Looking to kill time? Pick up a book you always wanted to or if you are looking for some classic inspirations, Here is a list of 10 novels that, for various reasons, have been considered some of the greatest works of literature ever written.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The novel examines racism in the American South through the innocent wide eyes of a clever young girl named Jean Louise (“Scout”) Finch. Its iconic characters, most notably the sympathetic and just lawyer and father Atticus Finch, served as role models and changed perspectives in the United States at a time when tensions regarding race were high.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby provides an insider’s look into the Jazz Age of the 1920s in United States history while at the same time critiquing the idea of the “American Dream.” Perhaps the most famous aspect of the novel is its cover art—a piercing face projected onto a dark blue night sky and lights from a cityscape—an image that is also found, in a slightly different configuration, within the text itself as a key symbol.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez
The novel tells the story of seven generations of the Buendía family and follows the establishment of their town Macondo until its destruction along with the last of the family’s descendants. In fantastical form, the novel explores the genre of magic realism by emphasizing the extraordinary nature of commonplace things while mystical things are shown to be common.
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The book follows a Muslim Indian doctor named Aziz and his relationships with an English professor, Cyril Fielding, and a visiting English schoolteacher named Adela Quested. When Adela believes that Aziz has assaulted her while on a trip to the Marabar caves near the fictional city of Chandrapore, where the story is set, tensions between the Indian community and the colonial British community rise. The possibility of friendship and connection between English and Indian people, despite their cultural differences and imperial tensions, is explored in the conflict.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is a groundbreaking novel in the expression of identity for the African American male. The narrator of the novel, a man who is never named but believes he is “invisible” to others socially, tells the story of his move from the South to college and then to New York City. In each location he faces extreme adversity and discrimination, falling into and out of work, relationships, and questionable social movements in a wayward and ethereal mindset.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The novel investigates the trauma of slavery even after freedom has been gained, depicting Sethe’s guilt and emotional pain after having killed her own child, whom she named Beloved, to keep her from living life as a slave. A spectral figure appears in the lives of the characters and goes by the same name as the child, embodying the family’s anguish and hardship and making their feelings and past unavoidable.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Dalloway describes exactly one day in the life of a British socialite named Clarissa Dalloway. Using a combination of third-person narration and the thoughts of various characters, the novel uses a stream-of-consciousness style all the way through. The result of this style is a deeply personal and revealing look into the characters’ minds, with the novel relying heavily on character rather than a plot to tell its story.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The novel follows an Igbo man named Okonkwo, describing his family, the village in Nigeria where he lives, and the effects of British colonialism on his native country. The novel is an example of African postcolonial literature, a genre that has grown in size and recognition since the mid-1900s as African people have been able to share their often unheard stories of imperialism from the perspective of the colonized.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre provided a story of individualism for women. The novel’s eponymous character rises from being orphaned and poor into a successful and independent woman. The work combines themes from both Gothic and Victorian literature, revolutionizing the art of the novel by focusing on the growth in Jane’s sensibility with internalized action and writing.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Set in the post-Civil War American South, the novel follows a young African American girl named Celie into adulthood in letters she writes to God and her sister Nettie. Celie faces sexual abuse by her father and eventually her husband, chronicling her own suffering and growth as well as that of her friends and family. The novel explores themes of sexism, racism, gender, sexual orientation, and disability through its grouping of disadvantaged and damaged characters who, over time, grow to shape their own lives.