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7 Books You Need to Dust Off and Read Again

Lifestyle |

We know you might not believe it, but there were actually a ton of great books that you read in high school. Some of them were even so good they we’re made into Oscar-nominated movies (The Great Gatsby is a prime example, even though the movie felt like you were watching it through a kaleidoscope). Some of them have really important life lessons, and let’s be honest, you really didn’t do them justice in the 10th grade. You were probably more concerned with the latest episode of Dawson’s Creek than the events of Nicholas Nickleby. So let’s take a look at some books you need to revisit (especially if one of your resolutions is to read more!).

1. Pride & Predjudice, by Jane Austen

Yes, there have been like a bajillion film versions of this (the BBC one with Colin Firth will always be my fave), not to mention modern adaptations like Bridget Jones and Bride and Predjudice, but the book is where it’s at. Elizabeth Bennett is one of the most beloved characters in all of literature, and though she was born in a completely different time than I was, I feel like we would have a great time if we grabbed a couple of chai lattes at Starbucks.

The Plot: The Bennetts are trying to marry off their five daughters—a somewhat impossible task when dowries are not plentiful. Elizabeth Bennett is the most headstrong of the sisters, and hopes to marry for love even though her exhausting mother just wants her to be married. Cue Mr. Darcy and his judgemental broodiness. He criticizes Lizzy on first glance but quickly comes around and realizes she is all that and a bag of chips. But stubborn Lizzy has also decided he is not worth her time (plus, she gets told some lies by a hot military dude). Sexual tension abound, corsets are worn, and old English mansions are everywhere. How could you not love this book?

Lessons: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t be a snob. Don’t be so stubborn. Do background checks on everyone. (Oh, and corsets were a pain.)

2. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

The Plot: The book follows Captain John Yossarian in his path as a bombardier in the Air Force during World War II. His one goal is to survive the war and its maddening culture. He’s convinced that everyone is trying to kill him. This school of thought often happens during war because… well, everyone is trying to kill you.

Lessons: The novel is all about Yossarian’s desperation to escape a war that is meaningless to him. Sometimes, even though you have to go against the flow, you need to do this. The bureaucracy and rules of such large institutions, Heller suggests, often exist for their own sake, not for a good reason.

3. Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Plot: If you feel like crying for weeks, then this is the book for you. Told mostly in flashbacks, the book focuses on the emotional devastation of slavery on one family.

Lessons: Community and a support network will help you survive.

4. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

Plot: We all had to read it, and sadly there wasn’t a fun, plucky modern adaptation of it set in high school like we had with Taming of the Shrew (10 Things I Hate About You), Othello (O), or Twelfth Night (She’s the Man). We actually had to really read this one and understand it. Basically Hamlet, the Danish Prince, is having a really bad day. His dad was murdered, his mother is being shady, his girlfriend is insane, and it just gets worse.

Lesson: Hamlet is all about revenge, something we see every day in modern society. Heck, we have a TV show that is built around the concept. The lessons are obvious: Revenge is bittersweet and can drive you to a whole new level of crazy.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Plot: Such a classic if ever there was one. Through a child’s eyes we see the most brilliant depiction of prejudice and injustice in Alabama in the 1930s. We have the children’s story with recluse Boo Radley set against a devastating trial where an ignorant white woman falsely accuses a black man of rape.

Lessons: Not everything is black and white. People aren’t purely good or purely evil. Try to look for the good and sympathize more. And teach children from a young age to do the same.

6. The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

Plot: Lies, affairs, fake brothers, and babies found in handbags all set against the backdrop of beautiful, bucolic, high society England at the end of the 19th century. And unlike all these other depressing books, this one is actually funny!

Lessons: Be earnest. And show your true character before you marry someone.

7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Plot: Now, you could just go see the film, or you could read the book again! Secret romances, lavish parties, flappers, and symbolism. This book is just one big party (except for all the really depressing parts)! But we will never forget the character of Jay Gatsby and his desire to turn all dreams into reality.

Lessons: Pretending to be someone else won’t get you very far. Faking it ’til you make it can only work to a certain degree.

What are some classics you think everyone should read again? Tell us in the comments!

Ask Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Vice President of Recruitment, Organization and Workplace Diversity at Disney ABC Television Group, what her favorite books are!

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movies lifestyle 2 books reading

14 Comments

Good classic books, Most of them I have never read them. I've always enjoyed the Great Gatsby. I never read Catch-22 in high school, so I'm def going to go get the book at my library.

2y
Rodrigo Zarco

I've been reading War and Peace and I am liking it; I know it sounds intimidating reading a book that size, but reading about the Russian aristocracy during the whole Napoleon thing is very interesting and it has similar qualities that you would find in books like Pride and Prejudice (which I only read because I liked the movie with kiera Knightly and it had zombies in it) or Hamlet; which if you want to watch the movie you should find the one with David Tennant and what's-his-name the bald captain in one of the star trek series (Patrick something maybe); David Tennant brings out this new je ne sais qoui to the character.
Anyway, sorry about the long comment and enjoy :)

3y

Definitely Gone With The Wind! I would also add Jane Eyre, On The Road (skip the movie...the book is so much better), and Rebecca. Jane Eyre's the book I usually go to when I need inspiration (the 2011 film adaptation rocks!). :)

3y
hannah cunningham

The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird are classics and I could read them over and over again! My to do list includes reading Catch 22 and Beloved!

3y

I enjoyed reading The Bell Jar in high school, but it hit much, much closer to home after reading it a second time in January. I love re-reading classics. I've found it's an excellent way to gauge how much my perspective has changed over the years.

3y

I have recently started reading all the "books I should have read" and actually much prefer Emma to P&P, though I still haven't seen the film of the former but I love all the P&P adaptations!

3y

To Kill a Mockingbird...one of my all time favorites! I'm waiting for Khaled Hosseini's works to become classics. No one seems to capture the nitty gritty of humanity like he does!

3y

I revisit The Secret Garden or A Girl of the Limberlost when I'm feeling uninspired (or catch myself taking life for granted). Light, quick reads that remind you to see the beauty in all things, relationships, and self.

3y

Catcher in the Rye. That's a book that somehow you always are re-wowed in how perfectly written it is and the depth that Salinger gives to his imagery.

3y

Perks of Being a Wallflower has always been a re-read staple for me!

3y

Agreed, that is one of my favorites!

3y

One book I'll never get tired of? 'Lolita,' by Vladimir Nabokov. That's one book that never collects dust!

3y

Couldn't agree more!

3y

Certainly a few of my all time top faves in there. What about Gone With the Wind? One for a holiday when you can concentrate

3y
Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the Editor at Large for Levo League. Before that she was the Editor in Chief of The Grindstone and was on staff at Business Insider. She has written for magazines including Marie Claire, SELF, Women's Health and Cosmopolitan. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys SoulCycle, jogging and playing with her Yorkshire Terrier Otis, who also loves SoulCycle.