This is a very personal book list. The problem is that as soon as you say classic everybody will have their own thoughts. There are many things that contribute to such a classification like age, impact and so on. I have tried to keep a degree of elapsed time to my choices, but they are predominantly here because I love them all.
I hope you like my picks and the reasons why.
Paradise Lost / John Milton
It seemed right to start a classics list with this. Milton’s retelling of the Devil’s casting from heaven and his infiltration of Adam and Eve is astonishing. Poetry, writing and content combine in a way almost no other book does. It also double-dared me to use ‘thus spake’ in my own prose although I don’t think I’ll ever get away with it.
H. G. Wells / The Time Machine
How could Wells see so much, so long ago? Most people admire this book for the time travel element, but for me, it was the original ending that got me, which has not been used in films. An ocean at the end of time with strange creatures that might once have been us. Wow!
Dandelion Wine / Ray Bradbury
I loved this book. If ever a story can be described as ‘gentle’ it is this. Childhood at its best.
The Hound of the Baskervilles / Arthur Conan Doyle
I almost included The Lost World, which I also love, but chose this. The thing I love about this story more than most of its era and Doyle’s other work is its dark edge. This book will never date and will always hold its appeal.
Rebecca / Daphne Du Maurier
This book taught me as a writer that place can be just as important as person. Manderley will be forever etched on the reader’s subconscious after reading this, and I will always aspire to do the same with work of my own.
The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald
Who is he? The question we as the reader will ask. Brilliant.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s / Truman Capote
Capote is another of those writers who can take any subject and mesmerise his readers. I almost listed In Cold Blood which couldn’t be more different, but felt this story holds a more universal appeal. I have a leather-bound copy of this and treasure it. PS It’s only short, so there’s no excuse to not read it.
And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie
The preeminent whodunnit. If you say you knew, you either fibbed or should be a judge. To say Christie used only her imagination with her crime books, (no training at all) only goes to make this even more remarkable.
Alice In Wonderland / Lewis Carroll
A book that brought fantasy to the masses. I don’t think there are many more books of its ilk that have influenced future works more than it has. Another superb read for any age.
A Christmas Carol / Charles Dickens
Timeless. It doesn’t matter who you are, what age, race, gender, this book will resonate. So simple an idea as to be perfect. I just had to include it. (Sorry Great Expectations, you got usurped).
I hope you have enjoyed the very wide selection here. As I said at the start, the definition of classic is a personal one. I think these all are and they are all very dear to me. Always will be, too.
Thanks for reading
Richard M. Ankers, author of The Eternals trilogy.