Classical books to me should be able to withstand the test time, they are memorable, complex characters and give you a clear picture of the time they were written. The greatest classic books from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Toni Morrison, Louisa M. Alcott and Alice Walker to name but a few. Here are some amazing classical books you should read.
You should also read amazing books by black authors we can’t get enough of.
By Louisa May Alcott
Little Women was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. It follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy— from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.
Although Little Women was a novel for girls, it differed notably from the current writings for children, especially girls. The book was an immediate commercial and critical success and has since been adapted for cinema, TV, Broadway and even the opera.
To Kill A Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize for addressing the issues of race, inequality, and segregation. This classic book tells the story of Atticus Finch to fights racial segregation in the Deep South after a black man is falsely accused of raping a white girl.
This is a coming-of-age story, a historical drama on the Great Depression, and a sublime example of the South writing tradition.
The Scarlet Letter
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet letter was published in 1850 based on the Puritan society.
In the mid-seventeenth century, Hester Prynne silently and diligently accepts to be led through prison doors to her public shaming. She holds her illegitimate child to her breast with an embroidered bodice bearing the scarlet letter ‘’A’’. Hester now struggles to create a new life for her and her child within the censorious community.
Hester’s husband is assumer dead but her relationship with the father of her child is considered illicit. Within the community, her crime is her unwillingness to disclose the identity of her lover.
When her missing spouse reappears, reveals himself to her, and takes up residence in town under an assumed identity, Hester, her daughter, her disguised husband, and her clandestine lover are forced to abide in close quarters—leading quiet, anguished lives. But the secrets eat away at their keepers, and only the most resolute of this forsaken foursome will thrive.
Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic novel of manners and mores in early-nineteenth-century England.
As the Bennets prepare their five grown daughters to enter into society, each shows personality traits that illuminate their future prospects as wives. Jane, the oldest, is the most demure and traditional, and Lydia, the youngest, the most headstrong and impulsive.
Attention centers on haughty second-born Elizabeth, and her blossoming relationship with the dashing but aloof Fitzwilliam Darcy. Adversaries at first in the endless rounds of balls, parties, and social gatherings, they soon develop a grudging respect for one another that blossoms into romance when each comes to appreciate the tender feelings that course beneath the veneer of their propriety and reserve.
The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby classic is the story of a mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby. It talks of his love for Daisy Buchanan in the 1920s in America.
Crowded with characters, both human and non-human, and bursting with action, The Odyssey details the adventures of Odysseus, king of Ithaca and hero of the Trojan War, as he struggles to return to his home and his waiting, ever-faithful wife, Penelope.
Along the way he encounters the seductive Circe, who changes men into swine; the gorgeous water-nymph, Calypso, who keeps him a “prisoner of love” for seven years; the terrible, one-eyed, man-eating giant Cyclops; and a host of other ogres, wizards, sirens, and gods.
But when he finally reaches Ithaca after ten years of travel, his trials have only begun. There he must battle the scheming noblemen who, thinking him dead, have demanded that Penelope choose one of them to be her new husband—and Ithaca’s new king.
The Catcher in the Rye
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield.
Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.
The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all.
Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
By Toni Morrison
Sethe was born a slave then escaped to Ohio 18 years later but still wasn’t free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened.
Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
The Color Purple
By Alice Walker
The Color Purple is a classic that depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence.
Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience.
The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.
By Bram Stoker’s
During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents.
Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth.
Harker then returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.
The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire. Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.
The Invisible Man
By Ralph Ellison
The book’s nameless narrator describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, before retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
Of Mice and Men
By John Steinbeck
They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.
Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own.
When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.
The Tale of Genji
By Murasaki Shikibu
Genji, the Shining Prince, is the son of an emperor. He is a passionate character whose tempestuous nature, family circumstances, love affairs, alliances, and shifting political fortunes form the core of this magnificent epic.