A group of young people reading classic novels

Four Classic Books To Help Make Sense of A Modern World

No. just watching the movie doesn’t count….

For many of us, the words “literary classic” bring back painful childhood memories of being forced to read books that felt a world away from the sports, music and dating we were actually interested in.

But in today’s often confusing times (you might even say “It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times….”), it turns that some of those classics have, weirdly, never felt more relevant. 

So why not switch out your Harry Potter for a true classic next vacation? While life’s still too short for us to attempt War & Peace’s 1440 pages, here’s our pick of four you should find space in your suitcase for this summer.

1984 – George Orwell. 

Sometimes it feels like 1984 should be renamed 2019, given how much of what Orwell saw as a hellish dystopia is now simply “everyday life” –  Newspeak, DoubleThink … it’s there all around us.

Margaret Atwood may think 1984 ends optimistically, but she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, so, make of that what you will.  Personally, we’d advise having a strong drink or warm bath ready for when you’re done reading.  You may need it.

The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fizgerald

Fitzgerald’s tale of 1920s American socialites regularly tops ‘must-read’ lists.  We can see why. 

How far can fakery and bluster take you? Has the American Dream been corrupted? 

Even without getting all political, there’s little doubt those questions are as relevant as ever.

Plus, it’s under 200 pages, so you can get through it while killing time in ‘Boarding Lounge Hell’.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig

ZATAOMM (as no-one’s calling it) is often called an entrepreneurs’ handbook or self-help bible.  And often not as a compliment.  

It’s certainly true that it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the things it has to say – not least on taking time to enjoy the journey –are things we could all probably do with hearing right now.

Lord of The Flies – William Golding

Telling the story of a group of stranded British boys’ disastrous attempt to govern themselves, Golding’s book exposed the fact that, when not bound by societal constraints, we all become pretty feral. 

Half a century later, we proved the same thing– we just happened to call it Big Brother.

He loved Big Brother.