There are a lot of classics that are hard to crack open, but these books are all truly worth getting past the initial hesitation.
  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    You'd be hard-pressed to find another book that so successfully weaves humor and satire into the horrific realities of war. Besides, if you're curious to find out the origin of the term "catch-22," look no further.
  2. A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    I can hardly describe how astounding and beautiful this book is. Through magical realism and the fictional town Macondo, Marquez creates an effective allegory for Colombia and true events in South American history.
  3. East of Eden by John Steineck
    If you are at all a fan of Steinbeck, this loose retelling of the story of Cain and Abel needs to go to the top of your reading list immediately. I actually think it's better than Grapes of Wrath, from its multifaceted, fascinating characters to its classic Steinbeck descriptions of the land.
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
    Don't be put off by the length. This book isn't just a "I guess it's a classic so I guess I should read it;" it's a "this book is entertaining as hell so I should read it if I know what's good for me." Apart from being the ultimate revenge tale that inspired countless modern ones, this book really questions the motivations behind revenge and its toll on a person's soul.
  5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    I'm going to mention Steinbeck twice... One, because he's incredible, and two, because this book is so short that you really have no excuse not to read it. It's a story of friendship and hardship and not always overcoming the odds. Just try not to weep uncontrollably, I dare you.
  6. Germinal by Emile Zola
    This one is perhaps a little less well-known than the others, but it is a really powerful account of the starvation of French miners. The best books are those that have a real message for its readers, and this book is just crying out for social change and justice.