100 Essential Classics to Read in One Year

100 classics to read in one year

Have you ever wanted to read 100 fiction books in a single year? I’ve always wanted to do it, but my health has seldom been good enough for me to tackle such a large project. It’s on my bucket list, though, for 2020, and I can’t wait!

Is it even possible to read 100 books in a single year, you ask. Well, of course, anything’s possible if you set your mind to it! Go for it! I’ll be cheering you on!!!

Although, to be fair, doing so is an enormous endeavor, and you have to choose the exactly right year to undertake an enormous endeavor like this.

When is it a good year to read 100 books?

It might be the perfect year for you, if:

  1. You’ve had a surgery or illness, and need to relax and take some time for yourself
  2. You’ve just had a baby, and have got plenty of time to read or listen to audio books
  3. You’re traveling all the time, either driving or flying
  4. You’ve recently retired or cut your work hours, and want to read those books you never got to read before
  5. You’ve extreme self-control, and can stick to a certain number of words to read each day

When is it a bad year to read 100 books?

It’s a bad time to read a 100 classics if:

  1. You are a college student. Whether you are studying for an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, don’t try it! You have enough to do as it is, and will only make yourself ill trying to read that much on top of everything else
  2. You are in the beginning stages of a business, enterprise, or some other intense venture – again, you have enough to do!
  3. You are a parent with young children. In that case, you are reading the same five books a million times a day, and by the end of the day, you can only manage maybe a page of your own book before your eyes fall closed in blissful sleep. That’s ok. The year to read a hundred books will come for you!

Reading 100 Classics

Assuming it’s the right year for you, where should you start? What classics should you read?

I recommend a blend of different classics, both in length and content. Some of the books on this list are intense and long, and some are short and sweet. It’s good to take a break and intersperse the big classics with easier, lighter ones.

If it’s not the right year for you to tackle 100 books, then I recommend choosing 20-50 of the below, and making that your goal! Even reading just 3 classics a year is a monumental achievement, let alone 30!

Two Star Books

The really light and easy reads. These are the ones you can read aloud to your children or grandchildren, and share a good laugh or adventure! If you want a more complete list, you can check it out here.

  1. A.A. Milne – The House at Pooh Corner
  2. A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh
  3. E.B. White – Charlotte’s Web
  4. Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie
  5. C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Three Star Books

Although all were originally written for children, you might be surprised by the reading level of some of them. The Little Prince might be easy to read, but it’s not so easy to understand; and Treasure Island might be a straightforward story, but it’s not such an easy read. There’s also a larger list here.

  1. Antoine de Saint ExuperyThe Little Prince
  2. Carlo Collodi – Pinocchio
  3. Elizabeth Gaskell – The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  4. Frances Hodgson Burnett – A Little Princess
  5. Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden
  6. George MacDonald – The Light Princess
  7. George MacDonald – The Princess and the Goblins
  8. James BarryPeter Pan
  9. Kate Seredy –  The Good Master
  10. Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland
  11. Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass
  12. L. Frank Baum – The Wizard of Oz
  13. Lloyd Alexander – The Book of Three
  14. Lloyd Alexander – The Castle of Llyr
  15. Lloyd Alexander – Taran Wanderer
  16. Lloyd Alexander – The High King
  17. L. M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
  18. L. M. Montgomery – Anne of the Island
  19. Louisa May Alcott – An Old Fashioned Girl
  20. Louisa May Alcott – Little Women
  21. Louisa May Alcott – Little Men
  22. Louise Sachar – Holes
  23. Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time
  24. Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  25. Noel Streatfield – Theatre Shoes
  26. Norton Juster – The Phantom Tollbooth
  27. Peter Beagle – The Last Unicorn
  28. Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  29. Roald Dahl – Matilda
  30. Robert Louise Stevenson – Treasure Island
  31. Robert Louise Stevenson – The Black Arrow
  32. Robert Louise Stevenson – Kidnapped
  33. Robert O’Brien – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  34. Rudyard Kipling – The Cat Who Walked by Himself

Four Star Books

Many of these books are similar to 3-star books in their difficulty level and content, but the difference is that they were originally written for adults. Plus, a much larger list here!

  1. Aeschylus – The Orestian Trilogy
  2. Agatha Christie – Murder on the Orient Express
  3. Anonymous – Beowulf
  4. Aldous HuxleyA Brave New World
  5. Betty Smith A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  6. Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
  7. C.S. Lewis – The Great Divorce
  8. C.S. Lewis – Till We Have Faces
  9. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe
  10. F. Scott FiltzgeraldThe Great Gatsby
  11. Fanny Fern Ruth Hall
  12. Frank Gilbreth – Cheaper by the Dozen
  13. Gaston Leroux The Phantom of the Opera
  14. George Elliot Silas Marner
  15. George Orwell – 1984
  16. G.K. Chesterton – The Innocence of Father Brown
  17. H.G. Wells War of the Worlds
  18. H.G. Wells – The Invisible Man
  19.  Harper Lee – Go Set a Watchman
  20. Helen Keller The Story of My Life
  21. Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea
  22. Jack London – Call of the Wild
  23. Jack London – White Fang
  24. Jean-Paul Sartre – No Exit
  25. Johann Wyss – Swiss Family Robinson
  26. John Son of Zebedee – The Book of Revelation
  27. Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
  28. J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit
  29. Jules Verne – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  30. Jules Verne – Journey to the Center of the Earth
  31. Mark Twain – Joan of Arc
  32. Mary Ann Shaffer – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  33. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
  34. Oscar Wilde – The Portrait of Dorian Gray
  35. Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest
  36. Shakespeare – The Tempest
  37. Sophocles – The Oedipus Cycle
  38. Tennyson – Idylls of the King
  39. William Goldman – The Princess Bride

Five Star Books

And, here are the great and mighty! The truly difficult reads. But don’t be too intimidated. Given that you are reading so many texts, I’ve withheld most of the extremely long ones. And, of course, check out this huge list!

  1. Anne Bronte – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  2. Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights
  3. Frank Herbert – Dune
  4. Fyodor Dostoyevsky The Brothers Karamazov
  5. George Elliot Middlemarch
  6. Homer – The Odyssey
  7. Homer – The Iliad
  8. Isaac Asimov – Foundation
  9. Isaac Asimov – Foundation and Empire
  10. Isaac Asimov – Second Foundation
  11. James Fenimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans
  12. Jane Austen – Emma
  13. Jane Austen – Persuasion
  14. Jane AustenPride and Prejudice
  15. Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility
  16. Luke – The Gospel of Luke
  17. Moses – The Book of Genesis
  18. King Solomon – The Book of Wisdom
  19. Sigrid Undset – Catherine of Siena
  20. T.S. White – The Once and Future King
  21. Vergil – The Aeneid
  22. Vyasa – The Bhagavad Gita
  23. Willa Cather – My Antonia