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Dec 4th 2017

10 Books That You Must Read Before Going to College

Italo Calvino once argued that reading classical novels would be better than not reading them at all. The author, whose postmodernist works made him the most-translated Italian writer of his generation, would get the idea from Socrates learning how to play the flute. “What good will it do you,” the philosopher's doubters asked, “to know this tune before you die?”. It should reflect an older person's appreciation of the finer things in life, even if the same person would represent the elite few. Calvino was aware of it, as he cited Charles Dickens' fans in Italy. But how they talked about Pip and Estella. It might be unusual for the younger generation to show such enthusiasm and passion, and the coursework could be a good excuse to read these novels.

The younger generation needed not to worry about it, as Hollywood adapted most of the classics to the big screen. Let's take Disney's "A Wrinkle in Time", which would be released in March 2018. This was Madeleine L'Engle's classic, which wasn't well received after its initial publication. No one could make of Meg Murry, a troubled girl who was able to save her father and younger brother from a bodiless telepathic brain called IT. L'Engle's religious beliefs would be described in a sci-fi way, which some readers compared to how C. S. Lewis gave the Biblical tales an epic treatment. If L'Engle were a man, then the initial reception of "A Wrinkle in Time" may have turned out to be better. (And Disney could have filmed it earlier.) It could prompt some viewers to get a copy of a book after watching Oprah Winfrey playing Mrs. Which, who could be distinguished for her long, drawn-out method of speech. There might be a link here.

There's a good chance that studying these classics would prompt some college students to reread these books later. This would be Calvino's definition of well-read people, but not a few students may consider the coursework as an excuse. Professors didn't think of armchair traveling while coming up with a list of classics. Students must be able to demonstrate their capabilities in literary criticism, and one reading won't be good enough for many students. It will be better to have an early start.

What's so special about these novels?

The Great Gatsby. If you have seen the celluloid versions, then you may be tempted to compare Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio. Both stars would play the titular character, but they don't deserve a mention in your paper. F. Scott Fitzgerald penned a cautionary tale about the downside of the American Dream, and his reckless characters would show how certain issues influenced it. The author may not be a seer, but America during the Jazz Age didn't turn out to be different from American society during the third millennium. You should be able to think of an intriguing argument for your essay.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Slavery may be a thing of the past, but its ill effects would be seen in Harper Lee's coming-of-age novel. You can think of several themes, all of which are bound by racism. Don't go overboard (and discuss all of it).

The Lord of the Rings. The Fantasy genre deserves a module, and this masterpiece by J. R. R. Tolkien should top the reading list. You might be discouraged at the thick books, tempting you to watch Peter Jackson's operatic treatment of the trilogy instead. You can get away with it, but you need to check out the chapters in the middle of each novel.

Pride and Prejudice (or any Jane Austen novel). Die-hard fans of Jane Austen will call her the Mother of Romantic Comedy (or romcom), which would bemuse the Hampshire native. Comedy may let readers look at the plight of womenfolk differently, and you have a lead there. Don't confuse it with sexual harassment, though.

Pygmalion. If you're a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn, then you're likely to skip George Bernard Shaw's amusing play. Your professor would be disappointed unless you discuss how a different medium highlights the play's best features. It's all about making the right guesses.

Time Machine (or any H. G. Wells novel). The native of Kent was a prolific writer, but his science-fiction novels turned him into a popular figure in Modern literature. It wouldn't be hard to gleam the English author's political views, which should make your task (of penning a 2,000-word essay) less difficult than it should be. No mention of Trump, though.

Peter Pan (or any popular children's book). You would be surprised to find out that some of the beloved children's books weren't intended for the kids. These authors have older readers in mind, and finding out the reasons should be a tricky task. You have known the storyline, as well as the characters, when you were much younger. Rereading it could enable you to figure out a theme or two.

A Christmas Carol (or any Charles Dickens book). Dickens wrote about kids, which reflected his humble beginnings. How did they stand out from the other (fictional) kids? If you have seen enough adaptations on TV, then you must have a clue. It may turned out to be a major theme of one of his novels.

Frankenstein. This should be a piece of cake for you, as Mary Shelley's masterpiece is all about the first impression. You don't like to be seen as different from the other teenagers, even laughed at your zits. Reading it might allow you to see another aspect of this Gothic novel. It might remind you a familiar Biblical story.

A Shakespeare play (or two). You can start with "Romeo and Juliet", even look at the numerous adaptations of this tragic play. You might like to challenge yourself, as you look at the Bard's historical dramas. Your professor will point out the evolution of the English language, and you can benefit from Shakespeare's Elizabethan English. But stick to the familiar themes. You may be a heartless teen if you can't relate to any of it.

The things that you'll learn from these classics

The most memorable literary characters are far from perfect, which should teach you not to judge other teens. It offers a glimpse into yesteryear, which might make you appreciative of the present era. It will make you more perceptive of your surroundings. Take your time, as you read these books. And write down your thoughts on a notepad. You'll need them later.

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