Great Classic Books that Everyone should Read (At least once)

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)

2. Leave It to Psmith

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.)

4. Emma

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.)

5. Persuasion

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.

6. North and South

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.

9. Wuthering Heights

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.)

13. Possession

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.)

14. The Last of the Mohicans

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.)

19. Crime and Punishment

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.)

20. Carry On, Jeeves (A Jeeves and Bertie Novel)

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.)

21. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring

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.)

24. Othello

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.)

25. Macbeth

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.)

26. Hamlet

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.)

29. Journey to the Centre of the Earth

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.)

31. Foundation

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.)

34. The Scarlet Pimpernel

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.)

35. The Namesake: A Novel

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.)

38. Fahrenheit 451 and Nineteen Eighty-Four

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)

39. A Suitable Boy: A Novel

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.)

40. The Phantom of the Opera:

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.)

41. The Mystery of the Yellow Room

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.)

42. Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)

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.)

42. Ten Little Indians

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.)

43. A Walk to Remember

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.

44. Planet of the Apes

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.)

45. The Shape of Things to Come

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.)

47. The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights:

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.

48. The Hound of the Baskerville

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.)

49. A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-13

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.)

50. The Chronicles of Narnia

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?

Image source: Books

About Author: This post is written by Preeti who writes under name of Zengirl on Heart and Mind Blog. She writes articles about self improvement, stress free and slow living and believes in slow blogging.

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I am stay at home with 2 kids, married to my best friend zenguy. I am in to simplifying, slow and sustainable living, I am frugal, love reading, writing and watching romantic movies. I believe in family, friendship and community.

67 comments

  1. Marko -- Calm Growth says:

    Great and detailed list Preeti!

    I have not read all the books from the list, but I will give feedback to the couple who at some point influenced me.

    1. Crime and Punishment – This is one of the greatest masterpieces ever! I have never met such a clear explanation of man as in that book, I think that no one will never be repeated what Dostoevsky have done… Dostoevsky show the Russia of that time, but he’s also show a timeless analysis of the human mind, greed, conscience and life. I read that book twice. :)
    I think that Tolstoy once said something like this: “the goal of artist is not to resolve a problem, but to force us to love life in its countless and infinite manifestations.” — Dostoevsky showed that (at least to me) with Crime and Punishment…

    2. Anna Karenina — I got the best grade in the class in high school for the analysis of this book… In Anna Karenina we go deeply into the psychology of people…
    I like the writing style and structure, and artistic value is undoubtedly high. The fate of people in Tolstoy’s works has always been interesting and the imbalance is always present. I have never understood love as shown in this book, but it’s my personal set of beliefs… ;)

  2. TheSimplePoppy says:

    What!? Zengirl, you have to put some George Eliot on that list! I loved Middlemarch, and I also see it as exemplifying what is happening in the simple/minimalist movement. A town called Middlemarch, where everyone takes the path of least resistance, the middle path. And then you have some characters who by the end have wildly veered off the middle path to live their own kind of successful, simpler life.

    It took me 3 times to start and read Anna Karenina. I didn’t care much for Anna, but I found Levin’s realizations at the end pretty moving.

    I’ve read a lot of these years ago, but only a few stick out to me still. Narnia – love. You know how I feel about Persuasion. I keep meaning to read The Namesake. I’m going to have to check out the ones I haven’t read!

  3. Gip @ So Much More says:

    What a list! I have to admit, though, that I haven’t read most of them.

    I’m more of a writer than a reader, I suppose. Since I work with books and write, people think I read a lot, but I really don’t.

    Gip

  4. Evan says:

    I love the Jeeves and Bertie novels too. Wodehouse’s short story Goodbye to All Cats is just about perfect I think.

    I also love Simenon’s Maigret novels. All quite short (novellas really) but managing to create a whole world – and so simply written.

  5. The Vizier says:

    Hi Zengirl,

    That is quite an impressive list you have there. Like you I love to read also. Everywhere I go, I always have a book on hand to read just in case I get bored or have nothing to do.

    I am a big fan of the Arabian Nights. I love the middle east and Scheherazade is such a captivating storyteller!

    I also enjoy the works of Alexandre Dumas. I think his Three Musketeers is very well done.

    My favourite classics are Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I have reread this book many times and have come to love the hundreds of characters inside. I also love Taiko which is somewhat like Three Kingdoms, only it is set in Japan instead of China.

    I also enjoy Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Chodelos de Laclos and of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m a big fan of epistolary novels probably because of the sense of intimacy that it conveys.

    Then there is Count Belisarius by Robert Graves. I love the Byzantine Empire, so I am familiar with the characters and the era it is set in.

    The classic I’m reading now is Dune by Frank Herbert. I love science fiction and I have always wanted to read this science fiction masterpiece and truly it does not disappoint.

    Thanks for sharing your awesome list!

  6. Clearly Composed says:

    Lots of good ones on this list! I am so intrigued by the idea of reading Mr. Darcy’s diary. As for reading Shakespeare, I think it is helpful to see a few of his plays first. It makes reading them easier when you understand the flow and rhythm of his work, at least for many people I know. :)

  7. Andrea DeBell - britetalk says:

    Hi Preeti! This is a pretty good list. I’m impressed to see that most of these books were made into movies. I’ve read some of these books but not all them but I’ve watched all the movies they’ve made from these books. Does it count? :) I know the movies don’t compare to the books but I thought I’d give it a try.

    Thanks for inspiring us. Loving blessings!

  8. ZenGirl says:

    Marko,

    I agree with you on both of these novels, I think Russian Authors of that time were amazing as they wrote complex human characters with so many emotions that you can feel it through the words.

    Both of these book are not light read and you have to read it with 100% plus focus on it, I did not appreciated earlier but now I understand and appreciate the master pieces they really are. Thanks for sharing as I know you love reading too.

  9. ZenGirl says:

    SimplePoppy,

    You are so right, I forgot. I should add George Elliot, as I have read a few of her books and love her and I mentioned her in my coming out shadow post too, as she too write under pen name like me :-)

    I loved Middlemarch book. I did not know there is a town called middlemarch too, I have to check it out, thanks for letting me know.

    Anna Karenina is complex book to get in to for many people. Narnia is great, and you are the only other person whom I know who loves Captain Wentworth like I do. :-) Let me know how you like Namesake once you read it.

  10. ZenGirl says:

    Gip,

    Welcome! I also thought as you were in book selling, you must read a lot. Being a writer is great also.

    What type of books do you usually read then?

  11. ZenGirl says:

    Angela,

    Tell me about not finding to time read as I like right now as I miss reading now a days too, but I read every chance I get with 2 kids, even if it is 5-10 minutes and I am quite fast reader too. Maybe that is why I need to read some books twice or more! :-)

    Take time for things you enjoy, even if it does not feel productive, it will re-charge you!

  12. ZenGirl says:

    Evan,

    Welcome, I think Jeeves is one of best character etched out by Wodehouse. I have not read “Goodbye to All Cats and Maigret novels yet. I should put them in my to-read list! Thanks for sharing your picks.

  13. ZenGirl says:

    Hi Vizier,

    I have read all Arabian nights stories when I was a child and I still find them fascinating.

    I have read Dangerous Liaisons but I have not read Three Kindom, Count Belisarius, Taiko yet. You will love Frank Herbert’s Dune, I believe there is also movie too.

    Thank you for leaving detailed thoughts on books. Seem like you love to read too!

  14. ZenGirl says:

    Emma,

    You will love Mr. Darcy’s Diary as P&P is written from only Elizabeth’s perspective and we do not know what Mr. Darcy feels until the end. This novel by Amanda Grange is faithful to book but we know from his point of view, to see why he feels the way he does and his internal thoughts throughout the story.

    Yes I agree, Shakespeare is much easier to understand through movie or play.

  15. ZenGirl says:

    Andrea,

    Yes, some of these books are made in movies! Yes, watching movie is also great way to see director’s point of view for the book. Sometimes books are better but other times movies helps us visualize the written words into reality. I love both books and movies, so sure it counts!

  16. ZenGirl says:

    Evan,

    I agree, Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie are great in that TV series! Hugh Laurie has become huge with House now, but I think he was great since those days!

  17. rob white says:

    Fantastic list, Preeti. I love reading and re-reading Shakespeare. His writing poses so many timeless lessons about the nature of being human that I continually find myself digging deeper and deeper into his work. Thanks for sharing some new reads for me to consider too…

  18. taurian says:

    Hi Preeti,

    I am not a book freak.

    Good list of books, this time its not for me but definitely for my sis.

    Its not that I dont like , but I dnt have patience to read.

    My sis read novels and stories a lot. she requires 2 books at least in a quarter.

    when ever she tells me this book is awesome, I tried my best in reading but i was successive, ended reading till 10th or 20th page max. I will just go through synopsis of the book and will conclude my observations.

    I will definitely forward this list to her and will post her views here.

  19. ayo says:

    hello preeti
    how are you?
    first of all you’ve put so much work into this list.
    more power to you wow!!!
    it’s official you are bookworm lol!! i havent read half of the books you’ve listed but the few i have read were good reads.
    take care and enjoy the rest of the day

  20. ZenGirl says:

    Rob,

    Thanks for chiming in. Shakespeare is complex, versatile, and often time misunderstood but like Emma says, watching play helps understanding his writing much better.

    If you read any of these books, let me know how you liked it. How is your webinar going?

  21. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    You have other wide interests as you shared in last post comments, that is impressive. I always liked book reading so much that sometimes I prefer reading over other things, which I do not recommend.

    Thank you for sharing this list with your sister. I hope she finds some good books in this list. I will look forward to hearing her views.

  22. ZenGirl says:

    Ayo,

    I am fine, how are you doing?

    Wow, I am official bookworm! That is best thing I have heard today, as I take this as a compliment (I think you meant it that way right?, wait. do not tell me otherwise :-))

    I may have to do other list, as simplepoppy mentioned I forgot George Elliot, and few others. :-)

  23. Nacho Jordi says:

    Hi, ZenGirl, cannot resist to speak when books are discussed :D
    I have read 17 books from your list. I loved Shakespeare, I admired and got thrilled by the Anna Karenina story (and the very clever structure), I stayed up a whole night with the Hobbit (but I did not have the courage to read the whole Lord of the Rings saga), and the adventures of Winston in 1984 travel forever with me in my heart.
    I’d also add a freak recommendation, “Point/Counterpoint” by Aldous Huxley. He is an irregular author, and not all of his books are great, but this novel, although it discusses some philosophical questions, has also some moments of intense tenderness and beauty.
    Thank you for your post and for your list.

  24. ZenGirl says:

    Nacho Jordi.

    I love the way you described your reading, I can feel your passion for books you read.

    I have to take up your recommendation on “Point/Counterpoint” as I have not heard or read it. You should try to read Lord of the Ring saga, bit darker then Hobbit but fun read nevertheless. Like your blog too.

  25. Farnoosh says:

    I had to comment here, Preeti – from one book worm to another – from one classics lover to another: I have read numbers 1, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, 19, 22, 34, 40. I just finished Crime & Punishment and I think we differ on that one – I can’t wait to express my extreme frustration and displeasure with that book on the next book review! Please be sure to come and help me see the light…. :) And you forgot Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – or maybe you didn’t but I think they should be on the list ::)!
    What are you reading now?
    Great list…..

  26. taurian says:

    Yeah Preeti,

    I have already spoke to my sis yesterday night.

    Here are the books which she has already covered among yr above list.

    . Harry Potter Books 1-7
    . The Da Vinci Code
    . The Chronicles of Narnia

    Now she asked me to get her The Time Machine and the planet of apes.

    she really like the above list and ideally wanted to be one among the visitor list of Happy heart and mind.

    Thank you so much for your valuable suggestions !

  27. Armen Shirvanian says:

    Hi Preeti.

    I have passed these books so many times in bookstores and libraries, but I have not read most of them. Sometimes I get the desire to read one or another to have an understanding of something so many have read(from the heavy reading population), but then go back to reading a non-fiction book of some sort. The fact that you have read all these says quite a bit.

    I think a smart person does read most of these, because once you have read a classic, you understand a certain framework that many others know of, or a certain historical time, or so on. It is good to know what others know of.

  28. Steven says:

    Preeti, it looks like I have a lot to catch up on. I have to admit I am more of a non-fiction kind of guy. I’ve only read the Shakespeare ones. It seems like you read a lot – how many books would you say you read a year?

  29. Mary R says:

    Preeti,
    I love your list! I’m an avid reader, so I have experienced many of these. But there are a few new ones for me.

    I especially love your selections by Jhumpa Lahiri, and find something new in them every time I pick them up.

    Another book I’d add to the list is “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset W. Maugham.

  30. ZenGirl says:

    Farnoosh,

    I knew you would like this post as you love reading classics too. Thank you for reminding me about Les Miserables, I should have included that masterpiece in this. Atlas Shrugged is good but felt it is bit overrated.

    Crime and Punishment is hard book to read so I can imagine your frustration with it. I still find it intriguing story of a man who is tormented with his emotion and crime he has committed. I hear, I have had share of my books that I did not care for it.

    Right now, I have started “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” by Robert O’Brian, it is light and easy read but lately not getting a chance to read much. How about you?

  31. ZenGirl says:

    Armen,

    I am one of these people who loves fiction, non fiction on any subject as long as writer and subject is intriguing. If you read any of these book, let me know how you liked it.

    I like many personal development, auto biography and historical event in non-fiction. In fiction side, I love mystery, science, romance, drama. I am not sure if that makes me smart at all, but learning and reading is something I love.

    I am going to read your favorite book 48 laws of power next time I get a chance. I have to either get it from library or amazon.

  32. ZenGirl says:

    Steven,

    You do not have to catch up, I am sure there are books you may have read that I have yet to read too. I do like to read and I am fast reader, I read about 2-4 books in a month, depending on how much time I have and how large books are.

    How about you? What are your favorites?

  33. ZenGirl says:

    Mary,

    I think somehow I knew you to be avid reader too. ;-) Jhumpa has written many books but I have read only 2 of her books so far, Interpreter of Maladies and Namesake. I loved her in Interpreter of Maladies bit more. Namesake is special, as it introduced me to Nicolai Gogol and his novels. I loved overcoat but dead soul was intriguing but complex read.

    I have heard of it but yet not read “Of Human Bondage”, Thanks, I will put that in my to-read list. I have a quite a few in list now :-) Thank you for the suggestion.

  34. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    Looks like your sister has some good collection read already! I think she will love Time Machine and Planet of Apes, how old is she?

    Some of the books are made in to movies, you can watch that if you are not in to reading. Just remember that movies may stretch a story a bit or lot. Have fun.

  35. Vaishali says:

    That’s a wonderful list, Preeti, and a good many of those, including those by Jane Austen, PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie are among my favorites too. Here are a couple others I love– Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things (I love her non-fiction too), and Annie Proulx’s Shipping News.

  36. Farnoosh says:

    Hi Preeti, I am all for learning and reading but Fyodor Dostoevsky is off my list for good…. :)!
    I am reading NOTHING now except a million blogs and trying to catch up with being gone for such a long time. I really want to read War & Peace in the winter, Les Miserables again and go through the top 100 Novels, another Jane Austen (Emma or Persuasion) won’t be so bad either :)!

  37. Fran Aslam says:

    Hi Preeti:

    How are you? Did not see you for a while.
    What a huge blog post you have. You are sounding like a true scholar
    wonderful. So many books I have read and known from college time, and now I can not imagine reading books like those.

    But I admire you that you have not lost your touch.

    Have a fun week end

  38. Steve says:

    Preeti,

    Great list of Books. I am 22/50 for them, so not too bad I guess. I found I have read all the Sci-fi/fanstasy on the list….though I do not particularly consider myself to be a sci-fi guy…the choices you had are really classics. (I do like my fantasy though)

    Dumas and Cooper are definitely my favorite “classics” I find them to be simply chocked full of adventure, excitement and fun. I would go as far as to say, “Count of Monte Cristo” is in my all time favorite 10 books. As is “The Princess Bride”

    Narnia is one of the first whole series I remember reading as a kid, great stuff.

    The only thing I tried and couldn’t get into are -gulp- Austen and Bronte. I guess I am too much like of a ‘caveman’ to appreciate it.

    Admittedly since I do like ‘zombies’ I have been thinking of trying, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

    Not exactly high literature: From what I understand the text is an exact duplicate to pride and predjudice, they just added a lot of text to change the stories to include zombies. Sounds like a fun idea, anyhow.

    anyhow, thanks for a great list of really good books

  39. Sibyl - alternaview says:

    Preeti: I always love these posts. Some of these books take me down memory lane and I am reminded of how great they were. I also realize that I need to read more as well because it sounds as if I am missing out on some really great titles. Thanks for the inspiration to read, read, read.

  40. ZenGirl says:

    Sibyl,

    Reading also takes me down memory lane and make me want to re-read some of the books again and read new ones. Do you have your favorites to add here?

  41. ZenGirl says:

    Jonathan,

    I have 1984 already in the list, if you read it carefully. I agree I have read these other books and they are sure good read. :-) Thanks.

  42. ZenGirl says:

    Steve,

    22 out of 50 is very impressive indeed. I like sci-fi books as I am a geek at heart and always have been. I am glad you like princess bride and count of Mote Cristo, I love these too. I have heard of P&P and Zombies and I am not sure what to tell you about that is proper so I will not.

    Many guys think Austen and Bronte are chick-lit, and up to a point that is right but I hope someday you read them and like them.

  43. ZenGirl says:

    Fran,

    I am really in to slow blogging and slow commenting lately as due to school, 2 little ones and life keeps me occupied bit more. I have always loved reading, although I do not find as much time now to read, I try! What are your favorite books?

  44. ZenGirl says:

    Farnoosh,

    War and Peace is great but another complex novel, I am sure you will like it. You should try Emma and Persuasion as you like Austen already, Emma is more witty, Persuasion is more subtle and subdued but I feel one of the best mature love story! I am biased toward Austen a bit. Looking forward to more classic book story from you as you write wonderfully about each.

  45. ZenGirl says:

    Vaishali,

    Somehow I had a feeling you love reading too. I did not know Arundhati Roy wrote fiction too, I have to check it out. I have read her non-fiction before. I have to read Annie’s Shipping new as I have yet to read it. My, there are some good suggestions on my to-read list. Thank you.

  46. Tess The Bold Life says:

    Hi Preeti,
    Oh my I’ve read very few. On the farm reading was considered a waste of time we had work to do. I read a few of these in high school, that’s it. In my early twenties I got into spirituality and self help and withing 10 years became a psychologist. Never looked back. I’m not sure what I’ll read but you and Farnoosh have made many look appealing.

  47. taurian says:

    Thank you preethi ,

    thats a good option ! I can watch these movies.

    I have already downloaded Time machine , however I did not find to watch it.

    I have to close to 700 GB worth movies in my in ma laptop, expendable memory slots.

    I download and watch movies a lot !!!

    yes , My sis has her own library which is filled with a lot books and she is 24.
    Planet of apes I guess , I have already watched it… lemme refresh my collection again.

    if you get a chance, watch this movie “The Illusionist” its a novel turned up in to movie. It is a combination of A supernatural mystery that combines romance, politics and magic….. worth watching it…

  48. Marion Anderson says:

    Hi Preeti

    What an excellent post. I am a great reader but I have not always been so I have missed out on many of the classics. I like the sound of Possession by A.S. Byatt. My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. At the moment I am reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. So far it is working out to be a great read

  49. ZenGirl says:

    Taurian,

    I love watching movies too. Sounds like you have lot of movies ready to be watched. I have heard of Illusionist, I will sure to watch it when I get a chance.

    I hope you sister and you can catch some movies from books together and enjoy.

  50. ZenGirl says:

    Tess,

    I am amazed at what you achieved despite being married, having kids early and growing up in farm. I am quite impressed. I hope you get a chance and time to read when you are ready. I and Farnoosh sure love classical fiction. :-)

    I love also non-fiction, self help book, movies and all, jack of all trade as usual.

  51. ZenGirl says:

    Marion,

    It is good to see you here after long time. How you been? Yes, Possession is good one. I have read To kill a mocking bird and it is very human story with lot of real emotions. I have not read Midnight in the Garden of good and evil yet. I will put that my to-read list.

  52. ZenGirl says:

    Betsy,

    Yes, there are so many great writers and book, sometimes it is hard to find time for it all. I am glad you like Wuthering Heights, it is a great classic. I loved your last post, got to learn so much about you from it.

  53. Lizzie Manuel says:

    hi, Preeti.

    thanks for this post, I just realized i have been missing a lot. I used to read fiction or romantic novels but never classics. When I got older, I started reading Oscar Wilde’s and I just thought what I have been reading all my life. But i guess it’s never too late to start right? Anyway, this post has encouraged me to read more… thanks!

  54. ZenGirl says:

    Lizzie,

    There are so many great classic romance stories you will love. I admit, I love good romance stories too. Yes, it is never too late to start. If you read any of these novel, let me know how you liked it.

  55. Gayathri says:

    Hi Preeti,

    I loved your book list a lot! Please keep them coming..
    I enjoy the genre of books you’ve listed – it would be awesome if you can also find a way to come up with a list of contemporary works particularly ones based on modern politics..

    May be one of your co-bloggers can take that up :)

    Cheers!
    Gayathri.

  56. ZenGirl says:

    Hi Gayitri,

    Thanks for liking the list, I may share book and movies list again in smaller chunk. I know little about politics so share my views but will see if any books will intrigue me I will sure to share it here.

    I do not have a co-bloggers, I am only writer here so far.

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