14/08/2014 16:46 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

5 Classic Books You Probably Should Read

When it comes to a great book, there are the ones absolutely everyone is talking about, the ones best suited to sandy toes and a glass of sangria on the beach, and those you probably should have got round to reading by now.

Check out our rundown of the books you have never got round to reading, and a few words on why you should pick them up now.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Fourth-wave feminism probably owes a lot to this book. Critics have dubbed its main character one of the most fiercely independent and strong-willed female protagonists in the history of literature.

Although adapted countless times for the small screen, no period drama could truly compare to actually reading the novel for yourself.

It's a love story you may have attempted to conquer in your angst-ridden teen years, but it's far better to tackle as an adult. And Jane, well, she could teach us all a few things about what it means to be a woman - even now. Buy your copy here.

2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Based in rural Georgia in the Southern States the novel tells the painful story of an uneducated African-American girl, Celie, through the letters she writes to God over a twenty year period, during which time she is subjected to sexual violence and abuse by her father and then her husband.

Though there's no doubt it paints a harrowing picture, Celie's strength and resolve makes the story ultimately uplifting.

Her debut book made Walker the very first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer prize and the National Book awards for fiction. Grab a copy here.

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. A semi-autobiographical look at the author's battle with mental illness, the book tells the story of Esther Greenwood's spiral into depression after landing an internship on a New York fashion magazine.

A total must-read for any woman who has too often felt the pressure at work - or even from friends and family - to conform and fit in line with other people's wishes and expectations. Get your copy here.

4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In a bleak, post-apocalyptic world, a man and his son travel South to avoid the coming winter, this novel is a story of love and fatherhood. Utterly heartbreaking and at times terrifying the book will keep you gripped from page one until the very end.

Pick up your copy here.

5. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. The story of a sweet but disastrously overweight "ghetto nerd" living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, who dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkien and keeps falling hopelessly in love.

At its roots it's a tale about the beauty of optimism amid inherited cultural setbacks and we guarantee it will make you cry. Buy a copy here.

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