Whether a book is considered a classic depends on many factors. Popularity, longevity, and literary merit all play a role in determining whether it’s a classic. Leaning on your personal preferences, you’ll likely have different opinions about which titles should be on your list. This list consists of books from various periods and includes everything from classics to contemporary novels that you must read at least once.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
“War and Peace” is one of the longest classic books, but it is a classic for a reason: it’s the first novel to make a dystopian society possible and is still relevant today. The novel features an unforgettable cast of characters, including the protagonist Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Natasha Rostov, and Pierre Bezukhov. It’s an epic, intense read and is not intended for casual readers.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
One of the most famous novels from the Victorian era is “Wuthering Heights.” Set in Victorian England, Wuthering Heights chronicles the life of the Earnshaw family and their adopted son, Heathcliff. Its portrayal of Victorian life is controversial, but the book has become one of the most famous titles in literary history.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“Pride and Prejudice” is another classic novel and is one of the most popular. This adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel has been adapted into multiple different genres. It is one of the most popular novels of all time, and its descriptions remain as charming today as they were when the book was first published.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You shouldn’t miss out on “The Great Gatsby,” a classic book about love and betrayal. This 1925 novel explores class, society, and the false promise that money will bring happiness. It’s a sad tale that spans generations. It’s also a classic book that offers a glimpse into the life of wealthy people.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
“Frankenstein” is another classic novel, and it’s also a gothic classic. The novel’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, loses his mother and creates a monster. As a result, he spends the remainder of his life attempting to annihilate his invention. The novel evokes many feelings and themes that are relevant today.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic book that blends social justice issues with a light-hearted coming-of-age story. It is a compelling novel, especially as it teaches the significance of righteousness. This book is an essential part of the American past and is still relevant today.
Other must-read classics
Well, the list continues. There is a lot more classic that is worth reading. The Complete Works of Shakespeare is an absolute must-read for anyone, from a young child to a college freshman.
Flannery O’Connor’s stories, published in 1971, were written much earlier and solidified her place in the American literary canon. Tennessee Williams’ first major work, “The Glass Menagerie,” is also an essential read.
Another classic is Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” a narrative poem about the afterlife. Aesop’s stories have become part of the English vernacular, so it’s worth reading.