I did not expect to like this book. For starters, it's a "classic" and that immediately makes me put up my shields against boredom, overratedness, racism, etc. Yes, I'm biased against classics, it's a fault that I attempt to work on every now and then, but usually fail. I also didn't expect to like this book because I was plagued with images of Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan, from the 2004 movie rendition which I didn't actually see, but I vividly remember the commercials for some reason. I'm fine with Jackie Chan, especially when he's singing songs from Mulan in Cantonese, but picturing him as the lead character in this book just does not work.
But I really enjoyed this book. It's funny, adventurous, historical, and includes a chapter that makes fun of Mormons (I'm still on a Book of Mormon kick). Although, there is no hot air balloon in this book, despite an image of one appearing on many book covers and being featured in the film versions. This was slightly disappointing to me, but that's really the only fault I had with the book and I can easily blame that on media influence.
If this novel was used in an English, or even history, class, there is great potential for organizing a map/geography project in the library. You could even attempt to form groups of students and use electronic resources to plan out their own trips around the world (in less than 80 days, because c'mon, it's the 2010s) and see who can come up with the shortest trip that includes all locations in the book. Fun stuff!
Liking this book makes me excited to read Jules Verne's other works included on The List, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. So maybe 80 Days is a potential gateway into lking and appreciating classics? I would say yes.