Novels can give you another perspective in life in the form of an engrossing and enjoyable story. By feeling connected to, or at least understanding, the characters and world in a novel, one can learn so much about the people around us, the world, and ourselves. Many of these novels on this list can be dark and might be unsuited for many living in self-isolation, but these books can also give valuable insight into an uncertain world that we live in if you are willing to take the dive.
10. Lord of the Flies
This novel shows the struggle and difficulties of forming a ruling system as it compares the civilized and primitive sides of humankind. The book starts off simply with a butch of school-age boys stranded on a remote island, but it devolves into a clash of who should be in power as they learn to survive in the wild. A clash of the minority and the majority will lead this novel to its dark end.
9. Native Son
The first two sections of the novel deal with a poor black male in the 1930s living in the Black Belt of Chicago under segregation. This black man and main character of the book, Bigger, takes out all his frustrations by resorting to a life of crime. Bigger is a complex character who deals with tough and troubling rules and perceptions of society, like the idea of being black versus being white.
8. The Catcher in the Rye
This can be a very relatable novel to many teenagers today as it focuses on a sixteen-year-old male struggling to find his place in a confusing and seemly harsh world. The books deal with mental and emotional issues, the pain of growing up, and much more. Even adults will find value in this novel since every adult had to go through the weird transition point in life of being a teenager. It can serve as a great self-reflection on one’s life and how to be a better person by learning from one’s mistakes.
7. Wuthering Heights
Love can be destructive if passion is the only aspect taking control in a relationship. This short novel explores just that with two love stories; one story is tragic and one story ends happily. With the two love stories, you see the differences that made each one turn out that way. The book can make you think about what love is and how it should be treated in a romantic relationship.
6. All Quiet on the Western Front
It is considered one of the greatest war novels of all time, yet it’s not a novel that shows war in a good light at all. Its strong anti-war message is very powerful throughout the whole novel, and the imagery of World War I is incredibly striking. What WWI soldiers had to deal with is still relevant today. WWI was brutal, and the war destroyed people physically and mentally.
Religion is a huge part of human history, and it is still a major factor in our everyday lives. This short novel is about ninety pages long, and it discusses religion in a very thought-provoking way. The book is filled with intricate characters that discuss religion and spirituality. The novel explores how religion can affect human nature.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird
It was quite shocking when Atticus Finch, a white lawyer, decided to defend a black man accused of rape in Maycomb, Alabama. Set during the Great Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird analyzes race relations and inequality in the Deep South. Jem and Scout were then picked on by other kids because of their father’s actions. Racism and the question of what makes a person evil are two huge themes in this novel as it follows the court case. Determination and hope carry the main characters forward, which can be very inspiring.
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Taking place in the U.S. within the 1950s, this novel explores the workings of a harsh mental asylum. The character, Randle McMurphy, sees the mental patients forced into conformity of the system and he helps them rebel against the nurses to prove that they are capable of living out their own lives. This novel shows that each and every person has at least some control over their own lives.
2. Brave New World
This novel deals with very hard questions. How far can we take and use technology in the aims of bettering society? Is truth or happiness more important? How does consumerism affect us? Bernard, the main protagonist of the novel, has desires that go against a society that controls almost all parts of a person’s life in the aims to make a utopia. In such a rapidly changing world, many can connect to Bernard’s desires and feel his worry.
This novel has been greatly referenced in numerous situations, especially in current times, when talking about politics and the role of government. The very strong themes of surveillance, totalitarianism, and free speech strike a deep chord with anyone even slightly worried about how society and governments are run today. This novel might make you more aware of societal issues that plague us today, and the book may encourage you to become more politically active.
About the Author
Christopher is a history university student with a huge passion for researching, writing, and learning. Chris is always active on new hobby projects like filmmaking as he tries to always improve himself and his work.
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