Covering the classics: five classic books to enhance conversation


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Skylar Stagaard

Yes, High school students, but there are many classic novels that students never get a chance to read. Honestly, many students do not read the assigned books as is, let alone take the time to read outside of what is required. However, when it comes time to engage in meaningful conversations, the topic of meaningful literature is always a boost. 
Come college, conversations are going to step up to the next level. Building relationships with professors could be one of the most crucial elements of advancing your education throughout continued schooling. Read these novels to give your casual conversation a leg-up:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita is a widely celebrated and debated novel. Even though it is considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood firewall is set to limit all access to searches containing “lolita.” The novel includes a discussion of lust versus love and intricate wordplay. 

The Atlantic describes the novel as “Wild, fantastic, wonderfully imaginative, it is a style which parodies everything it touches.” 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 
When faced with the end of the world, the characters in this time-honored novel are forced to face problems they never thought they would have to face. The comedy in the novel allows for reflection on remaining positive in times of darkness. Pondering the post high-school future can be terrifying for some and disappointing for others; this novel can act as a guide to accepting the darkness of life and moving on. 

According to The Guardian, “although this book is famous as a cutting satire on philosophy and religion (“‘You’ll have a national Philosophers’ strike on your hands!”’), it actually contains some quite insightful reflections on the human condition.” Not only can this book act as an escape from reality, but as a means of preparation for the future. 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
In reading this novel, students would be able to enjoy a story meant for children that serves a larger observation. Similar to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this book is a fun and engaging read. There is no question of psychological motives or “why” behind what the characters do, they simply do it. Along with the idea of escaping back to childhood, there is a profound analysis of human reactions and nature that would easily add to any discussion. 

A review from the Independent stated, “for me, it’s a book that has everything. Stevenson was a master of so many different styles of writing. But for me, Treasure Island remains his masterpiece and masterclass.” It is a novel worth the read, especially as high school continues to draw teenagers further from childhood. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Many English teachers and professors alike preach the importance of this book. From the timelessness of the story itself to the relatability among the youth, this is one classic novel every high school student or college student must-read. 

The official website of Wuthering Heights said “however, the story explores themes of revenge, obsession, passion and loneliness that are relevant to the experiences of college-aged. Reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ might be worthwhile to students who want a release for students similar emotions of their own.”

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This novel provides insight into one of humanity’s most complex practices: war. Through the use of dark humor and commentary on the death war brings, Catch-22 is a great novel to analyze before proceeding into the world of higher education. 

“There seems to be something up for grabs in Catch-22’s circular logic – where madness begets laughter, and laughter begets madness – that makes me immediately go back and read it again; which is an impulse I think Heller, Yossarian and the rest of the gang would understand,” The Guardian stated.

There is a whirlwind of condemnation and wit that makes this book what it is. Reading this would not only add to a student’s abilities to discuss literature but write in a variety of modes.