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Ten Books You Must Read

The list of classic books is vast, which is your favourite?

By Sam H ArnoldPublished 8 months ago 6 min read

What is your favourite classic novel? Do others agree with these choices, or are you a lone bookworm?

My favourite novel is amongst those on this list from Harper's Bazaar. That is not to say that there are not many of my favourite books here.

With so many novels to enjoy, some would agree that it is challenging to develop a definitive list. That keeps us bookworms interested: the chance to debate our favourites amongst each other.

As we study literature during the ages, we see that some novels are more important than others. Many argue that the gold age of literature has been replaced by Christian Grey and vampires that sparkle in the light.

Whether it was their mix of excellent prose, thought-provoking stories, the history they teach us or the fact they pushed the boundaries of publishing in their time, I believe there is nothing better than sitting down with a classic book.

Some are not easy to read, but should all reading be easy? Some of the best dishes you taste take hours to make. Literature should be like this, too. This is a list of books that I would advise everyone to read at least once in their lifetime.

To Kill a Mockingbird

My eldest daughter is named Harper, so I think it is a fair assumption this is one of my favourite books. It holds the place of my favourite book of all time.

Harper Lee's classic had such a profound effect on me when I first read it. I like the mixture of characters I could relate to, 1930s history and story, which should make us all think. It is also a brilliant book to read repeatedly; it always gives you something new.

It is primarily considered one of the central texts on racism in America. It is also considered one of the greatest books of the twentieth century.

The Great Gatsby

One summer, I spent a few days in the world of Gatsby. I can't remember enjoying the book, but the story has stuck with me.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's book looks at the Roaring Twenties and the death of the American dream. When published, it received okay reviews but was not considered a success. Posthumously, it became popular as it was freely given to WWII troops.

Considered to be Fitzgerald's finest work, it is a book that I am not eager to get to a reread of; it simply wasn't for me.

Wuthering Heights

I have no idea why or when I read this book. What I do remember, though, is that I loved it.

Emily Bronte's book is primarily considered a gothic romance. Written in 1847, it was Bronte's reaction to romantic fiction. The book is darker and more complicated than any traditional romance that came before it. The book spans two generations and is a real page-turner.

Wuthering Heights has appeared on screen several times, but none does this beautiful yet harrowing story justice for me. Time I reread this one.

The Handmaid's Tale

Although I became bored with the television series, the book was never the same. I devoured this book at lightning speed and have since read its sequel.

One of the scariest facts about this classic from Margaret Atwood is that none of it is pure fiction. Atwood herself said that every horror within the story comes from a historical antecedent or a modern point of reference. It is this realism that makes it the classic it is.

The Handmaid's Tale is a classic dystopian with many questioning today how far we are from it becoming a reality.

Things Fall Apart

This is the first on the list which I have not read. Although I have heard it talked about at present, it has escaped my attention.

Chinua Achebe's classic novel is set in a Nigerian village called Umuofia. The story revolves around a proud and respected man named Okonkwo. He's determined to escape the shadow of his father, who is seen as weak and irresponsible. The book delves into the clash between traditional Igbo culture and the arrival of European colonialism. Okonkwo's world starts to crumble as British colonisers disrupt the village's way of life, introducing new beliefs and systems.

This sounds like a powerful and thought-provoking book I am adding to my TBR (to be read) list.

1984

My favourite dystopian novel and one of the first printed. This is a book which has spawned many phrases in today's society.

Big Brother is the main organisation in George Orwell's classic and has not only become part of our everyday life but also a television program. The book depicts the surveillance state and the power of the mass media to manipulate the general public.

Many are quick to state that this book has become our reality today. Whatever your views on that, this book is a page-turner I read every couple of years.

Beloved

This is the second book on the list which I have not read. The synopsis states it is a book that interweaves ideals of motherhood, family, folklore and community with the horrors of history.

Toni Morrison's novel revolves around the life of Sethe, a formerly enslaved African-American who has escaped to Ohio in the years following the Civil War. The story takes place in the 1870s and explores the haunting legacy of slavery and the enduring trauma it left on its victims. Sethe is haunted not just by her past but also by the spirit of her deceased daughter, Beloved, whom she killed to prevent her from being returned to a life of slavery.

This emotionally charged novel sounds like it would be a great read and one I have also added to my TBR.

The Catcher in the Rye

This book was found in Lee Harvey Oswald and Mark Chapman's home. That fact made me pick up this classic and read it.

Many will state that J.D. Salinger wrote a dark book that affected the psyche of the young. Although dark in places, I did not feel this was the case. It is more of a witty coming-of-age story that is as relevant today as it was when it was published.

I enjoyed this book immensely when I read it, but I would not say it was as life-changing and revolutionary as I thought.

Great Expectations

Not my favourite Charles Dickens novel, but certainly one I remember well, having been made to read it as part of my exams.

Great Expectations is considered as many, though, as Dicken's finest novel. The story's strength is in the characters that Dickens introduces us to. Whether it is Pip or the eccentric Miss Haversham, there is someone for everyone to relate to.

Having been made to read this at school, I am looking forward to rereading it next year.

In Cold Blood

As a true crime writer, it will shock many to know I have only just picked this one up.

This is credited as one of the first true crime books. Truman Capote writes an infamous account of the murder of a Kansas family. It is also considered a classic and blockbuster that paved the way for many other writers to experiment with true crime.

I can not wait to devour this book this month. Fun fact: some may not know. Capote and Harper Lee were friends, and many considered she based her character Dill on him.

Which is Your Favourite?

Three books I think are missing from this list are Dracula by Bram Stoker, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Macbeth by Shakespeare. All three pushed the boundaries of literature and were unique in their time.

Any of Dickens or Shakespeare could be on this list, but these two have a special place in my heart. Macbeth is a text I teach every year to my class, and once they get past the language, they generally enjoy it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, these lists are very subjective, but we bookworms love a book discussion, so what do you think? Which books would you add to this list, or is it perfect? I would be interested in your views below. Also, if you have read either of the books I have not read yet, would you recommend them?

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About the Creator

Sam H Arnold

A writer obsessed with true crime, history and books. Find all my dedicated newsletters whether you are a true crime fan, bookworm or aspiring writer on Substack - https://substack.com/@samharnold

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