150+ Classic Books Every Book Lover Should Read In Their Life Time

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Classic literature isn’t usually a “choice of read” for many of us, including me.

Even though I adore books, reading classics doesn’t make my reading entertaining!  

Classics books definitely aren’t easy reads, to begin with!  

Each sentence is unbelievably lengthy and wordy.  
One can’t just “read the sentences” to understand the context. It often requires an analytical mind.  
And the geographical and cultural reference may seem peculiar or strange.

However, despite all these reasons we know how classic books are timeless and bookworms from around the world are still reading or rereading them.

So in this post, I thought of sharing some tips on reading more classics along with a great list of classic novels!  

150 Classic Books Every Book Lover Should Read In Their Life Time

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Let’s begin by finding out what exactly is a classic!

I often wondered about myself. Here is a quick definition from the editor and author Christopher Smith, which actually gave me what kind of books should I be reading from classic literature!

In his writing in Huffpost, Smith describes “any book that is not a new book, one that merits re-reading, 5, 10, even 100 years or more after its publication”

That’s why in 2020 despite my reluctance towards classic works I am going to challenge myself to read at least one classic per month if not more. 

In my reading journey, I figured that a quick way to love reading classics would be to start with short ones. They really help you to understand the story better.

So here are some of the short classics for beginners, under 200 pages:


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  1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  2. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  4. A Christmas Carol by – Charles Dickens
  5. Siddhartha by -Hermann Hesse
  6. ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel
  7. Letters From A Father To His Daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru
  8. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
  9. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  10. Bonjour tristesse by Françoise Sagan

Want to read more of these? then have a look at this post: 32 Short Classics you can read in one sitting

Why should you read classics?

Italian journalist and short story writer, Italo Calvino in his books Why Read the Classics, explains the vital reasons comprehensively.  According to him, only works of enduring cultural value, but also something much more personal. We understand the world, our history, and the universe through these great works. Above all classic books are loved by millions of readers and they mean so much more than stories to them. 

Classics help us understand many of our favorite writers’ literary influences. 

I remember watching one of the interviews of my all-time favorite author Santa Montefiore. She mentions how the classic book ‘Love In The Time Of Cholera’ influenced her writing. 

According to her, renowned author Gabriel García Márquez taught her how to appeal to the readers through senses. And she also notes that it was Elizabeth von Arnim, the author of ‘Enchanted April’, who inspired her to go very deeply into the characters of the books.

If you haven’t read any of Santa Montefiore’s books I highly recommend reading them! Have a look at the book review of her one of the recent books

The Temptation of Gracie

So, undoubtedly, if it wasn’t for these great classic books, I don’t think we could have been able to read any of the contemporary writers. 

Along with these, here are some great reasons to read classics:

  • Reading classics enhances your Vocabulary.
  • You will be a better reader.
  • You will be exposed to cultural references.
  • You may become an expert in history.
  • You are reading something of great value. 

What are the best ways to enjoy classic books?

Here are ways that helped me enjoy the classics despite being lengthy and descriptive:

  • Start with making a list of classics you would like to read along not so overwhelming. For example Victorian classics or Theatre classics. 
  • Think about Genres you love and make the list accordingly.
  • List out the movies or TV series which are based on classic literature. 

For example,

Clueless is really the tale of Jane Austen’s Emma; Easy A is a modern high school retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

  • Have patience and read slowly. This can help you understand the characters better.  Go back and reread the sentences if necessary. 
  • If possible, do a little bit of primary research about the book. For instance, before I started reading books by Bronte sisters, I read briefly about their family, writing, etc.

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Now here is a long list of best classics to add in your TBR

  1. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop- 560
  2. The Odyssey by Homer- 800
  3. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer-1390
  4. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe- 1719
  5. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift-1726
  6. Paradise Lost by John Milton-1667
  7. Pride and Prejudice– Jane Austen- 1813
  8. Wuthering Heights  by Emily Brontë 1847
  9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 1861
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë- 1847
  11. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- 1877
  12. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas- 1844
  13. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky-  1866
  14. Dracula by Bram Stoker- 1897
  15. Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville- 1851
  16. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – 1859
  17. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo-  1862
  18. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert- 1856
  19. Middlemarch by George Eliot- 1871
  20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy- 1867
  21. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens- 1850
  22. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad- 1899
  23. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- 1843
  24. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne- 1850
  25. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley- 1818
  26. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain- 1876
  27. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy- 1891
  28. Persuasion by Jane Austen- 1818
  29. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle- 1892
  30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens- 1839
  31. Emma by Jane Austen- 1815
  32. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – 1865
  33. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas- 1844
  34. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- 1811
  35. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray- 1847
  36. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins- 1859
  37. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy- 1874
  38. Bleak House by Charles Dickens- 1853
  39. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde-1890
  40. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain-1875
  41. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe -1827
  42. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James-1881
  43. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson-1882
  44. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells- 1897
  45. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo-1831
  46. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell- 1877
  47. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen- 1879
  48. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle- 1887
  49. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen- 1814
  50. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells- 1898
  51. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle-1892
  52. Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith- 1892
  53. The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni- 1827
  54. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells- 1895
  55. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy- 1878
  56. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy- 1886
  57. The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat- 1847
  58. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell- 1854
  59. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens-  1857
  60. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins -1868
  61. Jude the Obscure by  Thomas Hardy- 1895
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman- 1855
  63. 1984 – George Orwell- 1949
  64. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- 1925
  65. Catch-22  by Joseph Heller- 1961
  66. The Catcher in the Rye  by J.D. Salinger- 1951
  67. Animal Farm by George Orwell- 1945
  68. Lord of the Flies  by William Golding – 1954
  69. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- 1985
  70. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- 1960
  71. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck- 1939
  72. Charlotte’s Web  – by E.B. White- 1952
  73. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez- 1967
  74. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- 1936
  75. Ulysses by James Joyce- 1922
  76. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck- 1937
  77. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien- 1955
  78. On the Road by Jack Kerouac- 1957
  79. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie- 1981
  80. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry-  1943
  81. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame- 1908
  82. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier- 1938
  83. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.- 1969
  84. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett- 1910
  85. The Color Purple by Alice Walker- 1982
  86. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery-  1908
  87. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury- 1953
  88. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden- 1997
  89. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone -J.K. Rowling- 1997
  90. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez- 1985
  91. Watership Down by Richard Adams- 1972
  92. Beloved by Toni Morrison- 1987
  93. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving- 1989
  94. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – 2003
  95. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 1949
  96. The Call of the Wild by Jack London- 1903
  97. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – 2003
  98. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank- 1947
  99. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – 2005
  100. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway- 1926
  101. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne- 1926
  102. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – 1988
  103. The Stranger by Albert Camus- 1942
  104. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – 1951
  105. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison- 1952
  106. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Paperback) by Betty Smith-1943
  107. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller-1902
  108. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen-  1937
  109. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway- 1929
  110. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka- 1915
  111. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle- 1901
  112. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster- 1908
  113. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien-  1937
  114. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov- 1950
  115. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum- 1900
  116. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux- 1909
  117. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence- 1913
  118. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje- 1992
  119. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams- 1945
  120. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco- 1922
  121. King Lear by William Shakespeare-1606
  122. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley- 1953
  123. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann- 1901
  124. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton- 1920
  125. Another Country by James Baldwin- 1962
  126. Orlando by Virginia Woolf- 1928
  127. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck- 1962
  128. Perfume by Patrick Süskind- 1985
  129. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf- 1925
  130. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh-  1945
  131. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene-1938
  132. The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe- 1960
  133. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis- 1991
  134. The Scarlet Pimpernel by  Emmuska Orczy-  1905
  135. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn- 1962
  136. A Streetcar Named Desire by  Tennessee Williams- 1947
  137. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov- 1967
  138. Dubliners by James Joyce- 1914
  139. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.- 1963
  140. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf- 1927
  141. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera- 1984
  142. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick- 1977
  143. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery- 1926

Final Thoughts

I know this long list of books can be overwhelming. But I guess we should at least try and enjoy these great works of literature! Let me know how many of these you have already read!

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Note: Audible recently announced Audible plus where you can access an unlimited number of audiobooks from plus category. Click to learn more!

Always curious to hear from you!

YBF

THANK YOU FOR READING!

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3 Responses

  1. Love your list! I think I’d have to include Pilgrim’s Progress and at least one book by Louisa May Alcott, but I’d agree with the majority of your selections.

  2. Should be in any list the names of: William Falkner, Patrick White, William Styron, Honore’ de Balzak, Umberto Ecko, Sophokcle,.Classics is intelligent,
    high art, and good story writing. It is something you will read more than once and every time you discover new things you didn’t notice in the last time

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