An English Major Who Hopes To Read The Classics

Written by: Aayushi Agarwal

I only read The Great Gatsby after my freshman year of college. Even though I am an English major (and have been one for three years now), my knowledge of classic literature is severely lacking. 

It is important to acknowledge the ongoing discussion about the eurocentrism and elitism of the classics, and understand what we mean when we call a book a “classic.” In making this list, I tried to stay mindful of this, trying to include a more diverse selection of books. 

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (originally in Russian)

To be completely honest, my reason for wanting to read this book is anime. I just watched Bungo Stray Dogs (I would highly recommend this for literary lovers), and one of the villains is named after the author of this book. Exploring the moral struggles of the protagonist, it is a bit on the longer side, but I think it would be a different kind of read. 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (originally in Spanish)

Written by a Colombian author, this novel explores a family and the conflict between solitude and love. As a Murakami fan, I enjoy reading magical realism, and this book seems right up my alley. 

1984 by George Orwell

I always see people refer to this book while talking about the horrific realities of the world today. A story of censorship and surveillance, it is eerily relevant to the time we are living in. I read a few chapters of this book last year and enjoyed them, so I hope to give it another try soon. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

I have been meaning to read Toni Morrison for over a year now (my friend even gave me a copy of one of her books), but for some reason, I have never gotten around to actually doing it. Beloved tackles slavery, and is described as the story of a woman haunted by her past. This book is high on my to-read list, and I really cannot wait to dive in.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

A Booktuber (I unfortunately cannot remember their name) once said, “If a man tells you their favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye, run!” I have heard this book be described as a red flag, but also a coming-of-age story like no other. I do not expect to like the characters themselves very much, but the themes look quite interesting. Maybe this book will satisfy the literary analyst in me. 

Now, that is my list of classics I hope to read soon! I hope the word “classics” seems less intimidating to you now that you know even an English major can be in the same boat.

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