30 Best Classic Books According to Our Readers

Over the years, we’ve had a few requests for us to publish a list of must-read classic books. As the classic literature genre isn’t our specialty, we turned to our most valuable resource – our readers!

three angled covers of must read classic books

How Did We Decide Which Classics Made This List

We invited our email subscribers to share up to three classic book recommendations each, along with notes about why each book is one of their favorites. When the submission form closed, we were thrilled to compile votes from 200 different readers! It was so fun to see which books came up repeatedly. 

Every book with at least five submissions is listed below, along with a short synopsis. We also included a selection of quotes in our reader’s own words. We couldn’t include all the books or all the comments about each book, but we read and value each one! 

As we reviewed the results, reading the quotes was a beautiful reminder of the power of books.  Whether they were impacted by their first reading, or sharing how impressions changed during a re-read, there was a definite theme of learning to be more accepting of, or empathic towards, others. We even found ourselves adding some books to our personal TBR lists that we previously had no interest in reading.

In addition to inquiring about the best classic novels, we also gave the option for readers to share one relatively newer book that they believe will (or SHOULD) become a modern classic in the future. It turned into a fun list of books published within the last 20-ish years that everyone should read.

30 Classic Books Everyone Should Read

Classic Literature

The first 22 novels on this list are the works of literature that our readers voted the best of the best, followed by the top 8 books they think are destined to become classics.

Recent Books Destined to Become Classics

These are books published in the last 20 years that our readers think will stand the test of time. These eight titles received the most votes from our readers as "future classics."

A Note About Classics

When our readers think back to the classics they were introduced to in school, the books reflect the state of publishing at the time and a lack of diversity in books covered in coursework. There were unjust barriers to publication and distribution for minority authors. However, some writers beat the odds and their works were not only published, many are still available today. Consider reading books like Passing by Nella Larsen, first published in 1928 or The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois, first published in 1903 to expand your knowledge of classic literature.

Thank you so much to all of our readers who helped us compile this list of good classic books – those that they’d want to read again and would continue to recommend to friends and family.

If you’d like the opportunity to have your opinion heard on future Reader Favorite lists, be sure you’re on our email list and read each Friday’s newsletter. We’ll have several additional opportunities throughout the year!


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