The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library

10 Classic Books to Read and Watch

Posted over 3 years ago by April S

Classic literature is one of those things we are all forced to read in school. Typically, people either develop a love of the complex and timeless stories or they absolutely loathe them. Early on in school, I had mixed feelings about classic novels, because when you're told you have to read certain books with a deadline looming -- it's not always easy to enjoy or appreciate them. Years later, upon reflection, these stories hold a special place in my heart. Classic novels are filled with rich stories that vividly portray the trials and tribulations of life, so they tend to leave a lasting impression. So, if you find the time, why not check them out or revisit some of these classic stories? All of these novels and the corresponding film adaptations are available through your local Library in one form or another.

Classic Novels Adapted to Film

Below, you'll find a description of each classic novel along with the corresponding movie and/or miniseries adaptations. Many of the titles below are considered to be some of the greatest books of all time (voted on by 125 famous authors - Brain Pickings and by the American public - The Great American Read). And if you're looking for a study guide - SparkNotes is a great resource. Enjoy!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird. Book by Harper Lee. Movie starring Gregory Peck.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print book | eBook | eAudiobook

Published in 1960.

Named the best book in America (The Great American Read).

A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Watch the Movie

1962 Movie

Directed by Robert Mulligan

Starring Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, John Megna, Frank Overton and Rosemary Murphy.

2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple. Book by Alice Walker. Movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print book | eBook | Audiobook

Published in 1982.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Award for Fiction in 1983.

This is the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

Watch the Movie

1985 Movie

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Danny Glover, Adolph Caesar, Margaret Avery, Rae Dawn Chong, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey.

3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina - book by leo tolstoy. 4 movie adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

First published in book form in 1878. Set in late 19th century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky.

Watch the Movie or Miniseries

1935 Movie
Directed by Clarence Brown
Starring Greta Garbo and Frederic March

1948 Movie
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Starring Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson

2000 Miniseries
Directed by David Blair
Starring Helen McCrory and Kevin McKidd

2012 Movie
Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen

4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights. Book by Emily Bronte. 4 Movie Adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Published in 1847.

The passionate love between the wealthy and pampered Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a mysterious orphan, mirrors the powerful moods of the Yorkshire moors, in a classic novel of class, love, and revenge.

Watch the Movie or Miniseries

1970 Movie
Directed by Robert Fuest
Starring Anna Calder Marshall, Timothy Dalton and Harry Andrews.

1992 Movie
Directed by Peter Kosminsky; starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes.

2009 Miniseries
Directed by Coky Giedroyc; starring Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley.

2011 Movie
Directed by Andrea Arnold
Starring Kaya Scodelario, James Howson and Solomon Glave.

5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary. Book by Gustave Flaubert. 4 Movie Adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

Published in 1856.

Desperate to escape the dullness of provincial life, a young married woman pursues forbidden fantasies through a series of indiscreet seductions and adulterous affairs.

Watch the Movie or Miniseries

1949 Movie
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Starring Jennifer Jones, Van Heflin and Louis Jourdan

1975 Miniseries
Directed by Rodney Bennett
Starring Tom Conti and Francesca Annis

2000 Movie
Directed by Tim Fywell
Starring Frances O'Connor and Hugh Bonneville

2014 Movie
Directed by Sophie Barthes
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Ezra Miller, Laura Carmichael and Paul Giamatti

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby - book and movie

Read or Listen to the Book

Print book | eBook | eAudiobook

Published in 1925.

A would-be writer Nick Carraway leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits.

Watch the Movie

1949 Movie
Directed by Elliott Nugent
Starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field and Macdonald Carey

1974 Movie
Directed by Jack Clayton
Starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow

2000 Movie
Directed by Robert Markowitz
Starring Mira Sorvino, Toby Stephens and Paul Rudd

2013 Movie
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan

7. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden. Book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 4 film adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print Book | eBook | eAudiobook

First published as a book in 1911.

A young orphan named Mary is sent to live at the dark and foreboding English estate of her widowed uncle. She discovers a secret garden which was abandoned after a tragic accident. With the help of her crippled cousin Colin, and Dickon the country boy, her spirit is gradually reawakened as they bring the garden back to life.

Watch the Movie

1987 Movie
Directed by Alan Grint
Starring Gennie James, Barret Oliver, Jadrien Stelle, Michael Hordern, Billie Whitelaw and Derek Jacobi.

1993 Movie
Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Starring Kate Maberly and Heydon Prowse

2017 Movie
Directed by Owen Smith
Starring Glennellen Anderson, Amanda Waters, Max River and Erin Bushko.

2017 Children's Video
Dreamscape video for children
Adapted from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett

8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations. Book by Charles Dickens. 4 film adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print book | eBook | eAudiobook

First published as a serial from 1860-1861.

After Pip, an orphaned blacksmith's apprentice, inherits a fortune from an anonymous benefactor, his future seems promising. But a bitter heiress is intent on preventing Pip from finding true love.

Watch the Movie or Miniseries

1981 Miniseries
Directed by Julian Amyes
Starring Stratford Johns, Gerry Sundquist, Tim Munro and Joan Hickson.

1998 Movie
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft and Robert De Niro.

2012 Movie
Directed by Mike Newell
Starring Toby Irvine, Ralph Fiennes and Sally Hawkins

2013 Movie
Directed by Graham McLaren
Starring Jack Ellis, Chris Ellison, Paula Wilcox, Paul Nivison and Grace Rowe.

9. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula. Book by Bram Stoker. 4 Movie Adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print book | eBook | eAudiobook

A Gothic Horror novel published in 1897, which has since sparked a multitude of adaptations.

Presents the tale of a bizarre Carpathian count who drinks human blood to stay alive, and the Englishman who knows his secret.

Watch the Movie

1931 Movie
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler and David Manners.

1979 Movie
Directed by John Badham
Starring Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence and Kate Nelligan.

Bram Stoker's Dracula - 1992 Movie
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes and Bill Campbell.

Dracula 2000 - 2000 Movie
Directed by Patrick Lussier
Starring Jennifer Esposito, Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Omar Epps and Nathan Fillion.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein. Book by Mary Shelly. 4 Movie Adaptations.

Read or Listen to the Book

Print book | eBook | eAudiobook

First published anonymously in 1818.

A young Swiss scientist's discovery of the cause of generation leads to the creation of a hideous monster.

Watch the Movie

1931 Movie
Directed by James Whale
starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Mae Clarke.

1973 Movie
Directed by Glenn Jordan
Starring Robert Foxworth, Bo Svenson, Susan Strasberg, Heidi Vaughn, Phillip Bournaeauf, John Karlen, Robert Gentry and Willie Ames.

1994 Movie
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Starring Tom Hulce, Kenneth Branagh, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm, Helena Bonham Carter and Robert De Niro.

Victor Frankenstein - 2015 Movie
Directed by Paul McGuigan
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott and Charles Dance.


As a Toledo Lucas County Public Library cardholder you have access to resources throughout the state of Ohio, because we participate in library consortiums like Search Ohio and OhioLink. To request these items they must be available in the catalog. Ask a librarian for more information.