Despite concerns about the early pandemic that eventually run out of good TVHonestly, I don’t feel like we’ve ever done it. And yet, despite the occasional immersion in must-see shows like “I May Destroy” and “WandaVision,” I found it a bit overwhelming to take on something entirely new during such a strange time. Surely the charm of a sexy chess show he was strong, and I had every intention of catching him, but the next thing I knew he was eight episodes deep in a rerun of season 3 of The real housewives of New York. What can I say? There is comfort in the familiar. Books have a similar effect. No matter how highly recommended a novel is, it still takes some time to fully adjust and become familiar with the new characters. But do you know what has absolutely zero mental barriers to entry? The best epic novels you’ve already read and still love them.
Everyone should have a comfort book to lean on, so I surveyed our literary-loving editors about epic novels and the stories they return to time and time again. There may or may not be several Jane Austen books on this list; after all, we are a predominantly female team. Happy reading (or rereading)!
Name and title: Camille Styles, Editor-in-Chief
What is it about and why do I recommend it?: I first read this classic in high school, and the experience was pivotal for a couple of reasons. It was my first reading of Hemingway to begin with, and I was immediately drawn to his understated and powerful writing: not a word was wasted and I was impressed by how much could be communicated in so few words. Second, the stage! At the time, I’d never been outside of the US, and this novel bit my 16-year-old self with the travel bug: Its main characters travel from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the bullrings of Spain, and I was carried away by their charisma and caravan adventures. I recently picked up this book again and loved it so much from my adult point of view. If you have never read The sun also rises, TO RUN – do not walk and get lost in its beautiful pages.
Memorable quote: “I can’t bear to think that my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
Name and title: Michelle Nash, Senior Producer
What it is about and why I recommend it: I have given this book more than any other. It’s a short read, but it’s packed with more nuggets of wisdom than you could absorb in one sitting. I have read it over and over again and each time I learn something different.
Memorable quote: “Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none of their own.”
Name and title: Lourdes Avila Uribe, contributing editor
What it is about and why I recommend it: While it’s a totally unoriginal entry, I can’t help but admit that Pride and prejudice It is the book I return to almost every year; it is a deeply comforting and nostalgic read. It never ceases to amaze me how much Austen’s work endures to this day, how truly innovative her heroines were, and how romantic she is. Unsurprisingly, I watch film adaptations often, but I still love reading the text and sitting down with the story. I often say that the reason film adaptations are always so successful and become instant classics is that the source material is so rich and full of complicated and interesting characters. Every time I read it, new things come to me, and I can never get tired of it.
Memorable quote “You must allow me to tell you how much I admire and love you.”
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Name and title: Sacha Strebe, Deputy Editor
What it is about and why I recommend it: If you want to read an epic novel, add Shantaram to your list. At 936 pages, it’s not a humble tale, but as soon as I started reading this book, I was engrossed in every word and couldn’t read it fast enough. Set in the underworld of Bombay, the story follows our protagonist, Lin, who escaped from a maximum security prison in Australia. With their friend Prabaker by their side, the two seek to disappear into the hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and saints, Bombay soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries. Based on the author’s own life, Gregory David Roberts, this story is one of those impossible-to-let books that will hook you to the last page. It’s a must read!
Memorable quote: “Because this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Raise our eyes to the grunt and grin of the world once more. Think. Act. feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shaded crosses to the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts toward the promise of a new day. With love; the passionate search for a truth different from ours. With longing; the pure and ineffable longing to be saved. As long as fate continues to wait, we will live. “
Name and title: Bridget Chambers, Editorial and Social Media Fellow
What it is about and why I recommend it: This is my favorite book of all time. It is a historical fiction novel about the travels of two sisters during World War II. It has all the elements that I love in a good romance novel, but what sets this book apart is the stark and honest depiction of the different types of wars. that women fought during this time. I have read this book twice and each time I find myself wishing I had Isabel’s strength, admiring Vianne’s dedication to her family, and praying that Gäetan is in a safe place. Although it is on the longer side, I have read it both times I have read it. If you haven’t read this masterpiece yet, now is the time: the film adaptation is due out in December 2021, starring the Fanning sisters.
Memorable quote: “In love we discover who we want to be, in war we discover who we are.”
stranger by Diana Gabaldon
Name and title: Lourdes Avila Uribe, contributing editor
What it is about and why I recommend it: I. I came across Outlander right after I graduated from college in 2007, I was living at my parents’ house and I needed to occupy my time. I stumbled upon the first of this epic time travel romance and was instantly hooked. It follows a World War II nurse, Claire, who accidentally falls back in time and ends up trapped in 1700’s Scotland. Love, murder, adventure and more follow. It is a very entertaining, sexy and captivating read that is as well written and clever as it is romantic and fantastic. It is not quite a historical romance novel and it is not entirely science fiction, it is its own unique mix that transcends the genre. The ninth installment of the book comes out in the fall and I can’t wait!
Memorable quote: “Because where all love is, talking is unnecessary”
Emma by Jane Austen
Name and title: Caitlin Clark, Contributing Editor
What it is about and why I recommend it: I remember seeing a Jane Austen book on my high school summer reading list and thinking, “Great. I can’t wait to read about repressed 19th century women who pity men. “But my knowledge of Austen was clearly lacking back then. In addition to being prolific, Austen was, and honestly still is, one of the funniest novelists in the world. game. “Clueless”, known to be based on Emma, owes much of its sharpness to Austen’s clever template. (Another genuinely fun Austen gem is Lady Susan, if you are a little tired of Emma and its myriad, albeit excellent, movie adaptations.) What I thought would be a painful summer read ended up becoming one of my favorite worlds to return to for years to come.
Memorable quote: “There have been cases of young people who spend many, many months in succession, without being in any dance of any description, and no material damage accumulates either in the body or in the mind. -Jane Austen, Emma