A Victober Reading List for Every Bibliophile
Victober, a portmanteau of “Victorian” and “October,” is a literary challenge that celebrates the works of the Victorian era, a time of great literary innovation and creativity. Victober, as its name suggests, takes place during the entire month of October. Originating from the depths of book-loving corners on the internet, Victober found its roots in the passion of Victorian literature enthusiasts who aimed to read and discuss Victorian novels during the month of October. The idea gained traction on YouTube and social media, igniting the hearts of readers, both new and experienced, with a shared love for classic literature.
The primary purpose of Victober is to encourage readers to explore the rich tapestry of Victorian literature. This era, spanning from 1837 to 1901, gave birth to timeless classics, such as Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” the Brontë sisters’ “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights,” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Victober aims to reintroduce these literary gems to modern readers and inspire a new generation of Victorian literature enthusiasts.
Victober Reading List
Here’s a list of book recommendations for Victober, spanning various genres and themes within Victorian literature:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Austen’s timeless tale explores the complexities of love and societal expectations through the sharp wit of Elizabeth Bennet.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Dickens takes us on a journey of ambition, identity, and redemption through the life of young Pip in Victorian England.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Follow the indomitable spirit of Jane Eyre as she faces love, loss, and societal constraints in a gothic and emotionally charged narrative.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – A haunting story of passion, revenge, and the Yorkshire moors, “Wuthering Heights” is a dark and brooding masterpiece.
Middlemarch by George Eliot – George Eliot’s panoramic novel offers a rich tapestry of interconnected stories, delving into themes of ambition, marriage, and social change.
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – Join Bathsheba Everdene in Hardy’s picturesque landscape as she navigates love and relationships amidst rural Victorian England.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – In this exploration of vanity and hedonism, Wilde presents the moral decay of Dorian Gray and the consequences of a life devoted to pleasure.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – While not the typical Victorian novel, Stoker’s gothic masterpiece introduces Count Dracula and a group determined to stop his reign of terror.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel explores the clash of cultures and ideologies as Margaret Hale moves from the rural south to the industrial north.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray – Thackeray’s satirical novel is a sharp commentary on the vanity and social climbing of its characters in early 19th-century England.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a seminal work that delves into the ethical consequences of scientific ambition, as Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster that challenges the boundaries of life and death.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – Stevenson’s novella explores the duality of human nature through the transformation of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll into the sinister Mr. Hyde.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – Henry James weaves a suspenseful and psychologically complex tale in “The Turn of the Screw,” where a governess grapples with malevolent forces and the ambiguity of the supernatural.
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu – Carmilla is an early work of vampire fiction that predates Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Le Fanu’s novella introduces readers to the enigmatic and seductive vampire, Carmilla.
Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu – J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Uncle Silas” is a gripping Victorian Gothic novel filled with mystery and tension, as a young heiress is sent to live with her enigmatic and possibly malevolent guardian, Uncle Silas.
Mystery and Detective
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – Arthur Conan Doyle introduces readers to the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend Dr. John Watson as they embark on a series of thrilling and perplexing cases.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone is often regarded as one of the earliest detective novels, featuring a stolen diamond and a cast of intriguing characters, as it unravels the mystery surrounding the gem’s curse.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – In The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins crafts a suspenseful tale of mistaken identity, sinister conspiracies, and the mysterious figure of the titular woman in white.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – This Sherlock Holmes mystery takes place on the desolate moors of Devon, where the great detective and Dr. Watson investigate the eerie legend of a supernatural hound that haunts the Baskerville family.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens – Charles Dickens’ Bleak House combines elements of social commentary and mystery as it navigates the intricate legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, intertwined with the lives of its diverse characters.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens – Charles Dickens’ Hard Times offers a scathing critique of industrialization and the dehumanizing effects of utilitarianism on society, as it explores the lives of characters in the fictional Coketown.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South delves into the clash between the industrial north and the rural south of England, highlighting the social and economic disparities of the Victorian era through the eyes of its protagonist, Margaret Hale.
Silas Marner by George Eliot – George Eliot’s Silas Marner explores themes of isolation, redemption, and community as it follows the reclusive weaver Silas Marner’s transformation and reintegration into society.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (late Victorian, early 20th century) – The Jungle by Upton Sinclair exposes the harsh conditions of the meatpacking industry in Chicago during the early 20th century and serves as a powerful critique of labor exploitation and immigrant struggles.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (published posthumously) – This posthumously published work by Robert Tressell offers a searing indictment of class inequality and exploitation in Edwardian England, highlighting the plight of the working class through the experiences of a group of house painters.
Romance and Relationships
Emma by Jane Austen – In Emma, Jane Austen introduces readers to the charming but misguided heroine, Emma Woodhouse, as she meddles in the love lives of those around her while remaining oblivious to her own heart’s desires.
Persuasion by Jane Austen – Jane Austen’s Persuasion is a poignant exploration of second chances in love, as it follows Anne Elliot’s reconnection with Captain Frederick Wentworth, the man she was persuaded to reject years earlier.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles tells the tragic tale of Tess Durbeyfield, a young woman who grapples with societal expectations, love, and fate in rural England.
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë – Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey offers a realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by a governess in the 19th century, highlighting the struggles of Agnes Grey as she navigates her role while seeking love and respect.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – Cranford is a delightful and humorous account of the lives and social customs of the inhabitants of the small English town of Cranford, providing a charming exploration of friendships and relationships in a close-knit community.
Victorian Short Stories
“Tales of the Uneasy” by Violet Hunt – In “Tales of the Uneasy,” Violet Hunt weaves eerie and unsettling tales that explore the darker corners of human nature and the supernatural.
“The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde – Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” is a whimsical and satirical take on the traditional ghost story, as it narrates the humorous encounters between an American family and a bumbling English ghost.
“The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens – Charles Dickens’ “The Signal-Man” is a haunting and atmospheric short story that delves into themes of isolation, premonition, and the mysteries of the railway signalman’s life.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (late Victorian, early 20th century) – “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a chilling and psychologically intense tale that explores the confinement and mental deterioration of a woman subjected to the “rest cure” for hysteria.
The Thriving Community Aspect of Victober
One of the most remarkable aspects of Victober is its thriving and inclusive community. Participants from all corners of the globe come together on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads to share their reading experiences, reviews, and insights. The official Victober hashtag, #Victober, serves as a virtual meeting point where readers can connect, discuss their progress, and discover new book recommendations.
This sense of camaraderie extends beyond the online realm. Many local bookstores and libraries host Victober-themed events, book clubs, and reading groups, allowing enthusiasts to meet face-to-face and share their passion for Victorian literature. The community aspect of Victober is not only about reading but also about forging lasting connections with fellow book lovers who share your enthusiasm.