Classic books have stood the test of time for a reason. They’re groundbreaking, have wide appeal, and are worth a second (and third) read.

Broadly speaking, classic books are groundbreaking for their era, have broad appeal beyond one community or country, and have withstood the test of time—their stories and messages remain relevant today.

The first book that made me cry is ‘On The Beach’. This 1957 post-apocalyptic novel, written by British-Australian author Nevil Shute was all too real to me. I was twelve years old, certain that the world was doomed and me right along with it.

The characters make their best efforts to enjoy what time remains to them, speaking of small pleasures and continuing their customary activities. The Holmes family plants a garden that they will never see, Towers takes classes in typing and shorthand, Government services and the economy gradually grind to a halt.

Quote: “It’s not the end of the world at all,” he said. “It’s only the end for us. The world will go on just the same, only we shan’t be in it. I dare say it will get along all right without us.”

Quote: “You could have done something with newspapers. We didn’t do it. No nation did, because we were all too silly. We liked our newspapers with pictures of beach girls and headlines about cases of indecent assault, and no Government was wise enough to stop us having them that way. But something might have been done with newspapers, if we’d been wise enough.”

In the novel:

  • The Australian government provides citizens with free suicide pills and injections so they can avoid prolonged suffering from radiation poisoning. Periodic reports show the steady southward progression of the deadly radiation.
  • The bachelor Osborne spends much of his time restoring and subsequently racing a Ferrai racing car that he had purchased (along with a fuel supply) for a nominal amount following the outbreak of the war.
  • SPOILER – Osborne takes his suicide pill while sitting in his beloved racing car. When Mary Holmes becomes very ill, Peter Holmes administers a lethal injection to their daughter. Even though he still feels relatively well, he and Mary take their pills simultaneously so they can die as a family.

I still have that novel and will, one day, read it again. No doubt I will shed just as many tears, maybe more given the state of our world.

“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”