Note: Recommendations are not in any particular order, and–unless I trust the author and have read enough of his or her work to know–I do not recommend without having read.
~Jane Austen. By all means, Jane Austen.
~Spindle’s End, The Hero and The Crown, The Blue Sword (among others) by Robin McKinley. Here’s the beginning paragraph of Spindle’s End. I could devote an entire blog post to this paragraph, but I’ll just let you read it.
“The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like slightly sticky plaster-dust. (Housecleaners in that country earned unusually good wages.) If you lived in that country, you had to de-scale your kettle of its encrustation of magic at least once a week, because if you didn’t, you might find yourself pouring hissing snakes or pond slime into your teapot instead of water. (It didn’t have to be anything scary or unpleasant, like snakes or slime, especially in a cheerful household—magic tended to reflect the atmosphere of the place in which it found itself—but if you want a cup of tea, a cup of lavender-and-gold pansies or ivory thimbles is unsatisfactory. And while the pansies—put dry in a vase—would probably last a day, looking like ordinary pansies, before they went greyish-dun and collapsed into magic dust, something like an ivory thimble would begin to smudge and crumble as soon as you picked it up.)”
~P.G. Wodehouse. (There is an entire blog post dedicated to him.)
~Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
~Belinda by Maria Edgeworth. One of the most under-appreciated novels. It’s brilliant. Read it.
~Evelina by Fanny Burney.
~Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
~The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë.
~A Simple Story by Elizabeth Inchbald. But be prepared to cry.
~Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
~Oscar Wilde’s plays.
~The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.
~Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.
~Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.
~Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
~Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
~The Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
~Daisy Miller by Henry James. (I hesitate…but he’s good.)
~The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair by Graham Greene.
~Adam Bede and Middlemarch by George Eliot.
~The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.
~The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.
~Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
~L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series and/or the Emily series.
~Arcadia by Tom Stoppard.
~”Franny” by J.D. Salinger.