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Required Reading: 5 Surprisingly Easy (and Fun!) to Read Classics

Depending on your memories of middle and high school, it's possible that you hate the idea of "required" reading. Classics? Who has time for them? And more importantly, aren't they boring?

Hold on a second. Not all required reading is as tedious as you remember. How many 15 year olds have empathized with Holden Caulfield or found wisdom in Atticus Finch? Homer's Odyssey, perhaps the greatest epic war poem ever recorded, may strike a chord with veterans suffering from PTSD. Although it may seem that Odysseus is an unlikely source of comfort, is there an opportunity for discussion among veterans returning home and finding a foreign land?

The best books are those that leave an impression. One of the most delightful feelings is re-reading a book and taking a completely different lesson from it.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - A biting criticism of antebellum Southern society and racial roles. Twain also explores identity and friendship.

Around the World in Eighty Days - Released at a time when technological advances raised the possibility of rapid circumnavigation of the globe, this is a fun read. It has pretty much anything you would want in a novel - adventure, a criminal plot, even a love story. This novel inspired Nellie Bly to take her 72 day trip around the world and has become such a part of our cultural fabric that we barely notice.

Frankenstein - Richland Library has a beautifully illustrated graphic novel version of this classic. I spent my teenage years intimidated by the size of the novel. By the time I finished this version (which includes all of the original text), I was completely taken by the story.

Fahrenheit 451 - A classic about censorship and independence. I can place some blame on this novel for turning me into a nut for dystopian fiction. Well-written, compelling, and for those who are crunched for time, it's also short.

Candide - Who wants to read Voltaire, you ask? If you like satire, you do. Wicked and funny, and you'll impress people the next time you bring up what you're reading.

All of these books are available at the library, and they'd be perfect to add to your summer reading list!


Amazon Says: Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple st more...
Amazon Says: Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple story of a boy's adventures in the Mississippi Valley—a sequel to Tom Sawyer—the book grew and matured under Twain's hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity. More than a century after its publication, the critical debate over the symbolic significance of Huck's and Jim's voyage is still fresh, and it remains a major work that can be enjoyed at many levels: as an incomparable adventure story and as a classic of American humor.   less...
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Amazon Says: For a bet, Phileas Fogg sets out with his servant Passeportout to achieve an incredible journey - from London to Paris, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, more...
Amazon Says: For a bet, Phileas Fogg sets out with his servant Passeportout to achieve an incredible journey - from London to Paris, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York and back to London again, all in just eighty days. There are many alarms and surprises along the way - and a last minute setback that makes all the difference between winning and losing. less...
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Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Candide: Or, Optimism by Francois Voltaire
Amazon Says:   With its vibrant new translation, perceptive introduction, and witty packaging, this new edition of Voltaire’s masterpiece belongs in the hands of every rea more...
Amazon Says:   With its vibrant new translation, perceptive introduction, and witty packaging, this new edition of Voltaire’s masterpiece belongs in the hands of every reader pondering our assumptions about human behavior and our place in the world. Candide tells of the hilarious adventures of the naïve Candide, who doggedly believes that “all is for the best” even when faced with injustice, suffering, and despair. Controversial and entertaining, Candide is a book that is vitally relevant today in our world pervaded by—as Candide would say—“the mania for insisting that all is well when all is by no means well.” A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition with French flaps and rough front Completely new translation and introduction Amazing cover art from one of the most beloved modern comic artists   less...
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The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Amazon Says: Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories--particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and S more...
Amazon Says: Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories--particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor--will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children. The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep. less...
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Amazon Says: "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of more...
Amazon Says: "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel--a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice--but the weight of history will only tolerate so much. One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recent, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the century (Library Journal). HarperCollins is proud to celebrate the anniversary of the book's publication with this special hardcover edition. less...
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