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Classic Reads for Spring Break You’ll (Actually) Enjoy

Spring break, while a time for fun in the sun, is also for relaxation, and what better way is there to do that than getting caught up in a new book?

Classic books are timeless for a reason, but anybody who has survived an English class knows that the over-analysis of these novels ruins the enjoyment of reading. The ageless stories in these classic novels are often overlooked, because readers feel they have no relevance in today’s world, and that the writing styles are boring and outdated.

However, there are many classic reads that will keep you entertained throughout spring break, whether you’re at the beach or at home.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Who doesn’t love the roaring twenties? Flappers, gangsters, and obscenely huge parties abound in Fitzgerald’s most well-known work, as the reader experiences a summer through the mind of Nick Carraway, who rents a house next door to the famous Jay Gatsby. Every Saturday night, Gatsby throws outrageous parties, where Carraway is asked by Gatsby to help him rekindle an old flame—who happens to be married now. With insights on love, death, and wealth, Fitzgerald’s language is beautiful and full of imagery (and it also helps that we can picture Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby). It’s a short read, too, with only about 200 pages, perfect for a day spent lounging on the beach or by the pool.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Speaking of parties and handsome men, Wilde’s novel brings the old saying “be careful what you wish for” to life. The story follows Dorian Gray, a young Victorian heartthrob, who falls into corruption at the hand of his friend Lord Henry Wotton’s insisting that Gray’s youth would be gone soon, and he would never be young and beautiful again. This narrative is filled to the brim with philosophical questions about love, youth and friendship. Even though The Picture of Dorian Gray was written in the late 1800s, many of its subjects—especially morals and self-image—are still prevalent today.

The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlett Letter is a novel that provides insight on bending rules and becoming confident with who you are. Hester Prynne, a young Puritan woman in 17th-century Boston, commits adultery and becomes pregnant, but refuses to tell who the father of her daughter is. Because of her sin, Hester is forced to wear a bright red A on all of her clothing. Throughout the book, the reader gets to witness Hester’s gaining of self-knowledge and confidence. Many literary critics have described Hester Prynne as “the first true heroine of American fiction,” and it’s very true, as Hester’s story is both inspiring and beautiful.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Everybody has seen the Disney cartoon adaption of this classic nonsense-filled story, as well as the Tim Burton version that came out a few years ago. But, the original book is even more whimsical, and so is its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. The two books follow Alice, a curious young girl, as she traverses Wonderland, a land full of wordplay and logical conundrums, as well as a zany cast of characters. Both novels are relatively short and are quick reads, but you will continue to go back for more.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

A man from the 1890s travelling to both the year 802,701 and 30 million years into the future—what more could you want from a science fiction novel? This book brought Wells to the forefront of the science fiction world, and he is now known as the father of science fiction. The Time Traveler arrives in the future and learns of two bizarre races: the Eloi and the Morlocks. This story focuses on the duality of human nature, and humanity’s hopes and fears. With a story that you won’t be able to put down, The Time Machine will capture your attention from start to finish.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Murderers and monsters run amuck in Victorian London in this classic horror tale, with the shapeshifting Doctor Henry Jekyll. Two friends set out to discover who the notorious madman Mr. Hyde is, and soon unearth a secret about Jekyll that shocks them to the core. This story is full of insights about animal instinct and decency, as well as a glance into the dark depths of the human mind. The story of Jekyll and Hyde has made its way into many popular culture pieces of work, including movies, cartoons, and other books. The overall creepiness of this book and the shocking plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat while you’re reading this.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Under the strict control of the farmer of Manor Farm, animals revolt and declare that they are all equal. What appears to be a simple story about farm animals wanting more than they are getting is actually a metaphor for the Russian Revolution and Communism. However, even though this book is very politically-minded, it speaks of human nature and all revolts that have taken place and will take place. Throughout the story, there are instances of lies, illiteracy, head hunts and propaganda that drive the story forward and keep you interested the entire time.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Many classic books focus on philosophical questions about the human condition, but Lord of the Flies addresses one of the most pressing questions: are people inherently evil or good? Following the story of a group of ordinary school boys who become marooned on an island. Normal behavior isn’t the norm now—all the boys can focus on is surviving. As days turn into weeks, their makeshift society becomes more primitive and terrible, and the fun they were having turns to nightmare. This novel offers ideas about freedom and society, told from the viewpoint of young boys, which brings a sort of innocence to what has been seen as an apocalyptic story.

Rachel Green is a senior Journalism and Mass Communication Major at the University of Iowa. She is also earning two minors in Sport and Recreation Management and Spanish and a certificate in Creative Writing. She serves at Her Campus Iowa's Senior Editor, and is a member of Iowa's editorial team. When she's not working on something for Her Campus, she can be found studying in the library, doodling in her sketchbooks or curling up with a cup of tea and a book.  
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