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The Best Classic Books You Must Read: Updated 2019

Updated 2019

While many books might be considered ‘the best’ of any genre, it’s rare to be noticed as a classic. Classics are ‘must read’ masterpieces that tell the story of humanity, its struggle, and even perseverance. They might be moral tales of our time or have remained equally as popular through many generations of readers. Classic tales include those of Charles Dickens and Harper Lee. You certainly don’t want to miss these books, as they’re clearly ‘the best of the best’.

What Did These Classic Books Do To Qualify For This List

Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the classic genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:

  • quantity and quality of user reviews
  • sales data
  • public perception
  • opinions of readers of this genres
  • commercial success
  • and of course personal opinion

Take a look at the best Classic Books you can read right now:

Table of Contents
• Best Classic Books

Best Classic Books

Here are the best classic books by the experts:

1) In Search of Lost Time  by Marcel Proust

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: For this authoritative English-language edition, D. J. Enright has revised the late Terence Kilmartin’s acclaimed reworking of C. K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation to take into account the new definitive French editions of À la recherche du temps perdu (the final volume of these new editions was published by the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 1989). Undoubtedly one of the best classic books.
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2) Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes (Author), Edith Grossman (Translator)

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: Widely regarded as one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the adventures of the self-created knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. You haven’t experienced Don Quixote in English until you’ve read this masterful translation.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

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3) Ulysses by James Joyce

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in February 1922, in Paris. It is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature, and has been called “a demonstration and summation of the entire movement”. According to Declan Kiberd, “Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking.” However, even proponents of Ulysses such as Anthony Burgess have described the book as “inimitable, and also possibly mad”. Ulysses chronicles the peripatetic appointments and encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin in the course of an ordinary day, 16 June 1904. Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between its characters and events and those of the poem.
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4) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
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5) Moby Dick by Herman Melville

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville, in which Ishmael narrates the monomaniacal quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler Pequod, for revenge on the albino sperm whale Moby Dick, which on a previous voyage destroyed Ahab’s ship and severed his leg at the knee. Although the novel was a commercial failure and out of print at the time of the author’s death in 1891, its reputation grew immensely during the twentieth century. D. H. Lawrence called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world,” and “the greatest book of the sea ever written.”
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6) Hamlet by William Shakespeare

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy across five acts. Hamlet deals with various questions about life. Due to the fact that this book is translated into 75 languages, many of its lines have become famous quotations.Hamlet was written between 1600 and 1602, and first printed in 1603.
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7) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: Please Read Notes: Brand New, International Softcover Edition, Printed in black and white pages, minor self wear on the cover or pages, Sale restriction may be printed on the book, but Book name, contents, and author are exactly same as Hardcover Edition.
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8) The Odyssey by Homer  (Author), William Cowper (Translator)

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: The Odyssey is the second classic poem after Iliad attributed to an Ancient Greek poet Homer. Presumably, it was created in the eighth century BC or a little later. The poem describes the journey of a mythic character Odyssey to his homeland after the end of the Trojan war, and the adventures of his wife Penelope who had been waiting for Odyssey in Ithaca. Both Odyssey and another famous poem by Homer, Iliad, are full of mythic elements – Odyssey meets Cyclope Polyphemus, the witch-goddess Circe, the god Aeolus etc. Odyssey describes most of his adventures during the feast with the King Alcinous.
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9) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  (Author), Gregory Rabassa  (Translator)

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women — brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul — this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.
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10) The Divine Comedy by Alighieri Dante (Author), Henry Francis Cary (Translator)

  • Best Classic BooksBook Summary: A “comedy”, that became a “divine book” for ancestors, is one of the greatest works of art known to the world. It is an encyclopedia of “moral, natural, philosophical and theological” knowledges, a tremendous synthesis of the feudal catholic ideology and the same tremendous epiphany that spread during the new culture times. A great poetic genius of the author put this comedy above the era and made it a legacy of centuries.
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Best Classic Movies

If you enjoyed the best classic books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best classic movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.

1)Midsummer Night’s Dream

Starring: Helen Mirren , Diana Rigg , Judi Dench and Ian Holm
Directed by: Sir Peter Hall

Movie Summary: Directed by Sir Peter Hall and using The Royal Shakespeare Academy’s cast of actors — including Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Ian Holm — this 1968 version of Shakespeare classic comedy is one of the wittiest and wildest of all versions produced.

Movie Reviews: 

2)Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics

Starring: James Earl Jones , Amy Irving , Gary Cole and Patrick Bergin
Directed by: Robert Markowitz

Movie Summary: James Earl Jones hosts this film based on two stories by the late Rod Serling, who wrote the stories of the original ‘The Twilight Zone’ (1959) series.. In “The Theater,” a young woman attends a movie theater only to find that her life story is being revealed on the screen. In “Where the Dead Are,” a Boston surgeon in 1868 searches for a scientist who may have the answer to a medical mystery.

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3)Gone with the Wind (1939)

Starring: Clark Gable , Vivien Leigh , Leslie Howard , et al.
Directed by: Victor Fleming

Movie Summary: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Hattie McDaniel star in this classic epic of the American South.

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4)Masterpiece Theatre: Wuthering Heights (2009)

Starring: Tom Hardy , Charlotte Riley , Andrew Lincoln , et al.
Directed by: Coky Giedroyc

Movie Summary: In Emily Bronte’s classic and haunting tale, Heathcliff is tormented by his love for Cathy. Will Cathy choose a life of comfort and wealth with Edgar Linton or will she succumb to her love for Heathcliff? Starring Tom Hardy (The Virgin Queen) as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Cathy.

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5)My Man Godfrey

Starring: Carole Lombard and William Powell
Directed by: Gregory Lacava

Movie Summary: Nominated for 4 Academy Awards! A wealthy New York family in the 1930’s brings in a destitute and “Forgotten Man” as their butler. Expertly restored original black and white.

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Best Classic Books in Audio

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best classic books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best classic books in audio!

1)A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic by Walter Lord, Martin Jarvis, et al.

Book Summary: One hundred years ago, the mightiest “unsinkable” ship began her maiden voyage to cross the Atlantic. An engineering feat 11 stories high, the Titanic contained a list of passengers collectively worth $250 million when she left port on April 10, 1912, but she would never reach her destination. The Titanic collided with an iceberg on the night of April 14, and 1,500 people died in the freezing waters as the ship met her watery grave. Spectacular in many ways, it’s a story that has spurred legends and still sends shivers down the spine a century later. This minute-by-minute account of the sinking is based on over 20 years of research and offers amazing detail of that fateful night.

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2)Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book Summary: Jim Hawkins, a young cabin boy battles the pirate Long John Silver for a buried treasure. One of the most frequently dramatized novels of all time. The influence of Treasure Island on popular perceptions of pirates is enormous, including treasure maps marked with an “X”, schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen carrying parrots on their shoulders.

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3)Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Guidall, et al.

Book Summary: Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the tsars, is determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammeled individual will. When he commits an act of murder and theft, he sets into motion a story that, for its excruciating suspense, its atmospheric vividness, and its depth of characterization and vision is almost unequaled in the literatures of the world. The best known of Dostoevsky’s masterpieces, Crime and Punishment can bear any

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4)Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, et al.

Book Summary: Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark KnightThe Honourable Woman) cites Tolstoy’s epic as one of her favorite books of all time, and her love for the literature permeates her performance. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.

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5)The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Constantine Gregory, et al.

Book Summary: Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a titanic figure among the world’s great authors, and The Brothers Karamazov is often hailed as his finest novel. A masterpiece on many levels, it transcends the boundaries of a gripping murder mystery to become a moving account of the battle between love and hate, faith and despair, compassion and cruelty, good and evil.

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Conclusion

What do you think about our list of best classic books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best classic books you can find other genres here.

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