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Classical Books that should be a must-read!

Being in quarantine can feel very draining and almost everyone finds themselves tired and out of energy and having no motivation to get up and do the things they usually enjoy doing. However, that should not be the end of it; we are not only fighting a virus but a mental health issue of being cooped up inside our houses for too long. While some people dealt with the suffocating feeling through exercise, others might have different methods. Personally, reading is what gets me through the hardest times, I find many morals and life lessons through the books I read. So without any further delay, here are some Classical books that I believe hold very strong morals and can be useful to read while being in quarantine.

#1: The Iliad by Homer

Most teens are probably already familiar with this famous publication by the Ancient Greek author, Homer. However, not everyone gets the chance to go through the whole book in school, not to mention the epic poem series is a must-read if you are a fan of mythology and action. The book takes place following the mythological story of the Golden Apple, which tells the story of a beauty contest between the three Greek Goddesses: Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena. The winner would obtain the Golden Apple; however, it is not so simple as Zeus requests the human, Prince Paris of Troy to be the judge. Eventually, Paris gifts the golden apple to Aphrodite because she promised him Helen of Sparta, the most beautiful among the women of Greece. However, she was married to King Menelaus and that caused a war to break out. In Homer’s epic poems, we get to see the struggle of the warrior and demi-god, Achilles, who has to step up and fight for his people and his ultimate battle with the strongest warrior of Troy, Hector.

Moral of the story: Well, I believe it deals with many different life lessons, first of all, there’s loss which is something that drives many of the warriors into quarrels with each other. We also get to see the flaws and immaturity of Greek Gods and Goddesses who, despite being glorified by their people, seem to be the reason behind all their fights. Get to know more about Ancient Greece history and also read a great book!

#2 The Great Gatsby

Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So I believe that most people probably already read this but honestly, it is still a great reread of a book that deals with heartbreak and shattered dreams. I personally loved reading this book because it was the first time I’ve seen the American dream being depicted as a curse rather than a blessing. What I mean by that is the plot revolve around Jay Gatsby, a man who obtains wealth through his own methods meaning it was never inherited but he’s never satisfied because his true love, Daisy, is married and he tried to win her affections and love back through lavish parties every day in his mansion for the hope that one day, she would show up. There’s this idea of old money versus new money and how those who achieve the American Dream, still struggle with the illusion that it means happiness.

Moral of the story? I mean, many of us understand what it is like having the urge to succeed and what we naively believe that in America, everyone has that chance to make it, but even when we do make it? Have we truly achieved success? Or have we been forced to leave behind our true selves and trade it for a personality to fit in with a crowd of people who are nothing similar to you or give a care about you? It can sound gloomy but the moral lessons and amazing plot are worth the time for sure!

#3 Bless Me, Ultima

Novel by Rudolfo Anaya

It’s been a while for me since I read this one but I am about to give it a reread so I think you should definitely check it out as well! This Chicano book is absolutely spectacular, and here’s why. First, the story surrounds a boy called Antonio Márez y Luna and how he deals with the difference coming of age experiences such as magic and religion. I know magic and religion are complete opposites and Catholicism definitely looks down upon these ideas which are a struggle for Antinoi who learns about it along with his mentor, Ultima, who is a bruja.

The message of this book? Well, even at a young age, Tony is forced to make decisions on his own and come to terms with his destiny. Many of us as teens feel the pressure of making important decisions and taking new steps in our lives and I believe this book gives a perspective on that hardship.

#4 The Satyricon

Novel by Petronius

So I am back with another ancient historical book, however, this one comments on the social issues and life of Ancient Rome, especially during the rule of the tyrannical emperor, Nero. This book is serious of multiple stories and my focus will be on the story of Dinner with Trimalchio. It takes a look at a man who lives a lavish life and does nothing other than eating and drinking and celebrating every day like its last, sounds familiar? Well, because it is! This idea of lavish life inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald, who based Gatsby’s parties on Trimalchio’s. However, the focus of the two stories are different, here the author, Petronius, comments on a man who rose after being freed from slavery but judges their way of life, Ancient Romans began being apathetic to everything happening around them. The city is going into ruins due to the awful reign of the Roman Emperor, Nero, and yet all they do is eat and drink. It deals heavily with the political life of the Ancient Romans.

Moral of the story? I mean, it does talk about how in times of hardships and political ruins, the people should not feel apathetic and simply forget about their country. This is something that must be remembered especially now, where all we want to do is be apathetic and act carelessly.

#5 The Color Purple

Novel by Alice Walker

Finally, the last in our list is The Color Purple by the amazing author, Alice Walker, whose book is very empowering and a must-read for sure. I am already so glad that this book is in most school districts’ curriculum because, despite its explicit imagery, it is not meant to be anything more than commenting on real issues. If I tried to give a summary I would feel that I am spoiling the book because it is very heavy and deals with a lot of emotional packages. It shows the brutality of society to Black women and how society treats them as even less than Black men. My favorite part of the book is seeing all the women who empower each other through their strengths and experiences. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the struggles of women of color in American society and beyond.

This concludes the list and would like to leave you with a quote from The Great Gatsby that truly describes our lives in quarantine right now:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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