Searching for a new book to read? We have collated a list of fifteen essential classics you should take the time to rediscover. Which ones would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.
1984 by George Orwell
Penguin Paperback: $24.83
First published in 1949, George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” has lost none of the impact with which it first hit readers. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Vintage Paperback: $12.87
When Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr Darcy she is repelled by his overbearing pride, and prejudice towards her family. But the Bennet girls are in need of financial security in the shape of husbands, so when Darcy’s friend, the affable Mr Bingley, forms an attachment to Jane, Darcy becomes increasingly hard to avoid. Polite society will be turned upside down in this witty drama of friendship, rivalry and love.
Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
Penguin Paperback: $21.15
“The Catcher in the Rye” is J.D. Salinger’s world-famous novel of disaffected youth. Holden Caulfield is a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Navigating his way through the challenges of growing up, Holden dissects the ‘phony’ aspects of society, and the ‘phonies’ themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Vintage Paperback: $12.70
Explosive, subversive, wild and funny, 50 years on the novel’s strength is undiminished. Reading Joseph Heller’s classic satire is nothing less than a rite of passage. Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy – it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service.
Lord Of The Flies by William Golding
Faber & Faber Centenary Paperback: $16.55
Since it was first published in 1954, William Golding’s classic debut novel has remained a stark allegory of civilization, survival, and human nature. As dystopian stories like Hunger Games and Battle Royale surge in popularity, this haunting tale of a group of young boys stranded on a desert island still captivates schoolchildren around the world, raising timeless and profound questions about how easily society can slip into chaos and savagery when rules and order have been abandoned.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.
HarperCollins Paperback: $16.25
The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Random House Paperback: $15.20
‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Popular Penguins Edition: $8.27
This collection brings together the small proportion of Kafka’s works that he thought worthy of publication. It includes Metamorphosis, his most famous work, an exploration of horrific transformation and alienation; Meditation, a collection of his earlier studies; The Judgement, written in a single night of frenzied creativity; The Stoker, the first chapter of a novel set in America; and a fascinating occasional piece, The Aeroplanes at Brescia, Kafka’s eyewitness account of an air display in 1909. Together, these stories reveal the breadth of Kafka’s literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Vintage Paperback: $12.87
As an orphan, Jane’s childhood is not an easy one but her independence and strength of character keep her going through the miseries inflicted by cruel relatives and a brutal school. However, her biggest challenge is yet to come. Taking a job as a governess in a house full of secrets, for a passionate man she grows more and more attracted to, ultimately forces Jane to call on all her resources in order to hold on to her beliefs.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
HarperCollins Paperback: $15.85
The hauntingly prophetic classic novel set in a not-too-distant future where books are burned by a special task force of firemen. Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The classic novel of a post-literate future, ‘Fahrenheit 451′ stands alongside Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Penguin Clothbound Edition: $25.75
Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Penguin Definitive Edition: $14.20
In Amsterdam, in the summer of 1942, the Nazis forced teenager Anne Frank and her family into hiding. For over two years, they, another family and a German dentist lived in a ‘secret annexe’, fearing discovery. All that time, Anne kept a diary. An intimate record of tension and struggle, adolescence and confinement, anger and heartbreak, this is the definitive edition of the diary of Anne Frank.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Toikien
HarperCollins Two-Part Edition: $15.90
Bilbo Baggins enjoys a quiet and contented life, with no desire to travel far from the comforts of home; then one day the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves arrive unexpectedly and enlist his services – as a burglar – on a dangerous expedition to raid the treasure-hoard of Smaug the dragon. Bilbo’s life is never to be the same again. Seldom has any book been so widely read and loved as J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, ‘The Hobbit’.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Vintage Paperback: $12.87
Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby appears to have it all, yet he yearns for the one thing that will always be out of his reach, the absence of which renders his life of glittering parties and bright young things ultimately hollow.
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Popular Penguin Edition: $8.27
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road rocked the establishment with its seminal, stream-of-consciousness portrayal of 1950s underground America. Amidst a whirlwind of sex, drugs and jazz, writer Sal Paradise and his hero ‘the holy conman with the shining mind’, Dean Moriarty traverse the country in search of life and experience. Wild and exuberant, this life-changing novel defined the Beat generation and inspired countless others.
*Prices correct as of 9th of April, 2015.