There are few things in the world as peaceful and enjoyable as relaxing outside during summer, with the sun on your face and a good book in your hand... but summer is also a time for adventure, for all things colourful and thriving and living. When it comes to a good adventure book, you get the best of both worlds. There's nothing so captivating as following characters on epic journeys of growth, staying by their sides as they cross fantastical landscapes and overcome personal trials on the roads they walk. Here, we have thrown together a short list of the most magical classic reads to get stuck into this summer, from the heart-warming to the wild, from the joyful to the perilous.
Beginning with Tolkien's almost unimaginably vast world, Middle-Earth is just the tip of the iceberg in this epic Legendarium. What began with the line "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" soon became the most revered work of modern fantasy, a lifetime's effort consisting of the entire history of a fictional universe, multiple languages, and a carefully woven collection of lands and tales that only the greatest of minds could create.
In Tolkien's books, it's just a bonus that there's something for everyone. The Hobbit is an excellent choice for those of you wanting a shorter read suitable for all ages, while the Lord of the Rings provides a grander, darker, more perilous journey across the realm of Middle-Earth. And, if you're feeling up for a challenge, The Silmarillion is a must-read too!
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Alice in Wonderland
If you want to summarize the word "magical" with a single book or novel, you'd have a hard time finding a better example than Lewis Carroll's beloved Alice in Wonderland. This classic children's novel is filled with everything your heart could desire from a fantastical literary world; wild and wacky characters, a highly entertaining realm, and a story that only gets more wonderfully insane with each and every turn of the page.
In Alice in Wonderland, we follow the titular character through the madness that is Wonderland (a very fitting name for the world the story takes place in), and we truly feel as though we are discovering the world with her. Bright, bubbly, and utterly bizarre, it's safe to say we can all agree with Cheshire Cat's summary of his fellow zany inhabitants of Wonderland when he says "we're all mad here."
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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Who wants to read the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz? The answer should be you! Originally published in 1900, this classic fairy tale has cemented its legacy as a fantastic work of fiction - not just in literature, but in film with its fascinating 1939 live action adaptation too which is now arguably more widely known than the original fairy tale itself.
Telling the tale of Dorothy's adventure across the Land of Oz after she and her dog, Toto, are carried off by a tornado, the story is overflowing with memorable characters and quotes. Colourful in every sense of the word, this tale absolutely must find its way into your summer reading session... as long as, unlike the scarecrow, you do have a brain!
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Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories
Last, but certainly not least, comes the work of Rudyard Kipling. His Just So stories, though over a century old, are still just as enjoyable today as they ever have been. Telling many accounts of a variety of wild and exotic animals, with classics such as How The Leopard Got His Spots and How The Rhinoceros Got His Skin, these stories are only amplified by the stunning drawings and imaginative illustrations that often accompany them.
As many of the settings of these stories include locations such as jungles, deserts, and other tropical climates, summer is the ideal season to really get lost in the pages with Kipling. With numerous plays, musicals, and other adaptations over the years, the Just So stories can be enjoyed in many other formats now too - but of course, nothing quite beats the originals!
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