There are certain books everyone should read, so make 2017 the year you make your way through some of the classics. Whether you’re looking to expand your literary horizons, or just after a holiday book that’s a guaranteed winner, here’s our list of the novels you have to pick up…
Strikingly relevant despite being first published in 1949, Orwell’s dystopian novel brings to light issues of government surveillance, class struggles and power in a political narrative that's had a lasting effect on society.
A tough read but an important one. Morrison explores some of society's darkest taboos in this work but manages to retain her signature literary magic. A brutal and affecting account of slavery and the effects of trauma, you might struggle to get through it but you’ll recommend it as soon as you do.
Dickens had to make it on this list, and what better classic than Great Expectations? His depiction of the personal development of main character Pip has been met with universal acclaim since its publication; read it for the humour, truth and humanity.
If you’re looking for a short classic, this is it. Conrad’s novella (the inspiration for Apocalypse Now) flits effortlessly between maddeningly obtrusive and vividly descriptive, playing with form and language. It charts the journey of the narrator, Marlow, up the Congo River in the heart of Africa, dealing with themes of imperialism, secrecy and racism.
If you didn’t read this at school then we suggest you pick up a copy. The novel follows rebellious orphan Jane Eyre, from her youth to her relationship with the iconic Mr Rochester, with a focus on the eponymous heroine’s individualism and moral development. Criticised at the time for its bold portrayal of female desire and agency (it was originally published under a pseudonym so readers wouldn’t know it was written by a woman) it has stood the test of time as a captivating read.
Disturbing yet strikingly written, Nabokov’s novel deals with an intensely controversial subject matter in a wry, observational manner. Narrator Humbert Humbert becomes obsessed with 12-year-old Dolores, whom he nicknames Lolita, as Nabokov navigates themes of identity, sexuality and control.
A vivid, sensory journey exploring India's transition from British colonialism to independence. Incorporating both post-colonial themes and ideas of magic realism, Rushdie's depiction of India in this Booker Prize winner is astonishing and innovative as the narrative moves across the country by way of characters who are telepathically linked.
A classic American novel telling the tale of Captain Ahab and his diverse crew in pursuit of the great white whale. Expect obsession, adventure and philosophical debate.
Charting a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a high-society woman, Mrs Dalloway is one of Woolf's best-known novels. Told through a stream of consciousness, it explores interiority, post-WWI England and the preservation of happiness.
Widely acclaimed as one of the most significant works of Spanish literature, this is the story of seven generations of a family navigating a changing world. Marquez's portrayal of the complexity of time and the inescapable repetition of history is brought to life through his magic realist style.
Challenging the sexual morals of Victorian England, Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a heartbreaking exploration of class, gender roles, tradition, education and modernity. The story of Tess, the daughter of a poor villager, who learns of her potentially wealthy lineage with tragic consequences.
Plath's semi-autobiographical novel is a must-read. Telling the tale of protagonist Esther Greenwood and her struggle with mental illness, there's humour, raw emotion and tragedy. Plath's ability to convey the human condition will stay with you long after you've finished the book.
A landmark work by this Nobel Prize-winning author, The Golden Notebook is a powerful account of a woman searching for her identity whilst attempting to overcome trauma, betrayal and rejection.
A Pulitzer Prize winner, so you can rest assured it's a great read. Steinbeck's focus is the Joad family, who are forced to travel west to California in search of dreams, hope and a future; you'll remember the scope of the novel, from intensely human to a wide-reaching moral vision.
Told through narrator Nick Carraway, this is a novel of opulence, desire, tragedy and the hedonism of the Jazz Age. The language is both beautiful and economical, no matter how many times you return to it, you'll find something new to love.
Atwood's near-future dystopian novel explores themes of female subjugation, independence and sexual exploitation that remain shockingly relevant today.
Addressing social and intellectual race issues, including the relationships between politics and black identity, Invisible Man tells the story of an African-American man whose colour renders him invisible.
A satirical novel bringing to light the greed and dishonesty that characterised the commercial, political, moral and intellectual life of the late 1800's, from scandals to secrets. At around 800 pages it's incredibly long, but if you're after something that will really make you think, read this.
A gripping read exploring colonialism, strength and Nigerian identity, Achebe's novel was one of the first African novels in English to receive global critical acclaim.
In this novel, Lee created some of the most memorable characters of recent literature. Told through the lens of Scout, a young girl discovering the injustices of the world in which she lives, her father, lawyer Atticus Finch, is embroiled in a landmark case that highlights the racism of the Deep South. A beautifully drawn and honest portrayal of morality, youth and courage.