16 Wonderful Literary Classics Worth Reading

Childrens Book Releases 6

I’ve been a literary classics book lover for a long time. It comes down to fantastic teachers that taught books like The Odyssey in approachable and fun ways.  I firmly believe there is a right “classic” for everyone, even if you’ve never loved them in the past.

School reading lists are filled with classic literature books. But if you did not tackle these while you were in school, we still encourage your to read some of these literary classics on this list to see what the fuss is about.

Also, if you are looking to venture into the world of classics, it might make sense to try them out in Audio. There are so many ways to listen to these literary classics and many of these are narrated by celebrity narrators as well.

*Literary Classics Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you

Literary Classics Written by Women

Pride and Prejudice BN

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

We love this classic love story. This love story has everything you could want. Elizabeth Bennet is a smart and stubborn woman who was ahead of her time. With 5 Bennet girls, one of them must marry well to support the other sisters.

There are so many new and wonderful adaptations of this novel, that we did an entire post on it. And you don’t want to miss the other Jane Austen adaptations in the post as well.

Austen is a master of romances and this book is the original enemies-to-lovers novel! It’s my favorite of all the Jane Austen books.

Find this book in Books About Sisters / Enemies-to-Lovers Books / Jane Austen Books in Order / Grumpy Sunshine Books / Classic Romance Novels

The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Chopin’s The Awakening was considered scandalous when it was first published back in the Victorian era. This literary classic involves a woman in a loveless marriage who turns away from her husband to ignite a passionate romance.

little women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I remember reading this coming-of-age novel with my grandmother when I was young. It features a family of four girls who are trying to support each other and their mother while their father is away at war.

The classic story by Alcott has survived for generations for a reason, the way she wonderfully encapsulates what it’s like to be in a family. The highs and lows of the personal and collective lives of Beth, Jo, Amy, and Meg are an endearing testimony to the bonds of sisters.

Find this book in Books for 13-year-olds / Literary Classics / Books about Motherhood

the bell jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Not all books with unreliable narrators are mysteries and thrillers. Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical work shows Esther Greenwood’s mental breakdown. While working as a summer intern in New York City, Esther is sexually assaulted and returns home to recuperate.

With her academic dreams on hold, Esther falls into a deep depression and attempts suicide, eventually sent to a psychiatric hospital to recover. With its deep insights into mental health and gender roles, Plath’s novel is a great classic book to read.

Find this book in Literary Classics / Unreliable Narrator, Books Set in New York

Fantasy Literary Classics

One Hundred Years of Solitude and other Oprah Book Club List Books ranked.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

January 2004 Oprah Book Club Pick

This multi-generational family saga is about the Buendiá family and their hometown, the magical Maconda. It’s a comedy, a tragedy, and it looks at the rise and fall of the town’s founding family.

For the record, I read this book BEFORE Oprah picked it! We spent a semester learning about this family saga in high school. Each person was assigned a symbol to report on throughout the book each week.

Mine was goldfish -part of the symbolism of amnesia and the duality between amnesia and nostalgia. Yep. I still remember the lesson. Maybe the teaching contributed, but this remains one of my favorite books ever.

Find this book in Kirsten’s Favorites / Magical Realism Books / Classic Books

The Odyssey 1

The Odyssey by Homer

There is a reason this boat book is one of my favorite books of all time. I find this classic tale to be so entertaining. This is one of the OG adult fantasy novels.

  It’s a classic for a reason. Odysseus’s struggle to get home to his family is truly epic. Those Greeks sure knew what they were doing.

I’m constantly picking up something new and reading it along with A Thousand Ships and The Lost Sisterhood gave me so much to think about.

Find this book in Literary Classics / Long Books / Boat Books

More Literary Classics

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet is usually covered during the high school years, but if you haven’t learned about this classic book, you need to read it!

Shakespeare’s beloved story is a tragic romance set in Verona, Italy. It’s about the children of two warring families, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet who start meeting in secret away from their parent’s machinations.

Find this book in Books Like Disney Movies / Classic Romance Novels

Sherlock Holmes

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes’ ability to solve each crime is fascinating. His observations are astute and I can never, ever guess who committed the crime.

If you are looking for the best mystery books of all time, Sherlock Holmes cannot be missed. This complete collection has all the short stories and the 4 Holmes novels.

Why I Love It: I am a HUGE detective story lover and no one does detective stories better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These books have inspired countless adaptations and retellings since their initial publication.

Find this book in Sherlock Holmes Books / Literary Classics / Best Mystery Books / British Mysteries / Short Stories

The scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

If you didn’t read this book in high school, you should consider reading it now! Set in Puritan Massachusetts, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, a woman condemned to wear the letter A for the rest of her life after giving birth to a bastard child.

When her husband who is presumed dead finds out about the baby, he takes up a new name and vows to find the unknown father. As her daughter, Pearl, grows, we learn of the impact Hester’s shunning has on her life as well.

Find this book in Classic Novels to Read / Books With a Color in the Title

The Great Gatsby and more books for Downton Abbey Fans

Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Are you a fan of Rose’s storyline from Downton Abbey? Well, our swinging-dancing, jazz-loving, rebellious debutante would be perfectly happy inside Fitzgerald’s famed novel.

The book might take place in America, but the same ideas of the class divide and resistance to change in the most opulent of settings could be felt in England too.

Daisy and Gatsby’s story still seems so relevant today too. This tragic love story is a classic for a reason.

Find this book in Books set in New York / Classic Books / 1920s Novels

Epic Literary Classics

the count of Monte Cristo 1

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

The first time I read this book was actually before I saw the movie Shawshank Redemption. I read it a bunch of times and loved it.  I did not realize, however, that it was an abridged version.

When I was at University, I embarked on a journey to read the unabridged version of this book.  I was so amazed at the brilliance and detail that it has been a favorite ever since.

Edmund Dantès is thrown into the Chateau D’if for a crime that he did not commit. There, he meets a fellow prisoner who teaches him within the confines of their cells before telling him of a treasure. Dantès escapes and seeks his revenge.

Find this book in Jackie’s Favorites / Must-read Classic Books / Boat Books

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The only Charles Dickens book I’ve ever read and was recently nominated for PBS’s Great American Read.

The story features orphan Pip who comes into an unexpected fortune. His life is changed forever when he becomes a man of leisure and meets beautiful but aloof Estella. It’s a great tale that could just as easily have been set in modern-day London.

brothers karakazov

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I read this MASSIVE text for fun when I was a sophomore in college. It took me an entire semester but it was worth it. Dostoevsky’s classic features a mystery, multiple love triangles, and well, brother relationships. It’s a SUPER complex book but it’s seriously worth it.

For more books like these, check out our list of 58 of the Best Long Books over 500 Pages

Literary Classics for Kids

Anne of green Gables by LM Mongtogery and more great Canadian Novels by Canadian Authors

Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomeryir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=5c9b77d29546960eec62ffcf6e66c0aa& cb=1590237272404

My mother was the first person to read this middle grade book to me and I was immediately drawn to Anne. She was smart, precocious, and had a way of making everyone love her while simultaneously finding new ways to get into trouble. 

Anne is an orphan who is sent to live with siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who wanted a male orphan to help them on the farm. Anne was sent to them instead. She is bright and loquacious and wins their hearts.

Something is comforting about this cozy book that makes me read it repeatedly. This is a beautiful book about friendship and found family. I am not sure if it is more popular in Canada but, one day I hope to visit Prince Edward Island. This is one of my (Jackie) all-time favorite books.

Find this book in Coming-of-Age Books / Friendship Books / Realistic Fiction / Books with Green in the Title

Alice in wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s Alice is as trippy as the Disney version leads you to believe. His imagination was fascinating and the story details are so wonderful.  (Narrated by Scarlett Johansson.)

treasure Island

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This swashbuckling tale of piracy and treasure is perfect for children and adults alike. Long John Silver is quite a scary villain, whose legacy lives on in Halloween costumes everywhere.

One-legged, parrot-wearing, map-loving pirates everywhere can thank Robert Louis Stevenson for the inspiration. Why not read this one to your little buccaneer at bedtime?

Peter Pan

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan is one of Kirsten’s favorite childhood stories. The magical world of Neverland with it’s pirates, mermaids, and natives is so engrossing.

The story of Peter Pan and his adventures with the Darling children have inspired countless spin-off books, movies, and theatrical productions for a reason. It’s a must-read classic children’s book for everyone.

Find this book in Pirate Books / Classic Kids Books / Cozy Books / Tween Fantasy Books

Amazon's Audible services has been recording famous classics with celebrity narrators like Scarlett Johanssen, Dan Stevens, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams and more!
Don't be intimidated by books that are centuries old. These engrossing classics stand the test of time for a reason.
12 Incredible Literary Classics Worth Reading including, Dickens, Holmes, Austen, Homer and more.

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  1. Wow, there’s only three on this list that I haven’t read! And, yes, they are totally worth reading if you’re a bookworm. Classics are classic for a reason.