When it comes to classic novels, sometimes it’s hard for people to see the valuable messages behind the fancy words on each page. Whether or not you’re a fan of iambic pentameter, I strongly suggest giving classics a chance. Even if you had a bad experience with reading in high school, it’s important to consider picking up a few classic novels to add to your relaxing list of summer beach reads. Because believe it or not, classic novels hold a ton of timeless messages that are applicable to your life now- and in 40 years!
1 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Where do I start with my fictional friend Huck? If you haven’t read this classic already, please do yourself a favor and start reading. I recommend this one to readers of all ages, especially pre-teens. Of the many classic novels with timeless messages, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the few literary works that I can read over and over again and learn something new from it each time. So don’t hesitate to pick this classic up on your next trip to beach or lake, I can almost guarantee you will feel as playful and adventurous as the amazing characters you will meet on each page.
2 The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Being sort of a history buff myself, I especially love classic novels that portray how life used to be. Regardless of how long ago these stories take place, they each continue to radiate meaning and depth for all readers. Similarly, The Jungle exposes the hardships of many immigrants and factory workers during the turn of the 19th century. If you think you have nothing to learn from Upton Sinclair’s classic tale, you are very wrong. Similarly, I am sure you will find aspects that are still relevant to your daily lifestyle- no matter how trivial or overt they may seem.
3 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The days of African-American slavery in America are long gone, but the story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin still lives on. I probably would not recommend this classic to younger readers because of the nature of its graphic content. Nonetheless, there are many timeless messages to be learned and implemented from all classic novels about slavery. Particularly when I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I always appreciate the lengths to which people went to do what was right- even if it meant breaking the law.
4 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn can also be classified by most as a rather mature novel, although I read it in middle school and had no problem with the content. Overall Betty Smith’s tale made me appreciate the peaceful household I was born into, and the many sacrifices my parents made to make sure I had a pleasant and memorable childhood. I think the adversity that the main characters faced teaches readers core values which other classic novels do not necessarily address directly. I tell all women to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, maybe even more than once. Each time you will probably notice different things about yourself as a reader, and more importantly as a person and family member.
5 The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand is by far one of my favorite authors of all time, and initially I could not choose which novel I wanted to include on this list, considering all of her classic novels have multiple timeless messages. After careful consideration I realized that The Fountainhead is one of those classic novels that you find yourself pondering the meaning of for months and maybe even several years. Everyone goes through some hardship in their lifetime, and Ayn Rand’s work speaks to all those frustrated with their present lifestyle and job environment. More specifically, The Fountainhead made me question what it means to conform to a society which often revolves around money, instant pleasure, and turmoil.
6 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Although Fahrenheit 451 is one of the many classic novels assigned as required reading during high school, I find that adults far beyond high school learn the most from the timeless messages present in each chapter. No one really knows what will happen 200 years from now since it’s safe to say most of us will be gone, but when thinking of the world Bradbury portrays, I feel somewhat obligated to do things differently. I see why this novel is assigned in most high school English classes, because it forces readers to question what it means to be human. What will being human feel like in 200 years? And will a domineering governmental presence lead to the overall downfall of a once functional society? Maybe you’re not one for philosophical and existential questions, but consider figuring out what your values are at least, or better yet reevaluate them by reading Fahrenheit 451 as soon as possible!
7 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Ah, such a great story! I’m sure many people had the chance to see some version of Victor Hugo’s classic tale, probably through the latest adaption with Anne Hathaway. But to me, reading classic novels takes on a whole new feeling and experience that no film or Broadway musical ever did. Regardless of where you live in the world, the streets of France come alive to bring about frustration, anger, love, and sadness for Fantine, her daughter Cosette and consequently readers everywhere.
8 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
While East of Eden, The Pearl, and Of Mice and Men are wonderful classic novels by John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath made me question my morals a bit more than the others did. As the world continues to change, I always feel that reconsidering one’s beliefs is just as important as forming new ones. Steinbeck allows the reader to go through this process at a natural and organic pace, and all the while you will probably fall in love with the beautiful alliterations and metaphors on each page.
9 The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway is another brilliant writer notable for many classic novels, but The Sun Also Rises stands out to me as the one with the most inspirational and timeless messages. In short, it is about the ceremonial running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. I have a secret love affair with all things Spanish, but I highly recommend The Sun Also Rises for readers looking for a legitimate escape from their daily troubles. Hemingway draws the reader in with a satirical humor that would make even the most cynical people laugh. His depiction of the Spanish countryside makes me want to drop everything and go to Spain, but in total I feel this classic novel eventually generates a concerning feeling of turmoil. But even in the height of such despair, the protagonist, and consequently the reader achieve a sense of peace and calm which continues to elude most people’s daily lives.
There are so many classic novels, and I like to think that most of them have valuable timeless messages! Are there any novels not listed here that you feel have a timeless message? How would you define the expression “timeless message,” and is it present in most novels you read? Please share your thoughts!
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