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11 Works of Literature Which Everyone Should Read

Updated on March 28, 2017

1. “Robinson Crusoe”, Daniel Defoe

Everyone knows the story of the novel by Daniel Defoe. However the book contains many other interesting details about the life activity of Robinson on the island, his biography, inner experiences. If you ask a person that hasn’t read the book to describe the nature of Robinson, it is very unlikely that he will be able to do this.

In the collective consciousness Crusoe – is a bright character without any nature, feelings and history. In the novel an image of the main hero unfolds, which allows you to look at the story from a different angle.

Why you have to read

To get acquainted with one of the most famous adventure novels and find out who Robinson Crusoe actually was.

2. “Gulliver's Travels”, Jonathan Swift

In the novel the author gives a true picture of the social structure of 17th Century England and reveals its hypocritical, cruel essence.

Swift does not throw down a challenge to the society in the open. As a true Englishman, he does it civilly and quick wittedly. His satire is so subtle that “Gulliver’s Travels” can be also read as a regular fairy tale.

Why you have to read

For kids Swift’s novel – is a fun and unusual adventure story. Adults have to read it in order to get familiarized with one of the most famous artistic satires.

3. “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus”, Mary Shelley

This novel, although from the stand point of artistry is not the most outstanding one, nevertheless the most significant in the history of literature. In many ways it predetermined the development of the science fiction genre.

But this isn’t simply a light reading entertainment. It raises the relationship problems between the creator and the creation, god and man. Who bears responsibility for the creation of a being which is destined to suffer?

Why you have to read

To get familiarized with one of the most important works of science fiction, also to feel a complex range of problems which is oftentimes lost in film adaptations.

4. Plays, William Shakespeare

It is difficult to choose the best play of Shakespeare. There is at least five of them: “Hamlet”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Macbeth”. Unique style and deep understanding of life contradictions made the works by Shakespeare timeless classics that are relevant at all times.

Why you have to read

To start understanding poetry, literature and life. Also to find an answer to a question, what’s better: to be or not to be?

5. “Vanity Fair”, William Thackeray

Social criticism was the main theme of English literature of the beginning of the 19th Century. Thackeray in his novel reveals the modern society with ideals of success and material wealth. To exist in society means to be sinful – that was the approximate conclusion of Thackeray regarding his social surrounding.

“Since successes and amusements of yesterday lose their meaning when a well-known (although unfathomable) tomorrow is beginning to dawn, of which all of us sooner or later will have to think about.”

Why you have to read

To learn to take it easier when it comes to life and opinions of others. Since everyone in society is infected with “vane ambitions” that do not have any real value.

6. “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, Oscar Wilde

Language of the novel is beautiful, dialogues present an example of English wit. Oscar Wilde is a subtle psychologist, which is why his characters turned out to be so complex and multifaceted.

This book is about human vice, cynicism, difference between the beauty of the soul and body. If you think about it, each and every one of us in one way or another is a Dorian Gray. Only we do not have a mirror that could have shown us the sins.

Why you have to read

In order to enjoy a wonderful language of the wittiest writer of Great Britain, to see how much moral character can be different from the exterior, and also become much better. Work by Wilde is a spiritual portrait of not only its era but an entire humanity.

7. “Pygmalion”, Bernard Shaw

Ancient Greek myth about a sculptor that fell in love with his own creation in the play by Bernard Shaw acquires a new, socially significant tone. What should the work feel towards his author, if this work is a human? How can it feel about the creator – the one who made it in accordance to his ideals?

Why you have to read

This is the most famous play by Bernard Shaw. It is often set in theaters. According to many critics, “Pygmalion” – is a landmark work of English dramaturgy.

8. “The Jungle Book”, Rudyard Kipling

Universally accepted masterpiece of English literature, which is known to many by its cartoons. Who wouldn’t hear a continuous hissing Kaa: “Human baby…” at the mention of Mowgli?

Why you have to read

It is very unlikely that someone will pick up “The Jungle Book” at an adult age. A human has only one childhood in order to enjoy the creation of Kipling and see its true value. That is why definitely introduce your kids to the classics! They will be thankful to you.

9. “Treasure Island”, Robert Stevenson

Once again a Soviet-era cartoon comes to mind. It is definitely good, and dialogues in it are almost entirely taken from a book. Although the characterizations and general mood of the narrative in the primary source are different.

Stevenson’s novel is realistic and in places quite brutal. But it is a good-hearted adventure work, which every kid and adult will gladly read. Boardings, sea wolves, wooden legs – sea subject matter that attracts you.

Why you have to read

Because it is fun and exciting. Furthermore, the novel is broken down into quotes which everyone should know.

10. “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, Arthur Conan Doyle

Interest to deductive abilities of the great sleuth up to this day is great thanks to an immense amount of screen adaptations. There are plenty of people that are familiar with the classical detective only through movies. There are plenty of adaptations but only one collection of stories, how great it is though!

Why you have to read

In order to find out what deduction is, how Sherlock was in original version and why is the most known address in the world is – building 221B on Baker Street.

11. “The Time Machine”, H. G. Wells

Herbert Wells in many ways was a pioneer in the science fiction genre. Before him people weren’t at war with aliens, he was the first to start writing about time travels. Without “Time machine” we wouldn’t have seen the film “Back to the Future”, neither there would have been “Doctor Who”.

“They say that entire life – is a dream, and it is nasty, ugly, brief dream, although there won’t be any other one *

Why you have to read

To see the origin of many science-fiction ideas, that became popular in the modern culture.


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