I have noticed that people do not really like classic books. They prefer new ones because they are easier to read. I also like new books, especially thrillers and novels, but I still think that classic books are very important. Thanks to them we can learn about our history and about the people who lived before us, we can learn what they wanted to shout out to the world and what they found difficult or bad (but also wonderful and great, of course) about their times.
In the Czech Republic we have to read 20 books through high school (we get a list with like 100 books on it and we have to choose) and when we graduate, we have to pass an exam when we pull out a piece of paper with one of the books written on it. Then we have to talk about the book and the author for 15 minutes. Most of my classmates hate this part – they’re sick of reading 20 boring books. But I absolutelly love it! (10 points for nerds!) I was done with my list half a year ago and I graduate next May. I’m crazy, I know, but I just really liked the selection of books. And I have decided to present you some of them which I totally love and I think they are easy to read, especially for young adults.
FIGHT CLUB by CHUCK PALAHNIUK
Length: 218 pages
“Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer, maybe self-destruction is the answer.”
“You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”
You might know this story thanks to a film thas has been made and has become very famous. I personally haven’t seen it but I absolutely love this book. I’ve tried reading other Palahniuk’s stories as well and they are pretty good but nothing compares to Fight Club.
Fight Club is a story about men who meet at secret clubs all over the country and they try to get rid of their problems and fears by fighting against each other. They beat themselves to death sometimes, it’s very brutal. It’s a story of violence and what it can cause, a story of vengeance, a story of people who feel lost in this mad world. How much can we destroy ourselves? And isn’t the destruction fascinating?
The main character doesn’t have a name (if I remember it correctly, it has been a long time since I read it but I’ve been told that in the film he doesn’t have a name for sure because this way he can represent every single man in the country) and he just tries to keep up with life, I would say. He suffers from insomnia and so he starts attending some meetings for people with various problems, from insomnia to cancer. He obviously doesn’t have cancer but he lies and listens to people who really are ill. After a while the narrator meets Tyler Durden who shows him a new way of living – through destruction.
I adore the way Palahniuk writes. I have never read anything like this before. I felt kind of lost while reading it because the thoughts of the main character were supposed to be this confusing and blurry. But then Palahniuk writes a few strong words and it just crashes into you. I’m not really sure how to describe it – his style of writing is just so unique. Fight club is very good for teenagers and young adults because we are also trying to find our place in the world and are feeling quite lost while doing it. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t be alright to practise their ways of dealing with life in the reality but I just really like the philosophy of this book.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST by KEN KESEY
Length: 325 pages
“He knows that you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.”
“Rules? PISS ON YOUR FUCKING RULES!”
Imagine that you’re in a mental hospital. Every day is the same, the men play cards and the nurse Ratched smiles at you in that evil-sweet way that you just know is not right. And you’re afraid of doing something, anything, because if you seemed to be a little more insane than you already are, you would end up like those people. Those people who, after coming back, are never the same like before.
But then a guy called McMurphy walks in and he shouts, he laughs, he swears, he does everything he should not do and the most funny part is, he is not even insane. He went into this hospital to get out of prison and so he’s just planning to stay here for that short time, turn things around and make them better and then happily leave. But things get more and more messed up and everything is not as easier as it seemed to be. In spite of that, McMurphy brings a new spirit to the hospital and step by step, he shows other men ,who became quiet mice over the course of time, that they can rise again and be brave to embrace their personalities and life itself.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is about love for life, about strong will and mostly about hope. McMurphy never slows down, he never gives up, he keeps going even though he knows things are not likely to get better. He’s very passionate, very alive. And he changes the main narrator’s life. This narrator is called Chief Bromden and he’s a Columbia Indian. He doesn’t speak. At all. He just observes and slowly gets bigger and braver by building a friendship with McMurphy.
I love this book so much because it teaches us to never give up, no matter what. If we believe in something, we can make it happen – maybe it doesn’t always end up the way we wanted at first but we tried. We tried and we fought for our beliefs. And that is one of the most important things in life. To never give up.
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. SALINGER
Length: 277 pages
“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
Holden Caulfied is a 17 year old boy who leaves his school in Pennsylvania and wanders around New York for 3 days. The plot of the book is not very strong, it’s mostly about Holden’s thoughts, about the people he meets and about himself.
The Catcher In The Rye is not easy to describe. I think that everyone must read it themselves and find their own meanings and thoughts they like. This book is about growing up, about rebellion, about being different. Holden just feels very lost in this world and he doesn’t know what to do about it and so he picks the simpliest way of all – running away from problems. He’s seeking the meaning of life, he’s looking for love, for understanding. But it just seems like there’s nobody who would really get him, who would make him want to stay in New York. Or is there?
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by ANTHONY BURGESS
Length: 192 pages
“Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?”
“What I do I do because I like to do.”
A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian novel narrated by Alex, a 15 year old boy who’s a member of a group of friends who rob, steal, rape and beat people. These boys love violence and they hurt others just because they like to, just because it brings them some sort of pleasure. The author has invented a special slang that is used by the young generation in this dystopian world. Due to this the novel is quite hard to read. I don’t really know what the slang looks like in the English version because I’ve read it in Czech but one day I would really like to read it in English as the slang in Czech was created by adding English words and forming Czech ones out of them (for example ‘drinkat’ means ‘to drink’ etc.). Despite all the violence and the slang, Alex adores classical music, especially Beethoven.
One day Alex finally gets caught and he’s sentenced to a prison for a murder. And this is when the scariest and the most known part comes. People come up with a new technique for destroying violence and making it vanish forever. And Alex is the first person they try it on. They force Alex to watch very violent movies and during watching those, they make him feel pain and sickness by using chemicals. This way he begins to feel sick everytime he comes closer to some violent act.
But goodness can’t be forced. We cannot be forced to be good – we have to choose it. And so this experiment doesn’t go as well as those people have thought it would.
A Clockwork Orange is about violence, about the difference between good and bad and most of all, about our freedom. I was a little bit confused at the end because it’s not easy to grasp the final thought but that just made me want to read it again. A Clockwork Orange is totally worth it.
And these were the four novels that I find really good for people of our age. They all are about finding ourselves, about feeling lost and trying to cope with it, about loneliness and freedom. There are beautiful thoughts and ideas in these books and just reading them makes you think and wonder about life. I totally recommend all of those.
btw. If you click on any of the links listed above and you purchase a book, I get a small commission (no extra cost for you). I hope it’s okay.