Classic books are classics for a reason, they’ve stood the test of time and let’s be honest it sounds good to say you’ve read them. A lot of people can be put off by the word ‘classic’, often associating it with boring. As someone who spent the best part of three years studying English literature I can honestly say that the classics are anything but boring. Drama, mystery, love triangles – all things that make for a great read, right? The Classics are full of all these and more!
Here are some Classic books you’ll actually enjoy reading:
Little Women By Louisa May Alcott was first published in 1868 but the themes are timeless. Love, loss, and rivalry all feature in the story that follows the lives of the four March sisters. The protagonist, Jo, has a fiery personality and is determined to make it in the world on her own. Nowadays that doesn’t seem too much to ask, but back in the day it would have been unheard of.
If you enjoyed the recent movie adaption starring Saoirse Ronan then the book is most certainly a classic to add to your ‘to be read’ list!
This book is a perfect example of the twisty-turny plot lines that classic books are known for. You’ve really got to concentrate with this one. Some of the characters have the same names and the story can jump from one thing to the next without much explanation. Semantics aside, this is one drama filled classic read.
Written by Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights is set on the cold and isolated Yorkshire Moores, following the lives of Cathy and Heathcliff. Exploring themes of lust and love, Wuthering Heights was ahead of its time as it includes depictions of both mental and physical health.
Written in 1815 by the one and only Jane Austen, Emma has stood the test of time. So much so, that 90’s classic Clueless was loosely based around the plot! Emma is a somewhat silly soul who reckons she is suited to a role in matchmaking. By meddling in other people’s lives, Emma finds herself in some sticky situations. It’s all the drama you could want from a modern day novel in classic form!
You’ve probably seen the musical on TV over Christmastime but Oliver Twist is first and foremost a classic novel by Charles Dickens. Not to say that the musical version isn’t great, I’m as partial to a bit of ‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two’ as the next person, but the book is definitely worth a read.
Dickens really immerses a reader in Victorian London, and as Oliver finds himself in all sorts of dangerous situations you’ll be flying through pages to see if he can get himself to safety.
Pride & Prejudice
Another classic book penned by Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice is probably the classic of all classics. With many TV and film adaptions you probably know the gist of the plot already but taking the time to actually read the book it will be worth it.
Written in a humorous depiction of manners, marriage and money in the 1800s, Pride and Prejudice follows Elizabeth Bennet as she falls for Mr Darcy. It is thought that Darcy stands for Pride and Elizabeth for Prejudice in this classic novel but in coming together they become less of each.
Emily’s sister, Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre in 1847. A first of it’s kind in the fact that it was written as a form of social criticism. The classic book is also considered a piece of feminist literature and was unique for it’s time as it is written in the first person.
The story follows Jane, who suffers abuse as a child at the hand of her aunt and cousins. Jane later attends school, gaining an education and friends. On leaving school Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she falls in love with her mysterious employer, Rochester. A spanner gets thrown in the works, however, leaving a question mark over whether Jane will get to be with her love.
Critics have compared Jane Eyre to the Disney Classic Beauty and the Beast, if you read the book you’ll see why…
The Great Gatsby
Welcome to the Roaring Twenties! This classic book was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925 and features all of the glitz and glam from the era.
Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire, is at the centre of the plot. Jay soon becomes infatuated with Daisy Buchanan, there’s only one issue, she’s married to the wealthy Tom Buchanan. What follows is a tale of romance, affairs, and tragedy. Whilst a dramatic plot, laced with juicy gossip it is thought that Fitzgerald’s intention was to warn people of a life of excess and a criticism on chasing the ‘American Dream.’
If you’re a fan of the dystopian genre, then this is the classic book for you! Set in, you guessed it, 1984, George Orwell’s novel is where the term ‘Big Brother is watching’ comes from.
Orwell’s 1984 sees the creation of three totalitarian superstates. The ‘Party’ and their leader Big Brother rule the world. Those who do not conform are disposed of by the Thought Police. How do they know who isn’t conforming? Constant surveillance through television screens and cameras. The story follows Winston Smith, who whilst working for the Party doesn’t completely agree with what they say. He writes down these thoughts, and is soon found out. There are a lot of twists and turns, as well as a lot of betrayal which makes for a fast paced read.
The Picture of Dorian Grey
Dorian Grey, the name sounds familiar, right? His likeness has recently been featured in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. If you’re interested in knowing the backstory of this notorious character, then definitely pick up a copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey. Heavily criticised after its first publication in 1890, this classic book is most certainly not for the faint hearted with scandal abound! It’s an intriguing read, with a fantasy edge to it.
Brave New World
Another classic read for dystopian fans, Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931. People often compare this classic novel with the aforementioned 1984, so if you like one you’ll more than likely enjoy the other!
Brave New World is set in London, in a society where people are engineered in artificial wombs. Infants are sorted into different castes based on their intelligence and citizens are kept happy and peaceful with a drug called ‘soma’. The story is centred around Bernard Marx, who is vocal in his criticisms of this newly formed society. Marx takes a holiday to New Mexico, where they mostly live in the old ways (basically our current society). The people there still age, are born naturally, have diseases etc. These people are referred to as savages by people in the New World. The comparisons and criticisms made by Huxley throughout this novel are very thought provoking. It’s a classic book you can really sink your teeth into!
Anne of Green Gables
Written by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables has become a firm favourite across all age categories. The book was even made into a successful Netflix series!
The plot follows Anne, an orphan who is mistakenly sent to live with brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The Cuthbert’s had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm. As you can imagine, it’s quite a shock when fiery red-headed Anne turns up. Anne is keen to stay at the farmhouse known as Green Gables, and the novel tells us of how she deals with life with the Cuthberts and at her new school. This is a heartfelt read of a little girl with a big imagination!