Monday, September 16, 2013

Eighty classics: How many have you read?

A patron recently asked the Newport Public Library to make a bibliography of literary classics. So we looked at some resources and consulted our own tastes, and here’s the list we came up with (alphabetical by author).  Note that these are novels only:

  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  3. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  4. Emma by Jane Austen
  5. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  8. If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
  9. The Plague by Albert Camus
  10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  11. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  12. Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
  13. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  14. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  15. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  16. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  18. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  19. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  20. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  21. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  22. Silas Marner by George Eliot
  23. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  24. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  25. The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding
  26. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  27. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  28. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  29. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  30. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  31. The Tin Drum by GΓΌnther Grass
  32. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  33. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  34. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  35. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  36. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  37. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  38. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  39. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  40. Ulysses by James Joyce
  41. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  42. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera
  43. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
  44. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre
  45. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  46. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  47. The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
  48. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  49. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  50. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  52. A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
  53. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
  54. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  55. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  56. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  57. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
  58. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  59. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  60. Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
  61. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  62. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  63. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  64. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  65. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  66. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
  67. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  68. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  69. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  70. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  71. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  72. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
  73. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  74. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  75. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
  76. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  77. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  78. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  79. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  80. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe

Although this list is not exactly exhaustive, we think it’s a pretty good sampling of great books.

 I’ve read 35 of the 80.  How many have you read? Which ones? Which ones do you plan to read?  Let us know in the comments!

(And, since lists like this exist to be argued about, also tell us which books should be on the list that aren’t, and which are that we should have left off.)


  1. The 35 that I’ve read, with varying degrees of enjoyment, are:

    Little House in the Big Woods, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Charlotte’s Web, The Age of Innocence, Huck Finn, Lord of the Rings, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Black Beauty, Ivanhoe, Catcher in the Rye, Nineteen Eighty Four, Lolita, Moby-Dick, Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Portrait of a Lady, Brave New World, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Scarlet Letter, Tess,The Quiet American, The Wind in the Willows, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gatsby, Tom Jones, The Sound and the Fury, Silas Marner, Sherlock Holmes, The Heart of Darkness, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Emma, Lucky Jim, and Things Fall Apart.

  2. I've read more than I remember! Some of the "required reading" from high school must have been overwritten by Game of Thrones-- I know I read Ivanhoe, for example, but don't remember a thing. I count 25 which I actually remember fondly, with at least one scene still fairly vivid in memory. The ones I loved best were the children's books and the books I found for myself as a young adult. Anne of Green Gables, Catch-22 and the Lord of the Rings, all read to pieces!

  3. oooh - how about doing a list of classic non-fiction next?

    1. That's a bit trickier, but we'll see what we can come up with.

  4. As for the fiction list, I've read about 30. And maybe 5 or 6 more that I may have read. But if I can't remember than I'll have to say they remain unread!