Reading classic literature in high school can be difficult. Often, the interpretation required is complex and the themes are seemingly outdated. However, read later in life, and these books can develop into some of the most cherished pieces of literature. Re-reading them when you’re a bit older can offer a much different perspective.

In this article, we discuss the classic books you may have detested in high school that you’ll love now. In most cases, the context and themes acquire an entirely new and captivating meaning when your worldview and school of thought advanced further.

A Different Perspective

One of the main advantages of having aged from high school is that you’ll gain and evolve your viewpoint. This can provide classical readings with a much more meaningful, in-depth and captivating context. Classic books, usually written many years ago, lend themselves to be open and changes interpretation, as our understanding of the world shifts with time.

The themes in classic books are often timeless, or have an entirely different significance when read with a more advanced worldview. That’s why these once difficult to read books can now be enjoyable.

What Are Classic Books?

Classic books are generally older novels, plays and poems. They are typically defined as a work of lasting merit and often implement deep psychological exploration of timelessly relevant themes such as love, passion, death, etc. They’re the basis of modern literature, and have become iconic for their timelessness and relevance.

Now, let’s consider some of the classic books you may have deemed irritable in high school, that you’ll now really enjoy.

  1. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winner, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was, and still is, made compulsory in high school English classes. It is an allegory of inequality and racism in America during the 1930s, but many students are unaware of the underlying themes in high school.

Re-read in the present day, it can uncover an entirely new perspective. Racism, first and foremost, would ignite passionate debate between teens and adults. Lee also discusses the innocence of youth and the beauty of childhood that is easily missed in high school.

It is a timeless story that will remain as relevant in many generations to come.

  1. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ – J. D. Salinger

Published in 1951, this novel by J. D. Salinger is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. Many scorned it for its alleged vulgarity in high school, but ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is actually a thoughtful and gentle contemplation on teenage angst and coming of age in modern society.

Salinger paints a story of a child struggling against the world. It is filled with relentless truth and unspoken reflections of the struggles teenage youth must face. It is filled with raw emotion, as well as powerful insights of the imperfect human situation.

  1. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ – Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ classic often appears on ‘most hated books’ lists in high school. It tells the story of two families living in two cities (London and Paris). Although it’s arguably easier to understand than other Dickens books, many students miss the underlying themes in high school.

However, know that characters of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ are complex and play an important role in commenting on human nature, self-sacrifice, family and class divides. It is both a story of love and tragedy, as well as social criticism that still very much applies today.

  1. ‘Beowulf’ – Anonymous

Beowulf is an ancient poem, written by an anonymous author between the 8th and 11th century. It has been incredibly influential, giving us insight into Old English lyrics and construction. Older versions are confusing, and often even infuriating for students reading it in high school.

However, with age and maturity, you can develop a greater appreciation. It contains themes of battle, friendship, and moral values as well as deeper explorations into how humans respond to danger.

  1. ‘Heart of Darkness’ – Joseph Conrad

‘Heart of Darkness’ is a novella by Joseph Conrad and is an exploration of imperialism and its effects in the late nineteenth century. It has been studied and adapted extensively, with such notable movie adaptations including ‘Apocalypse Now’.

For high school students, the work often reads as an adventure-filled story. When read later in life, our understanding of human nature is often a lot deeper, and so the undertones in the book become much clearer. It’s a profound, thoughtful and often critical discussion of the results of colonialism.

The classics weren’t written for the sole purpose of being the bane of our high school years. In many cases, the themes are still just as relevant, if not more so now than when the books were written.

When your worldview and support system have advanced, you can arrive at a much more meaningful interpretation of their symbolism and themes. With age, some classic books you despised in high school can become some of your greatest guilty pleasures.