A Guide into Classics

This is an archived post. I mean, really, this post is super old. I just thought it could be useful to some people! The original post has been deleted. Enjoy!

So many people in the world are extremely intimidated by classics and for so many different reasons. Classics can be scary due to the difficult vocabulary, their length, the essential meaning, age, or even from when they were forced to read them in high school. Too many great novels are ruined this way but that shouldn’t stop you! Sometimes it’s better to read a novel at an older age. You’re able to focus the novel with extended amount of time to read it and truly understand it’s purpose. That’s why I’m here today to explain a simple guide into reading classic novels. I’m going to start off with some basic guidelines,

  • Don’t let high school assignments ruin you! I know several people who have let reading classics in high school ruin classics for them all together. I’m sure you were forced to read How to Kill a Mockingbird or 1984, right? Shakespeare, as well! Try re-reading any of those novels now and see how you like them, but only if you really enjoyed the writing style and theme. These novels are not as bad as you think they are, especially without having to analyze them and do pages of work on them.

Those high-school classics you were required to read aren’t the only classics in the literary world. There is hundreds of fantastic classics up for grabs, you just have to do your research! I’ll be listing several classic books and authors near the end of this post.

  1. Don’t force yourself to read a book just because it’s a classic. If you’re willing to read a classic, make sure it’s a classic that has a plot and topic that peeks your personal interest. I’ve made the mistake of reading a classic for the sake of it being one, and I dreaded it. Read for your personal interest! I’ll put the main topics after some of the titles I mention below.
  2. Don’t let high vocabulary scare you away, or the language! For example, Shakespeare can be quite confusing to some but there are ways around it! No Fear Shakespeare is a perfect example, you can find them online and in-store. While reading a classic with higher vocabulary than what you usually prefer, look them up! Write these words down and look them up as you go. You won’t regret learning so many new words, trust me.
  3. Make sure you start off short and with something basic. You don’t have to, but it’d be easier to get into and enjoy if you do so. Near the end of this post, I’ll be putting separate lists of the lengths of each novel.
  4. Fear not, you’re allowed to watch the movies first. Many classics have movie adaptations and sometimes, it helps to understand a novel better! They may not be exactly the same or at the highest quality, but it really helped me enjoy reading the novel more. Once again, I’ll make a list of a few I know of.
  5. Surprisingly, sometimes a time era can throw you off. I know I prefer certain time periods when I’m reading books more than others. Find a time era that interests you the most!  

                                              THE CLASSICS

Novels under 300 pages:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – 102 pages
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 238 pages
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 192 pages
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 277 pages
  • Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – 287 pages
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – 266 pages
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – 194 pages
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding  – 182 pages
  • Anthem by Ayn Rand – 105 pages
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – 76 pages
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – 104 pages
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – 118 pages
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – 251 pages
  • 1984 by George Orwell – 298 pages

*These aren’t the only classics I recommend, check these authors*

POPULAR CLASSIC AUTHORS:

  • Charles Dickens
  • Ayn Rand
  • Harper Lee
  • The Bronte Sisters
  • Jane Austen
  • George Orwell
  • Mark Twain
  • H.G. Wells
  • Oscar Wilde
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Sylvia Plath
  • J.D. Salinger
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Ray Bradbury
  • William Golding
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Lewis Carroll
  • Shakespeare (how could I not mention?)
  • John Steinbeck
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Elie Wiesel
  • Homer
  • Shirley Jackson
  • S.E. Hinton

&

SO MANY MORE!

Here are classics listed by genre for those just starting to read them! 

FICTION  

  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Adam Bede by George Eliot
  • The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

 

  • Action/Adventure

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Children’s
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Comedy
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Most Of P.G. Wodehouse by P.G. Wodehouse

Crime/Mystery
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Complete Sherlock Holmes: All 4 Novels & 56 Short Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Fantasy
The Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Iliad & The Odyssey by Homer
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Historical
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Horror/Gothic
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Psychological/Philosophical
The Plague by Albert Camus
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Trial by Franz Kafka
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Romance
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
Emma by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen ~ Forbidden romance
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ~ Forbidden romance
The Professor by Charlotte Bronte
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute

Science Fiction
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ~ A comic novel
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ~ Dystopian
Lord of the Flies by William Golding ~ Dystopian
1984 by George Orwell ~ Dystopian
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand ~ Dystopian
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: WITH The Mysterious Island AND Journey to the Centre of the Earth AND Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Short Stories
Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe

Poetry
The Complete Poems by William Blake
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Complete Poems by Banjo Patterson
Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Plays
The Plays of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
The Complete Works by William Shakespeare
Complete Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde ~ Includes the novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, poems, and essays

NON-FICTION
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell ~ A comic autobiography
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Fall by Albert Camus
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Here are some good links I’ve found online about classics:

 

Feminist Friday ↠ Feminist Classics

As some of you may now, feminism is literature is one of my favorite things. I still often read books on feminism or that have a feminist theme. But, have books always been feminist? Clearly, there’s several feminist classics that exist you might not know about. These books clearly paved the way for so many great feminist authors that are being published today. All the way from 1792 to present, we’ve been given feminist literature and non-fiction. So, without further ado, here’s some of the most essential feminist classics that were so influential for their time.

I put the date they were originally published so you can think about the time in which they were and why they would’ve been written and published. I also want to state that there are so many other feminist classics that didn’t make it on the list. I’m sure I’ll make more lists but as far as I’m concerned, these are some of the most popular ones!

1. A Vindication of the Rights of a Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

469334 “Writing in an age when the call for the rights of man had brought revolution to America and France, Mary Wollstonecraft produced her own declaration of female independence in 1792. Passionate and forthright, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman attacked the prevailing view of docile, decorative femininity, and instead laid out the principles of emancipation: an equal education for girls and boys, an end to prejudice, and for women to become defined by their profession, not their partner. Mary Wollstonecraft’s work was received with a mixture of admiration and outrage – Walpole called her ‘a hyena in petticoats’ – yet it established her as the mother of modern feminism.”

Published: 1792

 

2. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins

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‘The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.’

Written with barely controlled fury after she was confined to her room for ‘nerves’ and forbidden to write, Gilman’s pioneering feminist horror story scandalized nineteenth-century readers with its portrayal of a woman who loses her mind because she has literally nothing to do.”

Published: 1892

 

 

 

 

3. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

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“A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf. First published on the 24th of October, 1929, the essay was based on a series of lectures she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College, two women’s colleges at Cambridge University in October 1928. While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lectures, titled Women and Fiction, and hence the essay, are considered nonfiction. The essay is seen as a feminist text, and is noted in its argument for both a literal and figural space for women writers within a literary tradition dominated by patriarchy.”

Published: 1929

4. The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir

9684227Newly translated and unabridged in English for the first time, Simone de Beauvoir’s masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  This long-awaited new edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as it was back then, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.

Published: 1949

 

 

 

5. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

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“Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire. This 50th–anniversary edition features an afterword by best-selling author Anna Quindlen as well as a new introduction by Gail Collins.”

Published: 1963

 

6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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“We follow Esther Greenwood’s personal life from her summer job in New York with Ladies’ Day magazine, back through her days at New England’s largest school for women, and forward through her attempted suicide, her bad treatment at one asylum and her good treatment at another, to her final re-entry into the world like a used tyre: “patched, retreaded, and approved for the road” … Esther Greenwood’s account of her year in the bell jar is as clear and readable as it is witty and disturbing.”

Published: 1963

 

 

7. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

45864574.jpg “The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.”

Published: 1985