Are you looking to delve into the classics but have no idea where to start? In this blog post, we share only the best classic books that everyone should add to their to be read list. We recommend classic romances that have spawned a countless number of spin-offs to spine-tingling horror books that continue to define the genre we know and love today. All of these novels have stood the test of time and are renowned for their impeccable writing and cultural significance.
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. How she takes up the post of governess at Thornfield Hall, meets and loves Mr Rochester and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage are elements in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than that traditionally accorded to her sex in Victorian society.
When Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr Darcy, she is repelled by his overbearing pride and prejudice towards her family. But the Bennet girls are in need of financial security in the shape of husbands, so when Darcy’s friend, the affable Mr Bingley, forms an attachment to Jane, Darcy becomes increasingly hard to avoid. Polite society will be turned upside down in this witty drama of friendship, rivalry and love – Jane Austen's classic romance novel.
Lorna Doone, a Romance of Exmoor is a historical novel of high adventure set in the South West of England during the turbulent time of Monmouth's rebellion (1685). It is also a moving love story told through the life of the young farmer John Ridd, as he grows to manhood determined to right the wrongs in his land, and to win the heart and hand of the beautiful Lorna Doone.
The English solicitor, Jonathan Harker, travels to a castle in the Carpathian Mountains to see the Transylvanian noble, Count Dracula. At first, Harker is intrigued by the eccentric count, but as more mysterious and terrifying events occur, he realizes he’s now a prisoner in the castle. When Dracula leaves Harker behind and travels to England, Harker’s beloved fiancé Meena and her friend Lucy Westenra are put in grave danger, and a group of adversaries, led by the vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing, must do whatever it takes to stop Dracula.
Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley on Lake Geneva. The story of Victor Frankenstein who, obsessed with creating life itself, plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, but whose botched creature sets out to destroy his maker, would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is about a London legal practitioner named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" entering the vernacular to refer to people with an unpredictably dual nature: usually very good, but sometimes shockingly evil.
Great Expectations traces the growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. From its famous dramatic opening on the bleak Kentish marshes, the story abounds with some of Dickens' most memorable characters. As Pip unravels the truth behind his own 'great expectations' in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of the past and the convolutions of fate through a series of thrilling adventures serve to steer him towards maturity and his most important discovery of all - the truth about himself.
War and Peace begins at a glittering society party in St Petersburg in 1805, where conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon's army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants to soldiers and Napoleon himself.
Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville. In her search for respectability, her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy. It explores Tess's relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of the rural Victorian world which she inhabits and the hypocrisy of the age.
After her parents’ death, sickly ten-year-old Mary Lennox is sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle. Everyone sees her as a selfish and rude child, but she’s also terribly lonely. She dislikes her new home, but one day she finds the key to a locked and neglected garden. Mary decides to bring the garden back to life and finds one of the most magical places anyone could imagine.
Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
George and his large, simple-minded friend Lennie are drifters, following wherever work leads them. Arriving in California's Salinas Valley, they get work on a ranch. If they can just stay out of trouble, George promises Lennie, then one day they might be able to get some land of their own and settle down someplace. But kind-hearted, childlike Lennie is a victim of his own strength. Seen by others as a threat, he finds it impossible to control his emotions. And one day not even George will be able to save him from trouble.
An immediate best-seller on publication, Ben Hur remains a dazzling achievement by any standards. A thoroughly exhilarating tale of betrayal, revenge and salvation, it is the only novel that ranks with Uncle Tom's Cabin as a genuine American folk possession.
Written between 1895 and 1897, it is among the first literary works concerning a war with humans and extraterrestrial beings, making it one of the most commented-on works of science fiction ever. The novel has obvious connections with the popular invasion fiction of the time, and has been interpreted as an exploration of British imperialism, evolution theory, and Victorian superstitions. A must-read for fans of science fiction.
Hamlet is not only one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, but also the most fascinatingly problematical tragedy in world literature. It is a gripping and exuberant drama of revenge, rich in contrasts and conflicts. Its violence alternates with introspection, its melancholy with humour, and its subtlety with spectacle. The Prince, Hamlet himself, is depicted as a complex, divided, introspective character. His reflections on death, morality and the very status of human beings make him ‘the first modern man’.
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