5 Classics I Actually Enjoyed Reading in School

Somehow, we’ve reached the time when the school supply section is back in stores. The fresh smell of college-lined paper is in the air all around us. Unfortunately, this time is more complicated than back-to-school last year. But whichever way this situation plays out, the time of learning is almost back. As someone somewhat fresh out of school, I still have a vivid memory of the long nights of studying and homework. One of the things I both dreaded and looked forward to was the reading. I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but I was the person who would read extra books on the summer reading list. But not all books you read in school are fun, especially once you get into the classics. There were many that I read with a tinge of annoyance. But, it was surprising to find that a few of these classics were good and interesting to me.

Image from Goodreads.com

  1. The Alchemist– Paulo Coelho

My sophomore year of high school is not a year that I remember well. There are gaps in the time frame that I have to ask others to fill in. But I can’t forget the feeling of reading this book. The Alchemist is like many stories. A young man goes on a quest to find a treasure far away. During his journey, he learns more about the real treasures of life. It sounds like many of the hero’s journey stories that you read in school. The fascinating thing about this simple story was its impact. Everyone in my class felt excited to talk about the story, excited to read another chapter. Many of us finished the book early because we were so captured by the story. To me, this novel is a classic because of its simplicity. We can all put ourselves in the shoes of that shepherd boy traveling the world. It didn’t have dark themes or a tragic ending, but still managed to get its point across to a group of sixteen year-olds. It was a light in a sea of darker novels. Someday, I want to read this book again and again to capture the feeling it gave me all those years ago. If you want to learn more about this book, you can check it out on Goodreads here.

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  1. The Odyssey– Homer

Reading this classic was enjoyable for a few reasons. First, my love of Greek of mythology. When the gods I loved to read about growing up popped up, I loved discussing their sections of the story. Also, it’s a fun mix of a road trip story and a hero’s journey-style quest. I was starting to enjoy these types of stories around the time I read this, so it was perfect timing. The most important thing, though, was not the story itself. They say that teachers change your outlook on a subject. For me, that was the case with this book and my freshman honors English teacher. Mr. Barlew had a great way of explaining stories to make them more applicable to modern readers. This was true for The Odyssey. While it’s full of adventures, the language can be a bit hard to decipher. Mr. Barlew used creative ways of teaching to make this story more fun to read. This included acting out the final battle between Odysseus and Penelope’s suitors. Picture a group of fifteen year-olds play-fighting in a library with yardsticks. Needless to say, that rocketed this classic into my top ten. If you want to learn more about this classic tale, you can check it out on Goodreads here.

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  1. Sense and Sensibility–  Jane Austen

This classic is the only one on the list that I read in college. Sure, I was familiar with Austen’s work, but I hadn’t read any of it until my second semester of Freshman year. I had heard the title of this story before, but I knew little to nothing about the characters. What drew me to this classic was the sister dynamic. I have a sister, and even though we aren’t exactly like Elinor and Marianne, it was easy to relate to them. Also, I’m a bit more of a hopeless romantic than my sister, so I felt their dynamic on a deep level. I read a moment where Marianne was being a bit dramatic about something and thought “oh look, it’s me”. After reading the book, we also watched the movie. It stars my favorite almost name-buddy, so I knew I would love it. I love Emma Thompson, and it was fun to see Alan Rickman out of his Snume. This movie did add to my love of the story because of the actor’s ability to bring their characters into being. Emma felt like Elinor, and Kate excelled as Marianne. Sometimes watching the movie version does help you appreciate the story more! If you want to dive into Austen’s tale, you can check it out on Goodreads here.

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  1. The Things They Carried– Tim O’Brien

When I first saw this story on the list of reading for my I.B. English class, I was a bit skeptical. For me, stories involving war can go three ways when I read them. The first results in a very sad Emily who is just depressed about life now… thanks book. The second is a more action-movie approach that has me reading on the edge of my seat like I’m watching an Avengers film. The third is a book written in boring, detached language that makes it a droll to get through. This classic took these ideas and threw them out the window. The writing style was like an interesting fiction novel. Also, the themes blew my fellow classmates’ minds. I don’t want to spoil much if you haven’t read this story, but we had a lot of great conversations about the meaning of “truth”. Intrigued? You can learn more about O’Brien’s story here.

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  1. Romeo and Juliet– William Shakespeare

This may seem like a cliche, but hear me out. This was the first Shakespeare play I ever read. Is it my favorite? No. But I have such fond memories reading this play in class. That is again thanks to the wonderful Mr. Barlew. Teachers can make a big difference y’all. He took a No Fear Shakespeare approach to teaching us the play. For example, he explained to us that “do you bite your thumb at me sir” is equal to someone flipping you off. He then proceeded to read the passage over using the modern terminology, which made it a lot funnier. We acted out scenes and had lively discussions. Also, the blubbering of the boys in my class when they learned of the age gap was eventful. Want to revisit this iconic play and it’s quips? You can check it out here

While there have been the duds over the years, I’ve been lucky to read many more classics that I still enjoy to this day. I’ve been consulting my list recently to find some books that I want to give another read. I’m looking forward to revisiting not only the stories, but also the memories I associate with them. What are your favorite classics that you read in school? Do you have any that you think I need to check out? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, and happy reading!

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