This past year in college, I took both American Literature as well as British Literature. Both classes were ones I had taken in high school, but the stories influenced me more now than previously. I did like my teacher in high school, but I think my teacher this time around was awesome. (I mean, who isn’t awesome when they have an obsession for all things Poe?) She really made those classic stories and seemingly random poems actually make sense. It could also be that now three years later my own understanding has changed.
Because of my experience with classic literature the past two semesters, I am hunting for classics to read. I don’t mean just any classic, either. I’m talking about fairy tail classics—the ones that Disney and others have movies based on, Children’s classic novels as well as some adult classics. Here’s a few categories of classics that I have started to engulf myself into this summer. Links in this list will be to free eBooks from Amazon.
- Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales
One of my favorite Disney movies is The Little Mermaid. I liked Disney’s story line for it, but when I read the real thing I felt like Disney didn’t do so great after all. This linked eBook unfortunately doesn’t contain this story, but it does hold 19 of his other original stories. I’m only a fourth through the book, but later on is The Snow Queen, which is what Frozen was very loosely based on.
- Peter Pan in Kensington Garden
I just found this and Peter and Wendy yesterday, so I haven’t started reading it yet. BUT I always enjoyed the Disney classic and have read about the Peter Pan books. This story is supposed to be the very beginning of our little hero’s adventures into Neverland. Apparently he ran away from his mother as a baby, and was found in Kensington Garden by the fairy Tinker Bell. He grows to be an angry and proud boy, and this causes some mishaps along the way. Plus pirate fights are always fun, right?
- Anne of Green Gables
I love the movies so much. We watched them in high school and I think Anne and her spunky attitude are hilarious. I’m almost through reading the first book and I think the movies have stuck to the story very well. I also love that Anne admits her wrong doings and learns a lesson from each conundrum she has caused. Anne may be an imaginative girl, but she grows into a fine woman who follows her dreams. The movies end before Anne and Gilbert’s children start their own adventures, so I can’t wait to read those fun continuation novels.
- Sherlock Holmes
I know you’re questioning why I didn’t say a specific title, but that is because this free eBook has the complete novels and stories. It also is very long because of that—1088 pages to be exact. I don’t remember much about the three or four Holmes stories I was taught in school, so this will be like a new adventure for me. Because I like mysteries and Sherlock Holmes can solve them, it’s a great series of novels to read. I do remember not knowing how he solved the cases way before I ever did. My college has put on a play regarding a story of Holmes versus Moriarty, and that was fantastic.
- Paradise Lost
This large poem is by far very brilliant in many ways. You follow the main character, who happens to be Satan, from his fall to when Jesus defeats him. We read part of this in my class, and then had a debate about whether or not Satan is the “epic hero” of the story. Conversations like this force you to be objective, because in reality we don’t want Satan to ever be classified as a hero. (I love things like this.) Although Milton certainly had no way of knowing what really goes on with Satan, he makes it believable in so many ways. You almost feel bad for the devil. Almost.
- Animal Farm.
(This link isn’t free, but it’s worth it.) George Orwell wrote this about eighty years ago, and yet it fits perfectly with our generation. If I could force every person in the world to read a book besides the Bible, it would be this one. At first glance, the name doesn’t tell you why it is such an amazing book, but trust me we are both wrong. It’s animals defeating their human owner and working towards a society of equal rights for all. Socialism sounds good, but it NEVER works. As the story progresses, you will get furious. I was. How could these animals not see the tyrants taking over them? How could they let their fellow animals be slaughtered? Then when you compare it to the world today you realize just how naive we’ve all been. In America we don’t have an obvious situation like this, but it doesn’t start out obvious. A girl in my class from China said this book described her country perfectly. And as you can see, I have become passionate about it.
These are just some of the books, and by no means all of them, that have popped into my collection. I think reading cultivates our own imaginations and as creatives we should do it often. We should read many genres and get a feel for the world from the past so that we can change our future. Our past does not define us, but it does refine us.