Now has never been more of a better time to add these must-read classic books to your reading list!
There’s no denying, we can all admit that there’s a lengthy list of books we’ve always meant to, but never quite got around to reading. But, like with all things, now has never been more of a better time to finally pick up and read through the best classic books of all time. Whether you’re commuting, lounging around on the sofa, heading to a park or you have a few hours at a local beach, a book is the perfect accompaniment to your day.
Of course, with plenty of books to read, we thought we’d narrow down the best of the best. So, what better than a list of the top classic novels that everyone should read at least once in your lifetime.
So expand your literary knowledge with this must-read guide to the 10 best classic books to read now:
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
If you love a detective story, you have to explore where they all began. And what better way than with Chandler’s novel-noir, The Big Sleep. Following the discoveries of private investigator Phillip Marlowe, it’s the archetype of a detective mystery. We’re talking stakeouts, chloroform, trench coats, illegal gambling and blackmail. Set in 1930s Los Angeles, in The Big Sleep you’ll be transported into a world of dark crimes and old-fashioned detective work. The plot is fast-paced and twisting and is bound to have you gripped as you speed through this classic novel.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
If you’re a fan of dystopian dramas like Black Mirror or The Handmaid’s Tale (another iconic book you could add to this list), then Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is the classic novel for you. Published by the British writer in 1932, Huxley was well beyond his time when he envisioned a future global state which featured genetic engineering, reproductive technology and the prioritisation of leisure above all else. It raises some of the deep questions about humans and their purpose, with the ultimate question left to you – utopia or dystopia? Read it and decide.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Not just an option for those who enjoy novels of an ominous nature, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a must-read for anyone. Most people know the tale of the crazed scientist who creates a man out of body parts, and many can also tell you that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist and not the monster. However, there’s way more to the story than even that. Delve into this novel which was written by one of literature’s most influential female writers and get to know the real story of one of the world’s most famous monsters.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens is known as one of the most acclaimed authors of the 19th century, but that doesn’t mean he’s always the easiest read. His weighty and intricate text is as Victorian as it comes, and it doesn’t always suit modern reading. However, he’s been so influential, that we do think tackling Dickens should be a must on everyone’s list. For this, we recommend Great Expectations, whose mysterious and thrilling plot is filled with colourful characters such as the jilted lover Miss Havisham who will help sweep you through the hefty text and grip you into this coming-of-age tale.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you haven’t seen the 2013 Leonardo DiCaprio adaptation yet, make sure to read this novel first. On the smaller side, you’ll zoom through this tragic yet romantic tale of the mysterious Mr. Gatsby who has an enigmatic past and loves lavish parties. When he encounters newlyweds Tom and Daisy through his neighbour, not everything is quite as it seems and it quickly begins to unravel. A combination of human drama, poignant one-liners and thrilling mystery, this is one classic book you must add to your book bucket list!
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Do you love romance? How about drama? Or a touch of mystery? Then look no further than Jane Eyre, an offering from one of 19th century England’s most prolific writing families. It explores the story of an orphaned girl who becomes the governess to a wealthy man’s ward. It follows all the plot twists you can imagine, from secret wives to family reunions, all while sweeping you up into one of our favourite love stories of all time. If that doesn’t quite sound action-packed enough for you, we can add in supernatural mysteries and ancient family grudges.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This 18th century novel by Jane Austen might seem imposing at first, but it shouldn’t be left to the likes of Keira Knightley to bring it to life. It really is the original rom-com. Despite being 300 years old, Pride and Prejudice is filled with relatable, modern humour, whether you’ve suffered social embarrassment at the hands of your siblings, or have that snobby colleague who worships their boss (yes, we’re looking at you Mr. Collins). Plus, if you’re after a bit of a love story, can you get it more iconic than the ultimate it-boy, Mr. Darcy?
The Private Memoir and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
If you’re a fan of horror movies, the supernatural or the gothic, then you have to read the novel which started them all. Published in 1824, this novel by Scottish writer James Hogg has often been overlooked due to the apparently uneducated background of its author, but the influence it had on other writers is clear. Inspiring later works including Jekyll and Hyde and the Picture of Dorian Gray, it follows the figure of Robert Wringham whose dark dealings and brutal behaviour haunts the misty moors and gloomy cities of Scotland. Plus, it’s also viewed as the origin of crime fiction, and has modern fascination with the role of religious fanaticism.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This 1938 novel is a suspenseful thriller which will leave goosebumps all down your spine. When a young woman spontaneously marries an older wealthier man after a whirlwind romance, she joins him in his English mansion only to discover that nothing is as simple as it appears. Haunted by a figure of the past, this classic novel is as threatening as it is enchanting and is a must-read for anyone with an intrigue for dark drama.
1984 by George Orwell
Its not just the inspiration behind naming a CCTV-based reality TV show Big Brother, but it’s a classic you should read at least once in your life. Written in the first half of the 20th century, 1984 explores a society in which a totalitarian government and mass surveillance led to a culture of thought and behaviour control. In a world where the ‘Thought Police’ ensure you don’t put a toe out of line, 1984 tells the tale of an average man who dreams of rebellion. A classic book that was, in our opinion, way ahead of its time; if you’re worried about the idea of fake news or leaders who try to manipulate reality or truth, then you have to read this classic book.
Support local literary talents with this list of the Top 10 Australian Book Authors for 2024. Prefer the big screen? Stream your way through this list of the 15 Best Golden Age Hollywood Classic Movies of All Time.