Reading classic books is quickly becoming extinct. A few months ago I was looking over a survey of my daughter’s high school literature class. I was expecting the teacher to cover literature across the ages, at least that of the last two hundred years anyway. I was sadly mistaken.
Instead she chose “modern classics” which translated to…well…generally nothing. Some of the books had very poor literary value, beside the fact that my daughter (who does enjoy reading) felt disappointed (and very bored) by what had been assigned to her.
The fact is our culture has ignored many a well spun yarn from yesteryear. We call them “classics.” What are some of those unforgettable stories that have been forgotten? Here are three I enjoyed as a child.
Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea — Jules Verne
No, this isn’t a story about a high school swim team. It’s a marvelous story written by a brilliant man with a brilliant mind.
The story is told from the perspective of Professor Aronnax. He embarks on a trip with his servant Conseil to capture a mysterious sea monster. After finding it, it destroys their ship, casting them into the ocean along with the ships harpooner, Ned Land.
To their surprise they find that the monster is actually a very advanced submarine commanded by a man named Captain Nemo. The rest of the story is yours to discover.
The detail can get a little bit deep, so I’m warning you ahead of time. But with a little bit of patience and a whole lot of imagination you’ll find Jules Verne’s book a good read.
Robinson Crusoe — Daniel Defoe
Although this classic story has had a number of movie versions done of it, it seems as though it hasn’t gained much notoriety as a story (and, no, Gilligan’s Island doesn’t count). The fact is it’s a pretty entertaining story.
I remember reading it thinking, “I wish I were stranded on a desert island.” I’ve grown up a lot since then.
Robinson Crusoe finds himself on an uncharted isle after the ship he’s on wrecks. To survive he has to use his knowledge and a whole lot of ingenuity. He digs a cave, builds a fort and keeps track of time by devising his own calendar.
Along the way he meets “Friday,” a man slated to be eaten by cannibals but saved by Crusoe. The men become fast friends and share many adventures. The rest? You’ll have to read it yourself.
The Bounty Trilogy — Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
Okay. I confess this may qualify in time as more of a modern classic. The fact is it was written more in an older style about a bygone era.
There are actually three separate books in the Bounty Trilogy (hence, the word “trilogy”). But I read them all in one volume, so I organized all three here as one book.
The first, Mutiny on the Bounty , relates the tragic story of the Bounty, a ship that sailed under Captain Bligh. He was so despised by his crew they mutinied against him and set him adrift in a small launch with a lot of the crew and very few provisions. The book later details the trial of those deemed mutineers and their acquittal.
The story then splits off into two more books. In Men Against the Sea we see the details of how Bligh and eighteen of his faithful crew survive as they bob around in the Pacific Ocean fighting the very elements of nature with every ounce of fortitude they have.
Finally, Pitcairn’s Island de scribes the lives of the mutineers who escaped. To hide from the consequences of their mutiny, the men took native wives to start a new life in an exotic setting. It’s only fair to warn you, the ultimate outcome is quite tragic.
These are just a few of the books I enjoyed reading as a child. I hope you do as well. Happy reading!