I know most (if not all) of you have read the article in The Wall Street Journal highlighting the dark and disturbing nature of today’s YA literature. It’s time to consider: Maybe they’re right. Maybe YA authors are poisoning young minds with a tasteless exploration of the darker side of human nature. Maybe it’s time we returned to the classics for a brighter outlook on life.

Here’s a list of some of the heart-warming classics I was assigned to read when I was in high school:

The Outsiders: Two rival teenage gangs violently clash with each other and with the police.

Moby Dick: A megalomaniac self-destructs while trying to kill a white whale that may or may not symbolize God.

Heart of Darkness: An exploration of the darkness of the wilderness, the cruelty of slavery, and the inherent ability for evil in every human being.

Huckleberry Finn: An abused boy and an escaped slave wander the country homeless and fall in with thieves and con men.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: A young man pursues a life of pleasure through all manner of vice and sin, including murder, while his portrait reflects the evil in his soul.

Romeo and Juliet: Two teenage lovers impulsively commit suicide when rivalry between their families separates them.

The Scarlet Letter: A town ostracizes a woman with an illegitimate child, while the minister secretly engages in self-mutilization as an expression of guilt for his affair with the woman.

Fall of the House of Usher: A disturbed man deliberately buries his sister alive, bringing ruin to himself and his household.

The Tell-Tale Heart: A paranoid schizophrenic kills his landlord, chops up the body, and buries it beneath the floorboards.

What books can you add to this list of fine upstanding classics which are (obviously) better for today’s youth than modern, trashy YA literature? Please feel free to share your titles in the comments!