BY MEGAN TAYLOR
No matter what your favorite book genre is, there are just some classic books that are recommended for everyone to read at least once in their lives. These books have been described by authors and historians as ones that have made a huge impact on people, as well as, introducing new concepts, new theories, changing the way people think, and forever influencing American literature. There are many suggestions available for readers, including these three timeless books.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Published in 1982, The Color Purple tells the story of sisters Celie and Nettie and other African American women, living in rural Georgia during the early twentieth-century. Walker writes the novel through a series of letters by Celie, spanning over a course of 20 years. Starting at the age of 14, Celie first writes to God then to her sister. The letters describe her abusive father and her efforts at protecting her sister from him. Later on, readers journey through Celie’s marriage to Mister, who is also abusive to her and keeps Nettie’s letters hidden from Celie. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Color Purple gives a powerful narrative of abuse, pain, struggle, growth, resilience, and bravery. It broke ground on these topics at the time of publishing and continues today to still impact readers worldwide.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is another well-known book that has inspired many generations. During the Nazis occupation of Holland in 1942, the Frank family, including 13-year-old Anne, left their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding for the next two years. The family lives in a secret attic annex of an old office building with another family. Anne channels their experiences in her diary and gives vivid accounts of being cut off from their outside world and living in constant fear of being discovered. Readers understand the families’ time through a series of Anne’s letters, written in her diary, known as “Kitty.” Sadly, in August 1944, the families are discovered by the Nazis and deported to concentration camps. Anne was just 15 years old when she died in the concentration camp known a Bergen-Belsen. Out of the two families, only her father, Otto Frank, survived the war. The Diary of a Young Girl is a great read for readers of all ages and is a story of survival, courage, and a first-hand account of the horrors during this time period. However, Anne does offer humorous insights at times to lighten the book’s tone.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
At the time of Fahrenheit 451’s publishing in 1953, the novel’s plot and concepts seemed very unreal. However, today, the book’s setting of a dystopian society in the distant future (sources has revealed the year of the book’s plot to be 1999) doesn’t seem too far off. Divided into three parts, Fahrenheit 451 is a story about fireman Guy Montag who is living in a world where television is king and books are about to be extinct. As a fireman, Montag’s job isn’t too extinguish fires. Instead, his job is to trace down printed books and burn them, along with the houses in which they were found. After all, in his world, the most illegal item are printed books. This way of life is common for Montag and he doesn’t think anything of it until he meets his new neighbor, Clarisse. Through their interactions, Clarisse shows Montag a way of life that is absent of fear and full of learning about new ideas through books instead of a television screen. Soon, Montag is influenced by those around him, including his wife Mildred, and starts questioning his way of life. He begins to realize that knowledge is being destroyed through burning books and decides to commit his life to preserving them.
The Color Purple, The Diary of a Young Girl, and Fahrenheit 451 are just three of the many books everyone should read at least once. If you are interested in reading more, lists are available online through websites, such as The Library of Congress and Goodreads.com. Happy reading!