I just finished reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Lately, I've gotten a bit more into the classics and this book seemed like a good one to add to the list.
It's short. I read it on my Kindle so I can't tell you how many pages it is, but it can't be more than 100. The story starts with an inventor who at a dinner party tells his guests that he has invented a machine to travel through time. Of course, no one believes him. So, he shows them a miniature model and makes it disappear in front of their eyes. The guests do not believe that it has traveled through time.
The narrator returns to the inventor's house for a dinner several days later along with several other people, including a journalist, an editor, and a Doctor. They are told by the inventor's servent to begin dinner. In the middle of eating, the inventor emerges, filthy, worn out, bruised and bloody.
He proceeds to tell them that he had visited the future.
The future consists of humanity splitting into two different races of people. The Eloi live a seemingly enchanted life above ground while the Morlocks are an evil offshoot of humanity that live underground. The inventor can't understand how the Eloi care or feed for themselves since they have descended into a primitive, almost babyish existence. They dance, have fun, drink, make love, but do no work.
Upon his arrival in the future, his time machine is taken and stored inside of a giant, worn down head of a Sphinx.
The mystery of the Eloi's existence their relationship to the Morlocks confounds the inventor until he travels underground to find out who took his machine and retrieve it. There, he learns the secret of the relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks and understands what has happened to humanity.
This is the second classic I've read lately (I just finished Dracula and will be writing a review on that shortly) and I've come to realize that books written 100 years ago have a different feel and pacing. They are slower and often use the vehicle of the narrator telling the story to others or writing it in a series of letters. If you are looking for a true page turner, The Time Machine probably isn't for you.
But if you are looking for a book that has inspired countless modern books and movies - The Matrix, The Terminator, The Island, - all come to mind, then The Time Machine is definitely worth a read.