There’s something about cold weather that makes retreating to a cozy nook in your home with a good book and a cup of tea so appealing. While there will always be fresh books topping your to-read list, certain classic novels will always satisfy. You can feel the history in the pages you hold, full of literary firsts and once-controversial topics.
Whether you’ve read them before and are in for round two (or three or four) or you skimmed them in high school, all these classic books to read are worthy of a place on your bookshelf. Challenge yourself by reading the book that’s considered the first modern novel, Don Quixote, fall in love with Elizabeth Bennet’s whit in Pride and Prejudice, catch a glimpse of early feminist thinking in The Awakening, and understand the precursor of your current Hulu addition by sitting down with a hard copy of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Get comfy—here are 50 classic books to read.
Love and Relationships
Learn about the complexities of love and human relationships from the greats. Choose Jane Austen for a little romance, or opt for family drama and the experimental style of William Faulkner.
1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813)
2. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë (1847)
3. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
4. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (1869)
5. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (1877)
6. The Awakening, Kate Chopin (1899)
7. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
8. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
9. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf (1927)
10. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1929)
If you’re in the mood for an adventure, pick up a copy of one of these classics. Read about harrowing travels and sweet fables from the comfort of your own home.
11. Dox Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1615)
12. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift (1726)
13. Moby-Dick, Herman Melville (1851)
14. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (1884)
15. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
16. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck (1937)
17. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943)
18. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (1954)
19. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)
20. On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957)
War is a common theme among classic literature. Master the art of strategy, or get acquainted with how war affects the people who survive it by reading one of the following books.
21. The Art of War, Sun Tzu (5th century BC)
22. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy (1867)
23. Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger (1920)
24. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway (1929)
25. Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves (1929)
26. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo (1939)
27. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (1957)
28. Catch-22, Joseph Heller (1961)
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
30. The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara (1974)
The best authors use their writing to shine a light on the issues that matter. Gain a different perspective on some of the problems society still faces today by reading one of these classic novels that tackle topics like social class disparity, race relations, and mental health.
31. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (1838)
32. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (1890)
33. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
34. How It Feels to Be Colored Me, Zora Neale Hurston (1928)
35. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith (1943)
36. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)
37. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison (1952)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1960)
39. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1963)
40. The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1982)
Science Fiction and Dystopia
Within the pages of these books, you’ll enter a new world. Allow yourself a fantastical escape with these classic science fiction and dystopian novels.
41. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
42. The Time Machine, H.G. Wells (1895)
43. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
44. Dracula, Bram Stoker (1897)
45. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1932)
46. 1984, George Orwell (1949)
47. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1953)
48. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1957)
49. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)
50. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
Is this list missing any of your favorite classic books to read? Share yours in the comments below.