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Top 7 Books That Everyone Should Read

25 Apr

It is almost impossible to imagine life without literature. Books are the source of knowledge and the means of self-perfection. Today, people can choose among a variety of book types and genres. If you are a lover of classical literature, Leopold Classic Library is delighted to bring to your attention its own selection of the Top 7 books that everyone should read at least once in their lives.

The Scarlet Letter: A Romance

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Original language: English
Genre: Romantic, Historical
Publication date: 1850

'The Scarlet Letter' is a masterwork of the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The events take place at a recognizable place and time, the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 17th century. The novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A to mark her shame ("A" stands for adulteress). Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. It was the first American novel to cause a wide resonance in Europe.

A Tale of Two Cities

Author: Charles Dickens
Original language: English
Genre: Historical novel
Published: 1859

'A Tale of Two Cities', which is one of two historical novels written by Charles Dickens, is set in London and Paris during the French Revolution. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry, which has been demoralized by the French aristocracy, in the years leading up to and during the revolution. It tells the story of two different men of differing traits: Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat; and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, who become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. Dickens placed great reliance on 'The French Revolution: A History' by Thomas Carlyle as his historical source.

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Author: Knut Hamsun
Original language: Norwegian
Genre: Psychological novel, Philosophical novel
Published: 1890

The novel 'Hunger', by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun, has been hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century and an outstanding example of modern, psychology-driven literature. Parts of it had been published anonymously in the Danish magazine Ny Jord in 1888. The novel tells a story of a young vagrant male who tries to earn a living by writing articles in newspapers. The money he receives is not sufficient, but even despite this he follows a self-created code of chivalry, gifting money and clothes to needy children and vagrants. Knut Hamsun said that he sought to explore "a living human soul" in his novel. The writer also suggested describing the work as a "series of analyses" of the hero's mental state.


Author: Jane Austen
Original language: English
Genre: Novel of manners
Published: 1815

'Emma' is the fourth big novel by Jane Austen, finished in 1815. The novel is written in a humorous manner and is dedicated to a young woman who is enthusiastically matchmaking her acquaintances and neighbors. Emma is spoiled, headstrong, and self-satisfied; she greatly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities; she is blind to the dangers of meddling in other people's lives; and her imagination and perceptions often lead her astray. The modest edition of the novel was not completely sold out during the life of Jane Austen. Subsequently the novel was adapted for several films, many television programs, and a long list of stage plays.

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Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus

Author: Mary Shelley
Original language: English
Genre: Gothic novel, Horror fiction, Soft science fiction
Published: 1818

The novel written by English author Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque creature as a result of a mysterious scientific experiment. After realizing he has created a monster, Victor leaves the city where he lived and worked, but soon afterwards the Creature begins to pursue its creator. Mary Shelley wrote her novel when she was 18 years old, and it was published anonymously in London in 1818. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823. 'Frankenstein' is one of the first samples of science fiction. It comprises the elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. The novel greatly influenced literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Author: William Shakespeare
Original language: English
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Published: 1600

'A Midsummer Night's Dream' was written in a highly creative period in Shakespeare's career between 1595 and 1596. There are 3 intersecting storylines in the play, which are related to each other through the upcoming wedding of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (the mechanicals) who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. The play is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage, and is widely performed across the world.

The Odyssey

Author: Homer
Original language: Ancient Greek
Genre: Epic Poetry

The 'Odyssey' is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the 'Iliad', the other work of Homer. The poem mainly focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. While Odysseus battles mystical creatures and faces the wrath of the gods, it is assumed that Odysseus has died. Meanwhile, his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage and Ithaca's throne. The 'Odyssey' takes second place among the oldest extant works of Western literature after the 'Iliad'.

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