Many of us have read a piece of classic literature at least once in our lives, be it by our own motivation or thrust upon us in our school days. Devout readers often feel an obligation to read the “classics” because they are the basis of many modern-day tales. Though renowned for their merit and literary prowess, some classics can be difficult to get into due to language, style, or content. I have personally found the easiest way to dive into classics is to be in the “mood” for it.
I think many people consider mood when reading novels (there are a plethora of Pinterest boards dedicated to the best novels to read during certain holidays, weather, etc.); however, it can be difficult to plan these things out ahead of time or to know which book fits a certain “mood” if you’ve never read it before. It’s also difficult to match novels to a specific season of the year when there isn’t an obvious relation. For example, The Raven and Dracula are clearly stories that should be read around Halloween, but what about A Tale of Two Cities? What season is best for Persuasion?
Related: A Classic Summer
To answer these questions, I have compiled a list of some of the best classics and matched them with the best time of year to read them. Each season is grouped using characteristics, including frequent activities of the season, the weather, and things the season may signify, such as adventure, change, and so on. I’ve avoided sectioning the seasons by the time of year because different parts of the world experience seasons at different parts of the year. Using this list will hopefully enhance your reading experience and increase your motivation to dive into some of these excellent classic novels.
Starting with Spring
Spring is a fresh time of year, rife with new beginnings and some of the best weather all around. This is the season to embark on journeys and spring forward with the time.
Flowers, picnics, and a general feeling of hope all come to mind when thinking of spring. The books chosen for this season take on new adventures, uncertain futures, uplifting coming-of-age stories, and some general light-hearted fun.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Emma by Jane Austen
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
- The Odyssey by Homer
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Sliding Into Summer
What is summer without sunshine and heat? Summer is the season of beach days, road trips, the scent of fresh-cut grass, and a pitcher of lemonade in the fridge. For those of us in extremely hot climates, it is also the season of sweat, scalding pavement, and a UV index of 11+.
The extremeness of temperature brings out the passion in many people, and it only makes sense to read passionate books as well. The books in this list fit into the following categories: romance and flings, exciting or invigorating plots, blood-pumping tales of childhood, and books that will really make you feel something.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- My Antonia by Willa Cather
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
- The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
- Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Ambling Toward Autumn
Autumn is a beautiful season of change. The leaves turn from green to red and the air becomes a crisp, cool tickle. Due to Halloween falling in this season in the United States, there are several books that are frequently recommended, but not all of the world experiences Halloween in Autumn.
For me, this season is more about cooling off from the summer and experiencing the change in nature. This season deals with maturity as a feeling of responsibility and preparation for winter is in the air. There are many classics that deal with change and maturity, and I think they fit here quite nicely.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Stranger by Albert Camus
- Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Waltzing with Winter
Winter brings a feeling of seclusion, a cozy time spent indoors with family or pets. There is also a stillness about winter when the water freezes and blankets of snow dampen the natural sounds. Not all of us will relate to this (I’m from Florida, where there’s no snow), but there is a general sense of time slowing down during this season, of a quietness unparalleled during the rest of the year.
Sometimes there is a feeling of harshness or struggle for those in particularly brutal climates. Winter is beautiful and crystalline, but it is also sharp and unforgiving. The books chosen for this season reflect this harsh yet beautiful nature, often involving a beautiful story with intense struggle or possibly an unhappy ending.
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- Hard Times by Charles Dickens
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- White Fang by Jack London
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
- All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
If you’re a “mood” reader like me, I think this list will do well at matching a book with how you’re feeling during a certain time of the year. There are activities, foods, and weather to go with every season, so why not books too?