The school year is beginning, which means all those big, scary, questionably confusing school books that you’ve stashed away in the corner of your bookshelf are about to make their way onto your desk (cue ominous music). However, I am here to offer some small consolation in a short list of unperplexing school classics that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Thus, without further ado, I present to you the four finalists!
1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
To be honest, the first time I read this book, I thought, “What?!” A story full of unforeseen twists and turns (and sarcastic comments from our dearest narrator), The Count of Monte Cristo follows young Edmond Dantes, a sailor-turned-wrongly-convicted-criminal and his attempts to seek revenge on those who dumped him in prison in the first place. Dumas not only leaves readers staying up until 3 A.M. wondering what will happen next, but depicts how seeking vengeance demoralizes a person and is ultimately dissatisfying.
2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
I know, I know, almost everyone has read or seen Hamlet, but the reason it made this list is because if you haven’t had the chance to experience it yet, you should. This play tells of the depressed Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, who has just returned home to find his father dead and his mother already remarried… to her dead husband’s brother. Hamlet finds this disgustingly incestuous and attempts to prove there has been foul play involved, which, of course, does not end well for anyone. (If you find Shakespeare hard to understand, reading a No Fear Shakespeare copy of Hamlet or watching it instead might make it easier to comprehend.)
3. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Often living in the shadows of some of Steinbeck’s more popular novels, The Pearl conveys the negative consequences of wealth and greed. Kino, a poor young pearl-diver, suddenly strikes it big one day when he comes upon the biggest pearl of his career, causing him to spend his money foolishly and greedily obsess over his growing wealth. Often used as a Mexican moral story, this tale should easily make it onto everyone’s to-read list.
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
If you’re more the romantic type, Jane Eyre is the book for you, though it’s not your typical romance novel. Apart from a love story between our two main protagonists, Jane and Mr. Rochester, Bronte also integrates the aftereffects of abuse, finding home among loved ones, and the positive outcomes of personal independence and confidence. Not without its plot twists (like keeping a random crazy lady in the attic… seriously, read the book, it’s a thing), Jane Eyre is a touching tale about self-discovery and love.
Now look at that dreaded section of your bookshelf. It’s okay, they won’t bite. Do you see any of the aforementioned books? If so, pat yourself on the back, you lucky student, you! This is going to be a fantastically fun school year.