Classics are probably the most challenging genre of books to get into. Some of these books have been around for decades, if not centuries, making them tricky to understand if you’re not familiar with older styles of writing.
Luckily, I’ve curated a list of classics that I think are perfect for the young adult age range and above, making them a great way for anyone to spark their love for the genre.
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury remains a timeless classic in the world of dystopian fiction. It is often introduced to high school students as a part of their English Literature curriculum and always seems to be somebody’s favorite educational read.
Initially published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 follows the story of Guy Montag, a fireman whose sole job is to burn books. In this society, books have been banned, and anyone found keeping them must face the dire consequences brought on by the firemen.
In a world where people are absorbed in technology and no longer connect with nature or have valuable discussions, Guy knows that something is missing from his life. He begins to steal books from his work, sparking his love for reading and a desire to change the system.
But this society has other plans, and Guy soon realizes just how far he must go to rekindle the world’s love for literature.
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is another title that withstands the test of time. This book is commonly referred to as one of the greatest works of its era and is known for being one of literature’s most popular coming-of-age novels.
Set in the 1950s, The Catcher in the Rye follows the story of Holden Caulfield, a dissatisfied sixteen year old boy narrating his everyday experiences. His narration follows a series of events that portray his character as morose and eager to find greater meaning in life.
It explores themes of defensive isolation, innocence, and how much it hurts to grow up.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most beloved works of fiction of all time. This classic is another title that is often studied by high school students and is a great way to ease your way into Classics.
Originally published in 1925, The Great Gatsby follows narrator Nick Carraway as he befriends bewildering millionaire and next-door neighbor Jay Gatsby. Gatsby has spent his life trying to win over Nick’s cousin Daisy using extravagant parties and his own absurd wealth. With an almost numb, sometimes despondent outlook, Nick narrates these events as a newcomer into high society.
An extraordinary tale about life in the jazz age, The Great Gatsby explores themes of destructive human nature, the trials of living in the past, and love long lost.
4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables is a children’s classic by L.M. Montgomery. However, this title is known to be enjoyed by people of all ages, as it has the ability to move just about any reader. Because it’s written for a younger audience, Anne of Green Gables is an excellent introductory piece to older writing styles.
When siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert attempt to adopt an orphaned boy to help out on their family farm, they are surprised when they are sent a young girl instead. But Anne is no ordinary girl. Talkative, bright, and energetic, Anne is everything girls in this era are taught to suppress. As Matthew and Marilla begin to see beyond Anne’s gender, into her loving character, they agree to let her stay.
In a story filled with both humorous and heart-wrenching prose, Anne of Green Gables explores the beauty of imagination, and the pain that often comes with adolescence.
5. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a classic dark fantasy book written by Ray Bradbury and initially published in 1962.
The story follows William Halloway and James Nightshade, two thirteen year old boys living in small town Illinois. Life is quiet and slow until one October, when a carnival unexpectedly arrives. There is something strange about this carnival, and Will and James seem to be the only ones who notice that the carnival may not be what it seems.
Filled to the brim with dark magic and thrilling horror, Something Wicked This Way Comes beautifully describes how painful it can be to realize you’re growing older— or to realize that you no longer want to be young. The novel teaches you how to accept who you are and discover what it means to be good along the way.
The genre of classic literature is one of the most rewarding genres to explore. There are so many amazing titles out there, but it can be challenging to know where to begin.
With these 5 YA-friendly books, I hope you can introduce yourself to the genre and fall in love with many more timeless classics to come.