5 Classic Books I Need to Read

I ‘ll prefix this post by saying that, of course, no one needs to specifically read any book (unless, say, they are on your uni course reading list) but this is more about books I feel I would like to read and not sure why I haven’t yet. I’m working on the assumption that they are hailed as classics for good reason…

You know those books that everyone pretends they have read? Or – for me – when you say you write a book blog, people might reference a few classics that they assume you’ve read, ask my opinion on Sense and Sensibility, for example (spoiler: haven’t read it) and then the awkward conversation ensues… hence why I’m starting this list.

5 Classic Books I Need to Read

retro book covers Madame Bovary The Scarlet Letter The Woman in White

/ The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

First published 1850 / 272 pages. Set in puritanical Massachusetts, its plot explores different forms guilt and punishment for both men and women and centres around Hester Prynne, who gives birth to a daughter but is unmarried at the time and is persecuted for it.

/ Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

First published 1856 / 368 pages. Banned in 1857 on the grounds of obscenity and overt sexuality, Madame Bovary is a classic of the controversial banned books category that follows the life of the eponymous lead character, who does what she can to survive in 19th century France.

/ The Woman in White by Wilke Collins

First published 1859 / 672 pages. If there’s one thing my recent foray into modern Gothic fiction has taught me, it is that pretty much every character in these books has read or is reading The Woman in White. In a sort of nod to the big don of the Gothic genre. So it’s essential I read this book and see its greatness for myself.

Tess of the D'Ubervilles Strangers on a Train
book covers

/ Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy

First published 1891 / 384 pages. Hailed as a favourite by a few of my friends, so I really want to see why they love it so much. This is an epic family tale centring around 16-year old country girl Tess and the dramatic twists her life takes.

/ Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

First published 1950 / 272 pages. It’s the Agatha Christie comparisons that draw me to Patricia Highsmith. She wrote clever psychological crime thrillers and Strangers on a Train is considered a masterpiece in brilliant, complex characters.

Have you read these choices?

Also, looking through this BBC list of 100 books to read before you die, I can see there are a lot more than 5 I want to read! (Side note about the list: I’m not sure it’s very fair or accurate having ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ as one book on there…) I’m going to aim to get the above 5 read this year and then crack on with the rest. Taking the slowly but surely approach to reading the classics.

What about you? Any classics on your ‘I-must-read-that-soon’ list?

11 thoughts

  1. Oops, I’ve only read 32 books on that list. ☺️ I always feel a bit bad that I’ve never read anything by Anne Bronte, I love Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre so always thought I should try Anne as well.

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  2. I’ve read three of the five titles you have selected. The Woman in White is a really good story. It is just annoying that there is a chunk of 100-150 pages wherein the text simply recaps what happened in the previous 400 odd pages. It seemed somewhat unnecessary. Marian Holcombe is an interesting character though.
    Read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Strangers on the Train as well, but found the protagonists in each case to be fairly irritating. But that’s just me lol

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  3. I had to read Tess of the d’Urbervilles for school and then at uni so I’ve developed a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. I want to read it again in the future but will probably leave it a few years…

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  4. The Woman in White is one of my all time favorites. I’ve read it twice and just might read it again just because I love it. If you like The Woman in White after you read it, I’ll suggest Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Tess and Madam Bovary are on my list too. This reminds me I have a couple classics reviews I need to write.

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