Great Classic Books that Everyone should Read (At least once) (67 comments)
Reading is one of my passion and I am a bookworm since I was a child. You could always find me nook or any corner immersed in a book, forgetting to eat, play or be social. Now, I do not get a chance to indulge reading hours like I used to, I still read books every free chance I get. I have written and talked about my love book reading and benefits of reading in 101 changes series, before but this time I sharing my favorite books that I love and I hope you like it too. There are several benefits to reading and there are many fun kids books that we should read once.
Here are some of my favorite books that I have read at least once, and a few others books, again and again. There are so many wonderful writers, so little time. I have written mini review about the book without giving too much away about the story, hope you get to read some of it.
Note: There are still many more great books I have read and loved but article’s length is over 4700 words there, I guess there have to be part 2! Let me know, books you loved or any that I might have missed here.
1. Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen is master of romance and her era, she knew people and their psychology very well. If you love classic and hopeless romantic, this story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett will have a hold on you. One of my favorite book by my favorite author. (Amazon)
Leave it to Psmith By P. G. Wodehouse is classic about a debononair young Englishman, Psmith (P is silent), who wants to quit his fish business and decide to support himself by being hired by anyone as long it is nothing to do with fish. The story has romance, suspense, humor and witty dialogue. Lesser known than Jeeves but this story is one of the best. (Amzn.)
3. Mr. Darcy’s Diary: A Novel
If you ever wondered how Jane Austen favorite character felt during Pride and Prejudice, look no further and check out Amanda Grange’s novel: Mr Darcy’s diary. After reading many Austen related books, this one is worth checking out, specially for Mr. Darcy’s fans like me. (Amzn.)
Emma by Jane Austen is great where you will find romance, successful and unsuccessful match making, wild and dashing Frank Churchill and Wise and Kind Mr. Knightly. Emma is one of the rare, unlike other Austen heroine who is rich and does not care about marrying until the end, for love. (Amzn.)
Jane Austen wrote and completed six novels, and a few unfinished novels. I love persuasion as it is story about second chances in love. Rich and young Anne Elliot breaks the engagement to young Wentworth after being persuaded by her godmother, only to realize that she could never love anyone else. Now her father is poor and Captain Wentworth has become rich and loved by ladies, does she have a chance for love? I have read one of the best love letter ever written in this book, check it out the best love letter ever written here. (Amzn.)
5. Captain Wentworth’s Diary
Just like Austen write about one sided story from heroine’s point of view, so we can see what is going on her mind and what changes her attitude or feeling towards people but we do not read much about hero’s struggle and triumph’s until the end. If you want to know what Captain Wentworth goes through, check out Captain Wentworth’s diary: Novel.
This is not the TV series in popular in US. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is story about love, second chances, differences in rich and working classes. It is very similar to bit modern and industrial Darcy and Elizabeth story. Mrs. Gaskell wrote as an series and she writes both Mr. Thronton and Ms. Hale’s feelings and struggles so we can see both sides of the story, which makes it very interesting read. (Amzn.). There has been a BBC miniseries north and south based on the story, which has created many female fans of Richard Armitage as a new, industrial Mr. Darcy like figure that any romantic couple will love.
7. Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte’ is romantic, Gothic novel. Poor orphan Jane is hired by rich, older and mysterious Mr Rochester to teach young girl with questionable past. Mr. Rochester becomes friend and eventually falls for plane Jane and want to marry her. But he is already has a dark past, can they overcome it? Not without many sacrifices. (Amzn.)
8. Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina is one of best book written by Tolstoy. Anna is a tragic heroine in loveless marriage, a charming lover Vronsky, and love of son from the marriage, she loses everything she cared and loved for including her social standing because of that is how it is in 19th century Russian society. Gripping and tragic masterpiece of Anna Karenina.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte’ tells a story about Heathcliff and Catherine are soul mates, but destiny keeps them apart, destroying them with deep and unresolved passion between them. This Gothic story is told in flashback in this great classic. (Amzn.)
10. Love Story
Love story by Erich Segal is story of 2 college graduates, from opposite sides falling in love despite all odds. Oliver, a rich guy and Jennifer with not much money but love of life, marries each other only to face tragedy and finding solace in each other. The movie made the famous quote “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Amzn.)
11. The Princess Bride
Princess Bride by William Goldman is classic fantasy story that mixed with romance and an adventure based on S. Morgenstern’s “Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” with a few changes.There are bad men, good men, pirates, snakes, giants, revenge, love and miracles all rolled in to one. Great read. There is also a classic cult movie based on book which is entertaining to watch as well.
12. Sense And Sensibility
Jane Austen was master of romance story, even though she never married her self. Sense and sensibility is no exception as story of 2 sisters romance unfolds. Elinor is restrained while Marianne is passionate and outspoken. It is their journey of finding true love in the end while going through life and its struggles. (Amzn.)
Possession by A. S. Byatt is a winner of the 1990 Booker Prize, the U.K.’s highest literary award mixes love affair with suspense. Roland Ash was supposed to be faithful husband and poet, and had a secret love affair with lesser known poetess as Maud and Michelle discover more about the poet and themselves in the end, comparing love now and over 100 years ago. (Amzn.)
Last of Mohicans by James Cooper is 2nd of 5 leatherstocking tale about a scout’s friendship with a mohican warrior as they escort two sisters through the jungle, an adventure story set during a French and Indian wars and non stop thriller ride all the way. Read a classic and if you get a chance watch a movie with Daniel Day Lewis based on the story.
15. The Count of Monte Cristo
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is complex but engaging tale of Edmund Dante’s adventure from naive young man in to being a count. The story has romance, betrayal, revenge and finally redemption. It has lot of characters and complex hence many people read abridged (or shorter version) but that makes the complex story very confusing, read the unbridged original version to have better understanding. There is The Count of Monte Cristo movie that made everything simplified version is also worth watching. (Amzn.)
16. The Three Musketeers
Another adventure tale from Alexandre Dumas, of 3 (story has actual 4) musketeers who are friends, hero, and savior of kingdom and queen. It is fictional historical book. Dumas write usually complex and long story, so do not buy abridged or shorter version as you will lose lot of content. I find that 3 musketeer is less darker than count of Monte Cristo but still very engaging.
17. The Man in the Iron Mask
Man in iron mask continues its story and takes place 20 years after 3 musketeers time . Those four musketeers are now getting older but still adventures and working for the queen. This involves the fictional twin of Louise XIV, who is better suited for the role of king and how musketeers play part in it. Without giving it away too much, I will share one thing, book is not similar to the movie by Leonardo DiCaprio, which also entertaining to watch.(Amzn.)
18. Don Quixote
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was written somewhere around in 1500, over 500 years ago. This classic seems light and high on imagination side and has over 1000 pages to read. It is story of Alonzo who loves reading romantic stories decides to become a knight called Don Quixote with his faithful neighbor Sancho Panza as a his squire to join. They seem fool and day dreamers but when right moment they are wise and sane. Join them in their refreshing adventure in this classic (Amzn.)
The very first time I remember reading this book, I was barely 12 and it went over my head but as I got older I came to appreciate this classic by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is about a man who commits the murder on principal, gets away with it in the beginning, his struggles with his own self, his family and his love, also there is trying to escape the authorities from being caught. Russia has given many great stories and writers, this is one of the classic Russian story. (Amzn.)
Carry on Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is collection of 10 Jeeves stories. Jeeves is ultimate butler and smartest man around and how he saves himself and his master Bertie and essence of stories. P. G. Wodehouse’s most famous character Jeeves is ultimate, if you have not read any Jeeves stories, this book is a great to start with, you will laugh aloud and actually have fun reading this funny and witty stories on smartest Butler Jeeves. Actually, you can not go wrong with most of Wodehouse short stories and novels (Amzn.)
I had read Hobbit when I was younger and it is fantasy children tale about a magic ring that Bilbo Baggins finds and his adventure. I read the lord of the ring trilogy much later when I older. The same ring, he did not know was evil until he was much older and he gave this ring to Frodo much later in Lord of the Ring trilogy. Lord of the ring has an adventure of fellowship, Gandalf and Sauron the villain and their journey to destroy the ring in original fire that created it. Lord of the ring movies are great and I enjoyed it, one of the few instances where they have tried to stay true to the book mostly. What I find fascinating about the stories that J. R Tolkien created maps of middle earth and actually languages that various people spoke during that fictional era. Impressive. (Amzn.)
22. Harry Potter Books 1-7
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, started young kids back to reading when the first book came out. It is an fantasy story of an orphan Harry Potter who lived under the stairs and had no friends to realize on his 11th birthday that he is actually a Wizard and goes to Hogward school where makes friends and plays Quidditch and fight with evil Voldemort with support from his friends. These 7 books story is very engaging and must read. Harry Potter movies do not come close to the original stories, so read the books. (Amzn.)
23. The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown starts with murder and follows a journey of Robert Langton to uncover a secret that has been kept since days of Christ. Sophie Neveu and Robert Langton untangles the codes, mysteries through France, England as they travel along learning history. The story is similar to 1980′s book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, almost identical. There was a lawsuit by these authors but nothing came out it. Check out both books and compare it yourself. (Amzn.)
Shakespeare has written many comedies and tragedies, this is one of sad but powerful tale of Iago, the person with extreme jealousy destroy Othello and his love Desdemona. Othello is black man and moor (Muslim), and his promotion in white society is not liked by Iago who wanted it the promotion for himself. Othello’s trust on Iago makes him easier to control emotions of everyone he is around and manipulates as he chooses. (Amzn.)
No other books in my mind, takes readers to journey of raw ambition, deceit, murder, passion, and madness. Following to create a self made prophecy and lust for power, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth shows and proceed to trails of blood, murder and pure evil to get what they want. In the end, they falls in to guilt, fear and mental madness. Actually many people believe to never mention its full name, and they believe, the dark superstitions that hover around this play really show its power. (Amzn.)
One of most famous quote ” To be or not to be, that is the question”, comes from this play by William Shakespeare. The story is about Prince of Denmark, whose father is killed by his evil uncle Claudius to gain control of the throne. After this event, Hamlet goes through inner conflicts and validity of his father’s ghost around him, making him look insane by others of his his bizarre actions. One of the finest work by Shakespeare. Many of Shakespeare’s writing are complex to understand, If you find getting lost in early English, please read simplified version of story as the stories are very powerful and shows deep human emotions. (Amzn.)
27. Around the World in 80 Days
Jules Verne is one of my favorite author, as he writes many science fiction and adventure stories and this book is no exception. Now, the concept of traveling around the world in 80 days much easier, it was not so during the times the book was written. Philleas Fogg, and his faithful servant goes on traveling across the England, Paris, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Japan, America, and Ireland. In India they rescue a lady who joins the rest of their journey and a love interest grows between her and Fogg. There is also another subplot involving a bank robbery in England where 55 thousand pounds have been stolen. Fun read and ending is surprisingly uplifting.(Amzn.)
28. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
The book written around 1869, when submarines were not yet invented but Jules Verne, some how knew how future would be and created this story of Captain Nemo and his marvelous Nautilus, the vast submarine. Jules Verne obviously has taken thoughts in to care such as air pressure, water pressure and giant sea creatures. Captain Nemo is also one of the fascinating characters who is kind in a way but yet like under sea pirate all in to one. (Amzn.)
Jules Verne, way ahead of his time wrote many science fiction books in his native language French. Story starts with Professor Hardwigg and his nephew Harry discover an ancient parchment showing how to travel to center of the earth. They travel to Iceland and climb an extinct volcano called Sneffels. They journey into the center of the earth having wonderful adventure as they travel inside the inner core of the earth. Wonderful and very unique concept story. (Amzn.)
30. The Mysterious Island
This lessor known Jules Verne classic has 5 prisoners escaping by hot air balloon ride and not knowing where they will end up and if they ever see civilization again. They drop off at uncharted island. It has hints of Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson adventures. (Amzn.)
Foundation series by Issac Asimov are one of the best science fiction literature as per some of the experts. He was an accomplished scientist and capable author. The story is complex with part science fiction and part political spanning many years of events. The hero and leader Hari Seldon predicted a 10,000 year Empire is about to crash to its knees and herald in a new Dark Ages. Hari can’t stop the Dark Ages but he can shorten it. The book centers around several characters who, through inside and cleverness, make things happen to keep the Foundation and create an insidious society that keeps it going. If you get a chance read the trilogy or whole 7 books series. (Amzn.)
32. I, Robot
Another great book from Asimov from his Robots series is a collection of 9 short stories. Title of book will make sense after you read the story called “Evidence”. Each story is entertaining and contains some aspect of robotics. Their human characters are diverse as well such as Susan Calvin has calculating ad tender side, Mike Donavon and Gregory Powell has funny side to them. Some stories are more engaging than others but sure worth reading it once. I believe, there is a movie out based on the book as well by Will Smith. (Amzn.)
33. Tom Jones
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding is full of wit, humor, romance and adventure of Tom. It was published around the Jane Austen time and she had read this book and liked it. This book is divided in 18 small stories or books. It is rather surprising modern in its outlook for that era, with Sophia the heroine going out alone in search of his beloved Tom and Tom flirting his ways around when he is in love with Sophia. There is lot of comedy and fun in this story, a great read indeed. (Amzn.)
Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy was originally written as play that is set around the french revolution. “We seek him here, we seek him there, that damned, elusive Pimpernel.” and “Sink Me” are made famous by sir Percy who at first glance looks almost idiotic but behind that persona hides brave and ingenious Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues the innocent royal and aristocrats from the revolution. There is romance, spy, adventure, disguise, secret identity and much more packed in this one book. If you like this one, sure to check out other Scarlet Pimpernel Series of books. There has been movie and Television series of the scarlet pimpernel which is fun and entertaining to watch.
35. Interpreter of Maladies
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of short stories that are touching and heart warming. It shows stories about Indian people without the fuss and can be understood by anyone, regardless of their origin. Jhumpa’s writing is engaging and holds you, every story is beautifully written about Indian immigrants living abroad and binds all of us with emotion of love, death, loss and happiness. You will love it, even if you do not know Indian culture as it is more about being human culture. (Amzn.)
Namesake is novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, I had to get this as I loved her short stories Interpreter of Maladies very much so. This novel did not disappoint me as well, although it has a few awkward chapters are there but story itself about a boy name Gogol who is feeling awkward about his unusual name. Not knowing the reason behind why his father has chosen a Russian name for him, he resents it until the end where he finds the truth. Story has its up and down but great overall and it made me aware of another great Russian author Nicolai Gogol. (Amzn.)
36. The Overcoat
Overcoat by Nicolai Gogol is realistic story of simple no-body poor clerk name Akaky Akakievich, he works hard and lives hard and poor life in Petersburg. He has been ridiculed and laughed at his poor attire, he gets obsessed to scrape little money to get a new overcoat which becomes is obsession and goal. He finally gets overcoat and bit of appreciation from his co-worker only to face a huge tragedy of his life and and more. Without giving away too much, if you get a chance read this realistic and gripping and tragic story with heart. (Amzn.)
37. Dead Souls
Another classic novel by Nicolai Gogol, is part poem, part prose, novel in verse!. Although novel ends in mid sentence, it is generally claimed to be a complete work by Gogol. In Russia around that time, an idea was that landowners can own serf/souls, sell and pay taxes on it. The main character comes to Chichikov comes with proposition to people for buying the serf/souls scheme is more than its meets the eye. This complex story has lot to offer in understanding human nature. (Amzn.)
I mentioned both of these books here in one place as they share many similarities, both written around the same time, 1950s, both books have theme on Utopian future where citizens have less freedom and choice, both are excellent science fiction books. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury has fire fighters not putting fires but actually burning books and citizens are watching mindless trivia games shows, and 1984 by George Orwell shows future where big bother keeps eye on everyone, and everything. If you think about it, it is so possible reality that is scary! (Amzn Fahrenheit 451, 1984)
A suitable boy by Vikram Seth is amazingly detailed novel, that I fell in love with it the very first time I read it. It has a several stories intermingled and rather large novel with over 1400 pages, the book time is set just around post independence of India from England. One story cover’s Lata’s love life and finding a suitable boy for her by her parents and others. Mann Kapoor is another rich boy who has an obsession with Saeeda Bai, there is political issues also mentioned with other diverse characters. (Amzn.)
I read phantom of the opera by Gaston Leroux, before I knew there were plays and movies about it. Gaston actually wrote this novel based on a few real life incident that happen in real opera house around 1911. Phantom is a disfigured soul who helps Christine to get a lead role and shape her career, while Christine appreciates help from her ghost, but can not love after seeing his disfigured face. Phantom himself is scary villain who is terrifying but also a tortured soul who want love more than anything. It is dark but entertaining story that many people would love. (Amzn.)
This is a shame that this is lesser known book by Gaston Leroux, does not get the credit it deserves. If you love mystery and detective novel, you will love this book’s premise that how can anyone commit a crime in a sealed room and vanish without any trace? Gaston shares his secrets slowly and let the reader guess while revealing it all at the end. Interesting thing about is that this is the book that inspired Agatha Christie to write her first mystery. Check it out yourself. (Amzn.)
When I first read this book, I was so intrigued and read it in one sitting. I kept guessing who the culprit was, getting it wrong in next pages until the end. The end surprised me the most as I would have never guessed it. I will not reveal it here for those you have not read it. Murder on orient express has been made in to movies and TV plays so many time, but I think book is superior than any well made movie. This book made me a fan of Agatha Christie and my fictional french detective Poirot. (Amzn.)
10 little Indians also known as ” and there were none“, is another gem by Agatha Christie and considered by many readers to be the best mystery novel. Premise is simple enough, which has been copied in to many books and movies since then, 10 strangers are invited and lured to an Indian island by mysterious host. One by one all people are being killed and no one can leave the island, plot really thickens! Who is killing them and why? To find out, you must read 10 little Indians. (Amzn.)
Nicholas sparks writes wonderful and heartwarming stories that first makes you smile and then you cry! Out of many his wonderful books I love walk to remember very much. Story is about Jamie, preacher’s simpleton and goodies two shoes daughter and Landon a hotshot jock, and how the unlikely pair becomes friends and ups and downs of their lives gets intermingled and how it changes both of them. If you like this book, check out other Nicholas Sparks Books.
Unlike other times, I saw the movie 1960s movie first and I was intrigued when I found out it was based on a book. I had to find the original planet of the ape book by French author Pierre Boulle, who also wrote another classic novel, The Bridge Over the River Kwai: A Novel. The original book is much better and differs from the movie a bit. First of all, the planet that ape live is not earth but planet in different galaxy, also apes there live in big city, drive cars and wear modern clothes, they also have done space flight as a human inside (like we did it with monkeys). The book also looks in to a deeper moral meaning and philosophical tone. Worth a read! (Amzn.)
H. G. Wells was well ahead of his time and has written many great books, some are popular being The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Doctor Moreau. What makes this a unique book is that written as a history of future. It is a story of Prophetic dreams recording of Philip Raven, who died in 1933, channeling a history book from future in 2106. It does not read like a novel, it feels more like many true predictions of what is about to come. (Amzn. H G Wells)
46. The Time Machine
H. G. Wells’s classic story of time machine was written around 1894 in form of series. Narrator shares a story of a person known only as a Time Traveler (No name), where he shares his recent adventure in to a future, when human have race has evolved in to Eoli who live above the ground and Marlocks who live the below, do work and eat Eoli people and his adventures in that future. There are many version of movies, TV and radio shows based on the story, however the real gem is to read the original story as always. (Amzn.)
This is collection of 1001 stories of south Asian and middle eastern folk tales in three volumes. These are the stories told by Scheherazade to her husband Shahryar starting from their first night after the marriage. It includes some of the famous stories of “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” and many more. A wonderful collection for your kids and your self, as you will love magic, adventure and fantasy aspects of these wonderful stories for years to come. Also comes in Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 for easy reading.
This list would not be complete without my favorite fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes., part detective, part musician, part scientist and overall genius man. Created by Arthur Conan Doyle so real that many visitor still asks where is 221B Baker Street is when they are visiting England. Out of four novels, hounds of Baskerville is one of my favorite, as novel starts with death of Sir Charles Baskerville and everything points to supernatural killer, Holmes have ways to finds the right killer before any other death. Very captivating and ingenious tale. (Amzn.)
These are the funniest, amazing book series that aimed at young adults but I too enjoyed it as mature adult too. There are 13 books in series, starting with a book titled, bad beginning!!. Author Lemony Snicket claims he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. He is the author of several other unpleasant stories, including those in the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Lump of Coal.
These stories has humor, irony, murder, mystery and intelligent kids and funny villain and moral wisdom if that was possible! You will laugh and smile and enjoy this tremendously. There is a Movie made from first three novels with Jim Carrey, which is worth watching! (Amzn.)
Chronicle of Narnia is first in series of 7 children book series. This book and other in series are also great for teenagers and adults who are kids at heart (like me). Story takes place around world war II, and adventure of 4 brothers and sisters in a magical world where animal that can talk, brave lion and ice queen witch, what is not to love? Othere books are series are also a great read for everyone the the family. Check out Narnia- a Movie which is a great visual master piece. (Amzn. Narnia Movie)
What are your favorite books?, Have you read any of these books? What is your opinion of it?
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