pride and Prejudice
No list of classics would be complete without Jane Austen’s humorous book highlighting the trap of judging a book by its cover. Discover what life was like in the middle class back then and learn a few timeless truths.
The Great Gatsby
Travel back in time to the 1920s with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s incredible masterpiece highlighting the tragedy of a society focused solely on wealth. The parties at Jay Gatsby’s home never seem to end, but his silent longing leads him on a tragic course.
Another famous love story, Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel follows a young girl as she overcomes hardships and becomes a strong woman. But how does her search for freedom and equality end?
Incredibly, Mary Shelley was just 18 years old when she wrote this chilling tale that explores consequences for one’s actions and learning to take responsibility. This classic novel spurred the creation of the modern American science fiction novel.