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  • Writer's pictureCameron Barnard

5 Easy Classic Books for Beginners

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

I'm sure most readers at one time or another want to venture into the literary genre of "classics." However, books like War and Peace and Atlas Shrugged that have upwards of 1000 pages appear daunting to the uninitiated.

Instead, here are a couple of options to start your journey into the world of classics. I've selected 5 books that are not only easy to read, but also short, and really enjoyable. These are the types of classics you keep coming back to, even after conquering the 4215-page-long In Search of Lost Time.

1. Animal Farm by George Orwell

Page Count: 112

Everyone has read Animal Farm, and it's no wonder - Orwell's novella is one of the best satires out there. The story follows the animals of Manor Farm trying to survive after their owner is too lazy to feed them. But while we are following animals, Orwell portrays the very human qualities of rebellion, government, the ideal of equality, power, and corruption. It's a great pace and very easy to read, so you should certainly read it at some point.

Buy it here!

2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol

Page Count: 96

While Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was written for children, it is equally as enjoyable for an adult. Most people know Disney's version of this story from their 1951 movie, but the actual book by Carol is much more bizarre and imaginative, filled with even more strange beasts and catchy rhymes. A bonus is that most editions are filled with beautiful illustrations of the scenes that truly make the story come to life.

Buy it here!

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

Page Count: 352

Frankenstein is one of the biggest names in pop culture, so some individuals may associate the name "Boris Karloff" with it more so than "Mary Shelley." However, there's a reason why the story is considered one of the most famous gothic horror novels. Whether you have watched the movie or not, I highly recommend reading Frankenstein, as it is a brilliant novel focused on the difference between man and monster, creativity and destruction, love and hubris, and the perspective of both Victor and the monster. The language is certainly different from how we write now, but it's absolutely engrossing.

Buy it here!

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Page Count: 240

For all you thriller and crime lovers, nothing beats Sherlock Holmes as a pick to kickstart your classics journey. Originally, these stories were published in the newspaper before a collection of 12 of his best-known cases was published as a novel in 1892. This means there are a couple of mysteries to keep you excited as Holmes and Watson pick up new cases, new suspects, new tricks, and new enemies. This is the best choice if you like fast-paced, entertaining, intellectual, and binge-able stories.

Buy it here!

5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Page Count: 314

If you are ready to sink your teeth into a darker and more subtle novel, this is an excellent choice to start off with. You follow the protagonist, Offred, in a dystopian - yet old-fashioned - world where women are owned, individualism and free will are oppressed, and only the wealthy can survive. Especially after the recent overturning of Roe v Wade, The Handmaid's Tale is an important novel critiquing a world where men have complete rule over both women's bodies and minds. It is a bleak yet startling story based on Atwood's brilliant perceptive powers and innate talent for irony.

Buy it here!

Honourable Mentions

There are dozens of books to choose from and many other lists to scroll through. However, here are two picks that just missed the top five - in case you wanted some other ideas!

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Page Count: 151

Unfortunately, as A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play and not a book, I couldn't allow myself to put it into the list above. However, this Shakespearean comedy is by far one of his funniest and most entertaining works. Set in Greek times, it's filled with love potions, mischievous faeries, and a play within a play. There are so many marvelous characters and the plot keeps you on your toes. I highly recommend this read if you are in the mood for some really good laughs.

Buy it here!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Page Count: 480

Pride and Prejudice is one of the best-known classic novels of all time. It fell short of the top five as I didn't want to suggest anything longer than around 350 pages and the language is also very old school. But it's a timeless story with a slow-burn romance. Austen crafts beautiful relationships - whether they be romantic, platonic, or family-related - and throws the audience into the good and the bad of provincial middle-class life. For those people out there who don't want to give up romance or coming-of-age stories quite yet, this would be a good place to start classics.

Buy it here!

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