A few days ago, I asked what 5 classics you would recommend based on enjoyability and how much they’ve permeated the culture.
I am not up to my own challenge.
The first challenge was thinking up classics I’ve read and enjoyed. There aren’t many. While I did get to the point that I could read a work and appreciate its value regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it, there aren’t many that I’d say to people: “You simply must read this!”
If you have a great deal of patience and a version with good footnotes, I’d definitely recommend Paradise Lost. I also like most of Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus might top that list) and the dystopian novels like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984.
But the only one I could think of that would definitely make “the list”:
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s wonderfully written and quite different than anything that has been adapted from it. It has an emotional depth and profundity far surpassing any sci-fi rip-off. It’s just all-around awesome. So if you’re looking for a painless way to add a little more culture to your life, go buy a copy of Frankenstein. You can probably find a copy at a used bookstore for a quarter. Painless to read and to buy. What could be better?