Are you an avid-reader? Or are you someone who used to read a lot but don’t anymore? The way movies shape our lives these day, the books used to shape our lives when we were young. Each book opened a pandora box of imaginations. We imagined our own world and made it into a perfect picture like we wanted it to. Classic books have always found its way back to every reader’s heart. The magic of these books never fade. So if you have or have not read many classic books, here are 15 all-time classic books to read that can carry you into their world anytime.
#1 Pride and Prejudice
Women had to go through various phases to finally make their mark in literature. Their struggle to change the female picture started in the 19th century. Initially, it was impossible for men to accept women to play the same roles as them as women were expected to conduct the domestic chores and have no opinion. During this time various women writers like Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot brought in the change. They have written the best classic books of all time.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was published in 1813. The female protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet is unlike the conventional Victorian woman. She likes to put forward her opinions. So she meets an aristocrat named Mr. Darcy and despite their conflicting characters, they end up falling in love. Austen lays down the feudal society during the Victorian age and specially how marriages were conducted. Everyone expected to rise higher in class. Like in the book, Mrs. Bennet wanted to get her eldest daughter Jane married to Mr. Bingley who belonged to the rising gentry.
#2 Great Expectations
This is one of the classic books everyone must read. This classic literature was written by Charles Dickens. Dickens has contributed immensely to the world of literature, some of the great books to read are- A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Hard Times.
Great Expectations is a bildungsroman about a orphaned boy named Pip. He lives with his sister and brother-in-law. Once when he meets Estella, Miss Havisham’s daughter, who is rude, yet he wishes to become a gentleman to marry her. However, he is only supported by Miss. Havisham to become a common labourer at his family’s businees. But he is given money to gain the education of a gentleman. He assumes this to Miss Havisham, but later realizes it was given to him by a convict, named Magwitch, whom he helped once. It is discovered later that Magwitch is the man who left Miss Havisham at the alter. So, Miss Havisham had raised Estella in such a manner that she could break other men’s heart the way her heart was broken. Pip sympathizes with Magwitch and tries helping him escape from London. But they get into trouble and Pip loses all the wealth he had gained a gentleman. Once Miss Havisham catches fire which burns her skin and she loses her value. That’s when she pleads forgiveness from Pip and Estella becomes a kinder person.
#3 Black Beauty
This classic literature was written by Anna Sewell. This novel is famous among readers for a very long time i.e. most of us have read it at a very young age. This book touches the different aspect of empathizing with an animal. Black Beauty is a horse who initially is separated from his mother. Then as he grows he needs to change his masters constantly. At first its all together a different mechanism for him where he cannot relax in the meadows anymore, but work. He comes into a family who love him a lot for helping the master and his wife. But because of their ill health they need to a different place. That’s when Black Beauty needs to change his master again.
This novel will entice your emotions and give a beautiful insight of the theme- love and separation. If you haven’t read this, you must. It is one of the good books to read.
#4 Gulliver’s Travels
This novel is one of the most outstanding works by Jonathan Swift, along with A Modest proposal. Many writers after him see this as one of the pioneer texts to science fiction and magic realism. Though Swift himself never intended on these two genres, his primary intention was to criticize the society of England then. So, Gulliver’s Travels is a satire.
The novel is about Gulliver’s unplanned sails to four places namely- Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa and the land of Houyhnhnms. The people in Lilliput were tiny, in Brobdingnag huge, in Laputa people lived in floating lands with strange lifestyles and in the land of Houyhnhnms, the Houyhnhnms who looked like horses were smart like humans, whereas the Yahoos who looked like primitive human beings were much like animals and irrational. Swift describes Gulliver’s journey across these lands and the challenges he faces. But more then anything, he aims to criticize the government during that time through the puns in the novel.
#5 The Great Gatsby
One of the best classic books of all time- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby is a wealthy man in love with Daisy. But Daisy is married to Tom who has an affair with Myrtle. Nick is the new person in Long Island where all fashionable rich people live. Gatsby organizes huge parties in order to attract Daisy. Even Nick gets invited. Nick, Daisy and Tom were college classmates. Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy and he does. Tom is furious about this meet, but Daisy had only met him as a friend. Accidentally, Daisy hits Myrtle but Gatsby is ready to take the blame. Tom tells this to Myrtle’s husband George. George assumes that the killer must have been her lover and he shoots Gatsby while he was in his pool. And just like that Gatsby dies like the American dream.
#6 Little Women
Little Women is about four sister (March sisters) and their transformation from childhood to adulthood. The book starts with Marmee with her daughters while her husband is away and ends on her 60th birthday with all her daughters settled. The four sisters go through various adventures before they settle. The novel focuses on the struggle of women between her familial role and her personal growth.
This is one of the must read classic books if are one of those who want to break gender stereotypes. This book will make you analyze on how women were expected to perform certain roles, yet how the March sisters break through the conventions.
#7 Alice in Wonderland
Alice follows a white rabbit down the mystery whole and realizes she can not go back home. On her journey to get out of the Wonderland, she encounters Mad Hatter, a smoking caterpillar, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, invisible cat and Queen of Hearts of paints the town red.
Lewis Carroll is the creator of non-sense poems which are a major part of the novel. He even wrote a sequel to this book- Through the Looking Glass. Carroll is said to have had a friend named Alice who was young and greatly enjoyed her company. These books were probably dedicated to her.
#8 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom lives with his Aunty Polly who is strict and gives him household chores when he is caught red-handed. Tom’s best friends are Joe Harper and Huckleberry Finn. It was always fun to read about Tom’s mischief.
We also get to read about Huckleberry’s adventures in the sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
#9 The Hardy Boys
The young detectives made you yearn for freedom and for sure must have fired up your detective quotient. Along with Hardy Boys, I used to enjoy reading Nancy Drew and Famous Five.
#10 Robinson Crusoe
Many of us heard about this book as young school children. Initially it seemed like a book quite simple, but it has a lot more to it.
This novel by Daniel Defoe is about a young impulsive wanderer, Robinson Crusoe and his adventures, challenges, lessons and experiences. If you are into exploring new lands or travelling with challenges, this is surely one of the must read classic books. This novel will inspire you to adjust and control your environment. It will also teach you to learn and grow from their mistakes. Also, how important it is to repent at times and value its aesthetics.
#11 Gone With the Wind
This novel by Margaret Mitchell is based during the American Civil War. The protagonist of the novel, Scarlet O’Hara loves Ashley but he marries Melanie. Then Scarlet marries Melanie’s brother Charles. But Charles dies in the war. Soon Rhett Butler starts courting Scarlet. They even get married. However, unlike Ashley who still believes in the old America, Rhett defines the new America. Thus, Margaret develops a plot around the the binaries the new America and old America within the times of Civil War. This classic book has also succeeded in remaining a popular fiction.
#12 The Diary of a Young Girl
This novel is more of a autobiography or rather diary entries made by a girl named Anne Frank, during the Nazi Germany. She talks about her life during those days and how lived undergo with her family. However, she lost her family during the holocaust. These entries were found later which was transformed into a book. Her entries were in Dutch. Only later was it translated into English and other languages.
#13 Heart of Darkness
This highly recommended classic book by Joseph Conrad discusses about the journey about a man named Marlow to the interiors of Congo to find Kurtz. He had travelled across many parts, but this journey to the interiors of Africa was dark. When he finds Kurtz, he almost cannot believe his eyes to see a man turn so savage because of the power he gained amongst the natives. The book basically covers the themes of colonialism and imperialism during the 19th century.
#14 To Kill a Mockingbird
This novel is based in Alabama during the Depression period. It is by a girl named Scott Flinch. She lives with her brother and widowed father. Her father is a lawyer but they do not have much funds because his clients were poor. The novel is about what Scott learns through her life before growing up. Some of the many lessons that she learns are- to look at things through others’ perspective, to not take advantage of someone weaker than you and one should never be too quick to judge.
This stupendous novel by Homer is one of the greatest novels of classical literature. The historical Trojan war never leaves its glory. This novel will give you all that you want to know, including the beautiful Helen whose ‘beauty raised thousand ships’. So if you haven’t read it, go issue or order it now.
There are numerous other classic books that you could reach such as Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Three Musketeers, Mrs Dalloway and many more. Classic Literature does not only lay out a plot and narrative to you, it will also give you an insight into history. Classic books with introduce you to the social conditions of the time the book was written in and sometimes some turn out to be semi- biographical.