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Classic Novels You Ought To Read

Hey, an unemployed English major's gotta be good for something, right? In no particular order, here are my recommendations. Let me know what I missed in the comments.

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Often thought of as Plath's semi-autobiographical of her own dissent into mental-illness, 'The Bell Jar' is a uniquely beautiful story of a young woman trying to find her way in the adult world. Not the happiest of tales, but it nonetheless speaks volumes to young people everywhere.
Via sylviaplath.info

Often thought of as Plath's semi-autobiographical of her own dissent into mental-illness, 'The Bell Jar' is a uniquely beautiful story of a young woman trying to find her way in the adult world. Not the happiest of tales, but it nonetheless speaks volumes to young people everywhere.

Alright, I'll admit that adding a Hemingway novel is as pretentious as... Ernest Hemingway. Still, it's impossible to ignore Hemingway's immense impact on the novelists who followed him. 'The Sun Also Rises,' captures the unique worldview of the lost generation in the way no other novel can.
Via ecx.images-amazon.com

Alright, I'll admit that adding a Hemingway novel is as pretentious as... Ernest Hemingway. Still, it's impossible to ignore Hemingway's immense impact on the novelists who followed him. 'The Sun Also Rises,' captures the unique worldview of the lost generation in the way no other novel can.

This novel will make you feel dumb. I was lucky enough to have a world-renowned Joyce scholar lecture on it for a whole semester, and it made all the difference. Joyce can be inaccessible (to put it nicely), but there's something truly beautiful buried inside 'Ulysses.'
Via fierceandnerdy.com

This novel will make you feel dumb. I was lucky enough to have a world-renowned Joyce scholar lecture on it for a whole semester, and it made all the difference. Joyce can be inaccessible (to put it nicely), but there's something truly beautiful buried inside 'Ulysses.'

Weirdly, people think this novel is for kids because it's about a group of boys trapped on an island. I don't think many YA novels have one of the leads getting his head bashed in with a rock. This one is definitely worth the hype, but probably too much for your 10-year-old nephew.
Via pluggedin.com

Weirdly, people think this novel is for kids because it's about a group of boys trapped on an island. I don't think many YA novels have one of the leads getting his head bashed in with a rock. This one is definitely worth the hype, but probably too much for your 10-year-old nephew.

A terrifying, dystopian masterpiece (and trust me, there's a lot of dystopian fiction on here). This one certainly isn't for the faint of heart, but Burgess is brilliant. Can you remove the evil from the man, or is inherently in him?
Via anthonyburgess.org

A terrifying, dystopian masterpiece (and trust me, there's a lot of dystopian fiction on here). This one certainly isn't for the faint of heart, but Burgess is brilliant. Can you remove the evil from the man, or is inherently in him?

Pynchon gets a lot of flack for his dense writing (I'm sensing a theme here), but I find 'The Crying of Lot 49' quite accessible (and not nearly as long as most Pynchon novels). In it, Pynchon plays with symbols in an extremely interesting way, and finds a way to make a story about rival mail distributors deeply engaging.
Via en.wikipedia.org

Pynchon gets a lot of flack for his dense writing (I'm sensing a theme here), but I find 'The Crying of Lot 49' quite accessible (and not nearly as long as most Pynchon novels). In it, Pynchon plays with symbols in an extremely interesting way, and finds a way to make a story about rival mail distributors deeply engaging.

Potentially my favorite book of all time. This novel is genuinely hilarious, but also heartbreaking. A fantastic insight into the ludicrous ways we justify war and really all negative human behavior, if there's one book on this list you go out and buy, let it be 'Catch-22.'
Via thereadingroom.com

Potentially my favorite book of all time. This novel is genuinely hilarious, but also heartbreaking. A fantastic insight into the ludicrous ways we justify war and really all negative human behavior, if there's one book on this list you go out and buy, let it be 'Catch-22.'

Faulkner loved James Joyce more than just about anybody, so it's no surprise that his novels are equally difficult at times. What I love about Faulkner's novels though is he plays with time and perspective in really imaginative ways. I wouldn't be surprised if you had to read this one twice to get what was going on, but I promise it's worth it.
Via glogster.com

Faulkner loved James Joyce more than just about anybody, so it's no surprise that his novels are equally difficult at times. What I love about Faulkner's novels though is he plays with time and perspective in really imaginative ways. I wouldn't be surprised if you had to read this one twice to get what was going on, but I promise it's worth it.

Despite it's age ('Candide' was originally printed in the late 18th century), Candide is delightfully funny. It's simultaneously hilarious and painful to watch as the title character slowly has his eyes opened to the world through one tragic failure after another.
Via behance.net

Despite it's age ('Candide' was originally printed in the late 18th century), Candide is delightfully funny. It's simultaneously hilarious and painful to watch as the title character slowly has his eyes opened to the world through one tragic failure after another.

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerny

You like reading novels written in the second person. Even though you aren't sure what you're supposed to be learning from them, you find that somehow just repeatedly using the word 'you' opens your mind up to things you wouldn't have otherwise considered. Maybe you should read 'Bright Lights, Big City' you think, perhaps then this will make sense to you.
Via goodreads.com

You like reading novels written in the second person. Even though you aren't sure what you're supposed to be learning from them, you find that somehow just repeatedly using the word 'you' opens your mind up to things you wouldn't have otherwise considered. Maybe you should read 'Bright Lights, Big City' you think, perhaps then this will make sense to you.

There's a big debate between whether this or Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World,' was a better imagining of the dystopian future (and I do love them both), but I believe 1984 wins out. Whether this or 'Animal Farm,' is the best Orwell novel also deserves some discussion, but why don't you just read them all?
Via robinmalau.com

There's a big debate between whether this or Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World,' was a better imagining of the dystopian future (and I do love them both), but I believe 1984 wins out. Whether this or 'Animal Farm,' is the best Orwell novel also deserves some discussion, but why don't you just read them all?

This is another book with a weird stigma that it's for children surrounding it. Sure, there's that weird Jack Black-Jason Segel movie, but that only covers about a third of the story. Swift takes Gulliver to some odd (and often dark) places and even invents a new language entirely for horses!
Via reuoq.com

This is another book with a weird stigma that it's for children surrounding it. Sure, there's that weird Jack Black-Jason Segel movie, but that only covers about a third of the story. Swift takes Gulliver to some odd (and often dark) places and even invents a new language entirely for horses!

Make no mistake, this is not a period romance novel. Wolff is a master at telling the stories of disposed people. My favorite thing about her though is that she and H.G. Wells created literary magazines just to write scathing reviews of eachother's work.
Via caughtwithinpages.wordpress.com

Make no mistake, this is not a period romance novel. Wolff is a master at telling the stories of disposed people. My favorite thing about her though is that she and H.G. Wells created literary magazines just to write scathing reviews of eachother's work.

Another absolute masterpiece which loses some of its luster due to sheer popularity, but this one is worth the hype. Every time I read 'So it goes,' the book got just a little bit more poignant for me.
Via wrbh.org

Another absolute masterpiece which loses some of its luster due to sheer popularity, but this one is worth the hype. Every time I read 'So it goes,' the book got just a little bit more poignant for me.

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