Classic Recommendations for the New Year
As we enter the New Year, it is customary for us all to set goals. I am certain that many readers will find themselves with a new or growing to be read list and more book goals this year. So, if one of your resolutions is to read more classic literature, then this feature will be the perfect guide for you. Here are four recommendations for you to consider. They range across all genres, properly exploring the classical scope, to help you decide which classic is for you.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
If you are looking for a more gothic and romantic read, Jane Eyre (1847) will certainly encompass that. The young, titular orphan lives with her Aunt Reed and her cousins, where she is treated poorly and rejected as an outcast. This leads to Jane Eyre being sent away to attend Lowood School. After spending many years there as a student and later as a teacher, she leaves to become a governess at Thornfield. As events unfold, Jane discovers her love for Mr Rochester, who owns Thornfield, but faces many challenges in the process.
Brontë boldly writes her female protagonist with truth and doesn’t conform to contextual notions or beliefs. The story is not idealised or romanticised to an extent where it is no longer believable. Jane Eyre is a realistic classic story. It is clear that Brontë was writing ahead of her time and this explains the continued admiration and deserved popularity of the story. Jane’s relatability makes for a more heart-warming read and, while with many classics the struggle to enjoy it thoroughly is due to the amount of detail and complex language, in Jane Eyre the language is clear and well-written to aid the plot.
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the mastermind behind all the mysteries and impressive skills of detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle wrote fifty-six short stories and four novels in the Sherlock canon. There are many collections which consist of multiple cases including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927). A lot of reproductions exist featuring many cases but if you are after a specific one, they can be purchased separately.
These short cases pave the way for an easy and enjoyable read of classic literature. The length of them means you can sit down with a nice hot drink and match it with a perfect read. They are equally thought-provoking and exciting. The iconic detective first appeared in A Study in Scarlet (1887) and amongst his other famous cases is the Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).
Living in 221B Baker Street with his friend, Dr John Watson, the pair solve the most mystical of crimes and puzzles, enticing the reader through the thrilling narration. However, an element of patience is required to avoid frustration in reading the cases due to eager anticipation for the solution. But rest assured, Holmes will always be successful.
1984 by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) was the last published work by Orwell and is arguably the most famous. The themes and terms used in the classic remain relevant and influential today – with popular culture referencing Big Brother and Room 101. The novel focuses on surveillance, control, nationalism and a political dystopia. Living under a totalitarian superstate, protagonist Winston Smith longs for rebellion. The frustration of his growing hatred for the Party and his inability to change it makes for an exciting read.
This is a must-read classic and there is no better time to read it than this year. The masterpiece has multiple film adaptations which would complement your read. The narration skilfully provokes thought and there are uncomfortable elements that showcase the impressive talent of Orwell. He cleverly and poetically reinforces his main ideas in the conclusion of the novel, creating a satisfying read.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This modern classic may be a better choice if your classic tastes are more contemporary. On the Road (1957) is an American bestseller and is one of the most famous works to have been produced during the Beat Generation movement. Kerouac’s novel follows Sal Paradise and his admiration for friend Dean Moriarty. The roman à clef uses its characters to allude to many key figures of the Beat Generation, with narrator Sal embodying Kerouac himself. Other character embodiments include Dean Moriarty (representing Neal Cassady) and Carlo Marx (based on Allen Ginsberg).
Kerouac describes and epitomises the Beat lifestyle in his novel, exploring jazz, sex, drugs and beauty. On the Road has been highly-praised – even considered to be life changing – and, although this can’t be a universal feeling, hopefully Kerouac’s writing stays with you. Whether this be negative or positive, it will have a profound impact on the reader.