September is underway and as we follow our tradition that prepares us for the back to school season, I look back at mine and the first thing that comes to mind is buying over-priced textbooks. Back in college I usually forgo buying new clothes or school supplies to save money and afford brand new textbooks fresh from their plastic wrap. And sure it was a pain to fork over $150 to buy a chemistry textbook that I couldn’t sell back to the bookstore, but to succeed in-class and get at least a passing grade, it was a necessity.
But that one thought made me realize the most important back to school supply of the season: books. Whether its ridiculously expensive 5-pound hardcovers or lightweight paperbacks, we all need books to prepare ourselves for any possible scenario from 20 page term papers and grueling midterms.
Buying textbooks was a tradition for my back to school shopping. But as I graduated I now have a new custom for this season: reading classics. I welcome this season by returning to classic literature, whether it’s short stories from Edith Wharton, a new mystery from Wilkie Collins or even the historical accounts of wealthy expatriates by Fitzgerald. As students return to school poring over scholarly textbooks, I return to reading popular classics that I’m about to rediscover this season. It’s a new tradition that I’m committed to as I uncover timeless classics that left a permanent mark in literature.
Welcome the fall season with these top 10 classics:
1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
My first romantic classic from last season and one of my favorites. Priceless.
2. The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
I fell in love with this novel. Wharton’s writing and enchanting descriptions of ‘old New York’ was a pleasure to read, as is the heart-breaking story of a forbidden love affair between Newland Archer and May Welland. Truly Wharton’s greatest.
3. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’m probably the only person who’s never read The Great Gatsby in high school. Fitzgerald’s outlook for the American Jazz Age comes to life in this classic novel about an innocent man whose obsession for the love of his life becomes his own destruction. Read the book but don’t watch the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It will ruin you.
4. The Raven and other tales – Edgar Allan Poe
Writer and poet famously known for exploring the grotesque and the macabre, Poe is easily recognized as the greatest Gothic writers of his time. Perfect for Halloween.
5. Dracula – Bram Stoker
Famously known for inspiring the supernatural and occult genre, Stoker unintentionally pave the way for numerous remakes and other versions based on the king of vampires, and the hunter Van Halsing.
6. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Virginia Woolf described her writing could “make the wind blow and the thunder roar.” And Bronte’s novel does just that.
7. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Conan Doyle
One of my favorite Sherlock Holmes mysteries that began with Sir Charles Baskerville’s tragic death caused by a monstrous hound. Full of cryptic riddles, love, and betrayal, nothing escapes Sherlock, as he is undeniably the world’s best-known detective that put Doyle’s reputation and Sherlock Holmes a permanent place in English literature.
8. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Need I say more?
9. Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Arguably the most descriptive and lengthy English fantasy novels about the adventures in Middle Earth. I admit I had to save a lot of patience to read through detailed accounts about the different landmarks around Middle Earth, but this trilogy has a place in my heart as I discovered my love for the fantasy genre.
10. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
A novella about how a young girl named Mattie Silver captured the heart of Ethan Frome who’s married to his sick wife Zeena. A story about forbidden love and moral obligations, this story will surprise you, as the ending was impressively shocking for me.