All of the ancient classics continue to teach us about a lot of things such as politics, history, love, and even legend. These amazing classics have withstood time just to enchant and charm readers from all over the world; however, with such great wealth of excellent literature, it can be a little tedious to know where to begin.
Here is a list of some of the best classic books of all time that every book-lover should not miss out on.
1. The Illiad (Homer)
The theme of The Illiad is war but it generally focuses on Achilles’ wrath and how it is like to work together with an unstable and irrational killing machine. Each of the deaths described in The Illiad is all separately yet finely crafted where the Gods mourn over their favorites, even exhibiting Achilles acting with enough dignity.
2. The Odyssey (Homer)
Another one of the best classic books of all time that has been created by Homer; this classic story narrates the story of Odysseus after returning from war. However, this specific poem from Homer is less about monsters and travel than it actually is about identity – how can this clever and crafty hero disguise himself even amongst those people who know him greatly; a conflict that is shown greatly on a domestic scale.
3. Moby Dick (Herman Melville)
This is one of the best classic books that is considered as one of the most essential American novels from the nineteenth century. The masterpiece of Melville was partly based on the story of the Essex which has been later adapted to the film, The Whale.
4. 19 Dead Souls (Nikolai Gogol)
The 19 Dead Souls is known as one of the best classic books as well as the wittiest novels during the nineteenth century. This is the only novel written by Gogol and although he is not generally popular outside Russia, he was actually a big influence on Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. The book tells the story of an enterprising individual who goes around Russia to buy up ‘dead souls’ – peasant workers who died but are still registered as living individuals.
5. The Histories (Herodotus)
Herodotus did a recount in The Histories, various events during the Persian war to rally against the Greeks for another time. However, the sketches and anecdotes of various cultures, as well as his personal accounts on mummification just show how interesting he still is.
6. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
Pride and Prejudice is one of the best classic books created by Jane Austen and was first published in the year 1813. The story is about Elizabeth Bennet, the main character who deals with a variety of issues that concern manners, morality, upbringing, marriage, and education in the British Regency.
7. The Georgics (Virgil)
The Georgics is another creation that is known as one of the best classic books around; it was also considered as a book filled with the best poems by the best poet. Here, Virgil speaks of the advice Hesiod offers to the farmers yet knows how to better structure his work.
8. Vanity Fair
This is a novel created by William Thackeray and it focuses on Becky Sharp and her friend Emmy Sedley’s lives during and after the Napoleonic War. The book was first published just as a nineteen-volume monthly series from the year 1847 to 1848 under the title Pen and Pencil Sketches of the English Life.
9. Middlemarch (George Elliot)
In one of the best classic books called Middlemarch, Elliot creates a fictitious little town to exhibit a model for civilization; here, characters are able to explore the nature of love, family, goodness, integrity, and corruption. The main character of the story is named Dorothea, a person who wishes to be a living saint, yet the irony of the story is her selecting the right path for all the right reasons is what actually brings her to all different types of issues.
10. The Apology – Last Days of Socrates (Plato)
What makes The Apology one of the best classic books of all time is that it features the Socratic dialogues that introduce the speech of legal self-defense that Socrates had exhibited during his trial for corruption and impiety.
11. On the Nature of Things (Lucretius)
This is included in the list of best classic books since it leans primarily on Greek philosophers to establish this specific investigation and study on how the universe actually works. The book states that the universe is completely run by atoms and that the Gods are disinterested by this.
12. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
Another novel that is part of the best classic books of all time is Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace which follows a group of Russian aristocrats as they are faced by a huge army of Napoleon. Most of the battle scenes depicted in the story are generally bloody and vivid; the book perfectly surpasses the conflicts in every human relationship.
13. The Confessions (Saint Augustine)
This is generally an autobiographical work from Saint Augustine that is made up of thirteen books. All of these are written purely in Latin but modern English translations were eventually published with the title “The Confessions of St. Augustine”. The book talks about St. Augustine’s sinful and mischievous youth, as well as his conversion to Christianity.
14. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
This story revolves around Emma Bovary who has the classic nice guy type of husband – comforting, reliable, kind, and dull. This is the reason why Emma had gotten desperate for excitement and passion thus, embarked on her own set of heated affairs which of course, resulted in inevitable tragedy.
15. Scarlet and Black (Stendhal)
This book has most likely become one of the best classic books due to its theme that is based primarily on romance and seduction. The book follows the story of the immoral young man named Julian Sorel who makes great use of his intelligence and looks to charm his way through the French society after Napoleon’s fall. Unfortunately, his unwise choices lead him to have an affair with a mayor’s wife which leads him to a string of events that sort of dampens his quest for power and wealth.
16. The Aeneid (Virgil)
Another one of the best classic books from Virgil – The Aeneid is a story based on the Trojan’s founding of Rome that goes far beyond indoctrination. Virgil is definitely the master of pathos where he commemorates the victims more than the victories. It also features the failed romance between Dido and Aeneas which is considered as the ancient time’s best love story.
17. Persuasion (Jane Austen)
Although Persuasion is also one of the best classic books, it never really received as much praise as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, or Sense and Sensibility; however, it is considered as Austen’s richest work. The book delves mainly on the life of a mature woman named Anne Elliot who is charmed to refuse a marriage offer because of her suitor being not respectable enough. However, after many years, her first love returns as a very rich man – but is he already too late?
18. Parallel Lives – Greek and Roman (Plutarch)
Plutarch created these intricately detailed portraits of the great Romans and Greeks long after various events; however, scholars find Plutarch highly well-informed. It is also interesting and amazing to learn that most of the images in the Roman plays of Shakespeare are all Plutarch’s.
19. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
This novel tells the story of an Englishman who takes a distribution of ivory right at the Congo River in Africa. During his exploration, the Englishman witnesses numerous barbarities that have been carried out by the colonialists on the native Africans. Eventually, the Englishman learns of Kurtz, an ivory trader who has named himself as a demigod among the region’s tribe.
20. The Symposium (Xenophon)
This specific Symposium is highly notable due to how Socrates eventually turns into Dr. Johnson, and not because of its philosophical rigor.