Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
You might’ve been assigned the tale of Pip the ambitious orphan in school. But we promise Great Expectations is a good book to read as an adult, because the humor that sailed over your head as a kid will be evident now—and besides, you won’t need to write a paper about it. Dickens, in his time, was as famous as a rock star (or, a Kardashian) because his novels were written as page-turners, with whip-smart observations about ambition and human nature.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarque
Remarque’s searing war-is-hell novel gave millions of readers their first view of the suffering of ordinary German soldiers and civilians during WW1. All Quiet on the Western Front serves as a reminder of the real people on the other side of any battle. Here are some more books to make you cry.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We know, it’s long and the Russian names are complicated, but seriously it’s a good book to read: if you can follow thousands of pages of Game of Thrones and the rest of the Ice and Fire series (which we love, by the way) then you can handle the challenge of one of the greatest novels of all time. War and Peace is set in the years before, during, and after Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. Tolstoy brilliantly chronicles the world of a crumbling aristocracy—on the battlefield, in society, and at home. His research was meticulous, his characters (the soldiers, lovers, seekers) unforgettable. Most recently, War and Peace was adapted as a Tony-winning Broadway musical starring Josh Groban.