Well, it isn’t hard to find if you apply the criteria I have described in the last two blogs, here and here. If you do not want to discriminate about what you read, and you subscribe to the idea that mindless “beach-reading” books are the way to go, then you won’t want to read any further.
My top picks
This is hard to do, like trying to choose my favorite child. While each of my children likes to say he or she is my favorite, and I agree with each one in turn, I really don’t have a favorite. But I digress.
Below I have listed what I consider to be my top classic picks, but somehow I am certain I have missed a few. While my librarian son protests that certain classics are missing from this list, either I haven’t read them yet, or I do not like them very much.
And then I have listed other favorites, lighter reads, not necessarily classics but excellent books in their own right. These two lists consist of what I consider must-haves on the bookshelf. Please send me your favorite titles and tell me why you like them. Don’t send me mindless fluff!
These are in no particular order. Dim the lights; here we go.
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (and I love many of her other books as well)
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Beowulf, an anonymous work—phenomenal depiction of the hero epic
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (the only Dickens I can recommend)
- Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (not the movie—it’s all wrong)
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
- Paradise Lost by John Milton
- Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (his son, Jeff, has written many more of this same genre, all extremely good)
- Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet by William Shakespeare (to name just a few)
- The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien
- Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Other excellent reads, very enjoyable, almost like dessert.
- The entire Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
- The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley
- Coming Home and September by Rosamund Pilcher (the closest you will see me getting to any kind of modern romance)
- Any of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy Sayers
- Anne of Green Gables novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (warning: disturbing violence)
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Divergent series by Veronica Roth
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- Hammer of God by Bo Giertz
- Imperial Woman and others by Pearl S. Buck
- Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
- Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
- Pillar of Iron and others by Taylor Caldwell
- The Big Fisherman and others by Lloyd C. Douglas
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
- Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- Any Jeff Shaara novel
- The Firm by John Grisham (and most of his earlier novels)
- Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy (and most of his earlier novels–written by Clancy alone)
- Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum
- The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
- Winnie the Pooh books by AA Milne
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Well, not dessert. In fact, don’t eat dessert while reading this.)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anonymous
Some links for excellent books, other readers’ top picks. (These are not my picks; consider the sources before you choose a book from here. Also read my blog about the elements of great literature.)
http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/072098best-novels-list.html (There’s no accounting for good punctuation here; why the NYT does not italicize book titles is beyond me.)
What are your favorite classics? What is missing from my list? Remember my criteria, and remember I reserve the right to shoot down any fluffy books that have the audacity to aim for my classic bookshelf.
3 responses to “A Good Book is Not Hard to Find”
I’m so curious about your comment about Dickens. I loved Bleak House. I read it many years ago and what I remember about it is a powerful story about forgiveness and redemption. I also LOVE Tale of Two Cities. But what keeps you from recommending other Dickens titles?
I find Dickens to be quite tedious. Too many words! That’s all. It was torture reading Great Expectations; I don’t wish that on anyone.
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