It’s a scientific fact that there is no better way to spend your time than reading.
But walk into your local book store and it’s completely overwhelming. There is far too much choice. Sometimes, we just need someone to hand us a pile of 10 books and say ‘these are the classics you have to read before you die’ without any choice involved.
There will be times when someone will reference George Orwell’s 1984 or To Kill a Mockingbird and it’s just easier for everyone involved if you’ve actually read it.
Their themes transcend time and place, and explore a universal human truth. Do yourself a favour, and get reading:
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is one of the most widely read Victorian novels and begins with a young woman who has come from nothing. She finds work in a mansion as a governess and falls in love with the dark and mysterious Mr. Rochester. But the mansion holds an unimaginable secret. Naturally…
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is set in The Great Depression and deals with social justice issues like rape and racial equality in the United States. Atticus Finch is a morally virtuous lawyer, who has two children, Jem and Scout – who is the story’s narrator. There are rumours about a local boy, Boo Radley, and the story begins to unravel.
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina is set upon the backdrop of late 19th Century Russia and is a tragic story of a married aristocrat and her affair with Count Vronsky. The novel has been adapted into multiple plays, and more recently a film starring Keira Knightley.
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Alcott's novel was the first of its kind, following the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March, charting their lives from childhood to womanhood. It is semi-autobiographical, also exploring the complexities of the American Civil War. The women deal with financial struggles, family tragedies, and romantic rivalries.
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1984, George Orwell
Orwell's 1984 is set in a dystopian future, with a tyranny overseen by Big Brother, the Party leader. 'Doublethink' and 'thoughtcrime', along with the very concept of an all-seeing 'Big Brother' are all concepts introduced by Orwell in 1984.
The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolfe
The novel begins with Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and their eight children, along with a number of other guests, staying at the family's holiday house just before the start of World War I. The youngest child, James Ramsay, becomes intrigued by the Lighthouse across the bay, but his father won't let him visit. His resentment underpins the rest of the novel.
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Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights is a story of the intense and deeply unsettling love between Catherine Earnshaw and her adopted brother, Heathcliff. After being bullied, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights thinking his love for Catherine isn't reciprocated. But when he returns, he plots a terrible revenge.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is set in AD 2540, and anticipates a number of technological advances, from reproductive developments, psychological manipulation, and conditioning. It commonly features in lists of the best novels ever written.
Picnic at Hanging Rock, Joan Lindsay
Set in Australia in the early 1900s, Miranda attends an all girls boarding school. One day, the headmistress treats the girls to a picnic, and the girls wander off. They disappear, along with a teacher, without a trace.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is one of the most popular books in English literature. The novel explores the emotional development of, Elizabeth Bennet, whose parents desperately want her to marry.
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