Flat lay of three Vintage Classics books - Ulysses, The Story of a Life and Those Bones are Not My Child - on a wicker bench.

Are you hoping to read more classic literature in 2022, but don’t know which book to pick up next? Whether you’re looking to revisit an old favourite or to uncover a hidden gem, these recommendations are all exceptional and important works that deserve to be top of your to-be-read pile.

The Story of a Life: Volumes 13 by Konstantin Paustovsky (1964; translation by Douglas Smith 20 January)

Konstantin Paustovsky was one of the Soviet Union’s most revered authors. Born in Moscow in 1892, with a childhood spent in Ukraine, he lived his life on the fast-unfurling frontiers of Russian history. In this richly dramatic memoir, he takes us from his Ukrainian youth in a struggling family, to his work as a paramedic on Russia’s frontlines, and then as a journalist covering the country’s violent spiral into revolution. With a remarkable English translation by Guggenheim fellow Douglas Smith available for the first time this year, now is the perfect time to discover this lost classic of twentieth-century Russian literature.

Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

Sethe is now miles away from Sweet Home – the farm where she was enslaved for many years. Unable to forget the unspeakable horrors that took place there, Sethe is haunted by the violent spectre of her dead child, the daughter who died nameless and whose tombstone is etched with a single word, ‘Beloved’. A tale of brutality, horror and, above all, love at any cost, Beloved is Toni Morrison’s enduring masterpiece, now available in a gorgeously designed new edition with a foreword by Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other. ‘It’s hard to overstate the significance of Toni Morrison’, says Evaristo, ‘For many of us she was the lodestar who inspired us to write from within our own cultures’.

No Pain Like This Body by Harold Sonny Ladoo (1972)

Set in the Eastern Caribbean at the beginning of the twentieth century, No Pain Like this Body is a vivid, heartbreaking novel about a rice-growing family during the August rainy season, whose perilous struggle against illness and the elements ends in unbearable loss. Fifty years since its first publication, a new Vintage Classics edition of Ladoo’s literary masterpiece features an introduction by The Mermaid of Black Conch author, Monique Roffey, and an electric jacket design. Roffey calls No Pain Like This Body her ‘favourite novel written by a Trinidadian novelist, hands-down.’

Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)

2022 marks 100 years since the first publication of Ulysses, James Joyce’s innovative masterpiece which is considered one of the most important works of twentieth-century literature. Set entirely on one day, 16 June 1904, the novel follows Leopold Bloom and Stephen Daedalus as they go about their daily business in Dublin – a story that unfolds with extraordinary richness and depth. To celebrate the centenary year, author of The Green Road and The Gathering, Anne Enright, introduces this new edition of Joyce’s much-lauded work.

Those Bones Are Not My Child by Toni Cade Bambara (1999)

Zala Spencer is barely surviving on the margins of Atlanta’s booming economy when she awakens one summer’s morning in 1980 to find her teenage son, Sonny, has disappeared. What follows is a suspenseful, epic novel portraying a community and a family under siege, during the shocking string of real-life murders of Black children in Atlanta in the early 1980s. Toni Cade Bambara takes us into the institutions of a city struggling to deal with corruption and greed – a struggle that remains unfortunately recognisable in the present day. Toni Morrison, mentor and editor to Bambara, described Those Bones Are Not My Child as ‘A magnum opus’.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Step into the New London of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a society that expects maximum pleasure and accepts complete surveillance, no matter what the cost. Ninety years since its first conception, this ‘masterpiece of speculation’ – as Margaret Atwood describes it – has proven to be alarmingly prescient.

This stunning new hardback edition features an introduction by Yuval Noah Harari, bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, who explains why he considers Huxley’s dystopian classic to be ‘the most prophetic book of the twentieth century’.

The Rack by A. E. Ellis (1958)

‘Consider yourself an experiment of the gods in what a man can endure...’

A cross between The Magic Mountain and Catch-22, The Rack tells the story of a community of young people hoping for a cure in a sanitorium where the doctors are pioneering a drastic new treatment for tuberculosis. Mixing unique humour and tragic romance, when it was first published in 1958, the novel received critical acclaim and A. E. Ellis was compared to the likes of Proust, Mann and Camus. The Rack was the first and only novel written by Ellis, inspired in part by his own experiences in an Alpine sanatorium.

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