Must Read: Classics

17 Nov

It’s a work in progress, but thanks to you — and some very helpful lists at Goodreads — I’m starting to put together a list of classic must reads. These are in no particular order, and obviously I’ve left off books I’ve already read even if they were suggested. Like The Great Gatsby. A bunch of people recommended it. For good reason. I loved it too :). I’m also including books that I have read before but don’t remember or otherwise feel like I should re-read. Like anything by the Brontës. I just know I’ve read them, but I don’t remember anything about any of them. Sad.

  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  • His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (I’m going to read the first in this series in a few weeks for class.)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  • Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  • The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  • Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  • Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot
  • The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  • One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  • David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen
  • Dune, Frank Herbert
  • Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  • Watership Down, Richard Adams
  • The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  • Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  • Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  • The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
  • Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
  • The Stand, Stephen King
  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  • A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
  • Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
  • The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
  • Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  • The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  • Magician, Raymond E Feist
  • On The Road, Jack Kerouac
  • The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  • The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  • Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  • Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  • Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
  • Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
  • Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  • Daisy Miller, Henry James
  • Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
  • Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Razor’s Edge, W. Somerset Maugham
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
  • Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson
  • Carrie, Theodore Drieser
  • Atonement, Ian McEwen
  • The Known World, Edward P. Jones
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson
  • Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
  • The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike
  • Human Stain, Philip Roth
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  • Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
  • Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
  • The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  • East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  • Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Night, Elie Wiesel
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  • Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
  • Persuasion, Jane Austen
  • The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
  • The Stranger, Albert Camus
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
  • Interview With the Vampire, Anne Rice
  • A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  • Blindness, José Saramago
  • Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde
  • The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
  • She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
  • Shogun, James Clavell
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
  • Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
  • Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  • Emma, Jane Austen
  • Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
  • The Pearl, John Steinbeck
  • Prodigal Summer: A Novel, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Cannery Row, John Steinbeck
  • Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
  • Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns
  • Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence
  • The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
  • Infinite Jest: A Novel, David Foster Wallace
  • The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  • Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  • Possession: A Romance, A.S. Byatt
  • The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
  • Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
  • Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
  • Fall on Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  • The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Quiet American, Graham Greene
  • The Hours, Michael Cunningham
  • A Room With a View, E.M. Forster
  • The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosiński
  • No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
  • Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Bostonians, Henry James
  • Gilead: A Novel, Marilynne Robinson
  • Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, C.S. Lewis
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
  • The Earthsea Trilogy, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Rabbit, Run, John Updike
  • Ragtime: A Novel, E.L. Doctorow
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
  • The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  • Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson
  • Play It As It Lays: A Novel, Joan Didion
  • Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem
  • The Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer
  • Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
  • Drop City, T.C. Boyle
  • The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
  • The Complete Stories, Flannery O’Connor
  • We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates
  • Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw
  • The Shipping News : A Novel, Annie Proulx
  • A Thousand Acres: A Novel, Jane Smiley
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz
  • The Age of Reason: A Novel, Jean-Paul Sartre 
  • All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
  • American Pastoral, Philip Roth
  • The Optimist’s Daughter: A Novel, Eudora Welty
  • A Death in the Family, James Agee
  • Independence Day, Richard Ford
  • Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
  • My Name Is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok

There are 161 books on this list. Holy moly.

Obviously, it’ll take some time to work my way through all of these — like years. But at least now I have a starting point. I’d still love some feedback on this list and any additions you would make. (Or if you see any duplicates here. I was pretty careful, but just in case…)

One more fun fact for this particular list of books: because I can’t afford to keep buying books, especially this many, I’m going to reactivate my library card. And use it!! Shock of shocks! But there’s something gratifying about the crinkling plastic cover on a library book and having the time pressure of needing to return the book by a certain time to make you read something you would otherwise push aside. Blame it on the fact that I just re-read Matilda for the billionth time.

UPDATES: Since you guys are awesome, you gave me a few more to add. Keep ’em coming!

  • Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
  • I Claudius, Robert Graves
  • An American Tragedy, Theodore Drieser
  • Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth
  • Angle of Repose, Wallace Stevens
  • Independence Day, Richard Ford

11 Responses to “Must Read: Classics”

  1. StephanieD November 17, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    What an eclectic list! You’ll have fun going through it:)

  2. Greg Zimmerman November 20, 2009 at 1:17 am #

    My god, what a great list! I copied, pasted and posted it on my bulletin board for inspiration! 😉

    I’d also add An American Tragedy, by Theodore Drieser, and Portnoy’s Complaint, by Philip Roth.


    • Rachel November 20, 2009 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks for the additions. I actually had both of those books on the list at one point, but pulled them since it felt like it was getting too long and there were other more popular books by both authors already there. But clearly length of the list is no longer a factor so I’m adding them back in. Glad you like the list 🙂

      • Greg Z November 20, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

        Oh man, Portnoy’s Complaint is great! It’s like the literary version of the movie American Pie. Roth has sick, dirty mind!

        • Rachel November 20, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

          Even better!

  3. Book Calendar November 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Try some historical and philosophical classics, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, The Enchiridion by Epictetus, The History of the Pelopponesian War by Thucydides, and Antigone by Sophocles.

    A few classics are I Claudius by Robert Graves, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky

    • Rachel November 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

      I tried to limit the list to fiction, which is why there’s only one or two plays and no poetry or philosophy. I’ve got On The Road and The Brothers Karamazov on the list already and S&S by Austen is one of my favs so no need to put it on the list. I’ll add I Claudius though. Thanks!

  4. kris daniel November 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    Your site was recommended by Misfit Salon. I’m reading all Random House top 100 novels and have a blog about my progress. Many of books on your list are on the Random House List. From your list I’ve read 23 books, the best out of that 23 being The Grapes of Wrath, Tom and Huck, Lord of The Rings, The Godfather/one of my favs.
    The least fav: Catcher in The Rye/mostly because I don’t j.d. salinger, Lord of The Flies (arghh),The Sun Also Rises, Death of A salesman (too depressing).
    Not on your list: Slaughter House Five (awesome).
    Hope helpful, kris

  5. Sasha November 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    What a list. I don’t even think about what I’d do if faced with that tower of books, haha. AND, here’s to add more, off the top of my head:

    Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
    The Collected Stories of Richard Yates, w/c includes stories from his books Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, and Liars in Love, as well as uncollected stories.

    I’ve fallen in love with this gruff ol’ goat. 🙂

    Good luck! 🙂

  6. Rose City Reader July 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    My goodness! That is quite a list. Because I can’t resist a list, I counted — I’ve read 92 of your original 161, and all six of your additions. Many, many of the others are on my TBR list because I am obsessed with lists. I keep track of many on Rose City Reader. You can find the list of Lists in the right hand column.

    I’m glad I found your blog through the BBAW.

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