The world is in quarantine. What better time to refine your reading repertoire than by finally getting around to reading those classic books on your shelf that you may have started to read but gave up on, or perhaps you just put it there to make people think you’re smart. Regardless, you’ve got time to kill now, so if you’re looking for a unique read to kill some time and you’re fresh out of more modern books to read, why not give these 10 classic books a try?
Surely many have already seen the movie with the animated Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mother. It was so so, though certainly interesting in its commentary on the passing down of stories and how it doesn’t always correlate with truth, as well as the passage of history that ends with the eventual and seemingly inevitable conversion of the Scandinavians to Christianity. The movie aside, the book is fascinating in terms of its unity of Christian and pagan elements, the exquisite and intricate alliterative verse, and the fascinating story of the Scandinavian-style epic itself. Perhaps it was originally meant as a means of explaining to Anglo-Saxon pagans how Christianity and paganism were compatible in its beliefs, but now it serves as an important reflection of medieval history and old English literature, and it’s a must-read for our list of classic books!
2. The Hobbit
This addition to our classic books is indeed a classic, and one of my personal favorites. You simply can go wrong with a classic story of an epic quest with wizards, dragons, elves, and dwarves, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s deep and intricate world of Middle-Earth was at the start of it all (actually the start of it all was the ancient tales of King Arthur and Celtic Mythology, but that’s neither here nor there). It’s a basic one book fairy-tale quest. It doesn’t go too deep into the lore and the relaying groundwork, which is what his following epic trilogy does, making this perfect for anyone who is lacking in patience.
3. Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
Unlike The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s following book the reader will need some more patience. A lot of people complain that they didn’t need to make three movies just for The Hobbit, but anyone who read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy might wonder why the movies weren’t a series of 6 at least! It’s articulate, and deeply descriptive language definitely makes it a long read, from vast feasts described down to the bread to noble and heroic titles lasting for a quarter of a page, but it’s definitely a solid way to kill time and the perfect read for anyone who wants to know more information about the lore of Middle Earth outside of The Hobbit. For even further reading you’ll have to resort to The Silmarillion, but as I myself have not yet gotten around to reading it, I did not think it proper to write of it in this article.
4. The Divine Comedy
A classic even among our classic books – there has been a plethora of references to the text in pop culture. As a result, it is safe to assume that there are far more people who have heard of it than those who have actually read the text. It’s a riveting, epic tale by Dante Alighieri, written in intricate verse that is translated from old Italian. It’s about the journey of Dante the pilgrim through the levels of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. Much of his effort, it seems, as well as his most controversial (for the time) allegories against the Italian aristocracy, are found in his first book Inferno.
5. The Road
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie with Vigo Mortensen (great friggin’ movie by the way), but have you read this next addition to our classic books? If you thought the movie was grim and dark, the book is far more intricate in its uncannily grim rhetoric. So you’re aware ahead of time, the author Cormac McCarthy doesn’t have any punctuation or grammatical structure in order to give the dystopian book a sense of emptiness, to make the novel as lacking in structure as the society in which the story takes place. If you like dystopian fiction and you can get your OCD around this fact, you’re in for a treat with this book.
7. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
If you think you like society and kids, you might rethink those sentiments after you read this addition to our classic books. It’s about a number of children that get stranded on an island. Essentially it breaks down children, and thus the most basic psychology of humans, as little monsters that are easily reduced to murderous animals by peer pressure and mob mentality. It’s a great read to remind you about the brighter side of being locked away from the rest of the world!
8. The Giver, Louis Lowery
A novel about a dystopia disguised as a utopia, in which human emotion is muted entirely, save one member of the society called “the giver” the person whose job it is to remember the old world in all its beauty and innumerable flaws. It’s a truly amazing book, and also a pretty decent movie if you haven’t seen it. If you’re into deep dystopic literature, this book will be right up your alley.
9. Homers Odyssey
Back to the past with this next addition to our classic books! Homers Odyssey takes place after the bloody conclusion of the Iliad and the Trojan War. Starred by the Greek hero Odysseus, it follows the general’s odyssey from the conquered city of Troy back to his home of Ithaca. It’s misogynistic as all hell, as is to be expected of ancient literature, especially of Greek origin. That said, it’s the perfect text to understand the ancient Grecian societal mentality and how they perceived their pantheon of gods – as vengeful, jealous, and as flawed as humans, if not more. Definitely, a classic and interesting read, especially if you’re into Greek mythology.
10. Paradise Lost
Speaking of super classic books, Paradise Lost is one of my favorites if you can get through the vocabulary. That said, it’s not as difficult relative to some of the older texts. It’s an interesting epic poem by the Puritan Poet, John Milton, that tells the narrative of Lucifer, his confinement to Hell after his failed rebellion, and his plan to overthrow God’s power on earth by corrupting humans. Then the narrative shifts to Adam and Eve and the fall from the garden of Eden. It’s a pretty good read, especially if you’re interested in adaptations of Christian mythology, demonology and the geography of Hell, and historical allegory.