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January 2016

10 Classic English Novels that are Also Easy to Read

Great works of English literature that you can pick up and finish in one sitting

Great literature is not always easy to enjoy quickly, especially if you’re reading in a language that you’re currently learning. Thankfully, not all novels are the length of War and Peace; many of the world’s greatest books are not very long and provide a lot of beautiful narrative with a short amount of time investment. These are particularly good books for those who find it intimidating to approach large texts, especially when reading in a new language can often take more than twice as long. Today we’ll take a look at 10 great works of English (in the sense of the language) literature that are easy and fun to read, perfect stories for those who are currently studying English.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

The story of Alice’s adventures in the whimsical (yet somewhat diabolical) world of Wonderland should be well known to all by now. In 1951, Walt Disney, who was always enamored with the story of Alice, turned English author Lewis Carroll’s fantasy masterpiece into an animated film. But the original story, in its original text, is all the more thrilling. Carroll excels in wordplay, creating a magical world that’s both fun for the young and clever for the older.

Animal Farm, George Orwell

Orwell’s Animal Farm may seem like a cutesy romp through the farmland, an adventure of cows and pigs, but it’s anything but. It’s an allegorical story about politics, told through a tale between barn animals. A critic of Stalinism, the often brutal story depicts a power struggle between the animals on the farm, examining the concepts of totalitarianism and social classes.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn, by now, is a mythic figure in American lore. Mark Twain, a clever and wholly intelligent writer of the latter 1800s, captures the American South in both story and tongue in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain was a true American; he captained steamboats before traveling across the frontier to San Francisco during its pre-Great Quake days. Of all his stories, none is perhaps as well known as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, making it a true classic for those interested in American literature.

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck wrote often about Salinas and Monterey. In Cannery Row, he devotes an entire short novel on the latter. The well-written story centers upon the main strip of Monterey, bringing the reader back into a lost era of diverse peoples living in the seaside California town.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

For those interested in tales of dystopian futures, few classics are as necessary a read as Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The novel is separated into three sections, each a fascinating story of those seeking to thrive against a harrowing future.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald was one who mastered the art of prose. Poetic and illustrative, even his less popular works are filled with beautiful writing. The Great Gatsby is undeniably his greatest work and one of his easiest reads. The story follows the life of the enigmatic yet very wealthy Jay Gatsby, as told through the eyes of a young man named Nick Carraway who makes his acquaintance. Like many of Fitzgerald’s works, the story touches upon social classes and the sins of the wealthy.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only novel ever written by playwright Oscar Wilde. The story follows a young man obsessed with his beauty. Magically, he is able to stave off time by allowing a painting of himself to age instead. As the story progresses, events turn macabre, leading the seemingly harmless story of the elite into something more sinister. Wilde was a master of the English language, and Dorian Gray is a great example of it.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

One of the greatest novels of all time, The Catcher in the Rye is the coming-of-age story of Holden Caulfield, a university student struggling to find his place. Ironically often included in high school reading lists, it is widely regarded as a story of youthful rebellion, although an introspective one dealing with existential issues that plague all young people.

Night, Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel’s Night ought to be on everyone’s reading list for the subject matter alone. The story is based on the author's experiences in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The protagonist struggles with matter of faith and hope as he endures the brutalities of the camps. A powerful story, Night is a story everyone should read at least once.

Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain is a classic young adult story set during the days of the American Revolution. The novel follows young Tremain as he works as an apprentice during the outbreak of the War of Independence. Easy to read, the story places the audience into the times of the great American revolutionaries, offering a trip back in time.

What are your favorite easy-to-read English novels? What did we miss? Leave a comment on Facebook and be sure to follow us with a “like”.

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