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  • Writer's pictureLori Callan

10 of my favourite literature classics

Updated: May 9, 2020

I won't list these books in any particular order of preference. Every book has in some way changed my perspective on reading or writing or on life in general.... I'll try to keep adding more favourites in future blog posts. This is just a start...

1. The Life and Times of Tristram Shandy, by Laurence Sterne - How to describe an 18th century novel that ends at the beginning? This novel is one crazy ride. If you like experimental, creative fiction that is satire at its most hilarious, give it a whirl. You won't regret it! (You will never think of noses in the same way).

2. Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy - Difficult to do justice to Tolstoy's masterpiece in just a few words...Suffice it to say, I couldn't quite make it through War and Peace, and I couldn't put Anna Karenin down!

3. Vanity Fair, by William Thackeray - An edgy satirical look at Victorian English society. Laugh out loud funny at times. Thackeray is a master satirist. Becky Sharp makes it all fun and games....

4. Middlemarch, by George Eliot - Some critics have referred to Middlemarch as the "perfect" English novel. Eliot introduces a variety of characters and subplots to look at some quite contemporary issues such as women's role in society, personal freedom, pedantry and hypocrisy. Beautifully written.

5. Tess of the d'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy - We named one of our daughters Tess. This is Hardy's masterpiece. Stunning turn-of-the-century look at a changing England. Some say Tess represents pastoral England herself...before and after the Industrial Revolution. A poignant, gorgeously written story with one of the best heroines of all time.

6. The Odd Women, by George Gissing - A remarkably almost-feminist novel written in the late Victorian period by a man. The subject of his novel? The "odd" women (ie. the women who were "left over" after the others married off)...very interesting social commentary. A lesser known classic.

7. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf - If Shakespeare had a sister, and it was his sister who held the literary talent, would we have all those plays today? Unlikely...unless...she'd had a room of her own. Virginia Woolf's convincing essay about the many hurdles women face in pursuing a career in the literary arts.

8. The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing - Check it out on's hilarious. A 90 year old Doris Lessing arrives home from her grocery shopping to be greeted by reporters telling her she has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She replies: "Oh, for Christ's sake!"...and basically shoos them away so she can get her groceries inside. The Golden Notebook is an important reason why. A brilliant feminist manifesto...even if Lessing wouldn't cop to the title.

9. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte - The best of the Brontes. Good writers ensure their heroines face a variety of challenging circumstances. Charlotte Bronte takes this advice seriously. If her reader needs someone to root for, Jane answers the call.

10. The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - A truly creepy novella. Paints a horrifying picture of what a stultifying marriage can inflict on a woman's sanity. Terrifying and so well done in the most subtle way!

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