16 Classic Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime Part I

01:) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Bennet family is in a bit of a jam. With five daughters and no sons, their property is entailed away from their line, and all the women will be largely penniless when their father dies. And so the best way to ensure the most comfortable livelihood for all is for at least one of the five girls to marry “well”, which has their mother’s sharp eye ever seeking a single man in possession of a good fortune.
The situation deepens when we take a look at the ladies in question. For the Bennet sisters aren’t wholly on board with marrying anyone flung at them. And when the solicitous Mr. Bingley moves in to an elaborate estate nearby, bringing with him some illustrious company, the entire Bennet household is flung on its end. The result is Austen’s signature novel, where many subtle shades of pride do battle with multitudinous layers of prejudice.

02:) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is an 1891 philosophical novel by Irish writer and playwright Oscar Wilde. First published as a serial story in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, the editors feared the story was indecent, and without Wilde’s knowledge, deleted five hundred words before publication. Despite that censorship, The Picture of Dorian Gray offended the moral sensibilities of British book reviewers, some of whom said that Oscar Wilde merited prosecution for violating the laws guarding the public morality. In response, Wilde aggressively defended his novel and art in correspondence with the British press. Wilde revised and expanded the magazine edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) for publication as a novel; the book edition (1891) featured an aphoristic preface — an apologia about the art of the novel and the reader. The content, style, and presentation of the preface made it famous in its own literary right, as social and cultural criticism. In April 1891, the editorial house Ward, Lock and Company published the revised version of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
The situation deepens when we take a look at the ladies in question. For the Bennet sisters aren’t wholly on board with marrying anyone flung at them. And when the solicitous Mr. Bingley moves in to an elaborate estate nearby, bringing with him some illustrious company, the entire Bennet household is flung on its end. The result is Austen’s signature novel, where many subtle shades of pride do battle with multitudinous layers of prejudice.

03:) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred
One of the most cherished stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

04:) Bleak House by Charles Dickens

In the fog of London, lawyers enrich themselves with endless litigation over a dwindling inheritance. A sterling example of Dickens’s genius for character, dramatic construction, and social satire, this novel was hailed by Edmund Wilson as a “masterpiece”.

05:) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Striking a balance between philosophical discussion and compelling story-telling, War and Peace transcends the restrictions that Tolstoy perceived in the conventional novel.
Set in Russia during the Napoleonic era, this epic novel follows the fortunes of five aristocratic Russian families over the course of the French invasion. Tolstoy’s timeless portrayal of the fates of families set against the backdrop of war is ultimately optimistic and life-affirming, with the educated, but socially awkward Count Pierre Bezukhov often giving voice to Tolstoy’s own beliefs.
Weaving together the historical and the personal, this powerful work of Russian literature encompasses the entirety of human existence.

06:) Persuasion by Jane Austenn

At twenty-­seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

07:) The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Celie has grown up poor in rural Georgia, despised by the society around her and abused by her own family. She strives to protect her sister, Nettie, from a similar fate, and while Nettie escapes to a new life as a missionary in Africa, Celie is left behind without her best friend and confidante, married off to an older suitor, and sentenced to a life alone with a harsh and brutal husband.
In an attempt to transcend a life that often seems too much to bear, Celie begins writing letters directly to God. The letters, spanning 20 years, record a journey of self-discovery and empowerment guided by the light of a few strong women. She meets Shug Avery, her husband’s mistress and a jazz singer with a zest for life, and her stepson’s wife, Sophia, who challenges her to fight for independence. And though the many letters from Celie’s sister are hidden by her husband, Nettie’s unwavering support will prove to be the most breathtaking of all
The Color Purple has sold more than five million copies, inspired an Academy Award-nominated film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Steven Spielberg, and been adapted into a Tony-nominated Broadway musical. Lauded as a literary masterpiece, this is the groundbreaking novel that placed Walker “in the company of Faulkner” (The Nation) and remains a wrenching – yet intensely uplifting – experience for new generations of listeners.

08:) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. It follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy— from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. Although Little Women was a novel for girls, it differed notably from the current writings for children, especially girls. The book was an immediate commercial and critical success and has since been adapted for cinema, TV, Broadway and even the opera.

09:) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.
Robin Buss’s lively English translation is complete and unabridged, and remains faithful to the style of Dumas’s original. This edition includes an introduction, explanatory notes and suggestions for further reading.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

10:) The Outsiders by Susan Eloise Hinton

The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. 

11:) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevskyn

The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.
This award-winning translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky remains true to the verbal
inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original. It is an achievement worthy of Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel.

12:) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Initially published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyreerupted onto the English literary scene, immediately winning the devotion of many of the world’s most renowned writers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, who declared it a work “of great genius.” Widely regarded as a revolutionary novel, Brontë’s masterpiece introduced the world to a radical new type of heroine, one whose defiant virtue and moral courage departed sharply from the more acquiescent and malleable female characters of the day. Passionate, dramatic, and surprisingly modern, Jane Eyre endures as one of the world’s most beloved novels.

13:) Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Gwendolen Harleth gambles her happiness when she marries a sadistic aristocrat for his money. Beautiful, neurotic, and self-centred, Gwendolen is trapped in an increasingly destructive relationship, and only her chance encounter with the idealistic Deronda seems to offer the hope of a brighter future. Deronda is searching for a vocation, and in embracing the Jewish cause he finds one that is both visionary and life-changing. Damaged by their pasts, and alienated from the society around them,
they must both discover the values that will give their lives meaning.

George Eliot’s powerful novel is set in a Britain whose ruling class is decadent and materialistic, its power likely to be threatened by a politically emergent Germany. The novel’s exploration of sexuality, guilt, and the will to power anticipates later developments in fiction, and its linking of the personal and the political in a context of social and economic crisis gives it especial relevance to the dominant issues of the twenty-first century.

14:) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

With those famous words unfolds a tale that renews the joy and caring that are Christmas. Whether we read it aloud with our family and friends or open the pages on a chill winter evening to savor the story in solitude, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a very special holiday experience.

It is the one book that every year will warm our hearts with favorite memories of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future—and will remind us with laughter and tears that the true Christmas spirit comes from giving with love.

With a heartwarming account of Dickens’ first reading of the Carol, and a biographical sketch.

15:) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance–until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

16:) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective).
It is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River. Set in a Southern antebellum society that had ceased to exist about twenty years before the work was published, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing satire on entrenched attitudes, particularly racism.

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