Harvard Review List | Recommended Books

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Jane Eyre

A novel by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre was published in 1847 and went on to become a classic, complete with adaptations in 57 other languages and almost every other art form, including theatre, television, movies and even operas. The book introduces Jane’s journey from childhood to adolescence and maturity, both in her Aunt’s home as well as Lowood school, her idealistic manner of life, her friends and foes along the way and her romance with her employer, Mr. Rochester.

Without giving much of the story away, Jane faces plenty of trials and tribulations in her life, buoyed only by her principles and her martyr-like demeanor. Her budding love for Mr. Rochester too, is not without its fair share of misery. While the story ends well for her and thereby for the readers, the way in which it is written and the manner in which all pieces of the puzzle are set back right for Jane is something that must be read to be enjoyed in all its entirety.

Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte under her pen name, Currer Bell and is considered to be a novel ahead of its time, thanks to its highly individualistic heroine and topics of class, sexuality, and religion. Charlotte has also toyed with feminism in this novel and this, along with its romantic angle, has led the book to be known as one of the greatest romantic novels of all times, sharing the spotlight only with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Charlotte is one of the three celebrated Bronte sisters, all of whom are established writers of their time. Charlotte lived until 38 and died of pregnancy complications in 1855.

 

 

 

Pride and Prejudice

Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia are five sisters without an inheritance. With both parents without much wealth, the girls live fairly modest lives but harbour hopes of a better future brought upon by a rich marriage. Mother, Mrs. Bennet had taken it upon herself to find suitable matches for her daughters while the father was portrayed to be a wise, yet largely disinterested man.

Set in rural England in the early 1800s, the book captures the blooming romance between Mr. Bingley and Jane, the eldest daughter and the fresh, new perspective of Lizzie Bennet that captures the attention of Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy. Lizzie and Darcy share a complicated relationship from the beginning which goes through further tumult brought upon by misunderstandings and classism. The plot of the book is fast-paced and eventful, compared to other novels of 1813.

Jane Austen lived until the age of 41 and in her short lifetime, was the author of many other famous novels like Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma and posthumous publications Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Her novels are rarely out of print and have gained popularity among critics and popular audiences alike. Some countries even use her literature in schools as textbooks. Pride and Prejudice has had movie adaptations to its name and enjoys bestseller status even today.

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird

Written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that reputedly swept the Americans off their feet when it first came out. One of the most widely read novels in the country, To Kill a Mockingbird deals with sensitive issues like racial prejudice in the deep south. Set around the time of the Great Depression, the story revolves around a family of one father (Atticus Finch), one daughter (Jean Louise Finch, popularly known as Scout) and one son, (Jem).

Atticus is a lawyer who has been asked to take up the case to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of the rape of a white girl. The book has a side story running where Arthur “Boo”Radley, a social recluse, also locked up for fabricated reasons, is trying to communicate with the siblings without coming out to them directly. Loss of innocence has been a recurring theme in this book where both a white and a black man have been wrongly imprisoned and have been misunderstood by society. Even with all possible evidence against Mayella Ewell (the self proclaimed rape victim), Tom Robinson is convicted, leading to the sad conclusion that truth stands no chance against racial prejudice in the Alabama of the 1930s.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and has been known as the classic of the modern American Literature. Lee kept a low profile throughout her life, refusing to speak even when she received honorary degrees. She breathed her last in 2016 and continues to live through her rich novel.

 

 

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcasted as a radio series and then due to rising popularity, published into a series of novels. The novels are a trilogy but in 5 parts, the first one being the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The novel starts with the destruction of the earth, with Arthur being the only survivor. The tone of the novel is mocking, humorous and cynical to modern society, with a seemingly ordinary hero, who only happened to be at the wrong/right place at the wrong/right time. The plot twists and turns with amazing speed and giving away anything of the plot would be a big disservice to a potential reader. Let it suffice to say, the novel, like its successors, is a gripping page turner that simply does not disappoint.

The novel was number one on the book charts within the first week and sold more than 250,000 copies within 3 months. The book has sold more than 14 million copies till date. Other novels in this series are: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless.

Douglas Adams was an English author and satirist as well as an advocate for environmentalism and conservation. He enjoyed technology and was a fan of Apple Macintosh products. Douglas passed away in 2001.

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