What Classics Should I Read?

What classics should you read? The answer is up to you! But first let's find out what you like to read, and which authors you're drawn to reading, to guide your classics reading journey. Here are some questions to get you thinking about what you like to read. Titles in bold were handpicked as staff's recommended classics.

  • Do you like to read translated books or books set in other countries? Look for books that pique your interest.
  • Do you like books set during a certain time period, like Victorian England? Look up popular authors during that time period, like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot.
  • Do you like books that are all about characters and their life stories? You might like a bildungsroman, which is a fancy name that means coming of age, or seek out family sagas.
  • Do you like dystopian books like The Hunger Games? Try George Orwell or Aldous Huxley.
  • Think about what themes you are drawn to when you read. Common themes include:

Second chances: Pride and PrejudiceGone With the Wind, Persuasion, The Tempest

Good versus evil: The Lord of the Rings, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, DraculaThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 

Love: Romeo and Juliet, The Thornbirds, A Room With a View, Jane Eyre, A Farewell to Arms

Coming of age: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Little Women, The Outsiders, David Copperfield, Vanity Fair, The Bluest Eye

Tragic personality flaws: Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Far From the Madding Crowd, Madame Bovary

Death: As I Lay Dying, The Stranger, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Friendship: The Three Musketeers, Anne of Green Gables, Of Mice and Men, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, On the Road

Humanity versus nature: Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, Moby-Dick, The Last of the Mohicans, Heart of Darkness

Family sagas: The Joy Luck Club, The God of Small Things

Peace and war: War and Peace, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Things They Carried, The Red Badge of Courage, Slaughterhouse-Five, Catch-22The War of the Worlds

Individual versus society: The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby, Les Miserables, Lord of the Flies, Atlas Shrugged

LGBTQ+Tales of the City, Rubyfruit Jungle, The Naked Lunch, Kiss of the Spider Woman

Religion: Siddhartha, The Brothers Karamozov, Death Comes for the Archbishop, People of the Book, The Poisonwood Bible

Power, authority and corruption: Animal Farm, Macbeth, 1984, Brave New WorldOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Social issues: To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tale of Two Cities, The Grapes of Wrath

Racism: Invisible Man, The Cider House Rules, The Color Purple, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Judgement: The Crucible, The Scarlet Letter, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Awakening

Suffering and hardship: Crime and Punishment, Oliver Twist, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, My Antonia

Revenge: The Count of Monte Cristo, True Grit, Great Expectations, Hamlet

Animals: The Red Pony, Watership Down, The Call of the Wild, The Jungle Book

Magical realism: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Beloved, Like Water for Chocolate, The House of the Spirits

Horror: The Haunting of Hill House, The Woman in White, The Turn of the Screw