Recommended Classics Reading List

Classics Reading List

Back when I was in middle school, my teachers gave out a list of books that students should read before college. Now, this was a long list and to this day I’m still making my way through this list (does that mean I’m still not prepared for college?!?!). I thought (seeing as it has been a decade or, um, almost two since I got this list) it would be a good time to take stock, see where I’m at, and make some goals to get through the list.

Below is the list of fictional books recommended by my middle school (I was foolish and never saved the non-fiction list, boo on past me). I have marked books I’ve read with a ♦♦♦


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1884 ♦♦♦

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, 1865 ♦♦♦

All Quite on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, 1928

Animal Farm by George Orwell, 1946 ♦♦♦

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, 1930 ♦♦♦

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 1957

Beloved  by Toni Morrison, 1987

Billy Budd by Herman Melville, 1843

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, 1970

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, 1973

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1932

The Call of the Wild by Jack London, 1903 ♦♦♦

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, 15th century ♦♦♦

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, 1961

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, 1951 ♦♦♦

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, 1974

The Chosen by Chaim Potok, 1967

The Color Purple by Alice Walker, 1982

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1867

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, 1948

Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, 1898

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 1849

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, 1605

East of Eden by John Steinbeck, 1952

Emma by Jane Austen, 1816

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, 1985 ♦♦♦

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, 1911

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 1967 ♦♦♦

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, 1940

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1818 ♦♦♦

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gains, 1983

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1936

Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, 1931

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, 1939 ♦♦♦

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, 1860

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925 ♦♦♦

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, 1726

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, 1940

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, 1902

The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende, 1985

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, 1847

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, 1906 ♦♦♦

Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 1954 ♦♦♦

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1967 ♦♦♦

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, 1857

Moby Dick by Herman Melville, 1851

My Antonia by Willa Cather, 1918

1984 by George Orwell, 1949 ♦♦♦

The Odyssey by Homer, 700BC ♦♦♦

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 1937 ♦♦♦

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, 1955

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1963

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1967

The Portable Faulkner by William Faulkner, 1967

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, 1916

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813 ♦♦♦

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, 1895

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850 ♦♦♦

Selected Tales of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allen Poe, 1991

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, 1951 ♦♦♦

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, 1969 ♦♦♦

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, 1929

The Stranger by Albert Camus, 1946 ♦♦♦

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, 1929

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1859

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, 1959

The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, 1844

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960 ♦♦♦

The Trial by Franz Kafka, 1925

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, 1898

Ulysses by James Joyce, 1922

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stow, 1851

Walden by Henry David Thoreau, 1854

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, 1865

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, 1847

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris, 1987


Adding it all up, it looks like I’ve read a total of 24/78 books, or a mere 30.8% of them…. So obviously I have a bit of reading yet to go. It might be about time to hunker down and get through this list.

How many have you read on this list? Do you feel any are missing? Which books should I focus on finishing first?

One comment

  1. Great list. I have read many of them. My favorite author is Zane Grey. He tells about wild west and life of those days. This is what it sounds at first, but when reading his books, the reader notice that he tells about human heart, love, life success, failure and much more. I love happy endings in his books. It is important to me!

    I did not see on Your list my favorite Finnish author Mika Waltari. His book Sinuhe the Egyptian is a historic novel but he also tells about human heart, suffering and success.

    Have a good day!


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