Chick lit is fun for girls, and sports lit clicks more often with guys. But a classic piece, whether it be poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction, is relevant to both genders. Check out the titles below, and when you decide on one, keep Gustave Flaubert’s words in mind: “Do not read [merely], as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”
Title: The Age of Innocence
Author: Edith Wharton
First Published: 1920
“If we don’t all stand together, there’ll be no such thing as Society left.”
This glamorous novel, rich in its portrayal of the rigid and hollow flamboyance of old New York society (1870’s), was written by Wharton in the aftermath of the First World War. Through passionate characters like Archer Newland, and seemingly soulless ones like May Welland, Wharton paints a picture of a fruitless society, lost in the crippling depths of custom and legality.
Title: Watership Down
Author: Richard Adams
First Published: 1972
“For a long time I couldn’t move. At last I got up and found the others, one by one, in the dark.”
Although Adams states that his novel “was never intended to be some sort of allegory or parable," many relevant themes can be found within its pages. A story of danger and destiny, Watership Down chronicles the lives of a lively clan of rabbits, bound together by adventure and the quest for a home.
Author: Toni Morrison
First Published: 2003
“My hum is . . .suitable for an old woman embarrassed by the world; her way of objecting to how the century is turning out.”
Toni Morrison is an internationally acclaimed author who won the Nobel Prize in 1993. This particular novel of hers explores the many and complex nuances of love. Morrison uses a split narrative type of prose throughout, one of the reasons why the work is so powerful.
Title: The Tiger
Author: William Blake
First Published: 1790's
“What immortal hand or eye could frame thy symmetry?”
The Tiger from Blake’s Songs of Experience was written as an antithesis to The Lamb in his Songs of Innocence. In The Tiger, Blake brings attention to the tiger’s fierce and dangerous quality, while simultaneously raising questions about the origin of man and the reality of God. How, Blake wonders, could a God who made the gentle lamb be the same God who made the destructive tiger?
Title: What Is the University For?
Author: Louis Menand
Genre: Creative Nonfiction; Essay
Published: Harper’s, December 1991
“The elective system was not designed to disseminate culture.”
In What Is the University For?, Menand pores through the many aspects of modern perception’s purpose for the university. He argues that drastic change must be enacted if the academy is to become anything other than a” bastion of intellectual predictability.”