Almost any reader you ask will have an opinion on which classics are most worth the time they take to read, and which are most worthy of classic status. With the aid of the gorgeous Penguin Clothbound Classics series, here’s our highly biased list of stories worth the hundreds of years of hype.
Little Women (and Good Wives) by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is the story of the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy, and their journey from childhood to adulthood. The first instalment is filled with adventure, promise, and amusement; the second allowing our favourite sisters to grow up and face the hardships of the world.
Traditionally a children’s book but an evergreen, comforting read for any age, Little Women will have you weeping with joy, sadness, and laughter. A really great choice for someone who is interested in reading the classics but intimidated by the old-fashioned language and literary conventions.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
From one end of the spectrum to the other, we’d be amiss if we didn’t recommend Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This Gothic masterpiece was genre-breaking at the time, and still holds up as an incredible piece of literature.
It’s definitely one that is a must-read even for a casual literature lover.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Okay, so the cover of the clothbound edition may have twisted our arm with this one… The moths are one of the most striking and interesting designs in the whole collection.
Aside from that, The Hound of the Baskervilles is known to be one of the best starting points for a beginner Sherlock Holmes reader, and is even inspired by Conan Doyle’s stays in Dartmoor. Not quite Cornwall, but still close to home!
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Gothic icon Mary Shelley may have crafted the genre, but Bram Stoker took the brief and ran with it with Dracula, evoking a terrifying world of vampires and vampire hunters. Not only that, but Stoker uses the novel to explore taboos of Victorian sexuality and desire, another intruiging topic that elevates the story.
It is so iconic that the word ‘Dracula’ has become almost synonymous with ‘Vampire’… So it’s definitely worth a read.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s style certainly isn’t for everyone, but Mrs Dalloway is a good place to start. Set over the course of one single day, the narrative weaves in and out of the consciousness of several characters, rarely pausing for breath. This means it can be a bit of work to get into, but so worth it once you are immersed. The characters become vulnerable and close (and yes, sometimes quite irritating) because of the in depth narrative style.
A great choice for someone who loves literary fiction – the stuffy plotlessness of Sally Rooney or Raven Leilani, but in 1923.