Resolve to Read the Classics

I opened up the armoire in my bedroom to disclose a television I almost never use. Many people tell me they lay in bed at night and watch television; however, as cosy as that sounds, this is a practice that reminds me too much of living in an SRO where the bed was actually the only piece of furniture in the room (and the toilet was down the hall). I guess you could say that lying in bed watching television reminds me too much of the bad times in my life.

Of course, being an avid reader, I seldom watch television even in the living room.

But the significance of opening the armoire was that I uncovered a huge repository of Penguin and Oxford Classics: new ones, old ones, thick ones, thin ones, translations, collections, a veritable library of canonical literature. But have you tried reading the tight print in the average 600 page Penguin edition? Luckily most of these texts are available online for free or for a small expense (but watch out for translations) so I have started packing them into bags to donate to the local book exchange.

As I reflect on the authors and titles, I start to feel guilty that there are so many classical works that I haven’t read. Maybe I should forego some of the more contemporary novels I have planned to read and just concentrate on the classics for a year or two.

Right in the middle of repacking all these Penguins I received a post from which suggested that 2015 was the year many readers were intending to concentrate on the classics.

Have you decided that this is your year for reading more Classic Literature? Great! We’ve got some helpful suggestions for books to read, clubs to consider forming or joining, genres to discover, and even ways to beat the reading slumps!

One of the more overlooked genres of classic literature (or any literature, really) is drama. Readers tend to gravitate towards novels, first, and poetry second. But the truth is, there are a number of classic plays of various modes, including comedy, tragedy, tragicomedy, and histories that are incredibly interesting, entertaining, and educational! Click the link above to see what plays we recommend reading this year!

Have you always wanted to read the classics but have been intimidated by the sheer number of them? Maybe you’ve heard of classic writers like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, but you aren’t sure who else qualifies? The list of 101 Classics provides a wealth of options across all genres, modes, and literary periods. There is definitely something for every reader. Check it out!


It’s hard to argue with any list of classics. I suspect the major complaint would be for the titles that were left out. So what do you think about this internet list?

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

I hi-lighted the titles I have read in blue but as you can see, there are many books I haven’t read and some of those are important classics I should be ashamed of having not read. Notice that this list included Jules Verne and left out Gustave Flaubert: that should tell you something.

2 thoughts on “Resolve to Read the Classics

  1. Jump on The Secret Garden first. A fun read that reminds you of childhood. Mansfield Park happens to be one of my favorite Austen novels, although it gets the shaft a lot. There’s a lot on this list I have to read as well.


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