Literature is highly subjective. While some readers prefer romantic tales, others enjoy mysteries. There are some readers who feel a classic novel should be entertaining, and others who say that novels should be thought-provoking above all else.
Classic novels have risen from a variety of time periods and most are written with very different purposes in mind. When choosing classic novels to explore, readers should look for a sampling of different authors and genres. The following list includes 10 classic novels that everyone should add to their must-read list:
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Centering on the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters, this classic tale explores the expectations of women in 19th-century society.
2. 1984 by George Orwell
Orwell’s dystopian novel takes place in a world where “fact” is dictated through the all-seeing government and where the simple act of thinking can be considered a crime.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Considered by some to be the "Great American Novel," this classic paints an extravagant picture of the Jazz Age as it follows Jay Gatsby’s rise and subsequent fall.
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
When a group of boys find themselves wrecked on a deserted island, they work together to establish their own society. However, it isn’t long before the story explores the darker side of human interactions.
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This Russian masterpiece explores marriage, family, and the aftermath of infidelity with an honesty that makes the novel timeless.
6. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
This classic Sherlock Holmes tale features supernatural elements, ghostly moors, and superstitious legends that come together for a creepy, yet ultimately satisfying, crime mystery.
7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Set in the grip of the Great Depression, this classic American story follows the Joad family’s cross-country journey as they struggle to stay together and simply survive.
8. Dracula by Bram Stoker
One of the most enduring creations of the horror genre, Dracula tells the tale of an ancient Transylvanian vampire and what happens to those who cross his path.
9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Though classified as a children’s book, this imaginative tale can be thoroughly enjoyed by adult readers as well—particularly if they are interested in the author’s hidden mathematical themes.
10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Told in a non-linear fashion through the traumatized eyes of a woman caught in a dystopian world, this novel explores a society where women are reduced to property.