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
/ 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.
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.
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?