Guest post by Meghan Murphy Chances are, you’ve read a classic novel—even if it’s because one was forced upon you in school. Most people, however, read literature for pure pleasure. Classics are, well, classic, for a reason: the writing is top-notch, the themes are timeless, the characters are memorable and the stories unravel issues that are still important to us today. We spoke to Jennifer Easter, a librarian at the University of Guelph-Humber, who recommended her four favourite classics. To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee Set in Alabama in the 1930s in an era of racism and discrimination, attorney Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. Told from the point of view of Atticus’s young daughter, Scout, the court case opens her eyes to a world of racial tension and ignorance. Scout also develops an unusual friendship with Boo Radley, a man who never leaves his house. For Easter, the reason to read this classic is clear. “ To Kill a Mockingbird should be read as a commentary on race, gender and injustice—it’s just as relevant today as it was when it was written.” Anne of Green Gables By L.M. Montgomery “Anne and her creator are Canadian cultural icons!” Easter exclaims. Anne of Green Gables takes place in a town called Avonlea, P.E.I., where adult siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert live together on their farm, Green Gables. Matthew is getting too old to look after the farm, so they plan to adopt an orphan boy. When Matthew goes to pick him up, he’s surprised to find a girl, Anne Shirley, instead. Anne’s lively spirits and smarts lead to many adventures over the course of the novel. And because of the novel’s Canadian pedigree, Easter says that it’s a must-read classic. 1984 By George Orwell If you’re looking for a more political read, 1984 might be the classic for you. The novel discovers a dystopian world where Winston Smith, the main character, is eternally watched. The tightly controlled surveillance is undertaken by a group of men, The Party. Winston rebels against this way of life and runs away with Julia, his lover. When their actions eventually catch up with them, the novel takes an even more dramatic turn. Easter recommends 1984 because the issues discussed remain a concern for contemporary society. “The themes of privacy, repression and control in 1984 still resonate with what’s happening in our world today,” she says. Rebecca By Daphne du Maurier This mystery is told entirely as a flashback. A young unnamed woman narrates the story, which begins with her marriage to Maxim de Winter, a wealthy Englishman. When the narrator learns of Maxim’s first wife Rebecca, she can’t help but feel inferior to her; she wonders if he is still in love with her. The plot continues through many twists and turns and it isn’t until the narrator makes a gruesome discovery that all is revealed. The ending will shock readers. “ Rebecca is it’s quite possibly the best suspense novel ever written,” says Easter. If you want to stick your nose into a romance novel instead of a classic, we recommend these six romantic reads! Or maybe you're looking to gift a book? Check out our list 10 Canadian novels for the literature lover in your life. Images courtesy of HarperCollins and Penguin Random House.