What Classic Should You Read Next? (Flow Chart)

More About These Classics

*Click the book titles to read full reviews.

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

I’m sure someone will come along and tell me that Excellent Women “isn’t that obscure,” but I’m trying to walk the line here between recommending something many people haven’t read or really even heard of and something that actually counts as a classic.

Barbara Pym has apparently been called the “20th century Jane Austen,” so if you’re looking for great characterization and social commentary in a more modern package, check out Excellent Women!

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Shirley by Charlotte Brontë 

One of my college professors recommended this book as “one of the most romantic novels she’d ever read,” and it’s so true and so overlooked due to most people’s focus on Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I do think the book opens a bit slowly, but once it gets going, it’s immersive. It would also pair well with reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, due to the focus on the mill and labor issues (still romantic, though!).

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

So many people have called this book “life-changing,” and it’s so short, that it’s basically begging you to give it a chance and read it!

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Silas Marner by George Eliot

Eliot is probably best known for her incredibly long novel Middlemarch, but Silas Marner is short and sweet and a masterpiece in its own right, a story about family and what is most important in life.

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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo is long, very long, but also very worth reading all the way through in its unabridged glory! (I did this when I was in eighth grade, so I trust you can get through it all, too!). There’s a bit of mystery, a lot of drama, heaps of revenge. It will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next!

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Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong

Also an epic story grounded in history, the Romance of Three Kingdoms has action, myth, and more. Wikipedia claims there are more than 1000 dramatic characters, and what could be more sweepingly epic than that?

17 thoughts on “What Classic Should You Read Next? (Flow Chart)

  1. majoringinliterature says:

    I’ve actually just ordered a copy of Excellent Women, and I’m keen to get into it! I’d definitely consider it a bit more obscure, I hadn’t heard of it until someone recommended it to me.


  2. mphtheatregirl says:

    I think I read Count of Mount Cristo- back in high school.

    I have read a number of classics- I never read on big classics after just finishing one. Usually I try to insert a non-classic in the middle- which usually is a fantasy


  3. Lory says:

    It’s great to see a recommendation for Barbara Pym! She’s not totally obscure but she is not one of those household names like Bronte and Dumas. And definitely worth reading.


  4. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    It’s been a while since y’all have posted a decision tree like this. I’m glad to see one returning! The only book on this list I’ve read is The Alchemist, but all the rest are on my TBR. That’s a good sign, right? I am hesitant to pick up Romance of the Three Kingdoms due to its length. Guanzhong definitely puts Dumas’s word count to shame…


  5. Michael J. Miller says:

    I am pretty happy to see ‘The Alchemist’ here :D. Also, I have never felt a more burning desire to read ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ – let alone the UNABRIDGED ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ – than I do now, after this piece called me out XD. So, if/when that book ends up taunting me from my end table, I’m 100% blaming you.


      • Michael J. Miller says:

        Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend and I was being nostalgic for how, back in our 20’s and right out of college, it seemed like we read everything and saw every movie as soon as it was out and new each new band that showed up. Now it seems I can’t keep up with any of those things let alone all of them! He laughed and said, “Well we didn’t have full adult lives then.” I mean, he’s right…but still XD.

        However, I feel slightly better if eight grade you is calling you out as well as me.


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