Hey, 26ers. It’s time for Round 2 of our “classic books that won’t put you to sleep” series. Last time I introduced you to a bunch of fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi and fantasy novels. Now we’re gonna shift gears a little bit, to a trio of smart, witty books that will impress you with their imagination, intelligence, and vision. Enjoy!
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
So maybe I’m a little biased towards this book because I was in a school production of it when I was 10. Whatever! It’s great, period. It definitely ranks right up there as one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. If you think you’re a future author, and you love language, puns, wordplay, all that, then Phantom Tollbooth must be the next book you check out. It’s got its fair share of adventure, too: Milo, the book’s hero, travels through a beautiful alternate universe, quirky and different and strange but instantly recognizable as being based on our world. In that way, it’s very much like Alice in Wonderland, but it’s definitely a bit more grown-up. Tell your teacher you’re reading this — that’s INSTANT brownie points.
The Martian Chronicles, by Rad Bradbury
Ray Bradbury, in my opinion, is two things: the best science fiction writer ever and the best short story writer ever. He’s probably most famous for Fahrenheit 451 — which is a great book, don’t get me wrong, and everyone should read it at some point — but I’d rather read this any day. Martian Chronicles is a collection of short stories (some only a couple pages long) that recounts the colonization of Mars by humans in the not-too-distant future. There’s some action, and plenty of mystery and suspense, but it’s really about the relationships between strangers and how people react when they encounter something they’ve never seen before. I know that doesn’t make this book sound like a ton of fun, but trust me: it’s beautiful. You will look at the world a little differently when you’re done.
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
This book is just plain awesome. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s science fiction, it’s adventure, it’s a little bit of horror. The basic plot is simple enough: a family tries to find their father, and lots of crazy stuff happens to them on the way. But there’s way more to it than that. They end up on a different planet, being chased by a man with red eyes, jumping through holes in time, etc. I don’t want to say more than that; it’s better if you experience this stuff on your own.
That’s all for now from our “classic books that don’t stink” collection. But look for more in the future! And, as always, recommend books you think your fellow 26ers will like in the comments!
— Jack, STACKS Intern