Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Every year hundreds of thousands of new and exciting books are published, and it often seems as if we are all in a race to keep up with the ever-constant flow of new reading material. However, amid this constant influx of books, some books stand proud against the test of time.
Although, the name ‘classic’ is hard-earned there seem to be almost as many of them as there are new books. Yet, if you’re like me and would like to begin the challenge of wading through centuries of literature, then here are some of my favourites (from what I’ve managed to read so far):
First published in 1847
Although these recommendations are not ordered in favourite to least favourite, I had to put Wuthering Heights first as it is without a doubt my favourite classic of all time.
Before I read it, I’d heard that it was a romantic story about passion and true love. Although this is technically true, it’s very different from your usual love-story. The twisting, violent story is set in the desolate moors of Northern England lending an edge of horror to the already eerie tale. I couldn’t get through this pacey and haunting novel quickly enough and I encourage anyone looking for anything a little more gothic next time you read a classic to read this book.
Pride and Prejudice
First published in 1813
However, if you are looking for something a little more lovey-dovey then Pride and Prejudice is the natural choice. One of the staples of the romantic genre, Pride and Prejudice earned its acclaim for a reason. The lovable characters and witty narrative are now renowned world-wide and are perfect for anyone who’s looking for a love-story that’s lasted through the ages.
I Capture the Castle
First published in 1948
The last romance on this list is another rather unconventional one. Set in a dilapidated (you guessed it) castle, this is a story about a young girl’s first experience in love when two exotic Americans come and turn her poor albeit glamorous family’s lives upside-down. This novel is perfect for some light-hearted fun with an amusing narrative and loveable if not slightly odd characters.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
First Published in 1890
Although The Picture of Dorian Gray isn’t a love story, the novel does follows the protagonist as he falls madly in love - with himself. A Narcissus style story which is narrated with an incredibly witty and amusing if not more than a little ‘immoral’ narrative. With a brilliant, twisting plot-line; clever, quippy dialogue, the book may not be, as many critics at the time said ‘moral’, but it is definitely entertaining. Perfect for anyone who is looking for a ingenious, shock and twist filled book.
Lord of the Flies
First published in 1954
Another classic book that examines our humanity, this time under extreme circumstances, is Lord of the Flies. Known for its brutal and bloody temperament, Lord of the Flies is a book that you will race through and will haunt you for a long time afterwards. It’s fast-paced plot and shocking end are perfect for the reader that is looking for a more modern classic with lots of adventure.
First published in 1949
Another book that eerily, and once again rather violently, examines our humanity is 1984. This book is known for painting a strikingly similar depiction of our future to the world we are living in today, including technology and ideas that many hadn’t even dreamed of at the time. This dark, gritty novel is perfect for anyone who’s looking for some disturbingly realistic dystopian.
Flowers for Algernon
First Published in 1966
When I think of classics, I don’t usually think of science-fiction, thinking more of 19th century novels filled with scrambled sentences that one has to carefully pick apart. However, Flowers for Algernon is a thrilling and relatively modern exploration into human intelligence, science, and what it means to be human. This book was originally a short story and is still on the shorter side of about 200 pages, so is perfect to read in one sitting and experience the protagonist’s salvation and descent all in one go. Like any good classic, you’ll be thinking about this one long after you’ve finished it and is perfect for anyone who loves sci-fi but is perhaps looking for something a little different.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
First Published in 1969
The last book is also the most recent book out of this list, as well as the only one which is non-fiction. Maya Angelou’s autobiographies have become world-renowned for the harsh truths they present, yet despite all the hardships that the author endured, they are also beautifully written and filled with humour, hope and joy. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was not only riveting, entertaining and lovely to read, it was also shocking and eye-opening. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for something more modern and which discusses issues which are still prevalent in today’s society.