Classic literature is essential for a book club. Remove the notion that they are stuffy and pretentious. Classics are just as much fun or, dare I say it, even more fun than some contemporary reads. Here is a completely biased list of seven classics your book club should add to their reading list:
- Persuasion by Jane Austen – Not Pride and Prejudice? Nope, everyone and their mother has already read Pride and Prejudice and/or knows the plot. Why not let a lesser known Austen title take the spotlight? There’s just as much yearning and romantic tension that is quintessentially Jane Austen in Persuasion.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Cuddle up with Marmie, Jo, Meg, Beth, and I guess Amy too. Rejoice, laugh, and cry when each little woman finds her place in 1860s America.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – Get ready to argue with your club about the themes and characterization in this ensemble cast novel by Dickens. Dickens stories are full of moving parts and insignificant characters who turn out to be essential to the plot later on, and A Tale of Two Cities is no different.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Everyone should read a little Tolkien in their lifetime, and The Hobbit is a great teaser. Easier to digest than the lengthy Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit allows you to go on an adventure in Middle Earth without the commitment to a thousand or so pages.
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Pride and Prejudice, but make it Industrialization! Set in the Industrialization Era, Gaskell’s novel tells of the class divide and prejudices between the north and the south of England with a dash of romance thrown in.
- Dubliners by James Joyce – Joyce’s collection of short stories gives a gritty image of what life in Ireland was like at the turn of the century. Intense prose and subtle characterization make for a hauntingly beautiful collection.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – Everyone should read Zora Neale Hurston in their lifetime. She so clearly and lyrically delivers prose that conveys her experience of what it was like to be a woman of color in the South.
Bonus Book: Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney – I know I said there were only seven books, but I think every book club should read a collection of poetry. I listed this collection by Seamus Heaney because all of his poetry—and this collection in particular—transports you to the wilderness of Ireland and forces you to face your feelings and desires, and he brings a bit of magic to his words. That being said, you don’t have to read this particular collection of poetry, but do read some poetry for me. It’s good for the soul.