The Classics

By | September 16, 2023

I have a very interesting family.

My nephew and my brother had for a long time been discussing what they thought was the list of the classic fiction that people should read in order to have a well rounded cultural literacy.

One Lothersday some few years back, taking a break from watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy, we were sitting at the dinner table discussing books, and the list of classics came up. We all had our opinions on what should be on the list, which led to a debate. After several sometimes contentious hours involving a spreadsheet, we came up with our final list of classics.

There are some books here that I have not read and others that I really don’t think belong here at all. But as this was a group effort, I leave the full list here without my edits. [And frankly, I defer to my nephew on this and many things.] There is a definite English-centrism here as well as some titles that are likely little known outside of the U.S., as this list was constructed by a group of Americans.

[And for more on books, here’s my list of recommended fiction, compiled without any input from my family, as I’m sure some of them would completely disagree with some of my recommendations.]

The Classics

  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
  • A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K Dick
  • A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
  • All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
  • And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
  • Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
  • Anthem, by Ayn Rand
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • Chronicles of Narnia (all seven), by C.S. Lewis
  • Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Different Seasons: Four Novellas, by Stephen King
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K Dick
  • Dune (just the first book), by Frank Herbert
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
  • Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemmingway
  • Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley
  • Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  • Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
  • I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
  • Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo
  • King Lear, by William Shakespeare
  • Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
  • Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  • Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Richard III, by Shakespeare
  • Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  • Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card
  • Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
  • The Death of Artemio Cruz, by Carlos Fuentes
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Once and Future King, by T.H. White
  • The Path to the Nest of Spiders, by Italo Calvino
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
  • Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, by George Le Carre
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Twenty Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Vicomte of Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Young Men and Fire, by Norman Maclean