In which I list 6 short classics you can read this summer!
There’s something about summer that makes us gravitate towards shorter, lighter reads. On a hot summer day, you don’t want to put on an enormous wool sweater or eat a heaping plate of turkey smothered in steaming hot gravy, do you? Likewise, you simply may not feel inclined to dive into the half-finished copy of War and Peace that’s been looking at you reproachfully for years (or wait, maybe that’s just me who has a half-finished copy of War and Peace staring reproachfully from my shelf).
It can be refreshing to read a book that’s short, sweet, and doesn’t make you think too much. Like a glass of lemonade. But light doesn’t always have to mean thematically flimsy. If you’d like to get a few classics under your belt this summer, here are a few short ones I pulled from my bookshelf. There are a lot more out there, but this is a good list to get you started.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
This is the shortest novel on this list; my copy is only 107 pages long. It takes about an afternoon to read, but it’s far from light subject matter. And be forewarned (because no one warned me): you’ll want to have some tissues handy. So maybe don’t read it at the beach. Sand + tears + snot is NOT a great combo.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Okay, this is a play, not a novel, but it definitely belongs on this list. It only took me a couple of hours to read—that’s like watching a movie! And, being a comedy, it also qualifies as light summer reading in that it is a sparkling, witty play that will be sure to make you laugh. So maybe you can cheer yourself up with this one after you read Of Mice and Men.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
As you might already be aware, this is an allegory for communism. I see several of you getting up and leaving, and I can hear you muttering, “THIS is her idea of a light summer read?!” Bear with me, please. While I’m not telling you to tackle my beloved Les Mis this summer (though you certainly may do so!) you don’t want to switch your brain off all summer, do you? Because this book is so short (my copy is 128 pages), I’d say it still could be considered light. Thought-provoking, but short. What more could you ask for?
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
This is one of my favourite novels of all time.You might not exactly need tissues, but you probably will want to be in a quiet place when you read the breathtaking last paragraph. It’s not really a “light” summer read either, except in length… But hey, it does take place in summer! So there’s that.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Another very short book that should take you a couple days at the very most. This novel snaps along at a reckless pace, and is full of delightful, sparkling quotes. And it also takes place during summer! I mean, you just can’t argue with that, now can you?
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
This is the longest of the short novels on this list, but being able to say you read an Austen novel this summer is pretty great, right? Austen wrote this as a satire of the Gothic novels so popular in her time, and it’s probably my favourite of her novels. Funny, gripping—I couldn’t put it down.
So there you go, that’s my list! If any of these books interest you, go ahead and look into them. And really, this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as short classics go. While these might not be the lightest of summer reads, they have the advantage of being truly unforgettable.