Classic Fiction Books You May Not Have Read

In literature, there are so many classics to read and enjoy that attempting to get through them all is nearly impossible! So, which books should you devote your precious reading time to? The books featured on our list are ones that, in our experience, a lot of people claim to love and have read... But not all are telling the truth! So, if you want to get ahead of the game and impress the literature connoisseurs in your life then give the following books a read. Each book listed here is well worth your time and fully deserving of their classic status.

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1. Dracula

Bram Stoker

This classic gothic novel about the villainous Count Dracula and eccentric Dr Van Helsing brought some of the most widely-recognised characters in film and fiction to life (pun intended!). But, how many can actually say they have read Bram Stoker's novel cover to cover? If you're only familiar with film and TV adaptations of Dracula then the story in the book may come as a surprise to you. So, if you're a sucker for an old-school horror then give this classic read.

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2. The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger

This American classic is one that many have on their reading lists. It's definitely the kind of book where the title, cover and description give very little away. So, what is The Catcher in the Rye about and why should you read it? Well, if you enjoy realism and teen dramas then this book could be your new go-to as the story follows Holden Caulfield's awkward experiences in New York after being kicked out of yet another school. J.D. Salinger literally wrote the book on angsty teenagers and this is it.

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3. Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte

This classic Bronte book is one we'd all like to say we've read but how many of us have actually sat down and read through to the end? Jane Eyre is a romance and mystery that follows Jane through her childhood and adult life as the governess to Mr Rochester's ward, Adele. Jane's determination to find her own way in life and her love for the mysterious Mr Rochester make this a classic not to be missed. This book is also a great gateway into the Bronte novels and Victorian novels in general if you've been meaning to give them a go.

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4. Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

Great Expectations is one of the best-known of Charles Dickens many books and a lot of people know the story from the various film and TV versions. However, few can claim to have actually read the book, even though it is a novel that is always considered to be one of the best ever written. Pip, a poor orphan boy, goes on an extraordinary journey through his life as he gains a great inheritance and falls in love with Estella, the beautiful ward of the sinister Miss Havisham. Take on this classic and discover the amazing writing of Charles Dickens for yourself.

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5. Testament of Youth

Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain's brilliant classic autobiography is a must-read for getting your head around what life was like during the First World War. Over 100 years ago now Vera was a successful student about to start a degree at Oxford when war broke out and her life was altered forever. In 1915 she dropped out of university to work as a nurse, where she tended to wounded soldiers in the UK and abroad. As the war draw to a close, Vera had lost nearly everyone she held dear, including the man she loved. Stop pushing this powerful book down to the bottom of your to-be-read list and start exploring this story of the lost generation.

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6. The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you've been meaning to read The Great Gatsby then now's the time to jump into the Jazz Age as this unforgettable classic is only a grand total of 9 chapters long. It's short, easy-to-read and is a must-read for anyone that loves beautiful imagery and a gripping storyline. Jay Gatsby throws parties the whole of New York long to be invited to but the one person he's waiting for never seems to show. What lengths will Gatsby go to win back his old flame's heart?

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7. 1984

George Orwell

The only way to really experience the dark mind of George Orwell is to give one of his books a read. 1984 is a dystopian classic and a must-read if you want to get your mind around what it would be like to live in an authoritarian state. George Orwell wrote this book in 1948 about how he imagined life might be in 1984 when constant surveillance has taken over and even your thoughts can send you to prison. Find out where phrases like "Big Brotherâ€", "Room 101" and "thought police"€ came from in this must-read.

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8. Les Miserables

Victor Hugo

We'll let you off if you haven't quite gotten around to this one yet. At over 1000 pages long, Victor Hugo's classic tale of injustice and rebellion is quite an intense reading project. But, if you enjoy the musical or film adaptations, it shouldn't really come as a surprise to learn that they left quite a bit out. So, if you want to read the full story of Jean Valjean and the whole host of quirky characters he meets along the way, you need to get started on this mammoth book.

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9. A Song of Ice and Fire

George R. R. Martin

If you're a diehard fan of the Game of Thrones TV show then why not try reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the first in the series of books the show is based on? This high fantasy series sees the families of Westeros fight for the Iron Throne. Brutal and gripping, this modern classic is an absolute must-read for fantasy fans.

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10. The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

This classic is the only novel by Sylvia Plath and tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a beautiful and successful girl, who's slowly falling into a deep depression. The novel is partly autobiographical and considers the difficulties that women encounter when trying to live up to expectations of their gender. But, if you've avoided this book because you think it'll be too upsetting, the witty style of the story makes this book incredibly easy-to-read and compelling once you start.

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So, how many of these books have you read? And, how many are you planning to read? Or, if you have already read all 10 of these classics then we salute you and your well-read brain. If not, we don't judge but we certainly think you've got a few to catch up on. Dive into these classic books and when asked what classics you've read you can proudly (and honestly!) reel these 10 off.

  • AADNT
    George Orwell
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    A famous novel that covers many questions that are still relevant today, it is easy to see why George Orwell's 1984 has been applauded and acclaimed by so many. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, where Big Brother stares out from every poster and the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When he finds love with Julia, he discovers life does not have to be dull and mundane, and opens up to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party and are drawn towards conspiracy theories. But Big Brother will not tolerate dissent, even in the mind. A terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime. This is a classic story that just has to be read!

  • AADSU
    F.Scott Fitzgerald
    (2)
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    Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach...Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
  • AAGNJ
    Sylvia Plath
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    Esther Greenwood is at college and is fighting two battles, one against her own desire for perfection in all things - grades, boyfriend, looks, career - and the other against remorseless mental illness. As her depression deepens she finds herself encased in it, bell-jarred away from the rest of the world. This is the story of her journey back into reality. Highly readable, witty and disturbing, The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath's only novel and was originally published under a pseudonym in 1963. What it has to say about what women expect of themselves, and what society expects of women, is as sharply relevant today as it has always been.
  • AEECG 14 years +
    Charlotte Bronte
    14 years +
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    'The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself'. Passionate, poetic and revolutionary, "Jane Eyre" is a novel of naked emotional power. Its story of a defiant, fiercely intelligent woman who refuses to accept her appointed place in society - and instead finds love on her own terms - has become famous as one of the greatest romances ever written, but it is also a brooding Gothic mystery, a profound depiction of character and a transformative work of the imagination. This is the Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
  • RYE2 13 years +
    JD Salinger
    13 years +
    (1)
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    The Catcher in the Rye has an enduring attraction that puts it at the top of a must-read list for young adults. The cynical observations of J. D. Salinger's central character, Holden Caulfield, condemn the phony posturing and hypocrisy of those around him.

    Holden is driven by vague, unspecified angst and unhappiness and manages to get caught up in a series of uncomfortable encounters with a prostitute, her pimp, an old girlfriend and a former teacher.

    The Catcher in the Rye is as thought-provoking and compulsive as the conflicts of its central character. Recommended for readers 14+.

    This children's book has been hand-picked for you by Red House.
  • AJJNV
    George RR Martin
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    HBO's hit series A GAME OF THRONES is based on George R R Martin's internationally bestselling series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. A GAME OF THRONES is the first volume in the series. Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ...and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
  • AGLEA
    Victor Hugo
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    WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ADAM THIRLWELL. Sensational, dramatic, packed with rich excitement and filled with the sweep and violence of human passions, Les Miserables is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told. It is a novel peopled by colourful characters from the nineteenth-century Parisian underworld; the street children, the prostitutes and the criminals. In telling the story of escaped convict Jean Valjean, and his efforts to reform his ways and care for the little orphan girl he rescues from a life of cruelty, Victor Hugo drew attention to the plight of the poor and oppressed. Les Miserables is a masterful detective story, a comic and tragic story of romance and revolution and, ultimately, a tale of redemption and hope.
  • ALQLM
    Vera Brittain
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    In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the life of her whole generation - had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era. TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time.
  • AHXFI 9 years +
    Bram Stoker
    9 years +
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    'I am Dracula. And I bid you welcome to my house.' He is deathly pale. His fingernails are cut to sharp points. His teeth protrude menacingly from his mouth in clouds of rancid breath. Yet even Count Dracula's unnerving appearance and the frightened reaction of the local peasants fail to warn Jonathan Harker, a young man from England, about his host. Little does Jonathan know that this is a land where babies are snatched for their blood and wolves howl menacingly from the forest, where reality is far more frightening than superstition. What's more, it's going to be up to him to stop the world's most bloodthirsty predator. Includes exclusive material: In the Backstory you can learn all about the strengths and weaknesses of vampires! Vintage Children's Classics is a twenty-first century classics list aimed at 8-12 year olds and the adults in their lives. Discover timeless favourites from The Jungle Book and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to modern classics such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
  • ADKXL 14 years +
    Charles Dickens
    14 years +
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    "What do you think that is?' she asked me, again pointing with her stick; 'that, where those cobwebs are?" "I can't guess what it is, ma'am". "It's a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine"! Pip, a young orphan, has his life altered irrevocably by a strange chain of events - a terrifying graveside encounter with an escaped prisoner; a visit to a black-hearted old woman and a beautiful girl; an unexpected fortune from a secret donor. Escaping his poor background for London, however, he finds that he cannot run away from who he really is. Dickens' extraordinary late work, published in 1861, is a frightening, funny and tender portrayal of self-discovery and redemption. Its misguided hero, Pip, is one of the most moving and memorable characters in fiction.