48 Best Classic Books to Read

Reading classic books can boost your learning experience. There are some reasons why classic books can do that: they have stood the test of time, they give you different “lenses” to look through, and they will most likely be relevant even to the far future. Reading the classics is an excellent intellectual exercise which will arm you with a lot of powerful intellectual tools.

To find good classic books, there are trusted recommendations that can help us. The recommendations are found in the books How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren, and The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, both of which I believe are high-quality books. You can read the books for complete information about their recommendations (with suggestions on how to read them), but here I will directly give you the titles of the books which are recommended by both of them.

While I believe a book which is recommended by any of them is good, I think it’s safe to say that a book which is recommended by both of them is great.

So without further ado, here are the recommended classic books along with the Amazon and free download links (if any):


  1. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes) – Download
  2. Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift) – Download
  3. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – Download
  4. Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens) – Download
  5. The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne) – Download
  6. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville) – Download
  7. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) – Download
  8. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky) – Download
  9. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) – Download
  10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) – Download
  11. The Trial (Franz Kafka) – Download

Autobiography and Memoir

  1. The Confessions (Augustine) – Download
  2. The Complete Essays (Michel de Montaigne) – Download
  3. Meditations on First Philosophy (Rene Descartes)
  4. Walden (Henry David Thoreau) – Download


  1. The Histories (Herodotus) – Download vol 1vol 2
  2. The Peloponnesian War (Thucydides) – Download
  3. The Republic (Plato) – Download
  4. Lives (Plutarch) – Download vol 1vol 2vol 3
  5. City of God (Augustine)
  6. The Prince (Niccolo Machiavelli) – Download
  7. Utopia (Sir Thomas More) – Download
  8. The Social Contract (Jean Jaques Rousseau)
  9. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Edward Gibbon) – Download vol 1vol 2vol 3vol 4vol 5vol 6
  10. Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville) – Download vol 1vol 2
  11. The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx) – Download


  1. Agamemnon (Aeschylus) – Download
  2. Oedipus the King (Sophocles) – Download
  3. Medea (Euripides)
  4. The Birds (Aristophanes) – Download
  5. Poetics (Aristotle) – Download
  6. Richard III (William Shakespeare) – Download
  7. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare) – Download
  8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare) – Download
  9. Tartuffe (Moliere) – Download
  10. The Way of the World (William Congreve) – Download
  11. A Doll’s House (Henrik Ibsen) – Download
  12. Saint Joan (George Bernard Shaw)
  13. No Exit (Jean Paul Sartre)


  1. The Iliad (Homer) – Download
  2. The Odyssey (Homer) – Download
  3. Odes (Horace) – Download
  4. Inferno (Dante Alighieri) – Download
  5. The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer) – Download
  6. Sonnets (William Shakespeare) – Download
  7. Paradise Lost (John Milton) – Download
  8. Selected Poetry (William Wordsworth) – Download vol 1vol 2vol 3
  9. The Complete Poems (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) – Download

It may take years to read all these books, but it undoubtedly will be a very rewarding intellectual journey; they are among the best books of human civilization.


  1. […] These recommendations are found in the books How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren, and The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, both of which are high-quality books. You can read the books for complete information about their recommendations (with suggestions on how to read them), but here are the titles of the books which are recommended by both of them.  Here are the recommended classic books along with the Amazon and free download links (if any) (thanks to Life Optimizer) : […]

  2. Terrific. Your canon has one book by a woman.

  3. Great list. I’d include The Count of Monte Cristo in novels and Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography.

    As Thoreau said, “how many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

  4. Thanks for your post… Please dont forget Les Miserables by Victor Hugo on your next one!!

  5. Where is American poet Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”???

  6. Nice to know that the “best books of human civilization” come exclusively from the Europe or North America.

  7. but it takes AGES to read them all! and there’s no book without its context…

  8. S: Classical literature equals little to no female authors.

    Anon: I’d imagine the author of the post is referring to Western Civilization. Home of the printing press and all that. Regardless, they’re not all from those two continents. Augustine was from Africa and spent the last third of his life has the Bishop of Hippo (which is in modern day Algeria.)

    As far as the list itself, I’d drop numbers 8 and 11 (The Social Contract (Jean Jaques Rousseau) and The Communist Manifesto by Marx.) To replace them, I’d add The Law by Frederic Bastiat and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (though Moral Sentiments by Smith would work almost as well.) Some other additions would include The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, nearly any of Cicero’s work, and the works of Edmund Burke.

  9. S,
    I’m not sure why that happens, but I guess CS’s comment is a good explanation.

    Quotes, Dean T, Sue Berg,
    Thanks for your suggestions! In this list I included only the books which are mentioned by both sources. There are some good books like Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography which are mentioned only by one source, so I did not include them.

    That’s why I wrote in the post that these are ‘among the best books of human civilization’. I believe there are some other good books which are not included here, since my two sources mainly focus on Western civilization. One example of such books is The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

    Yes, it will take a long time to read them all. To provide the context, generally it is advised to read the books in chronological order (from the oldest book). Fortunately, the list here is already in chronological order within each category.

    Thanks for your insights and suggestions!

  10. Good list. More context on the books is available at enotes. You can also read some better quality versions of the hypertext there or at online-literature.com

  11. Awesome post dude trackback;)

  12. I recently made a similar list titled ‘100 best books for an education’. It good to know that many of the books are on both lists. http://www.cloudcraft.com/knowledge

  13. Great collections, it is a comprehensive list, must read. There are other download versions like palm, pdf, mobile versions for some of these book at http://www.cmadras.com.

  14. This seems about as useful as a list of the greatest bands of the sixties. Well, perhaps it’s even worse in a few ways. The definition of “well read” is about as personal a decision as, say whether you believe in God and what that means to you. Not surprisingly, a number of the titles that make this list are Christian religious tracts.

    I’d say the Mahabrata of which the sacred Hindu text Bahagavad Gita represents a single chapter is the only book you need. Of course you’ll need quite a few shelves to store all the volumes. The translations are not complete for all volumes, but you can start off with the Bahagavad Gita which is translated into English by about a dozen different organizations and also freely available.

    That advice is at least equally sound as Augustine. I gagged when I saw that. Augustine is the great grandaddy of all wing-nuts.

    Finally, what in the world is Richard III on there for instead of Richard II, the latter being the classic for its sublime portrayal of Falstaff.

    No Goethe? No beats? No Lewis Caroll? I’d say this is a rather conservatively bent list. And I use the word bent with its full implocations of repressed male Christian homosexuality.

  15. For goodness sake, this is a list of books designed to turn people off reading. With the possible exception of Huckleberry Finn not one of these books would ever be chosen by any right minded person as a ‘good read’ except some anal retentive book fetishist who has snobbish pretensions of quality. While they may be ‘classics of literature in no way will they ever be read by anyone outside of academia and as I can testify will only be read out of a necessity to pass a test.

    Personally I believe that you have just matched up the two list you mention and have posted. I do not belive that YOU Donald have read even half of the books you have listed if that otherwise you would have been more cautious in your assumptions.

    That’s why I wrote in the post that these are ‘among the best books of human civilization’. I believe there are some other good books which are not included here, since my two sources mainly focus on Western civilization. One example of such books is The Art of War by Sun Tzu” – That’s just a ‘get out of jail free’ card comment. Sun Tzu… please, can’t you even think of another eastern book of philosophy except that tired old cliché,


  16. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience | Life Optimizer (tags: books education reading literature ebooks lists list free **) […]

  17. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience | Life Optimizer (tags: books education reading lists ebooks list interesting) […]

  18. I read all of these books as a young child–they were my sister’s
    college texts. Basically, they are all drivel! Especially the ones that are mere novels and stories.
    You want to boost your learning experience, read math and science books. Read the Feynman lectures–learn calculus and linear algebra
    and statistical mechanics and electronics and control theory, and biochemistry etc.
    Liberal arts is drivel, for inferior minds.

    “The purpose of the brain is to cool the blood.”–Aristotle

  19. Good list. Ok, maybe I think it’s a good list because I’ve read most of them. Actually enjoyed a lot of them too.

  20. I just have to comment about all the posts about the list sucking. It is sad that people don’t have the mental strength to make it though these books and enjoy them. It takes little to read some 6th grade book and say,”That was enjoyable.”

    It takes someone else to actually invest the days or weeks that most of these selections take to appreciate. Nice. I, unlike most of the idiots posting, do not support a dumbing down of actual scholarship. I’m glad you think that your study of sciences instead of liberal arts will be remembered in the future.

  21. Hi,
    If you are interested in classic books, I have a set of the Brittanica “Great Books” set, from 1952. It is missing a few volumes and is cloth covered, not leather, and thus it is not worth anything for re-sale as far as I can tell. It is probably not worth shipping either, so if you are in the Austin, Texas area and can arrange to meet me sometime, you can have them for free. I would feel baddly if this books were to be tossed in the garbage, but I have been hauling them about and storing them for too long.
    Most of the authors mentioned in this post are included in the set. Jane Austen and Nathaniel Hawthorne were not, I haven’t checked all of them. There are more than 60 books.
    My email is rgristroph@gmail.com


  22. I would have to agree with the comment by wellread. This is an extremely narrow list of “books to boost your learning experience”. It completely neglects anything but the standard western texts and even there, where is Joyce? Pynchon? Beckett? Hemingway? Steinbeck? Chekov? What about writers like Mishima, Lu Xun, Abe? I, too, gagged when I saw Augustine on that list. He was tedious and a wing-nut in both translation and in the original Latin.

  23. […] LifeOptimiser covers some of “the best books of human civilization.” […]

  24. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I really appreciate your comments, links, and suggestions. There are a lot of useful insights and resources there.

    I’m just a beginner in the world of classic books, so my intention of creating this list is to help me in my journey there. I published it with a hope that it might also be useful to others. No doubt most of you have (much) more experience than me, which is why I enjoy reading your comments and constructive criticisms.

    I realize that this list can’t satisfy everyone. It lists only 48 books which is far from comprehensive. The list in How to Read a Book for example, has more than 200 books in it. However, I personally find such huge list overwhelming. Since I’m a beginner, I need a shorter list to start with and this is the list I came up with. If you need a more comprehensive list, I’d suggest you check the lists in How to Read a Book and The Well-Educated Mind.

  25. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience | Life Optimizer (tags: book library) […]

  26. @penny – If you think great literature is drivel – mere novels and stories – then you are depriving yourself of valuable learning. This list isn’t comprehensive, as the author himself admits, but it does contain some of the most important western literature. Reading Feynman and learning advanced mathematics is valuable as well, but excluding literature does not create a well rounded human being.

    To all the naysayers – It is easy to criticize but harder to contribute. If you have your own list, get your own blog and publish it! Let us know what literature or other reading has been essential for your growth and development. Donald stepped out from the crowd and was willing to share a little piece of himself. You all would do well to do likewise.

  27. Any list of this kind without science books is empty. (Sorry about my English).

  28. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience | Life Optimizer (tags: http://www.lifeoptimizer.org 2007 mes9 dia15 at_tecp books download) […]

  29. dari novels, saya suka banget Oliver Twist. Don Quixote dan Anna Karenina adalah novel yang benar-benar menguji kesabaran, saking panjangnya 😀
    Canterbury Tales saya sampai punya 2 biji, karena tertarik tebalnya dan murahnya, sampe lupa bahwa suda punya ;p

  30. This list, while obviously not comprehensive and very notably lacking in eastern philosophies, is a good list. I am especially happy to see Montaigne’s essays.

  31. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience | Life Optimizer […]

  32. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience | Life Optimizer Reading classic books can boost your learning experience. There are some reasons why classic books can do that: they have stood the test of time, they give you different “lenses” to look through, and they will most likely be relevant even to the far f (tags: download fiction free books magazine reference teachers publishing) Search […]

  33. […] 48 Class Books to Boost Your Learning Experience 24 Things You Can Do With an Index Card […]

  34. This lisst smells like Leo Strauss. I’d suggest you check his pupil’s, Alan Bloom, “The Closing of the American Mind”, second part.

  35. […] Eu estava dando uma olhada no artigo 48 Clássicos Para Turbinar Sua Experiência de Aprendizado (em inglês) e descobri uma lista com os livros mais vendidos da história na Wikipedia. […]

  36. […] Exemplare aus der Literatur gefällig? 48 Literatur-Klassiker zum Herunterladen (englisch). […]

  37. […] As I have said before, I love to read. Nothing gets me more excited than a good book and a quiet place to read it. Here is a list of 48 classical books that I think everyone should read. Best of all, most of them have links to free downloads at Project Gutenberg. […]

  38. What a splendid list! If only I had it in me to read them all (part I have!!)

  39. Wow, cool list bro…

    Punya ‘The Decline and The Fall of Roman Empire’, buku tua peninggalan bapak saya. Kualitasnya masih bagus, memang rencana mo baca… tapi belum sempat2 🙁

    Bahkan Oedipus The King (juga buku peninggalan ayah saya), suka saya baca waktu kecil dulu… Jadi kenal dengan istilah Oedipus Complex sewaktu SD (haha)

    Thanxx for the list…(jadi berburu ebook lg nih ^_^)

  40. […] few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience. It lists 48 classic books which are mentioned by both How to Read a Book (by Mortimer J. Adler and […]

  41. […] in Books, Daily life, Education at 5:35 pm by LeisureGuy From Life Optimizer, a short shelf of books that you should have read at least once. I think I would have gone with […]

  42. I’ve only read about a third of these titles. When I was in my early 20’s I had a job as a college gardener in England. I spent so much time sitting out the rain and reading Penguin Classics (paperbacks).That was more than thirty years ago. More recently, I found the Teaching Company. They have some amazing lectures on the humanities which are given by what they call super-star lecturers. Some are better than others, but their products are well worth looking at.

    Your reading list really is an investment of time, so you should be sure you really want to read these. I think the experience is more profound when you read in a group and can discuss ideas. Many of these books are written from a worldview so very different from the world we are thrown into. When I was studying my A level French (at night school in the UK) I very much appreciated the teacher being able to put the books we were reading in their socio-historical perspective.

    I don’t think it is a matter of ‘getting through’ these books, but savoring them and taking your time to have an experience. The problem with education is it’s so goal-oriented and not about learning and experience. I am all for slow learning that makes a difference, rather than skimming across the surface and touching on many ideas only for them to be forgotten.

    I love paper. A short blog post is OK to read on screen, but for a classic book I want the luxury of the printed page.

  43. […] encontrei no blog Life Optimizer, uma lista que se baseia nas indicações de dois livros: How to read a book, de […]

  44. Léo A. Mittaraquis
    Léo A. Mittaraquis

    This site is wonderful.


  45. Leo,
    Thanks for the encouragement! I appreciate it.

  46. […] two quick links: 48 great books (plus links to download most of them) here.  Also, Google’s browser sync extension for Firefox is a way to keep multiple computers […]

  47. I am considering buying an electronic book reader. So far I have heard good things about the…grrr now i cant remember the name….

    oh yea – kindle reader

    I know that kindle has a lot of books and many are supported by this device. Does anyone here have one? Please post your comments on it.

    I’m going to wait about a week to buy it if I dont hear any negative stuff about it.

    –> ok I just checked and they’re all out of them, ok so it looks like its a really hot item —yeeepeee! back later…off doing more research.


  48. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience […]

  49. nice list, hopefully I don’t fall asleep when read one 🙂

  50. koleksinya bagus – bagus ya..
    ijin download ya 🙂

  51. This list is really helpful; i better go to the library fast… I better start reading now…


  52. This is an excellent list! I just started The Odyssey this morning, after finishing Great Expectations, which is not on the list, but it’s still Dickens. Next, I hope to read The Doll’s House or the Oedipus trilogy! I think the reason I like this list so much is because I either own or have read almost all of these, so it seems really surmountable. Anyway, great list, great blog. Have a lovely day!

  53. these books are awesome!! I’ve already read some of them but i think i’ll check out the rest.. thanks everyone byebye now **kelsey**

  54. What about “The Great Gatsby” Of the five books I have read it is my favorite. Also anyone have a good book they can sugest I read next.

  55. Among the novels you have mentioned, WebLiterature.Net hosts almost all of them and many more of similar classic genre – after Gutenberg.Org (which unfortunately mizes categories), this is one of the biggest websites on only classic literature as of today.

  56. George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 can be found at gutenberg.net.au, created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia.

  57. […] classic books. These books have passed the test of […]

  58. Thanks for this great article. It is an eye-opener. Classic literature can bring the best of peace in mind if the right book is chosen at the right time of life and mindset.

    Also thanks for referring webliterature.net to one of the commentors. I was amazed to see such a great collection and all for free – surely I saved $1000 if not more on buying books.

  59. […] 48 Best Classic Books to Read […]

  60. i think to kill a mockingbird should be there. it shows the time period excellently and is amazingly written as well as has stood the test of time.

  61. Cannot find Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’, Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ or Scott’s ‘Treasure Island’ on this list.
    They would all be in my top five.

  62. The Importance of being Earnest?

    A tale of two cities?


    Come on!

  63. As others mentioned, too many books are missing. Books as Candide (Voltaire) or The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran) deserve to be in the list.

    Also, the sites http://www.webliterature.net and http://www.gutenberg.org both seem to have too many great books to cover in a lifetime – definitely more than 48.

  64. […] writes about self improvement. Check his articles on best classic books to read and free mind games. var addthis_pub = ‘ndthuan’; var addthis_brand = ‘Eddieway Articles’;var […]

  65. and where is the best adventure classics by the Great Fennimore Cooper ???…Chechov..?…Pushkin..?…

    Karl Marx..??!!!…why should we read his screwed up mind that caused so many wars and conflicts in the world, that still exist today ????????

  66. I think Bram Stokers Dracula counts as a classic! And The story of my life by Giacomo Casanova

  67. […] searching on the web for Best Classic Books to Read, I stumbled into this amazing Life Optimizer website. At a first glance, I particularly found […]

  68. Why do people always cut up Dante’s Comedy? It’s meant to be read as a whole, so Purgatorio and Paradiso should be included as well.

  69. anonymous poster
    anonymous poster

    Zal: Your failure at historic knowledge has been noted.

  70. anonymous poster
    anonymous poster

    To clarify, zal’s assessment of history is entirely backwards (mostly due to the fact that countries with Marxism-derived ideologies failed to continue for very long, and were not the cause of that many wars… especially when compared to countries with capitalist-derived ideology)

  71. Donald – Here’s a list of the titles in the Great Books of the Western World with 1-line summaries of each. Might be helpful for people trying to decide which to read. http://jonaquino.blogspot.com/2009/03/capsule-summaries-of-great-books-of.html

  72. Jonathan,
    Thanks for compiling such a helpful list!

  73. The good of http://www.gutenberg.org is that they have audio books. The other one, http://www.webliterature.net can be searched easily but they don’t have audio books, have only written books.

  74. […] vezes me bate uma tristeza que não lerei todos os livros que queria ler nessa minha vida, porém,nesse site em inglês, descobri 48 bons livros clássicos para ser lidos em vários gêneros. Alguns até dei uma lidinha e conheço a história e do que se trata e realmente são muito bons! […]

  75. Pride and Prejudice is such a breathtaking book

  76. Elizabeth Politano
    Elizabeth Politano

    Thanks, this is just what I needed:) I’m going to try for 3 years. Maybe it will give me a better chance of winning a scholarship, which is my only shot at a good college.

  77. Have you ever read Chinese Classics?

  78. I am 10 years old and reading these books. i am reading them cause my teacher suggested I read classics. I have a 9th grade level in reading and I am in 4th grade.

  79. @Milander

    With the exception of most of the Histories, Agamemnon (Aeschylus) and Tartuffe (Moliere), I have read every book on this list.

    Your opinion that no “not one of these books would ever be chosen by any right minded person as a ‘good read’ except some anal retentive book fetishist who has snobbish pretensions” is largely insulting to one such as myself as I do consider myself to be right minded and am in no way aware that I am an anal retentive book fetishist or hold snobbish pretensions.

    Let it be known that I am 16 years old and from New Zealand. If a teenager from down under can take the time to read these books (and enjoy them) how can the list be “a list of books designed to turn people off reading”?

    – Samantha.

  80. You should consider including at least one more book that covers the African American Experience.

  81. Come on people! Give this guy a break! This is only his opinion, and there is no way (as he stated) to list and read all of the good books out there!!!! There are sooo many! If you have a different list-post it please! I for one need recommendations for good books to read myself, and for my children. Classics are a great start and stand the test of time, but again-there are many, and we all have different tastes. Thanks for taking the time to compile and place your list on the web!

  82. Yea where is To Kill a Mockingbird?

  83. Shakespeare's best friend
    Shakespeare's best friend

    These book are quite the classics 🙂
    But I believe ur missing a few : ‘Animal Farm’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, Their eyes were watching God, Lord of Flies, The Chosen, :]
    Great books for classic reading :]

  84. Hall Caine – The Eternal City
    Luo Guangzhou – Three Kingdoms

    These are two of my most favorite of all classics; up there with the likes of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Hugo’s Les Miserables, Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, and Plato’s Republic.

    I strongly encourage every serious readers to search out these books. Eternal City is not as well known (published first in 1898) as most classics, but I am convinced that its message will stand the test of time.

    Three Kingdoms is one of the four pillars of Chinese literature, the other three being:

    Outlaws of the Marsh (aka The Water Margin)
    Dream of the Red Chamber
    Journey to the West

  85. this is a response to Anan,
    Anan the best books from human civilization does not come exclusively from Europe and North America, they come from all over the world such India, china, and lot of lost books i believe from Africa during the Egyptian and Moorish civilization were destroyed during wars of conquest, example the burning of the biggest library in the world at that time which was in Egypt

  86. I love classics i have read a few of these but i think im going to have to try some more on this list. My favorites are little women and pride of prejudice

  87. Readspeeder.com has a collection of over 100 classic novels which can be read for free. ReadSpeeder will keep your reading place for you between visits, so you can pick up where you left off by logging in on any other computer or even your iPhone. ReadSpeeder uses a new technology that divides the text into its ‘Natural’ phrases and presents these in sequence to improve your reading speed and comprehension. You can also add any other text you want and save it for later reading, or even share it with friends.

  88. I love these books historical but still intriguing! Awesome books!

  89. Quite a list! but perhaps what I find most telling is that no matter how precise a list of this sort can be it can never be perfect, Such unforgetables like Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel and even Shakespeare’s Macbeth are left out! Good list though

  90. – Animal Farm by George Orwell

    – Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  91. you can read those books sooner if

    1. you listen to them in auiobook format
    2. listen for pleasure, rather then number count


    End thanks for list and suggestions.

  92. wow. Very nice.
    I’ll start with them.
    could u also suggest some eastern literature?

  93. I’m so glad to find this wonderful place to learn something useful

  94. Don’t forget John Steinbeck …………… Of Mice and Men

  95. Hi, I just found your site. I have read some of the comments. It really is impossible to please everyone, so don’t worry about some of the meaner ones. I am a reader, but I’ve basically only read books from my favorite authors. I am like you and I’m new to classic books. I appreciate your list. It gave me a great place to start. Thank you!

  96. omg, ya’ll didnt put jane eyre in there, and treasure island, and the anne of green gables sieres.

  97. i had 2 do a project on classic buks..dt is i had 2 rite book reviews of any 5 classic buks….n i dint hav any idea of any classic buks…so thanx 4 dis wondrful list of ’em…!

    • maybe you didn’t know any classic “buks” because you don’t know how to speak english

    • You sound so terribly illiterate. I suggest you start with kindergarten stories before even considering classics. Cannot imagine what your “buk reviews” are going to look like. I pity the poor teacher who has to go through your reviews.

      • Meena,

        I think you need to travel. Just because someone’s first language is not English does not mean that they are illiterate. This person may very well speak three or more languages; I think you owe Sindhuja an apology and since Lasal is probably right about it being internet speak, then your unkind and uninformed opinion makes your comments valueless.


    • “2” rite hav buks thanx 4 ’em

      Idiots, I quote to thou name ye shall not know of this foreign dielct it, for the ignorant, is called Internet Speak.

      Shut up he probally smarter than you Cristina, kate, crissie and meena who may i say don’t understand where it is proper to use formal and informal language.

      Written with delibertate hipocracy

  98. dont forget the Hobbit

  99. It is a good list but I think you have missed some novels like ‘kane and abel’, ‘gone with the wind’, ‘sense and sensibilities’, and many more….

  100. Art of war ~ Sun Tzu

  101. No the list is not right. Where is Famous Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore, its better than many of so called classic. Also it awarded him Noble prize.

  102. Invisible man by Ralph Ellison. Why aren’t there any African American writers on this list?

    • What are African American writers? Are they african or american? or do you actually mean black american writers.
      But to answer your question, maybe they are not good enough. To be honest I dont see many white american writers here either.

    • This is a list of classics. Most of these books were written before 1800. Do you know of any great black writers (which I think is what you really mean by “African American)that wrote before 1800?

  103. Obviously all your lists are very personally biased, there is overabundance of English language writers. But this is nowhere truer than in your drama list, where there is not even one from the Spanish Golden Age. Maybe is it related to your ignorance, have you ever heard (not to mention read) about Lope de Vega or Calderon? And García Márquez (One hundred years of solitude), Rulfo (Juan Páramo), the supreme Borges? Those are the lists of someone whose reading has been too limited.

    • You obviously didn’t read the author’s post. These are the books recommended by both, “How to Read a Book” and “The Well-Educated Mind”. It’s not the author’s personal opinion. Further, the great majority of these works were written before the 19th century and the majority of the authors you listed lived in the 20th century. Perhaps the list could benefit from the addition of selection from de Vega or Calderon, but it’s not a big deal that they’re missing from the list. There are many influential writers missing from the list-that’s the result of choosing only 48 books. Would you prefer that the list excluded Shakespeare instead? He wasn’t very influential…

    • Don Quixote is the first book mentioned on the list you ditz.

    • Indeed, my believe is that classic refers to the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Those Latin American great authors do not go under the classic title.

    • Comment well made Albert. I read a lot and have read “one hundred years of solitude”, and I understand it’s literary importance, but I have always felt that I just didn’t get it. I think I missed the point ……any ideas? Any input would be much appreciated….

  104. […] 48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience: Reading classic books can boost your learning experience. There are some reasons why classic books can do that: they have stood the test of time, they give you different “lenses” to look through, and they will most likely be relevant even to the far future. Reading the classics is an excellent intellectual exercise which will arm you with a lot of powerful intellectual tools. […]

  105. Add Jane Eyre to the list by charlotte bronte. One of the best books I have ever read and quite life changing for me. Probably aimed at females. By the way for those who dont like classical fiction why not try a retelling? My teen daughter hated classical but i gave her I am Jane Eyre by Teana Rownland- its a retelling of jane eyre and now that has encouraged her to read the original!

  106. these classical book whick i read is really intresting. it gave much more knowledge. so i would like to thank for the publication .

  107. […] Best Classic Books to Read – Reading classic books can boost your learning experience. There are some reasons why classic books can do that: they have stood the test of time, they give you. […]

  108. Monique Avakian
    Monique Avakian

    Great list and comprehensive.
    However, all male and all white and all from “western” civilization.

    It is always important for the well-educated person to ask: Who is writing the history, who decides what is more or less important, why and how does that keep them in power?

    I encourage you to expand this list.


    • True, Monique, in a way. Those who made history get to write it. Let’s avoid the PC rethoric. If you wonder about the other potential side of history go and inquire. Just because you think the list is deficient it does not make it so.

  109. I don;t think this one has been mentioned, but perhaps Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov? Very good list, Some weren’t mentioned, and that’s quite alright, people should be able to figure out that every single classis wouldn’t be on a lsit of only 48 books:)

  110. The above commenters are overreacting. At no point does Latumahina claim that he believes this list the be-all, end-all of intellectual development. They further assert that it’s that Latumahina’s fault that this list excludes many great works.

    These commenters, and future ones, should read carefully the introductory paragraphs, and if you still come away thinking the same, read them again. Latumahina clearly states that the list is a summary of overlap between two different sources and that the sources contain other recommendations. Complain to the original sources if you want. Implying that Latumahina is ignorant or a closet racist makes a fool of the hypersensitive accuser and devalues both labels by improper attribution.

    Take this list for what it is, a springboard into expanding your reading. If you end your reading here, Gentle Reader, the fault is on you.

    Sidenote: There are countless great books of all origins and periods out there. It’s impossible to include them all to everyone’s satisfaction.

  111. Hi, are there any prices involved for the downloads? Are they suitable for a laptop (the e-books), or do I need an e-reader. Please be so kind as to let me have some more information by e-mail: bcasack@hotmail.com

  112. Dexufa, finally a voice of reason. For all the critics,. . .Political correctness will be the end of us if not reversed. If you can’t see that, you ARE the problem.

  113. I think this is a Great list to Begin with. I have read several of the above mentioned readings already. I love them all. I personally love to hold a book in my hands but it’s nice to have a download available to those that like to read by technology. It would be nice to see other future lists with a variety from eras and lands.

  114. Do you have any other lists?
    I found my book for me but I need more different books.

  115. More than half of the books I have read. And about the others I dont like them.Do you have any other list of books. Actually they are good books but I choose a little different and I m not finding my book. But thanks for helping.

  116. I love this website! Thank you so much for providing classic literature at no charge.

  117. One more thing – I can’t believe the odasity of some people on here….complaining….about the list not having this or that…..these are FREE books people – go buy your own book if you want something that’s not on the FREE list! Amazing!

    • *audacity (Nancy, if you’re going to call people out, it’s best to have your ducks in a row.)

  118. thanx for the list 🙂

  119. This was a nice service since it made clear that these were taken from two other well known reviewers and not the be all and end all. This list does not prohibit you from reading Invisible Man (which I read twice and loved). Most of these classics come from an earlier period where most known books were written by men. I would certainly add Emily Dickinson though. However, my primary concern is that the question of which are the better translations is completely overlooked. Often links to free downloads are for what many consider to be second rate or at least dated translations. I just picked up a nice copy of Fagles’ Illiad for $3.00. I would rather read that than Cowper’s free version linked to here,though the latter appears to be a very serious effort. I also note that Cowper’s version has more than a dozen intro pages on the issues of and difficulties of translation. So spend some time reading reviews of the various translations instead of plunging in to whatever version happens to be online. Browse a few versions at the bookstore or library. Even the books written in English have various versions that can affect your experience. I have seen Paradise Lost in several different version, with the lines formatted differently and with greatly varying degrees of annotation. Of course, there are many different versions of Shakespeare, some far more careful and reliable in their editing and annotations.

  120. Thats a great list mate, thanx for it. dont mind their mindless comments.

  121. the list is great and i absolutely agree with Jennifer Smith. I am an addicted in reading and have only recently started with the classic books but I would recommend jane eyre and the count of monte cristo. These books are very thrilling I promise!! =D

  122. Thank you allot. I’m from Holland and i love to read English books. But I prefer older books to improve my English. (:

  123. Richard Claypool
    Richard Claypool

    Thanks forthe list. Some I’ve read, others are on my toread list, and a few I’ve never encountered before.

    These lists are a jumping off point, and should be taken as such.

    I thoughtthe cat who put together this page did an exelent job with the introductory paragraphs. Unlike for example, rolling stone’s top 500 guitarists, we’re given a list with no prefertial treatment, reasons for the list, and the hope that we could have the intelectual ability to see this fact.

    Happy reading, and good hunting to all.

  124. I like this list especially for the easy links. Of course there are plenty of wonderful books not on the list. You could make a list of 1000 books and still leave out something important. I would recommend that readers look at lists like this one but also build their own “To read” list. Goodreads is a great tool to do that, especially if you like to add a little social discussion to your reading.

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