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Hi everyone, I hope you are doing good!

The lockdown/stay at home situation is starting to get to me, just like it is getting to all of you I presume. There are days when I am genuinely happy and productive at home and there days when I am not.

The only saviour through all of this for me has been reading.

Too much of social media, too much of news about COVID-19, too much of watching Netflix/ Amazon Prime shows and movies makes me feel unproductive and I seriously can’t view shows/movies all the time.

Reading makes me feel alive & activates my imagination. It helps me go into another world & I forget the worries of the current world for a while. It also makes my memory sharper as I grasp one story after another and read one line after another.

The added benefits of vocabulary expansion, cognitive stimulation & brain exercising make reading the best stay at home activity during these times.

Today, I am sharing with all of you 13 Classic Fiction Novels which aren’t boring. Infact, these books are so good that they have been adapted into movies & television shows and you must have seen the adapted versions of atleast one of these.

Even if you have seen any of the movies/TV shows, I would suggest you all to read these books. Books give you the real story and movies/shows although entertaining, lack the depth and intensity of books. Books are layered and have more complex plot build ups & describe the minutest things in detail.

If you love the vintage vibe & the amazing culture, costumes & dialogues of the previous era like I do, you should definitely read these classic novels. As a bibliophile, I find that the books of today lack the depth of character & detailing that the books of the previous generation had. There is just so much richness, finesse & character to these books, that it’s hard to beat such good writing. Hence, they are rightly the most popular books of all time.

I am a huge vintage, retro and classic fan. From vintage clocks, to vintage home decor, to vintage clothing and vintage cars, I love it all! In fact, one of my favourite cafes in Singapore is vintage themed! I guess I am probably just an old soul….

Anyway, the classic novels mentioned below are from different genres & they have a great plot/story line, irrespective of their genre.

Depending on your favourite genre, you can start reading any of these!

Here’s the list:

1. HERCULE POIROT SERIES- AGATHA CHRISTIE

The Hercule Poirot series is dated back to the 1920s and is a legendary series written by Agatha Christie. Hercule Poriot is a Belgian Detective and the stories revolve around him solving many cases through detective work. He is known to be extremely intelligent & observant. The books are available as both, short stories and novels.

Genre: Mystery/ Detective Fiction/Suspense

2. JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH- JULES VERNE

This is an 1864 science fiction novel. The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the centre of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans descend into an Icelandic volcano and encounter many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards & somehow manage to resurface to the earth again.

Other Jules Verne novels like Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea & Around The World in Eighty Days are also very popular and worth a read.

Genre: Science Fiction

3. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD- HARPER LEE

This book was published in 1960 & soon became extremely popular & won the Pulitzer Prize as well. It deals with sensitive topics like racial discrimination, etc in an extremely subtle manner. In fact, it has lots of humour & warmth as well and the story is told innocently through the point of view of a six year old girl.

Genre: Southern Gothic/Coming of age fiction

4. PERRY MASON BOOK SERIES- ERLE STANLEY GARDNER

The first book in this hugely popular law detective series was written in 1933. The Perry Mason Book series ranks 3rd in top selling book series of all time. Perry Mason is a criminal defense lawyer and the stories involve a client’s law murder trial. The American author & lawyer E.S Gardner depicts Perry Mason as a lawyer who fights hard on behalf of his clients and who enjoys unusual, difficult or nearly-hopeless cases. He frequently accepts clients on a whim based on his curiosity about their problem, sometimes for a minimal retainer, and finances the investigation of their cases himself if necessary, to get to the bottom of the crime & ensure justice.

A still from the Perry Mason TV series adaptation

The series include a large list of 82 novels plus 4 short stories. The dialogues and courtroom scenes definitely make this series a great read!

Genre: Law- Detective Fiction/ Mystery/ Crime Fiction/Legal Story/Suspense

5. THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO- ALEXANDRE DUMAS

This book dates back to 1844 and is written by french writer Alexandre Dumas who also wrote the famous novel – The Three Musketeers. The story takes place in France, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1839 (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile). The historical setting is a fundamental element of the book, an adventure story primarily concerned with hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness. It centres on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail & plans revenge.

The saying ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’ is apt for this book and this book has lots of thrill, drama and characters with deep layers and stories. Today, this book is a literary classic.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure Fiction

6. THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK- ANNE FRANK

This book is also called as the ‘Diary of a Young Girl’. This is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by a young girl calledAnne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944, and Anne Frank died of typhus in a concentration camp in 1945.

The diary was retrieved by Miep Gies, who gave it to Anne’s father, Otto Frank, the family’s only known survivor, just after the war was over. The diary has since been published in more than 60 languages. The diary entries where published soon after in the 1945s to 1950’s & the popularity of the book was such that it was translated from Dutch to 60 other languages.

It is a heart- wrenching yet warm & gripping book and one can see the world from Anne Frank’s eyes.

Genre: Autobiography

7. SHERLOCK HOLMES- SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

This is a vastly popular series and needs no introduction. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is a private detective and refers to himself as a “consulting detective” in the stories. The series date back to the year 1887 and gained popularity in the early 1891.

Adaptation- Sherlock TV series

Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, forensic science, and logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic, which he employs when investigating cases for a wide variety of clients, including Scotland Yard.

Genre: Detective Fiction/Mystery/Crime Fiction

8. LORD OF THE RINGS- J.R.R TOLKIEN

This is an epic high fantasy novel written by English author & scholar J.R. R Tolkien. Most of you must have watched the films. Did you know that it is originally a book series? The story intially began as a sequel to Tolkein’s 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure Fiction

9. LITTLE WOMEN- LOUISA MARY ALCOTT

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The story follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—and details their passage from childhood to womanhood. It is loosely based on the lives of the author and her three sisters. Scholars classify it as an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical novel.

Little Women was an immediate commercial and critical success, with readers demanding to know more about the characters. The two volumes were issued in 1880 as a single novel titled Little Women. The women’s characters and the sisterhood bond is amazing in this book, with the character of the tomboy girl Jo adding the much required spark to the story. It depects the life of women in that era and makes a great read.

Genre: Semi-autobiography/ Literature/Domestic Fiction

10. PRIDE & PREJUDICE- JANE AUSTEN

Written in 1813, this classical fiction written by British author Jane Austen is romantic fiction set in that era. The novel follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the dynamic protagonist of the book who learns about the repercussions of judgments formed in haste and comes to appreciate the difference between superficial goodness and actual goodness.

Its appeal lies in it’s humorously honest depiction of manners, education, marriage, and money during the Regency era in Great Britain. It is the perfect book depecting the fact that appearances can be deceptive. The iconic characters of Flitzwilliam Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet and the hot & cold relationship between the two, make the book very interesting. Each of them learn their lessons and Elizabeth learns not to have a prejudiced mindset.

Still from the movie Pride & Prejudice 2005

Pride and Prejudice has consistently appeared near the top of lists of “most-loved books” among literary scholars and the reading public. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, with over 20 million copies sold, and has inspired many derivatives in modern literature

Genre: Romance Fiction/Satire/ Domestic Fiction

11. COMA- ROBIN COOK

The Robin Cook book series are not literary classics in true sense of the word, but they are one of the best book series on medical fiction from the years 1972 to 2019. Many of the books have been bestsellers on The New York Times Best Seller List. Several of the author’s books have also been featured in Reader’s Digest. His books have sold nearly 400 million copies worldwide.

Coma is one of the most famous of the books written by American physician & author Robin Cook. The book’s protagonist is young 3rd year medical student Susan Wheeler who stumbles upon mysterious deaths in the hospital & decides to investigate.

Genre: Medical Fiction/ Medical Thriller/Suspense

12. JANE EYRE- CHARLOTTE BRONTE

Jane Eyre (originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë, published under the pen name “Currer Bell”, in the year 1847.

The book contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of Christian morality at its core, and is considered by many to be ahead of its time because of the character Jane Eyre’s individualistic personality and how the way the novel approaches the topics of class, sexuality, religion and feminism.

Genre: Victorian Literature/ Gothic Fiction/ Fictional Autobiography

13. SENSE & SENSIBILITY- JANE AUSTEN

The last book in this series and the oldest, dating back to 1811, written by Jane Austen beofre Pride & Prejudice.

The story revolves around the Dashwood family & the two sisters Elinor & Marianne.

Elinor is the eldest & the ‘sensible’ one. She is reserved and has a silent & yet strong character. She places other people’s welfare and interests above her own and suppresses her own strong emotions in a way that leads others to think she is indifferent or cold-hearted.

Marianne is the younger, more romantically inclined & temperamental one. Her emotional excesses identify her as the “sensibility” half of the novel’s title. (At that time, this word meant what we now call “sensitivity”).

The relationship between the two sisters & the happenings around them and Marianne’s realisation of her behaviour makes this book an all time favourite classic.

Genre: Romance Fiction/ Domestic Fiction

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Thus, this was a list of my favourite classic fiction novels from various genres.

From romance, to suspense, to fantasy, to autobiography, to science fiction & medical thriller, this list has it all!

Do you love classics as much as I do?

Do let me know if you have read any of these and if you are inspired to read one.

Did I miss any other favourite classical novels of yours?

Go ahead, grab a cup of tea/coffee and start reading one of these classics.. I am sure you will not be disappointed!

In case you need more ideas on what to do during lockdown, read my previous post.

8 thoughts on “13 Must Read Classic Novels During Social Distancing in Coronavirus Times.”
  1. Nostalgic moments dear!!!! A train of thoughts of the stories rattled through the mind! I won’t mind reading these books and cherishing the lovely moments again! Thanks!

  2. Brilliant Manasi. Took me down memory lane just reading the titles. Worth a dozen rereads. Have read more than half of these.
    Happy reading!

  3. Excellent 🙂 This should keep me busy for a while. I’ve never heard of Coma, that looks interesting. From this list, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, and I read Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles. I love classics too – I recommend David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights and Dracula. And I also like The Time Machine. And The Importance of Being Earnest.

    1. Thanks a lot Miranda. I am glad you liked the list. I love your list of suggestions! I have read wuthering heights & David Copperfield.. I am surely going to read the others! Adding them to my must-read list! 🙂

Your thoughts please?