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5 Classic Books to Revisit Over Summer Break


Girl reading
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As the summer arrives, you may notice some empty space in your schedule. (Or, it might get busier than ever, in which case you’ll need a good way to de-stress.) Last week, we featured 10 Movies and Shows to Stream on Netflix this Summer, and now that we have our queues in order, it’s time to consider a more old-fashioned way to relax and pass the time: a good book!

The best thing about summer is that since you’re not drowning in assigned class readings, you have a chance to whittle down your reading list. To me, summer is the perfect time to revisit all of my favorite books. There is just something special about lounging in the sun with a novel that I already know and love.

Below, I’ve complied a list of my five favorite classic novels that are begging to be read over and over again. (And if you haven’t read them at all yet, now is the time!) So, dig out that library card, or take a few minutes to update your E-readers. However you choose to indulge, simply scroll on down to check out the books:

1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The catcher in the rye
Book Cover via Amazon

This American classic has probably been a part of at least one syllabus in your academic career, but it’s a classic for a reason. The Catcher in the Rye tells a story to which we can all relate. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, and you will be totally engaged every step of the way. We even covered fashion from the novel in one of our Looks from Books posts!

The J.D. Salinger novel is narrated by Holden Caulfield, a struggling teen growing up around 1950. It is the quintessential coming-of-age story about a boy who must come to terms with the circumstances of growing up. Holden often feels alienated and alone, which is what makes him so endearing.

Full of both humor and heartache, Holden’s narration makes for an extremely enticing and relatable story. We learn to appreciate a lot about life, love, and growing up as we follow Holden’s adventure —just sit back and enjoy the ride.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The great gatsby
Book Cover via Amazon

With all the hoopla surrounding Baz Luhrmann’s new movie that was released last week, it would be sacrilege to exclude this book! Luckily, The Great Gatsby is a story that begs to be read and re-read.

F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel follows Jay Gatsby, a young self-made millionaire pining for the gorgeous – and careless – Daisy Buchanan. It is a brilliant and fascinating portrayal of the jazz age, a period with a magical allure that still appeals today. Also, the forbidden romance creates an intoxicating story – one that you will certainly enjoy on a balmy summer afternoon!

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The perks of being a wallflower
Book Cover via Amazon

The Perk of Being a Wallflower technically belongs in the “cult classic” category, but I consider it a classic nonetheless. With the movie adaptation premiering last fall, this story was launched into the national spotlight.

Regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the flick (which I highly recommend if you haven’t), Stephen Chbosky‘s book is an absolute must-read! It’s full of inspiration, and is an extremely quick and easy read — perfect for a lazy summer day.

The novel is written through a series of letters penned by an anonymous high school freshman who calls himself Charlie. Through a series of ups and downs, Charlie experiences his first year in this new world. He is taken under the wings of Patrick and Sam, who each have their own captivating stories. In this year, Charlie learns a lot about life and the meaning of love. It’s an extremely relatable story, one that will really make you reflect on the important things in life.

4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The outsiders
Book Cover via Amazon

For many, this is another novel that has been a reading assignment at some point in the past, but this S.E. Hinton classic has the perfect amount of drama and thrill to warrant a second (or third, or fourth) read.

The Outsiders (another Looks from Books pick) tells the story of two rival high school gangs, the Greasers and the Socs. Split by their socioeconomic status, the two groups often “rumble” to assert their dominance over one another. This often results in tragedy, but it’s the kind of heartache that will leave you begging for more. The brotherhood between the Greasers is also a perfect depiction of loyalty and friendship, which makes the story even more enjoyable.

(Note: After you’ve read this novel, you should definitely watch the 1983 film adaption. Prepare yourself for two hours of reveling in the beautiful young faces of soon-to-be-stars like Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillion, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Emilio Estevez, and Ralph Macchio… It is almost too much to handle.)

5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse five
Book Cover via Amazon

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers of all-time. The first time I picked up a Vonnegut story, he dismantled my belief that I was not a fan of science fiction. His skill for injecting reality and humor into sci-fi makes for some truly fascinating pieces of literature, like Slaughterhouse-Five.

This novel follows the story of Billy Pilgrim, a wealthy optometrist who was once an American soldier in WWII. After being abducted by aliens, Billy becomes “unstuck” in time. This allows him to time travel to different periods in his life, though he has no control over where he goes. These experiences lead Billy to a new understanding of life; one that readers will learn to appreciate as well.

Though the story can be a bit tough to follow at times, that is part of what makes it so exciting. Plus, whether or not you are a Sci-Fi fan, this story will have you totally hooked until the end.

Final Thoughts:

Of course, there are tons of recent bestsellers that you should definitely check out this summer, too! The novels listed above are just a few of my favorites, and ones that I think are perfect for re-reading in the summertime.

No matter what book you choose to grab, take advantage of the opportunity to read something other than a textbook. There is nothing better than lounging on a beach chair with a real page-turner in hand. Happy reading!

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of this summer reading list? What other books would you recommend revisiting? What books do you plan to read this summer? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments section!

Posted on on May 19, 2013 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , ,

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27 Responses to “5 Classic Books to Revisit Over Summer Break”

  1. 1
    May 19th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    This is a great list. I’ve read Catcher In the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower already and highly recommend them. I think it’s time for me to check out the other books in the list as well. Thanks, CF!

  2. 2
    May 19th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    While I agree with the other choices, The Catcher in the Rye is quite awful. It is just about a whiny teenager who is very obnoxious. I didn’t like it when I read it in high school and I still don’t like it now.

  3. 3
    May 19th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I was never able to get passed how whiny and annoying Holden Caulfield was in Catcher in the Rye. I love the other 4 books though!

  4. 4
    May 19th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I am putting The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby and The Perks of Being a Wallflower on the list but I would NOT recommend Slaughterhouse Five. I had to read it this year for my Love and Hate Literature course, and it was okay. But it’s not a nice summer read I would think. It’s very bizarre and often (I found) depressing. If you are looking for a time travel book, I’d read “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. Still a classic.

  5. 5
    May 19th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Just what I needed! (:

  6. 6
    May 19th, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    I read The Outsiders in middle school and am still in love with it ! The Great Gatsby was phenomenal too. I’m still upset I haven’t had time to see the new movie yet. I recommend reading A Clockwork Orange !

  7. 7
    May 19th, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I find 1 and 2 highly overrated. The Outsiders, on the other hand, was one of my favorites in school.

  8. 8
    May 19th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve read books #1-3. I absolutely love The Catcher in the Rye; I think it was brilliantly written. The Great Gatsby is also a favorite of mine. Perks was eh–good during the first read but overhyped and flawed. (Charlie is supposed to be the best his English teacher has ever seen yet he writes like a child. I think that’s a huge discrepancy, even when taking into account his naivete and fragile emotional state. I also don’t think it’s as deep as some would have you believe.)

    I’ve been thinking about getting into Slaughterhouse-Five but I’m not sure I’d be able to follow the story well enough. I tried reading the first chapter but got hopelessly lost. Can you relate to this, Bridget? (I’ve read Breakfast of Champions by him as well and enjoyed it.)

  9. 9
    May 19th, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve only read The Great Gatsby on this list. Shame on me! I will get right on this!

  10. 10
    May 19th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I love The Outsiders! :-)

  11. 11
    May 19th, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Great list! Catcher in the Rye is my favourite book <3

  12. 12
    May 19th, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I actually thought Perks of Being a Wallflower was terrible. It may be the first time I’ve ever thought a movie was better than its book.

  13. 13
    May 20th, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Wow! I haven’t had the time to read a good book in months! Now that I have the time these are great options! I have read “The Outsiders” about a million times, but have meant to revisit “The Great Gatsby”. The others are books that I have been interested in but forgot about!

  14. 14
    May 20th, 2013 at 12:58 am

    For the Holden haters, think of this. Holden Caulfield is wondering around New York trying to find someone to listen to him. How different is that from memes? People are complaining about little problems when the true problems are a bigger issue. Yet, that is modern entertainment. Maybe, you should try reading Salinger’s ‘Franny and Zooey.’ Franny is like a grownup Holden yet her issues get resolved. Other than that, this is a great list. Each has there little quirks, yet that is why they are loved.

  15. 15
    May 20th, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carole Oates is also an excellent read. Similar to The Outsiders, it will blow you away–there was a film adaptation starring Angelina Jolie in the early 90s but the book is so much better. It’s one of my favorites along with The Outsiders.

  16. 16
    May 20th, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Their eyes were watching God is also a great read! First read it in high school buys has since grown to be an absolute favorite.

  17. 17
    May 20th, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Great list, I’m just finishing a degree in English Literature and I will finally have a chance to read for pleasure so this list is totally useful :)

  18. 18
    May 21st, 2013 at 4:13 am

    What a great post! It has been years since I read these great books. Classics like that should be reread every year.

  19. 19
    May 22nd, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing your opinions on these books! Of course, none of these picks are “for everyone.” These are just a few of my personal favorites. And I can’t wait to check out some of the other suggestions… Summer reading is my favorite thing to do, so I will just keep adding to my list!

    Taylor- For me, Slaughterhouse-Five was definitely one of those books that took awhile to come together. But eventually the story just falls into place and, when it does, it’s brilliant. If you liked Breakfast of Champions, I’ll think you’ll enjoy this one as well… Give it a shot!

    Brenda- I totally agree. Such a great book!

  20. 20
    May 23rd, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I’ve read the Great Gatsby and I absolutely loved it! We had it in our sixth semester syllabus under American Literature which is why I not only read it but also got the opportunity to read up a lot of critical material on the novel. I was amazed by how much I could relate to it. Fitzgerald’s style is beautifully poetic! So I recommend it too! :’)

    I haven’t read anything else on this list but I do wish to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Outsiders.

    As for me, I have the following on my summer reading list-
    The Iliad which I’ve already started reading and I’m hooked to it,
    And the Mountains Echoed- I love Khaled Hosseini’s books and I can’t wait to start this one,
    Northanger Abbey and Persuasion- I’ve read Austen’s other works, and hope to finish the remaining two.

  21. 21
    May 31st, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I haven’t read any of these classics; the only one I would like to read is The Great Gatsby. Some of my favorite classics to revisit are Jane Eyre, A Secret Garden, The Count of Monte Cristo and Great Expectations. Not sure if Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is considered a classic, but I’m re-reading it now before the movie comes out.

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