10 Classics That Won't Put You to Sleep [SHOWING SLIDE 4 OF 10]

Starting in early June, Kirkus is going to publish our best bets for the new fiction and nonfiction that will delight you this summer. But summer isn’t just for reading new books that have the most buzz; hot days give us time to waft in and out of the books we know we’re supposed to have read but never got around to. During this magazine’s 80-year history, our critics have had an enviable track record of knowing which books would become classics when those books were first published. So before we divulge 2013’s hot summer reading titles, this week we give you 10 classics to catch up on.

by Ken Kesey

To cure selfishness: Selfishness, it seems, has become a positive personality trait these days. Look after your own needs first, the self-help books exhort. It’s time to take inspiration from one of our favorite characters in literature: Randle Patrick McMurphy, the bold and brassy Irishman in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey’s 1962 expose of psychiatric institutions, EST and lobotomies. With his “big wide-open laugh” and absolute refusal to be cowed, McMurphy storms into the lives of the Acutes and the Chronics of the loony bin—damaged men, abandoned by the society that created them—and changes them forever.