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Classic Recommendations for 2024

By Megan Powell, Magali Prel, Natasha Smith and Mia Walby 

 

As 2024 begins, whether you’re setting a resolution to delve into more classics or simply looking for a captivating read to start the year, we hope you can find something in our list of recommended reads. While the new year is a time for fresh starts, in these timeless classics you can still find a world of new knowledge. Rediscover a passion for reading in some of our well-loved favourites which we hope can continue to enrich and inspire – make 2024 a year filled with exploring and enjoying literature.

 

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes


In Daniel Keyes’ poignant, timely novel Flowers for Algernon, he tracks the emotional and intellectual evolution of his protagonist, Charlie, through a series of journal entries. Charlie Gordon, a man with intellectual disabilities, undergoes a ground-breaking experiment to develop his intelligence. In the introspective quality of the novel, Keyes astutely captures the way society sneers at those who they don’t view as serving a function to them, exposing the cruelty of such prejudice and imploring the reader to exercise more empathy. While it is a work of science fiction, the novel is primarily concerned with prompting us to contemplate humanity, as well as the fundamental need to connect to and be understood by others.


Keyes’ heart-breaking exploration of the human condition makes this novel a compelling choice for a reflective and thought-provoking start to the new year, offering moving, profound insights that will linger throughout 2024 and beyond. Quick-paced, impactful and powerful, it is a book everyone should read at least once in their lives.

 

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger


Letters from a Stoic is a collection of 124 letters written by Seneca the Younger during his retirement years after working for the Emperor Nero for over ten years. His letters contain advice on how to live a fulfilling life. Seneca often references the works of philosophers, such as Epicurus, and poets like Virgil and Ovid. Seneca’s philosophy and outlook on life is inspired by Stoicism, a branch of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium.


The Stoics believed that God manifested itself in the natural world and the universe, and thus preached living in accordance with nature, both our own and that of the universe. The art of living well comes from knowing what the right thing to do is. They also believed that there are some things which are in our control and some which are not, and that we should solely focus on the things we can control and not preoccupy ourselves with things that we have no say over. This can liberate us from unnecessary pain, and may be the right mindset for you to embrace in this new year.

 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


Perhaps one of your 2024 reading goals is to delve into the classics that you always hear so much about but have never read before. Let The Grapes of Wrath be at the top of your list – not only is it a powerful novel exploring themes of human dignity, emotion and familial bonds, but it also focuses on new beginnings and hope, so it’s the perfect start to your new year.


Steinbeck introduces the Joad family amidst their hustle and worries as they pack up life in Oklahoma. They begin the long, challenging journey across the country to California during the Great Depression, reeled in by the American Dream and its offer of prosperity. This shines a light on the obstacles many encountered as they searched for a better life, evoking empathy and hope from the reader, as Steinbeck highlights the falsehood of the American Dream’s promises. What remains throughout is human goodness and unbreakable pride that cannot be taken away, where a little kindness goes a long way.

 

The Call of the Wild by Jack London


Published in 1903, Jack London’s adventure novel The Call of the Wild is one that should make your 2024 to be read list. This classic contains many beloved features of the genre and most notably the exciting narrative following a dog named Buck. Set during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, London’s novel follows Buck’s journey to becoming a sled dog, allowing the moral of survival of the fittest to be explored as he navigates this different and more primitive life. Forced from the comforting domesticity in California, the Alaskan climate pushes Buck to change for survival.


To complement this read there are many adaptations to build on your imagination of this read. The most recent is Disney’s film starring Harrison Ford, which is loosely based on the book and not as faithful to the original story as other depictions. However, London encompasses a beautiful story in this short novel alone.

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