What Classic Literature Teaches Us

A hand opens a wooden door leading to a beautiful nature scene with green mountains and a river

Learn Life's Great Lessons with These Literary Classics

Listen up! These classic titles might have a thing or two to teach you

Ask any great thinker, teacher or author and they’ll tell you that listening to classic literature teaches us incredible life lessons. It lets us observe things in a way we might not have considered before. These works empower us to navigate life’s big choices by considering how the classic characters of literature navigated theirs.

Classic audiobooks open a door to other experiences beyond our own, which allows us to gain a deeper and more complete understanding of life’s challenges by walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

At Audible, we’re always excited to introduce our listeners to classic audiobooks from the brightest literary minds. Below, we explore three incredible titles and the life lessons they can teach us.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This all-time classic is beloved by generations of readers and now Audible offers an audiobook rendition that truly captures the soaring spirit of this timeless gem. Narrated by the legendary Sissy Spacek, this title introduces listeners to the narrator Scout and her father Atticus Finch, one of the most beloved literary icons of all time. But listeners are also treated to the important life lessons Atticus imparts to his daughter.

The most important lesson this title teaches listeners is that we need to follow our own moral codes, regardless of the opinions of others. Atticus explains to Scout that he has to defend Tom Robinson — the accused man at the centre of the story — and act as his attorney regardless of what the other residents of the mostly white town of Maycomb think. Atticus maintains that you must always do the right thing, even when it’s difficult or unpopular.

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Atticus’ advice to Scout not to be fooled by surface impressions is another important lesson that echoes through the audiobook. Characters like Boo Radley turn out to be very different from the way the town perceives them. Scout comes to see that Boo is gentle and kind, and also possesses great bravery when he saves Scout from danger.

To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch proves that in times of turmoil, it’s vitally important to try and see the world from the perspective of others before passing judgement and to do the right thing even — and especially — when it’s not easy.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
Sissy Spacek
Unabridged Audiobook

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Harper Lee wasn’t the first author to show us that first impressions are shallow. The same can be said of Elizabeth and how she perceives her romantic counterpart, Mr. Darcy, in Jane Austen’s classic, Pride & Prejudice – narrated with perfect ironic candour by the stellar Rosamund Pyke. At first, many listeners might be put off by Mr. Darcy. While his wealth and good looks make him an eligible bachelor, he is rude, arrogant and lacks a great deal of social grace.

Neither Elizabeth nor the listener are particularly keen on Mr. Darcy at first blush. And when Austen cleverly reveals throughout the story that he has a selfless and kind heart beneath his gruff exterior, it causes both Elizabeth and the listener to rethink their presuppositions.

Holding a Mirror to the Self

Pride & Prejudice is a clever critique of societal snobbery disguised as a comedy of manners, which allows Austen to subtly ask listeners to hold a mirror to their own behaviour.

We may laugh at the comedic moments, but the ironic insights into some of the more tasteless characters can also reveal some of our own more unappealing qualities. By exposing these flaws in others, Austen asks us to identify and reject them in ourselves.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen
Rosamund Pike
Audible's Jane Austen
Unabridged Audiobook

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Of all the classic works of literature that impart important lessons, very few do so with as much whimsy and charm as Lucy Maud Montgomery’s East Coast Canadian classic Anne of Green Gables.

Read with energetic warmth by Hollywood A-Lister — and Canadian — Rachel McAdams, this down-home literary darling shows us that big lessons can be learned even in small places.

How to Recover from Life’s Lows

Anne Shirley is always making bumbling little mistakes that get her in a heap of trouble, but what makes her such a wonderful protagonist is her ability to bounce back each time.

Remember when she tried to dye her red hair to a deep chestnut brown only to have the dye turn her pigtails green? Or the time she accidentally served her best friend Diana what she thought was “grown up tea” only to send her stumbling home to her conservative parents hiccupping and drunk on what turned out to be red currant wine?

With emotions as untamed as her fiery-red locks, Anne is always making impetuous mistakes. But whatever her error, Anne always manages to learn from them and come out stronger in the end. This listen reminds us that times might get tough, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, or as Montgomery puts it, “there is always another bend in the road.”

Anne of Green Gables

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Rachel McAdams
Anne of Green Gables
Unabridged Audiobook

That line of thinking was encouraging in 1908 when the novel was first published and couldn’t be truer today. Classics like this one remind us that life has its lows and its highs — for every sunset, there’s a magnificent sunrise just over the horizon.

Whether you’re looking for audiobook versions of these timeless stories in the world of literary fiction or you want to discover audiobook versions of classic poetry, accessing Audible’s impressive library of over 450,000 titles means you’ll never run out of fabulous literary listens.

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All articles: classics