Now that I’ve talked about how to read classics, I thought I’d give you a few lists of classics to read. First, I’ll give a list of more accessible books, and then in another post a list of books by time.
I should explain what I mean by accessible. To do this I’m going to pick on Virginia Woolf, an author I actually love. Just thought I’d say that first 🙂 If you just want the list, scroll down.
Woolf is an author who is interested in what people are thinking, and because of this writes stories in which not much happens. She also tends to jump in and out of people’s heads, writing from first one, then another, then another character’s point of view, sometimes just for a few sentences. Although she does all this masterfully, if you are used to contemporary, plot-based, straightforward stories, this can be confusing. So I would class Woolf as a “less accessible” author. That is, I wouldn’t recommend she be the first classic writer you read.
As a different example, sometimes a writer can be less accessible because the time in which they write is further removed from us. So, Shakespeare is the ideal example. His plays are amazing, and his language is part of what makes them so; however, because it’s 400 years older, it’s just different enough to feel confusing at first.
So I would class Woolf and Shakespeare as “less accessible” authors. That is, I wouldn’t recommend they be the first classic writers you read. Though if you’re just inspired to read Macbeth or Mrs. Dalloway, go for it! Motivation is 8/10ths of it anyway.
Now, the random list of more accessible books, in no particular order. Usually anything by the named author is good. The list is based on my own reading, and I’ve tried to include a variety of kinds of books:
Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
The Time Machine H.G. Wells
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
Peter Pan J. M Barrie
Silas Marner George Eliot
Ethan Frome Edith Wharton
My Antonia Willa Cather
Cranford Elizabeth Gaskell
Whose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers
The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde