A Reading List for Literary Explorers

Yes, this is yet-another-list but I am reposting it because the topic isn’t just good books to read but moreover it suggests many titles from that undefinable cloud known as classic literature. The list comes from About.com and was posted by Adam Burgess, the About.com Classic Literature Expert. I see some room for improvement in this list but overall it seems useful. I marked those titles I have already read (some sad little gaps): how well-read are you?

So here are 101 Classics To Get You Started:

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo (1845) Alexandre Dumas
  2. The Three Musketeers (1844) Alexandre Dumas
  3. Black Beauty (1877) Anna Sewell
  4. Agnes Grey (1847) Anne Bronte
  5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) Anne Bronte
  6. The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) Anthony Hope
  7. Barchester Towers (1857) Anthony Trollope
  8. The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927) Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Dracula (1897) Bram Stoker
  10. The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) Carlo Collodi
  11. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Charles Dickens
  12. David Copperfield (1850) Charles Dickens
  13. Great Expectations (1861) Charles Dickens
  14. Hard Times (1854) Charles Dickens
  15. Oliver Twist (1837) Charles Dickens
  16. Westward Ho! (1855) Charles Kingsley
  17. Jane Eyre (1847) Charlotte Brontë
  18. Villette (1853) Charlotte Brontë
  19. Sons and Lovers (1913) D.H. Lawrence
  20. Robinson Crusoe (1719) Daniel Defoe
  21. Moll Flanders (1722) Daniel Defoe
  22. Tales of Mystery & Imagination (1908) Edgar Allan Poe
  23. The Age of Innocence (1920) Edith Wharton
  24. Cranford (1853) Elizabeth Gaskell
  25. Wuthering Heights (1847) Emily Brontë
  26. The Secret Garden (1911) Frances Hodgson Burnett
  27. Crime and Punishment (1866) Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. The Brothers Karamazov (1880) Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  29. The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) G.K. Chesterton
  30. The Phantom Of The Opera (1909-10) Gaston Leroux
  31. Middlemarch (1871-72) George Eliot
  32. Silas Marner (1861) George Eliot
  33. The Mill on the Floss (1860) George Eliot
  34. The Diary of a Nobody (1892) George and Weedon Grossmith
  35. The Princess and the Goblin (1872) George MacDonald
  36. The Time Machine (1895) H.G. Wells
  37. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) Harriet Beecher Stowe
  38. Walden (1854) Henry David Thoreau
  39. The Aspern Papers (1888) Henry James
  40. The Turn of the Screw (1898) Henry James
  41. King Solomon’s Mines (1885) Henry Rider Haggard
  42. Moby Dick (1851) Herman Melville
  43. The Odyssey (circa 8 BC) Homer
  44. The Call of the Wild (1903) Jack London
  45. Last of the Mohicans (1826) James Fenimore Cooper
  46. Emma (1815) Jane Austen
  47. Mansfield Park (1814) Jane Austen
  48. Persuasion (1817) Jane Austen
  49. Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen
  50. Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) John Bunyan
  51. Gulliver’s Travels (1726) Jonathan Swift
  52. Heart of Darkness (1899) Joseph Conrad
  53. Lord Jim (1900) Joseph Conrad
  54. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) Jules Verne
  55. Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) Jules Verne
  56. The Awakening (1899) Kate Chopin
  57. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) L. Frank Baum
  58. Tristram Shandy (1759-1767) Laurence Sterne
  59. Anna Karenina (1877) Leo Tolstoy
  60. War and Peace (1869) Leo Tolstoy
  61. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) Lewis Carroll
  62. Through the Looking-Glass (1871) Lewis Carroll
  63. Little Women (1868-69) Louisa May Alcott
  64. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) Mark Twain
  65. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) Mark Twain
  66. Frankenstein (1818) Mary Shelley
  67. Don Quixote of La Mancha (1605 & 1615) Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  68. Twice-Told Tales (1837) Nathaniel Hawthorne
  69. The Scarlet Letter (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne
  70. The Prince (1532) Niccolai Machiavelli
  71. The Four Million (1906) O. Henry
  72. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) Oscar Wilde
  73. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) Oscar Wilde
  74. The Metamorphoses (circa 8 AD) Ovid
  75. Lorna Doone (1869) R. D. Blackmore
  76. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) Robert Louis Stevenson
  77. Treasure Island (1883) Robert Louis Stevenson
  78. Kim (1901) Rudyard Kipling
  79. The Jungle Book (1894) Rudyard Kipling
  80. Ivanhoe (1820) Sir Walter Scott
  81. Rob Roy (1817) Sir Walter Scott
  82. The Red Badge of Courage (1895) Stephen Crane
  83. What Katy Did (1872) Susan Coolidge
  84. Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891-92) Thomas Hardy
  85. The Mayor Of Casterbridge (1886) Thomas Hardy
  86. Utopia (1516) Thomas More
  87. Rights of Man (1791) Thomas Paine
  88. Les Misèrables (1862) Victor Hugo
  89. The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20) Washington Irving
  90. The Moonstone (1868) Wilkie Collins
  91. The Woman in White (1859) Wilkie Collins
  92. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600) William Shakespeare
  93. As You Like It (1623) William Shakespeare
  94. Hamlet (1603) William Shakespeare
  95. Henry V (1600) William Shakespeare
  96. King Lear (1608) William Shakespeare
  97. Othello (1622) William Shakespeare
  98. Richard III (1597) William Shakespeare
  99. The Merchant of Venice (1600) William Shakespeare
  100. The Tempest (1623) William Shakespeare
  101. Vanity Fair (1848) William Thackeray

5 thoughts on “A Reading List for Literary Explorers

    1. The Prince is one of those books that I probably have read most of through anthologies etc. but haven’t made the unitary effort to read it from cover to cover. For years I contended that I had read Finnegans Wake even though I knew I never read the complete book but only many many excerpts. Now that I have read FW I’m not sure I’m any more familiar with the novel than when I was only reading it in spots and sections.

      Utopia is another one like that.


  1. LOL, Mike. I know just what you mean about digging the hole deeper. I enjoyed Bleak House. It and Great Expectations are about the only Dickens books that I enjoyed, although I’ve read almost all of them. I never made it through War and Peace. Not throwing it in the hole, but writing it off. I did manage to make it through Magic Mountain, but it’s not a favorite at all for me.

    Les Miserables is a hefty book. I didn’t find it a chore to read, although it took a while. Enjoyed Barchester Towers a lot. I’d chose it over Les Miz and even over Woman in White. (I’m in The Moonstone camp, lol.)


  2. I’ve read 16 of the first twenty. Surprised that you’ve never read The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s a great favorite of mine. Probably makes my top ten of all time list.


    1. There are several large books that I have mostly read but, like Bleak House where I had about 100 pages to go, some life event had me put down the book and as the months and years went by, it became less and less likely that I would be able to start where I left off. Two novels I know I went back to page 1 and read them all the way through—Magic Mountain and War & Peace—but I haven’t gotten back to several others—Joseph and His Brothers, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Recognitions.

      I keep them on the list and fully expect to read them to completion one day but there are so many books out there to read and I just keep digging the hole deeper.


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