If your resolution is to read more classics this year, or maybe just to read more widely or more often, then check out our list of suggestions below. We have matched literary classics with popular modern genres to inspire your 2015 reading list.
If you like folk tales and myths, try:
Myths from Mesopotamia, Stephanie Dalley
The ancient civilization of Mesopotamia thrived between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates over 4,000 years ago. The myths collected here, originally written in cuneiform on clay tablets, include parallels with the biblical stories of the Creation and the Flood, and the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, the tale of a man of great strength, whose heroic quest for immortality is dashed through one moment of weakness.
The Mabinogion, Anonymous
Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history – these are just some of the themes embraced by the anonymous authors of the eleven tales that make up the Welsh medieval masterpiece known as The Mabinogion.
If you like detective stories, try:
The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins (1868)
According to T.S.Eliot, The Moonstone is ‘the first and greatest of English detective novels’. The bemused butler, the love-stricken housemaid, the enigmatic detective, the drug-addicted scientist; each take their turn to speculate on the mystery of the missing diamond as Collins weaves their narratives into a masterpiece of construction and suspense.
A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle (1888)
A Study in Scarlet is the first Sherlock Holmes story. Holmes and Watson are immediately in fine form as Holmes plucks the solution to the mystery from the heart of Victorian London.
If you like tales of suspense, try:
The Romance of the Forest, Ann Radcliffe (1791)
A novel of mystery and suspense in the Gothic style, The Romance of the Forest was considered by contemporary critics to be Radcliffe’s finest novel, although her novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, is probably better known.
The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole (1764)
The Castle of Otranto is the first supernatural English novel and one of the most influential works of Gothic fiction. Chilling coincidences, ghostly visitations, arcane revelations, and violent combat combine in a heady mix that terrified the novel’s first readers.
The Turn of the Screw, Henry James (1898)
The Turn of the Screw is probably the most famous, certainly the most eerily equivocal, of all ghostly tales. Is it a subtle, self-conscious exploration of the haunted house of Victorian culture, filled with echoes of sexual and social unease? Or is it simply,`the most hopelessly evil story that we have ever read’?
If you like family dramas, try:
Lady Audley’s Secret, M.E.Braddon (1862)
When beautiful young Lucy Graham accepts the hand of Sir Michael Audley, her fortune and her future look secure. But Lady Audley’s past is shrouded in mystery, and to Sir Michael’s nephew Robert, she is not all that she seems. When his good friend George Talboys suddenly disappears, Robert is determined to find him, and to unearth the truth. Can Robert’s darkest suspicions really be true?
The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy (1922)
The three novels which make up The Forsyte Saga chronicle the ebbing social power of the commercial upper-middle class Forsyte family between 1886 and 1920. Galsworthy’s masterly narrative examines not only their fortunes but also the wider developments within society, particularly the changing position of women.
If you like spy fiction, try:
The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan (1915)
The best-known of Buchan’s thrillers, The Thirty-Nine Steps has been continuously in print since first publication and has been filmed three times, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935.
The Riddle of the Sands, Erskine Childers (1903)
Like much contemporary British spy fiction, The Riddle of the Sands reflects the long suspicious years leading up to the First World War. The intricacy of the book’s conception and its lucid detail make it a classic of its genre.
If you like stories of the sea, try:
Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling (1897)
Captains Courageous deals with a boy who like Mowgli in The Jungle Book, is thrown into an entirely alien environment. The superstitious, magical world of the sea and the tough, orderly, physical world of the boat form a backdrop to Harvey’s regeneration. Kipling describes the fascination skills of the schooner fishermen who would soon be made redundant by the twentieth century, and makes the ship function as a convincing model for a society engaged in a difficult and dangerous task.
Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad (1900)
Lord Jim tells the story of a young, idealistic Englishman – ‘as unflinching as a hero in a book’ – who is disgraced by a single act of cowardice while serving as an officer on the Patna, a merchant-ship sailing from an Eastern port.
The Oxford World’s Classics (OWC) series offers more than 750 titles fiction and non-fiction titles; taken from British, Irish, European, American, and Eastern Literature as well as covering topics such as Philosophy, History and Science. For a complete list of titles, go to our OWC website page. To find out more about the series, watch the video below or follow OWC on Twitter or on Facebook.