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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

1.       “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas

“The Count of Monte Cristo” is a novel about good, old-fashioned revenge. After Edmond Dantes was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, he escapes to take revenge on those who wronged him. Every character, plotline and chapter is incremental to Dantes’s plan and I had fun guessing when Dantes’ trap would finally be sprung. This book leaves you questioning what justice really is and if revenge is best served cold. Dumas breathes life into 1800s France with his descriptions and left me feeling as if I had just finished adventuring when I closed this novel for the last time.

I can’t ignore the length of the novel, though; “The Count of Monte Cristo” is a really long novel, with the Penguin Classics translation of the novel standing at 1312 pages. If you don’t have time to sit down and read the unabridged edition, there are numerous abridged versions of the novel. However, if you have the time and the patience, I highly recommend you read the 1276-page behemoth. You simply miss out on a lot of the subtleties of the plot if you read an abridged edition; the climax of the novel isn’t as impactful without all of the buildup. This is by far my favorite novel and you will love it as well if you give it a chance.

2.      “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

This is a dark academia classic that I was hesitant to read at first. A murder mystery novel centered around five classics majors at a college in New England? Was it as good as people made it out to be? I am glad I gave “The Secret History” a chance because this novel lives up to the hype. I remember curling up with a cup of Chamomile tea as I started this novel and struggling to put it down. The descriptions jumped from the page, the characters were realistic and flawed and the plot is engaging. Donna Tartt did a good job of highlighting what college is like, other than the murder and experience of having one professor for every class. I really enjoyed this novel and I’m sure you will too. 

3.      “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov

Oh, how to describe this novel. Let’s start with the plot. This novel explores the Devil coming to Moscow during the 1930s in order to hold a magic show and wreak havoc. Meanwhile, the Master, a struggling and unpublished writer, is in a psychiatric hospital, while his lover, Margarita would do anything to save him. There’s also the story of Pontius Pilot and lots of chaos. I had a blast reading this novel. It is funny, more light-hearted than the traditional Russian classic, and leaves you thinking about the novel for weeks after you finish it. The characters were relatable, realistic and extremely entertaining. Even in its most serious scenes, the novel never lost its hopeful tone. Plus, the novel has a sad yet inspiring history. Whenever I am feeling sad, I always turn to this novel to cheer me up; I love this novel and highly recommend it.

There are multiple translations of The Master and Margarita out there but I recommend this one by Katherine Tiernan O’Connor and Diana Lewis Burgin, who are Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College alumni respectively.

4.      “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a literary masterpiece everyone should read at some point in their lives. The novel focuses on the many generations of the Buendía and the rise and fall of the town founded by their patriarch José Arcadio Buendía. The characters are complex, realistic and their adventures make this novel hard to not love. The magical realism within this novel is extremely well done and there is a lot to unpack on this novel if you read it closely, which leaves you thinking about the novel for weeks after you finish it. Though the books can feel repetitive at times and some of the characters have similar names, it all comes together and adds to the novel’s genius circular narrative. Add this novel to your reading list so you can experience the magic, love, war and redemption for yourself.

Peyton Straubel

Bryn Mawr '24

Hi! I'm Pey and I am a sophomore English major at Bryn Mawr College. I am interested in Korean, traveling, and overanalyzing everything I read. A fun fact about me is that I always wear something blue.
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