Get Into Classics!

Lots of people find classics pretty intimidating, especially if your only experience of them is from studying them to death in school, so I wanted to talk about some of the best classics I’ve read in the hopes that you might develop a new love for classic literature! Loads of classics are available for free, if you aren’t already aware of this cool fact, thanks to copyright expiry. The Project Gutenberg website is a great resource with a massive library of books that are no longer copyrighted! In fact, all of these (with the exception of Rebecca) are available as a free ebook download from Project Gutenberg, so if ebooks are your thing, that is definitely a site to check out. So here’s my list of ten classics to get you started, along with my opinion of how accessible they are, sorted by popular genre categories!

If you like romance…

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. A story of high society, and unfortunate assumptions. Especially if you’ve seen one of the many screen adaptations of this well-loved classic, you’ll find it impossible to not fall in love with. Accessibility rating: 7/10.

Persuasion – Jane Austen. Yes, that’s two Austens, but what are you gonna do about it? She is the absolute queen of classic romance, and offers a really interesting insight and commentary into British social classes. Persuasion is a generally less well-known story, but as entrancing as its more famous siblings. Accessibility rating: 6/10.

If you’re a dark academia fan…

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier. A gothic classic! Du Maurier is excellent at what she does, and she creates a wonderfully oppressive atmosphere with some equally fantastic characters to match. This is also a more modern book compared to the others on this list, so the language is more similar to what readers of modern fiction would be familiar with. Accessibility rating: 8/10.

The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald. Another more recent classic, Fitzgerald introduces us to the glitz and glamour of the roaring 20s, and the life of the fabulous Jay Gatsby, who’s reputation precedes him. This is also a short novel, so if you’re looking for a quicker read to introduce you to the world of classics, this is a great place to look. Accessibility rating: 9/10

If you love science fiction/fantasy…

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens. Another shorter read, and brilliant for the festive season! This is another with some very famous and well-loved adaptations, so if you’ve enjoyed those I implore you to pick up the book! Dickens is often known for slow pacing and dense writing, but this short novel is the absolute opposite of that. Accessibility rating 9/10.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley. This is one of my personal favourites! A super famous book, and for all the right reasons. It’s compelling, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s grotesque. And Mary Shelley wrote it at 18! Accessibility rating 7/10.

If you’re into historical fiction…

Les Miserables – Victor Hugo. The musical of this is incredibly famous, but the book is surprisingly different. It’s also incredibly long, so it’s a commitment, but it’s a great read. Especially if you’re interested in history, this gives a super interesting (if fictionalised) account of the French revolution. Accessibility rating 4/10.

Paradise Lost – John Milton. A retelling of the Fall (of both Satan and Adam and Eve, as it happens), in the form of poetry. This is definitely one of the more challenging classics I’m recommending here, because of the language. It’s amazingly put together, and if you want to learn more about religion in the Renaissance period, this is where you want to look. Accessibility rating 5/10.

If you like comedy/satire…

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift. Written in a time where the novel form was just emerging, Swift satirises it beautifully. Presented as a real travel journal, and split into 4 books, we see Gulliver cross oceans to a myriad of strange and wonderful worlds. Accessibility rating 6/10.

The Rape of the Lock – Alexander Pope. (Note: the term ‘rape’ here refers to an archaic definition meaning ‘to carry off’ or ‘to snatch’). Another work in verse, The Rape of the Lock satirises the heroic epic poems that go as far back as Homer (and further). In this satire, Pope takes a trivial incident, and elevates it by comparing it to the world of the gods. This is, however, a text that benefits from slow reading, and rereading! Accessibility rating 5/10.

33 thoughts on “Get Into Classics!

    • it definitely is intimidating, but i don’t think i’ve ever felt as accomplished after finishing a book


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