Classic novels for those who don’t like the classics

Story by Abigail O'Gorman, Staff Writer

Classical books can be boring. In fact, they are often so intimidating to modern readers that many abandon them completely in favor of popular fiction. Luckily, not all old and celebrated books are mind-numbingly dull ramblings on the human condition or other such nonsense.

Some of them are actually exciting! Behold: classical novels for people who don’t like the classics.

For those fond of swashbuckling adventure and intrigue, Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel will not disappoint, despite the fact that the main hero’s daring alter ego is named after a flower. Also recommended is the oft-adapted The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas père. Sure, you could watch one of the movie versions for basically the same effect, but the book is way better. I promise.

Mystery fans will enjoy Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, starring super duper detective Auguste Dupin. He’s basically Sherlock Holmes, but spookier. Speaking of The Great Detective, the original Arthur Conan Doyle short stories are must-reads for any self-respecting mystery buff. Another interesting book by Doyle is The Lost World. It’s about dinosaurs.

If you like the supernatural, Bram Stoker’s Dracula packs over three hundred pages of kitschy vampire goodness. Twilight fans be warned, however: the Count’s got a little more bite than Edward Cullen (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist). Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a dark tale of despair and tragedy that far exceeds its many cinematic adaptations. I should note that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist who created the monster, NOT the monster himself, whose name is, quite originally, Frankenstein’s Monster.

And, for those cut from a more flowery and sensitive cloth, there is romance. Anna  Karenina by the inimitable Leo Tolstoy is highly recommended; Tolstoy considered it his masterwork and I am inclined to agree with him. Then, of course, there are the ever-popular works of Jane Austen, which also offer compelling glimpses into the social dynamics of early nineteenth century England. Exciting!

Those who like their novels a tad darker will find no shortage of prime reading material among the great literature of the ages. Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front weaves a tragic tale of the lives of soldiers who survived World War I only to be tormented by far-reaching effects of warfare. I would also recommend Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which is extremely long but extremely worth it. And if you haven’t read The Diary of Anne Frank, you should go do it right now.

The books listed here are but the tip of a literary iceberg of knowledge and cultural enrichment. There are many, many more amazing novels that I wanted to mention but sadly did not find the space for. So I say unto you: don’t be a philistine! Sally forth into the realm of literature and make yourself a smarter and generally better person.