Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Classic novels give many memories of being forced to read endless pages of confusing words in high school. Even I, an avid reader, had to force myself to make it through books like “The Scarlet Letter” and “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.”

However, reading classics can be entertaining and rewarding. A certain joy comes from finally conquering a classic and reflecting on it. Literature can teach us a lot about ourselves, the past and our future.

If you’re looking for classics to ease you into the genre, I’ve compiled a list of the most entertaining starter classics I could think of. They range from light and romantic to intense and meaningful.

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Pride and Prejudice” cover

“Pride and Prejudice” is one of my favorite novels of all time. It’s romantic, meaningful and says much about how complicated being a woman in the 1800s was.

Austen challenges traditions of womanhood and marriage values in the piece, which I find very thought-provoking. She also uses beautiful descriptions of landscapes and perfectly articulates complicated relationships.

This piece concerns the Bennett family, primarily centering around the second eldest, Elizabeth. Through a bunch of balls and house visits, Elizabeth meets Mr. Darcy, and there is instant animosity between them. I don’t want to give too much away, so I will leave it at that.

One of the best parts of “Pride and Prejudice” is the descriptions of the balls they attend. It is a “Bridgerton”-esque feeling. It’s not every day that a classic novel has the “enemies to lovers” trope, so it is worth checking out if you like stories like that.

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
“The Secret History” cover

A classics list would not be complete without at least one modern classic. “The Secret History” was published in 1992, so it is not quite as old as the other classics I recommend. However, this novel deserves a spot for its compelling narrative and uneasiness that it made me feel the entire time.

“The Secret History” is about an exclusive Greek language studies group in college. The main character, Richard Papen, tells the story about how he was accepted into the group and how it eventually led to the murder of one of the members, Bunny (this isn’t a spoiler, don’t worry).

The story starts with the murder of Bunny, and then all the events that led to that point, which makes it hard to put down. Overall, this novel has such great dark-academia vibes and I highly recommend it.

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
“Little Women” cover

I won’t lie, I saw Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” long before I decided to read the novel. Nevertheless, the book is a perfect classic for any beginner.

I can not articulate how meaningful this book truly is. It’s about life, girlhood, and what it means to love someone.

The plot of “Little Women” is about the March family, and it follows their lives and growth in the Civil War era.

This novel is powerful, and it truly speaks about the human experiences that we have today. There are times you will laugh, times that you will cry, and other times that will have you questioning your purpose and goals.

“Little Women,” in my opinion, is the most powerful book on this list, and something I believe everyone should read at least once.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde
Cover of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde

This play is by far one of the funniest classics I have read. It’s a quick read (only about 50 pages) and has genuine wit that keeps it fast-paced.

The story is about a man named Jack, who lies about his name being Earnest when he is in the city. Unfortunately for him, his fianceé is in love with him because his name is Earnest. The story gets even more complicated when Jack’s friend copies the idea and starts calling himself Earnest to fall in love with a different girl.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” hardly feels like reading a classic. It’s lighthearted and fun, with a lot of hilarious moments. I highly recommend checking it out.

“Beowulf” cover

People who have read “Beowulf” might think I am crazy for putting this on the list, but this epic poem is action-packed and only takes a few hours to read.

Because it was written between the 8th and 11th centuries, “Beowulf” is written in Anglo-Saxon English (aka “Old English”), which makes it a bit of a difficult read. However, if you’re willing to dive into the story, you’ll see it’s an exciting story about a hero who saves Scandinavia from a monster named Grendel and his mother.

Although this is a difficult read language-wise, I believe “Beowulf” is an easy way to get into the genre while also reading a fast-paced hero’s journey.

Classics are sometimes boring, long, and hard to make it through. Even avid readers believe this from time to time. Hopefully, this list helps you ease your way into the genre and get more adventurous when it comes to classics.

Happy reading!

Cayla is a third-year student at Penn State University studying Advertising and English. In the future, she hopes to be a fiction novel editor at a publishing company. This is Cayla's first year with Her Campus, but she hopes to write about all things entertainment! She previously worked for Penn State's Daily Collegian as a Performing Arts reporter and Lifestyle reporter. When she isn't writing, Cayla is an avid reader, TV watcher, and movie-goer. She also loves hanging out with her friends and playing board games together.