Read Classic Books – Bucket List – If you love reading books, then you probably already know that there are thousands upon thousands of classic novels out there. Some of these books are classics because they were written hundreds of years ago, while others are classics simply because they are timeless works of literature.
Whether you want to read a book because you think it’s an amazing story or because you’re looking for inspiration, here are 25 of the best classic novels that you should definitely add to your bucket list.
– 28 of the Best Must-Read Novels:
28. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
This classic novel chronicles the escapades of a young man and his best friend, Huckleberry Finn. Tom Sawyer’s pranks and mischief take a dramatic turn when he witnesses a murder. He is forced into hiding with Huck Finn in order to avoid being arrested himself. This classic novel has been adapted into several movies including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, “Huck Finn” and “Tom Sawyer”.
27. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Originally called Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, this novel is about the inner struggles of a woman caused by social norms, moral obligations, and personal desires. It describes how from a young age she was able to withstand the hardships she experienced after losing her parents and how she grew to be a good woman with a straight moral compass. Jane Eyre rose above social standards, choosing not to get married just because society dictates. She was independent and self-reliant. She did marry in the end, though, but only for love.
26. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Emily Bronte is considered one of England’s greatest writers and her novel “Wuthering Heights” has been called everything from genius to a Gothic masterpiece! This dark tale follows Heathcliff as he grows up in Yorkshire with his beloved Cathy after their parents die when they are children. The two fall deeply in love but eventually become estranged due to Cathy’s family marrying into another branch of society. When she dies at age 18, Heathcliff becomes obsessed with revenge against those who killed her.
25. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald is one of those authors who was ahead of his time and wrote about themes such as classism in America that still resonate today. His novel “The Great Gatsby” has been compared to Shakespearean tragedy due to its dark plotline which follows the downfall of Jay Gatsby – a man whose dream life starts coming apart at the seams when he meets Daisy Buchanan. It’s hard not to compare her to another iconic character from American history, so we suggest you go into this with eyes wide open!
24. A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens is considered to be among the greatest English writers of all time; this epic historical fiction set during the French Revolution makes us wonder what would have happened if things had gone differently? This tale of romance and revolution will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
23. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy is known for writing some of the most famous Russian novels including “War And Peace” and “Anna Karenina”, but even before he became well-known across the world, he was already being praised for his talent. In 1873, he published his first novel called “A Squire’s Morning”. Although it wasn’t widely accepted back then, many now consider it to be a masterpiece.
22. Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley brought us our first modern vampire novel with her classic gothic horror novella titled ‘Frankenstein’. Published just over 200 years ago, ‘Frankenstein’ went on to become one of the biggest selling literary works ever printed.
21. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson once said himself that he wished someone else had written his stories since he often felt like he lacked creativity. Luckily for him, he found that person in Henry Kiddle, whom he used as both ghostwriter and sounding board throughout the process of creating their collaborative work ‘Kidnapped’, based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel of the same name.
20. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is regarded as one of the finest prose stylists of all time, having created characters that feel realistic yet retain a sense of magic and fantasy. Her debut novel ‘Pride & Prejudice’ features Elizabeth Bennet who finds herself completely captivated by Mr. Darcy despite his aloof behavior.
19. Crime And Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and punishment seem to follow each other through literature as they do in real life — something that author Fyodor Dostoyevsky explored in his own unique way. He doesn’t simply tell readers whether Raskolnikov gets away with murder, but rather shows how people can struggle between good and evil via the main character’s personal journey.
18. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Dickens may be best known for making children laugh out loud while reading books like ‘Oliver Twist’ or ‘Great Expectations’, but he could also take serious topics around Victorian England and write them with equal parts poignancy and pathos. His book ‘David Copperfield’ follows 11-year old David Lammle as he grows up under the watchful eye of his cruel stepfather.
17. A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
This story about the French Revolution has been interpreted and reinterpreted so many times that there are more versions of the novel than there are pages in an actual copy of ‘A Tale Of Two Cities.’ That means that every performance of the novel varies from play to musical comedy to opera. But however different its medium, the novel itself remains unchanged.
16. The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to writers, though he does tend to have quite a few fans. Still, this writer loved experimenting with various genres such as Gothic, historical fiction, and romance to create his memorable characters and storylines. One of his most popular creations is Edmond Dantès, otherwise, known as the Count Of Monte Cristo whose story was made into a movie starring James Caviezel.
15. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy took Russian history and art and turned them into what would end up being some of the world’s greatest novels – things you probably learned back in school, didn’t you? Well, if not don’t worry because these two classics will make sure you understand everything from Pushkin and Beethoven to Lenin and Stalin!
14. Great ExpectationsbyCharles Dickens
Another English classic on our list, “The Old Curiosity Shop” followed by “Our Mutual Friend”, might lead you to believe that Dickens only wrote loveable scamps…but great expectations awaits even among those dastardly villains including Jaggers and Miss Havisham. Pip certainly learns plenty along the way.
13. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson is considered by many to be Scotland’s answer to Jane Austin. Known for writing some of the original Tarzan stories, Stevenson uses both suspense and drama to craft rich narratives filled with heartache, action, and adventure. This novel “Kidnapped” centers on 15-year-old Alan Breck Stewart and his adventures after he joins Scottish rebels against his father’s wishes.
12. Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson
If you think we’re going easy on Mr. Stevenson then you’ll want to head straight for the charts where you should start with one of his earliest works – ‘Treasure Island’. There were several film adaptations throughout Hollywood’s golden age which included movies directed by John Huston, Guy Hamilton, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott.
11. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
One of Dickens’s most famous works, Oliver Twist tells the tale of young orphan Oliver who gets caught between the brutal Fagin and Bill Sikes. It takes place in 19th century London during the Industrial revolution. Heavily influenced by Dante’s Inferno, the book explores issues like poverty, social class, and justice through allegory.
10. A Tale Of Two Cities By Charles Dickens
Dickens wasn’t just known for creating timeless children’s tales but also for crafting brilliant literary masterpieces. His work can be seen all around us especially since they’ve inspired films, TV shows, and video games. From Bleak House to Little Dorrit, A Christmas Carol to David Copperfield, A Tale Of Two Cities is home to some of literature’s best heroes and heroines including Sydney Carton, Lucie Manette, and Valjean.
9. The Picture Of Dorian GrayBy Oscar Wilde
Wilde may be more well known now for plays than books but there are numerous titles available today benefiting from the author’s dark wit and charm. Besides ‘Dorian Gray’, other notable works include ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ and ‘A Woman Of No Importance.’ All three of these novels follow people battling personal demons while dealing with society at large.
8.” David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
This was written a long time ago but it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. I’m pretty sure everyone has read this beautiful story about an orphaned boy named David living with kindhearted nuns and growing up under their wing — learning valuable life lessons such as honesty, loyalty, compassion, hard work, perseverance, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, humility, courage, friendship, family values, selflessness, etc. Not only does Dickens write beautifully here; he paints pictures with words using language that evokes images and feelings within readers without fail.
7. To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee
Lee won her second Pulitzer Prize when she wrote this novel based upon Atticus Finch, a lawyer in Maycomb County, Alabama during the 1930s. Published in 1960, “To Kill A Mockingbird” became a classic example of how fiction could evoke real emotions in its audience. In fact, it remains popular even today despite being first published nearly 50 years ago.
6. Anna Karenina By Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy brought us so many classics before him but perhaps none better than his 1873 masterpiece, “Anna Karenina”. This tragic love story follows doomed heroine Anna whose husband leaves her for another woman. Her downfall comes after she travels far away from St Petersburg to visit her lover Vronsky. Although she tries to find happiness with others, nothing compares to what she had with Count Alexei.
5. Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley received no formal education nor did she know English or Latin beyond the few phrases necessary for day-to-day conversation. Despite not having any form of traditional schooling, she managed to become one of history’s greatest writers on the strength of her imagination alone. She was born in 1797, six months after the publication of William Godwin’s seminal science fiction text, “Frankenstein”, which served as both inspiration and encouragement to her writing career.
4. Great Expectations By Charles Dickens
Dickens is famous for his ability to describe the details of Victorian London like no other writer of his era, thanks to his apprenticeship working for publisher John Blackwood between 1837 and 1838. During this period, Dickens made use of Blackwood’s collection of antique prints, engravings, maps, and illustrations to enrich his stories and give them added depth. The result? One of literature’s most enduring characters – Pip, becomes a man through hardship and learns the value of hope and charity along the way.
3. Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson dedicated his entire adult life to literature. He began writing poetry and short stories at age 15 yet eventually turned to full-blown novels including “Treasure Island”, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde”, and “Kidnapped”. His literary output earned him numerous awards and honors including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
2. Oliver Twist By Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is regarded by critics as one of the finest pieces of prose ever produced. Set in 19th century England, it tells the story of Oliver, a young boy who lives in abject poverty where adults have power over children. Forced into service/crime against his will, Oliver finds himself pursued by Bill Sikes, a police officer determined to arrest him for theft. As he flees across town, however, Oliver encounters Fagin, an infamous criminal without whom he would never be found. It is only then that Oliver discovers there are good people among thieves too—and that some criminals may just be kinder than those who do right.
1. Crime And Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky won the Russian Academy Award when its first part appeared in the serialized format during 1862–1864. In fact, this novel can be considered the founding work of 20th-century Realism, since it introduced themes such as double consciousness and recognition scenes. Also known simply as Raskolnikov, the book’s central character often stands out even amongst fellow narrators.
Top 10 Most Influential Authors Of All Time
10. Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault (; born 1926) was a French philosopher, historian, literary critic, political theorist, and social scientist who has been called “the most influential intellectual in modern Western culture”. He is widely regarded as one of the founders of postmodernism.
9. Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, naturalist, transcendentalist, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and tax resister. He lived in Concord, Massachusetts, for most of his life.
Confucius (Chinese: Kongzi; pinyin: Kǒngzǐ) was an ancient Chinese philosopher, teacher, politician, writer, and legalist who lived in China during the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). He is considered the founder of the Confucian school of thought.
7. Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu was a Chinese military strategist who lived in the 5th century BC. He wrote The Art of War, considered one of the most influential books on strategy ever written.
6. Albert Camus
Albert Camus was born on January 7, 1913, in Algeria. He died on January 4, 1960, in France. He was a French writer, philosopher, and journalist. His most famous works include The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), The Fall (1956), and The Myth of Sisyphus (1942).
5. Lev Tolstoi
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Николай Иванович Толсто́ц; 15 October 1828 – 7 November 1910) was a Russian novelist, dramatist, short story writer, essayist, historian, philosopher, and Christian moralist. He is widely considered to be Russia’s greatest novelist.
4. Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (German: [ˈfʁɪðrəˌwilhelmiːs ˈvɑːn sʃeːlɪŋ]; born 4 May 1804 – died 30 April 1854) was a German philosopher who became famous for his philosophy of nature and his critique of traditional metaphysics. He is considered one of the most influential philosophers in modern times.
3. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 2, 1803 – May 27, 1882) was an American writer, lecturer, poet, and philosopher. He is considered one of the foremost figures in 19th century Transcendentalism.
2. Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad was an English novelist who wrote in many genres including historical fiction, adventure stories, and short stories. He is best known for his novella Heart of Darkness (1899) and its film adaptation Apocalypse Now (1979).
1. James Joyce
James Joyce (1882–1941) was an Irish novelist, playwright, poet, literary critic, and art theorist. He is widely regarded as one of the most important writers in modernist literature.
All in all, it’s hard not to conclude that there are few better ways to spend your time than reading great novels! So what do you think? Which classic should we add to our list?