What to read next (based on your favourite classic)

Whether a contemporary retelling, or writing with a similar theme, mood or message, take inspiration from your favourite classic to find your next great read.

From a Succession-esque reimagining of Thackeray to a contemporary riff on the most Grimm of childhood treats, we've picked out the best books for you to read next based on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century classics you already love.

If you like Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Fans of sweet Amelia, back-stabbing Becky and the corrupt circus of upper-class Regency England will love . . .

Becky

by Sarah May

Book cover for Becky

Explicitly and directly inspired by Thackeray's nineteenth-century novel, Becky is Vanity Fair meets Succession, the action transported to nineties tabloid-era London where our eponymous anti-hero works her way up the journalistic greasy pole. Scoop after scoop, Becky's downfall looms as she becomes more and more involved in every scandal her newspaper publishes and cares less and less about the lives she ruins in the process. Unlike Thackeray, Sarah May gives Becky control of the narrative voice and the first-person perspective gives us an unfiltered view into her complicated and compromising motives. This is a sharply intelligent and funny interrogation of how far society has really come since the original Vanity Fair.

If Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell has won the victory over you

Is Big Brother watching us? Someone certainly is. Those fascinated by Orwell's world of stringent controls and hyper-surveillance will be equally transfixed/horrified by the real-life doubleplusgood work of investigative journalists Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud.

Pegasus

by Laurent Richard

Book cover for Pegasus

Pegasus is probably the most powerful piece of spyware ever developed. Installed by as little as a missed WhatsApp call, once on your phone it can record your calls, copy your messages, steal your photos and secretly film you. Those that control it can find out your daily movements: exactly where you’ve been, and who you’ve met. Pegasus the book explores how our lives and privacy are being threatened as cyber-surveillance occurs with exponentially increasing frequency across the world, at a sweep and scale that astounds and alarms.

Head over heels for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any article featuring Austen-inspired works of fiction must include Ms Jones.

Bridget Jones's Diary

by Helen Fielding

Book cover for Bridget Jones's Diary

Take the plot of Pride and Prejudice, transfer it to nineties London and have it narrated by a regularly-drunk, chain-smoking Elizabeth Bennett called Bridget and you have this hilarious, often-copied but never-bettered bestseller. As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

For fans of The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe 

'If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if David Cronenberg and Edgar Allen Poe bumped into each other at the same parasitological conference, here’s your answer,' quoth the science fiction writer Peter Watts. Fans of the mysterious and macabre will love this creepy, creeping debut. 

Leech

by Hiron Ennes

Book cover for Leech

An isolated castle. A Gothic atmosphere. A parasite spreading in the dark. In a cut-off, icebound community, a doctor kills himself. The replacement, sent by the Interprovincial Medical Institute, discovers a parasite living in the corpse. But how did it survive, when the doctor was already possessed? And who exactly are the Interprovincial Medical Institute?

If you like The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

If, for you, the real star of Edith Wharton's heart-breaking, romantic, Gilded Age novel is New York City, then do we have the modern writer for you. . .

To Paradise

by Hanya Yanagihara

Book cover for To Paradise

Equally ensconced in the Big Apple is Hanya Yanagihara's third novel, although in this case in three alternate versions of it. We start in an alternative 1893. New York is part of the Free States, and a gentle young member of a privileged family falls for a charismatic and impoverished music teacher. In 1993, Manhattan is being swept by the AIDS epidemic, and a young Hawaiian man with a wealthy older partner must hide his difficult family background. And in 2093, in a world where plague and totalitarian rule is rife, a young woman tries to solve the mystery of her husband's disappearance. 

Love Orlando by Virginia Woolf?

This homage to Woolf's gender-switching classic brings the original novel's premise to nineties America. 

Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

by Andrea Lawlor

Book cover for Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

This funny, sharp, sweet and frequently filthy book follows Paul Polydoris, a shapeshifting bartender who can change gender at will, on a riotous adventure through early ‘90s queer America. From Riot Grrl to leather cub and Iowa City to San Francisco, this is a journey through queer theory, LGBTQIA+ communities and gender fluidity, as well as a love letter to early nineties counter-culture.

If your childhood favourite was Grimms' Fairy Tales

Those who relish traditional stories' unsettling mix of the wholesome and the frightening will love this contemporary take on fairy tales' favourite food.

Gingerbread

by Helen Oyeyemi

Book cover for Gingerbread

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, Helen Oyeyemi invites us into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe. Perdita Lee and her mother Harriet may seem pretty ordinary but they are anything but. For one thing, their home is a gold-painted seventh-floor flat with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread. As we follow the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work and wealth, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that holds a constant value . . .

For those moved by All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

The best war novels explore the realities of conflict and the effect on its participants, and this 2023 debut is no exception.

Now I Am Here

by Chidi Ebere

Book cover for Now I Am Here

About to make his last stand, a soldier facing certain death at the hands of the enemy writes home to explain how he ended up there, a gentle man gradually transformed into a war criminal, committing acts he wouldn’t have thought himself capable. A profound reflection on how good people can do terrible things, this is a brave, unflinching and thought-provoking debut. 

If you like Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole

Those inspired and moved by the incredible work of Mary Seacole during the Crimean War will find David Nott's memoir equally affecting. 

War Doctor

by David Nott

Book cover for War Doctor

For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones, from Afghanistan to Gaza. His commitment and dedication has changed lives as well as the medical community, and now he is using his experience to train more doctors to follow in his footsteps.