Leaders are Readers – 10 must read Classics!

29 Apr

One of my goals at the start of the year was to read more good old-fashioned books. Specifically, works of classic literature. Having started on this journey, I can tell you that it’s been extremely rewarding and well worth sharing. 
I’ve compiled ten timeless novels which I believe are essential reading for all. These books are of unparalleled prose, packed with wit and wisdom capable of igniting a new understanding of the world. I hope you enjoy it. 

And without further ado, here is my top 10: 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – An all time classic! A moving tale of race and class in the 1930’s Deep South. A struggle for justice against not just hostility and hypocrisy but prejudices of all kinds. This has become one of the top selling books of all time, selling over 30 million copies. 

1984 by George Orwell – A classic dystopian novel which is widely acclaimed for its portrayal of society under a surveillance regime. Written in 1949, this book introduced terms such as ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Orwellian’ in to the public speak. What uncanny foresight. 

The Republic by Plato – Is it always better to be just than unjust? Plato’s writing revolves around this simple question, linking a dialogue between Socrates and three interlocutors. An enquiry into the idea of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it, this is a book that has shaped world history. 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – Set in the closing months of World War II, this is a satire of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it. It’s the book that coined the term “catch-22”. A must read! 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – A memorable classic which recounts the narrative of a young orphan who transforms into a gentleman with the help of a secret benefactor, while struggling through battles of his morality and love on the way. Without a doubt one of Dickens’ most fully-realized literary creations. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – With the enviable record of being “the most widely censored book in the US” during the 60’s and 70’s, this is the definitive story of disaffected youth. It catapulted the novel’s protagonist into an icon for teenage rebellion. A coming of age novel.  

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – A masterpiece, regarded as one of the world’s greatest novels. Tolstoy weaves a grand epic of conflict and love, birth and death, free will and fate. It details events leading up to the invasion of Russia during the Napoleonic Era and the impact on its society. 

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald – During the “roaring” 20’s of unprecedented prosperity, Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach, a longing that can never be fulfilled. This destructive obsession forces his world to unravel. A cautionary tale of the American Dream. 

Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes – Published in 1605, it’s the adventures of an idealistic Spanish nobleman who, as a result of reading many tales of chivalry, comes to believe that he is a knight who must combat the world’s injustices. It has fascinated generations of readers and even inspired creative artists such as Picasso. 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature. A deeply touching tale about the devastating effects of the Great Depression. When the book was published in 1939, it sold over 10,000 copies a week and became an overnight best-seller. A phenomenon considering the hard economic times. 

Note: You can download classic literature as free eBooks at www.planetebook.com  


What are your all-time favorite novels? Share in the comments! 

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4 Responses to “Leaders are Readers – 10 must read Classics!”

  1. Joe P April 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Great list, thanks! I’d also recommend ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini for those interested.

    • Atticus May 6, 2010 at 2:30 am #

      Useful addition! Cheers

  2. Mish May 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by. Yep, I’ve read half of that list, but would really like to re-read to Kill A Mockingbird and the Catcher in the Rye. The books by Cervantes, Heller, and Plato are in the TBR pile. War and Peace and the Great Gatsby are in the tentative reading pile. Nice selection.

    • Atticus May 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      Hey Misha, nice to get your thoughts on this.
      Harper Lee’s TKAM is an all time classic and definitely worthwhile reading again.
      I’m reading War and Peace at the mo, will keep me busy for sometime – something like 1500 pages. lol
      Enjoy your reading : )

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