Books You Probably Should Have Read Already

Books You Probably Should Have Read Already

You could read any number of books, for reasons ranging from guilty pleasure to the fact that your book club meets in two days. You should probably read any number of classic novels that will expand your literary palate or teach you a thing or two.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s classic is one those rare perfect novels, which by itself makes it a should read. It’s further elevated by the evergreen nature of its central conflicts and plot; nearly six decades after publication, the story of a small southern town’s struggle with racism and injustice remains disturbingly current. It’s also become a must read because it’s widely the quintessential 20th-century American novel.

The Great Gatsby

There’s a reason why The Great Gatsby is commonly dubbed one of the greatest novels ever written. Fitzgerald’s depiction of extravagance and greed challenges the idea of the American Dream, exposes the insincerity of the wealthy, and illustrates how social class played a major role in your “success” in the 1920’s. With numerous symbols and hidden meanings throughout the book, it’s worth reading a second time (or third, or fourth).

Things Fall Apart

One of the first African novels to be widely studied and read in the English-speaking world, Achebe’s book remains a must-read for the uniqueness of its literary vision and characters. Focused on a fictional village in Nigeria, the book’s epic scope traces how life changes from pre-colonial times to post-colonial modernity (for the time; the novel was published in 1958).

With more than 20 million copies sold and translated into fifty-seven languages. Things Fall Apart provides one of the most illuminating and permanent monuments to African experience. Achebe does not only capture life in a pre-colonial African village. He conveys the tragedy of the loss of that world while broadening our understanding of our contemporary realities.

The Color Purple: A Novel

Brutal, harsh, yet somehow raggedly beautiful books. Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a must read because its subject matter, focused on the grim lives of African-American women in 1930s rural Georgia. Shouldn’t be turned away from. Exploring the long ragged scars of racism, slavery, and class inequality. It’s one of those novels people are always trying to get banned—and you know what? Any novel certain people don’t want you to read is a novel you must read.

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