Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dubbed as the first novel of horror, Frankenstein is the perfect classic read to kick off your book binge. We know that you have probably seen the film versions of Mary Shelley’s spine-chilling novel, but there is nothing quite like reading her vivid descriptions of Frankenstein’s monster for yourself. And, even if you have read Frankenstein before, now seems like the perfect time to delve back into its world of charming and mysterious terror.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Looking for a little romance to cheer you up in these uncertain times? Look no further than Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Pride and Prejudice. Revel in the burgeoning romance between the prideful Mr Darcy and the stubborn Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Again, there are many television and film adaptations of this dashing novel, including the most recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! However, Austen’s clever dialogue shines best when read, as you can imagine each character in your mind’s eye, delighting in their wittiness and naivety.

classic reads

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Another female-led narrative, Little Women is scattered with moments of light and shade, offering the reader an emotive journey. Follow the five March sisters, as they come to terms with growing up, falling in love and losing a precious treasure. If you are in need of a good cry to relieve the stress of the current moment, Little Women is a ticket to cathartic relief. Having recently seen Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of the novel at cinemas (before COVID-19 took over our lives), we highly recommend reading Louisa May Alcott’s original.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Does the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak seem somewhat absurd and unreal? Read Joseph Heller’s masterpiece, Catch-22. Set during WWII, the novel follows a disenchanted private, named Yossarian, as he fumbles his way through combat, trying every which way to get himself out of active duty. Tackling issues of sanity, reckless heroism and the selfishness of human nature, Catch-22 is by no means an easy read. However, buried beneath Heller’s difficult storytelling is a hope for shared humanity and a comfort that no matter how absurd things may seem, we can find the courage and strength to carry on. George Clooney’s television adaptation of Catch-22 is also available to stream on Showmax.

Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

South Africa has a rich literary history, well worth getting yourself stuck into while you hole up at home. We recommend starting with the ultimate South African classic - Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. A story of hardship, community, hope and reconciliation, this is a definite must-read or re-read for those who have scanned its prophetic pages before. Cry the Beloved Country is an ideal read for this period of isolation, as it delivers a message of hope and a nation united as one, which may just be the message we all need to get through the next few months.

Don’t have any good classic reads on hand? Check out our list of top book stores that sell classic works. A few of these stores are likely to be offering contactless delivery services during this period, so keep their details on hand for when the reading bug bites.

Do you have any go-to classic reads? Let us know about them in the comments section below! 

Exclusive Books

If it's beautifully bound classic books you are looking for, then head out to your nearest Exclusive Books. Their stores offer both Classic titles and Neo-Classic novels from the world's favourite authors. From Edgar Allan Poe, to the Brontës, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath and Kurt Vonnegut. You can find almost any genre of classic here too. So, whether you are a horror fanatic, romance lover or sci-fi fundi, there should be a classic for you. This is the perfect place to get lost in a world of words and poetry.

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Kalahari Books

Kalahari Books in Orange Grove specialise in out of print fiction and non-fiction titles. This Victorian-style library-cum-book club offers avid readers the opportunity to pick up long-lost novels, plays and collectibles. Their main passion is theatre, poetry and classic literature, as well as bringing you titles by forgotten popular authors, including the likes of George Bernard Shaw. If you are looking for something really special to gift a book loving friend or family member, then Kalahari Books should be your first stop.

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classic books

Estoril Books

Estroil Books has three branches located in Johannesburg. Our favourite is the newly relaunched store at Fourways Mall. The most extensive and well-organised of the branches, this is a book lover's paradise. Their classic books section is wide ranging, stocking not just the most popular novels by famous authors, but entire collections of their work and a few obscure titles. Estoril Books is also relatively one of the most affordable mainstream retailers for classic novels. They often host half-off sales too, so be sure to pop by on your next trip to Fourways Mall.

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Bookdealers have been gifting readers with collectible editions for over 30 years. With five stores around the city, they are easily accessible. Plus, their staff are always willing to lend their knowledge in the search for that perfect classic. Bookdealers also stocks a couple of rare inscribed copies of non-fiction and fiction titles, especially by South African authors. This is the book store to visit for students too, as you can find set works at bargain prices, covering a range of subjects including, poetry, drama, English literature, psychology and history. So, what are you waiting for? Give Bookdealers a call!

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Bargain Books

Another great book store for classic books at discount prices is Bargain Books. Many a time we have scooped up three titles for the price of two at their Greenstone store. Mostly available in paperback editions, these classics may not look the prettiest, but it's the magnificence of words and story that we are after. Bargain Books is also an excellent kiddies book store to let the little ones browse around. Catering to new parents, toddlers and tweens, this is the ideal environment to start introducing classic literature to the kids (besides the library, of course).

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Skoobs Theatre of Books

Now, this is a book lover's ultimate fantasy. Two floors of literary delights - from children's classics to  biographies about your favourite musicians and everything in between. Skoobs Theatre of Books lives up to its name in every respect. Find yourself a quiet corner upstairs on one of their comfy reading chairs and dive into a world very different from the one we live in. English ladies in waiting, swashbuckling pirates, talking daisies and a mischievous boy who never grows up await you. But, the adventure doesn't end there. Tuck into a slice of decadent rainbow cake at the Skoobs Cafe or sip on a glass of Merlot at the upstairs champagne bar. Be warned, you may never want to leave.

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Books Galore

Books Galore deals in second-hand fiction titles for children and adults. Get kiddies books for up to 50% off here, all the while stockpiling your shopping baskets with rare and unique used books. Books Galore also has a children's book club which is free to join for kids of any age. Not only do the little readers in the making receive discounts on their favourite bedtime story books, but they also get Crocky Club Stickers to add to their collections, free activity books, a birthday gift voucher and free delivery when you order three or more books online.

Their range of adult books include must-have South African collectibles. While most of these are non-fiction titles, they are still worth scouring over. Gardeners will be particularly enamored with helpful catalogues on South African species and how and where to plant them.

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Serial Thrillers

Serial Thrillers is relatively new to the book dealing scene, however they sure have made a good impression on us. Situated at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens in Emmarentia, this knickknack store has a collection of true literary relics. Here you can find modern classics such as Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea and short stories by the ever eloquent F. Scott Fitzgerald.

But, what makes this store extra special is their collection of comic books. Indulge your inner child with first edition Archie comics, Tintin's Adventures and Asterix and Obelix. There are also the most adorable figurines to go with your new comic collection. Who wouldn't want a mini Tintin anyway? Give this start up book store some love and visit them as soon as possible.

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classic books

Do you know of any other great book stores that sell classics in Joburg? Let us know about them!