Sometimes we don’t pick up a novel because it seems too intimidating. The novel is written by a great author that our society celebrates, yet which few people (when you ask them outright) have actually read. Sometimes those novels actually are tough to get though and, to be honest, rather tedious (I’m looking at you, Cervantes and Dickens!), but other times they are totally compelling, wonderfully written, and extremely accessible.

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Here are five excellent works of literature that you will both enjoy reading and which will really get your wheels turning:

1) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I know, I know – I can sense you backing away from the computer. But really! Give Dostoyevsky a chance. You just might come to love him and Tolstoy as much as I do. Crime and Punishment is a fascinating look into the human psyche, and on top of that you get to read a captivating story and learn about Russian society in the 19th century. Win-win-win!

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2) Contact by Carl Sagan. If you read this blog regularly, you already know that I loved this book when I read it back in January! Contact contains an enormous amount of “science talk” – but for the layperson. If you have a science background, you’ll get a kick out of the different ideas and concepts that Carl Sagan puts forth. If your background is about as far from science as you can get (ooh, ooh! Pick me, pick me!), you’ll still be able to enjoy the story very much – and might even learn a thing or two about physics and astronomy while you’re at it!

3) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. So far I have had the great pleasure of reading the book, seeing the play, and watching the movie of Gone with the Wind. Each were brilliantly done. This story portrays the Civil War and the way of life for people in the southern states, which in and of itself is a unique perspective, but even more so it delves into the way people think, and our rationale for doing what we do, and the selfishness of human nature, particularly through main character Scarlett. You love to hate Scarlett, and her story – as sad and bitter as parts of it are – is one that you can’t put down.

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This was my first-ever post on Instagram! On the topic of books, naturally.

4) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is such a sweet story – it makes you think so much about where you fit in society and where you place is in the world, as well as where you’re at in your journey. There are many different ways that this book could be interpreted, but fundamentally it’s an extremely well-written novel that will capture your imagination.

5) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The Alchemist is like the longer, less… symbolism-heavy? poetic? Neither of those are quite the right word I’m looking for, but I hope you can understand my meaning… version of The Little Prince. I happen to adore The Little Prince. It is delightful in its simplicity, and heartbreakingly beautiful to read, and so laced with ideas and symbolism and philosophy that you could read this little novella over and over and still have more to learn. If you want the Coles Notes version of lessons you can learn from this book, check out my blog post on The Little Prince.

What is your favourite work of literature? Are there any “great novels” that you’ve had a tough time reading (like me with Great Expectations and Don Quixote)? Share in the comments section below!