Recommended Reads: 1800's
I studied English Literature during undergrad, so I’ve read my fair share of painfully boring books. I once took a pile of books to a consignment shop and the guy said to me, “You must have been an English major…this is like a four-year syllabus right here”. I appreciate the literary significance of these texts and enjoyed critically analyzing the themes within them. However, there is no way I’m going to curl up with Madame Bovary ever again. That being said, I do have several well-loved classics that you might enjoy.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
This will always be one of my favourite books, period. As a kid I loved the Disney movie version, and going through the book page by page in university was incredibly interesting to me.
Fantasy and a female protagonist…what more could you want?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)
As a kid my Mum always insisted I alternate between classics and ‘fluff’. I’m not sure exactly when I read Wuthering Heights for the first time, but I distinctly remember putting it as my favourite book on an ‘About Me’ questionnaire in Grade 9. Read this one if you like dark novels about likeable, unlikeable characters and wild moors.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
If you’re looking an easier read from this century, Little Women might be a good place to start. Based on the everyday lives of four sisters, this book was the inspiration for a whole genre of family stories. It’s wholesome with the right amount of female resistance and independence.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1818)
During my four years as a lit major, I read at least one Austen novel per year - I think I studied Sense and Sensibility at least five times. In my forth year I took a seminar class focussed entirely on Austen (it was a small campus…I had limited options), and actually ended up really enjoying some of her lesser-known novels. Northanger Abbey is described as the most ‘ youthful and optimistic of Austen’s works’.
The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales by The Grimm Brothers (1812)
If you aren’t familiar with the original versions of the cute fairy tales you grew up with, allow me to introduce you to the Grimm brothers. Read your favourites like Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella…but with a lot more blood.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1880)
This is another one of those good ol’ wholesome books; no scandals, just the everyday life of a little orphan girl living in the Swiss Alps. Heidi is a great option if you are looking for an easier read from this era; it’s also suitable for children.