"Around the World in 80 Days" by Jules Verne
Englishman Phileas Fogg is at the Reform Club, an English gentleman's club, when he becomes involved in a debate over a newspaper article claiming that in 1872 it has become possible to circumnavigate the world in 80 days. On a whim, he accepts a wager with other members stating that if he can travel around the world in that amount of time, he will win £20,000 (todays equivalent roughly £1.3 million or $2 million Canadian.) He hires a French valet named Jean Passepartout and they set off that very day.
But hot on their trail is Mr Fix, a Scotland Yard detective who is convinced that Fogg is a bank robber and who needs to secure a warrant and capture him on British soil to bring him back to face punishment for the crime. As Fogg and Passepartout travel the world they find themselves rescuing an Indian widow from a funeral pyre, being attacked by Sioux warriors, and travelling by steamer and train, even elephant and wind-powered sledge to make it back to London in time.
Around the World in Eighty Days is the classic adventure novel by Jules Verne, first published in 1873. It is a fascinating story set in a time when technological innovation is opening up the world for the average person. I can only how at the time this book stirred up the thirst for travel and adventure among readers.
This book to me is what the Classics are all about. 140 years later the adventure holds up, the writing remains accessible and the story has you cheering on the characters from beginning to end. I also enjoyed reading it for the fact that we can learn about the attitudes people at the time had of other places and people in the world. It wasn't always positive and by todays knowledge a bit offensive, but in terms of learning about historical attitudes, there is a lot to gain from this book. And unlike many classic books it doesn't get bogged down in the history or politics of the time, the focus is purely on the adventure. This book would be my first recommendation to someone new to or intimidated by the classics. Loved it.