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Mar 29, 2024

Rediscover the Iconic Classic Novels You Read at School

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Do you remember the good old days, sitting in class, taking it in turns to read lines from a tattered copy Of Mice and Men? Or that time you had to dress up as a witch in your school’s production of Macbeth? If you want a trip down memory lane keep reading as we take a look at some of those old classroom favourites and see if those classic novels still provoke as much charm and intrigue as they did all those years ago.

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Title: Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Brontë

This piece of timeless literature follows the life of Jane Eyre, as she grows into a young successful woman. The story follows Jane as she completes her education, starts her professional life, and eventually finds love. As Charlotte Brontë’s tale continues, Jane faces trials that put her relationship in peril. Reading Jane Eyre all those years ago may have just seemed like another old-fashioned love story but if you were to pick it up today, you might find yourself lost in the masterfully woven themes of equality, love, and resilience with a new appreciation for the strong female protagonist. This remains a shining example of Victorian literature.

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Title: Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare

Labelled by many as a masterpiece, it’s safe to say William Shakespeare’s Hamlet isn’t just for high school students trying to decipher the complexities of a Shakespearean tragedy. As influential as this book was in our youth, reading it as an adult can give us a better understanding of the psychological depth and deeper appreciation of the deception in Hamlet. A definite re-read recommendation now you have a few more years under your belt.

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Title: Of Mice and Men

Author: John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is the story of an unlikely pair of labourers - George and Lennie, living a hand-to-mouth existence in rural America. They work where they can, driven by the dream of owning an acre of land with a little shack to call their own. Steinbeck's 1837 classic is a social commentary on the 1930s labouring class as they struggled in the face of tyranny and undue prejudice. Pick up this stunning example of depression-era literature as an adult and discover a whole new depth to the themes of loneliness, prejudice, and tragedy.

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Title: Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding

At the dawn of a new world war, a plane crash results in a group of schoolboys being thrown into a brash new world, forcing them to survive on their own. The new limitless freedom given to the stranded boys soon turns sour and chaos begins to creep in. What may have seemed like a thrilling adventure as a child becomes an allegorical novel with a psychological exploration into themes of civilization vs. savagery, when you read it as an adult. It’s also been said that William Golding's survival fiction has reflections on modern politics that we could have missed in our younger years.

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Title: Macbeth

Author: William Shakespeare

Easily one of William Shakespeare’s most influential works, this Shakespearean tragedy tells the story of the ambition of Macbeth, a promising military general whose life is turned upside down after receiving an ill-fated prophecy proclaiming that he is to become the new king of Scotland. Urged on by the ambitions of his wife, Macbeth soon descends into a spiral of paranoia, madness, and ultimately murder. Reading this iconic piece of literature as an adult reveals deeper character analysis, illustrating themes of guilt, fate, power, and corruption.

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Title: An Inspector Calls

Author: J.B. Priestley

Who can forget J.B. Priestley’s Inspector Calls? During the mid-1940s, a young girl from a respectable family committed suicide, sparking an investigation within the seemingly innocent family. As the investigation rolls on, the plot thickens as each, and every family member is implicated. As adults, we can identify the layers of class conflict and moral ambiguity hidden within the plot. Regarded as a great example of social critique in literature, Inspector Calls displays themes of responsibility and accountability.

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Title: Blood Brothers

Author: Willy Russell

Liverpool’s answer to West Side Story, Blood Brothers tells the story of two brothers who were separated at birth, growing up as friends completely ignorant of their fraternity. Eventually, conflict erupts resulting in a bloodbath. Reading Blood Brothers now, we can fully appreciate the social class division and the tragic consequences of fraternal conflict. Blood Brothers is an excellent example of tragedy in literature with themes of loyalty and betrayal.

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Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

He hates the colour yellow and has no understanding of human emotion, yet he knows every country in the world and its capitals. When the young Christopher John Francis Boone hears of the suspicious disappearance of a local dog, he takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of it. As we read this progressive example of neurodiversity in literature, we are increasingly receptive to Christopher’s unique perspective and how he handles problems in his own unique ways.

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Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

This multi-award-winning title has been read by millions of students across the country. "To Kill a Mockingbird" has running themes of racial injustice, empathy, and compassion as it tells the story of the trial of a wrongfully accused black man through the eyes of two young children. As adults, we can fully understand the journey this book takes through human behaviour and how social divides can impact the way the human mind works.

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Title: A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his encounters with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. As children, we saw A Christmas Carol for what it was on its surface, a grumpy old man struggling to find the Christmas cheer and facing down a host of strange ghosts, yet as adults we can pick out in more detail the underlying themes of self-reflection, compassion, and the joy of giving.

These books are perfect examples of how literature only gets better with time. So, next time you are looking for a new book, have a reminisce about the books you grew up reading and maybe give them another go. Take a trip down memory lane and see a new side to the literature that shapes your childhood. So, that concludes our breakdown of the top 10 books from your school years that are great!

Are you looking for some new reading inspiration? check out the 50 Best Selling Books of All Time, or if you just want to declutter your old books, check out some of our useful guides on how to keep a tidy home.

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