9 Really Long Classic Novels You Should Finally Get Through This Summer
With nothing on the agenda but sun and fun, vacations offer the perfect time to read lengthy books you'd never get to tackle otherwise. On the list below, I've got nine long classic books to sink your teeth into this summer. They're each good for at least 500 pages of entertainment fun, so be sure to cram a few into your beach bag if you're craving some heavier reading while you lounge in the shade.
Long, classic novels aren't generally thought of as summer reading fare. "Beach reads" have a reputation for being fluffy and fun, like an exciting thriller or exhilarating romance novel. But there's no law that says you have to read light books on your vacation, so feel free to pack in as many challenging novels as you can this summer.
You'll probably recognize several of the novels on the list below as those books that you've been planning to read for forever, but just haven't gotten around to cracking open yet. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of adding more than one of these classics to your summer reading list, feel free to just pick one to start with. Regardless of which one you choose, you're guaranteed to have a memorable summer, just by reading it.
'The Tale of Genji' by Murasaki Shikibu
A sweeping, romantic epic written in the 11th century, The Tale of Genji follows the eponymous Genji, the emperor's son, who finds himself removed from the line of succession and relegated to a life as one of the lower nobility.
'Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie
Born between Midnight and 1 a.m. on the day India gains independence from Great Britain, the Midnight Children have magical abilities that set them apart. Telepath Saleem Sinai believes he is the last hope for India's survival, but his nemesis and foil, Shiva, may destroy their country in war.
'Middlemarch' by George Eliot
Named for the fictional town in which its story is set, Middlemarch centers largely on Dorothea Brooke, who marries the middle-aged Reverend Casaubon when she is an idealistic teenager, only to find herself attracted to her husband's cousin and dependent, Will Ladislaw.
'Native Son' by Richard Wright
Frustrated by his existence as a young, black Chicagoan living in the Jim Crow Era, 20-year-old Bigger Thomas finds himself sliding down a slippery slope toward disaster when he attempts to take back power from his capitalist oppressotrs by robbing a white man's store.
'Possession' by A.S. Byatt
This 1990 Booker Prize winner traces two plotlines: the love story of Victorian poets Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte, and that of 20th-century academics Roland Michell and Maud Bailey, who are researching the poets' relationship.
'Anna Karenina' by Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy's tragic romance centers on Anna, the wife of a Russian politician, who falls in love with a young military officer named Vronsky. Anna's headstrong, devil-may-care pursuit of a public relationship with Vronsky leads her to disaster, but it makes Anna Karenina no less beautiful a novel.
'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver
Set in the 1960s, The Poisonwood Bible follows the Price family — Nathan, Orleanna, and their four daughters — to the Belgian Congo, where they are to live as Southern Baptist missionaries. All six of the Prices experience major culture shock, however, as they discover that colonized Africa may neither want, nor need, their help.
'The Count of Monte Cristo' by Alexandre Dumas
Framed as a traitor by his rivals, Edmond Dantès escapes imprisonment in Marseilles and rebrands himself as the Count of Monte Cristo. In this guise, he returns to Paris, intent on getting revenge against the men who sullied his name.
'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt
After a murder divides a close-knit group of six Classics students at a Vermont university, one of them, Richard Papen, recalls the events that led up to the shocking crime.