IF you're finding that novel you're reading a bit of a slog, just put it down and read something else instead. That was the advice of the Reading Agency, who last week published the results of a survey. Many of us fail to finish novels we start, and often it's more modern novels, like Fifty Shades Of Grey, or Harry Potter that we're failing to finish. So, if you're fed up with Twilight or snoozing over a John Grisham, here are a few classics, which are not only books to read before you die, but thrilling, gripping, sometimes unputdownable page turners.

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse, as we learn on the first page has a “disposition to think too well of herself”. She has it all – wealth, intelligence, beauty - but she is also self-deluded and a meddler in other people’s affairs. Austen was a master plotter, and in Emma she very nearly created a whole new way of storytelling. Literary critic John Mullan has described it as “revolutionary” and “one of the great experimental novels”, written as it is in the free, indirect third-person, a style in which the authors voice seems to merge with the thoughts of the character “We can judge Emma,” he writes, “even as we share her thoughts.”

A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Of all Dickens’ huge bestsellers the one that has sold the most copies is this tale of riot, bloody mayhem and mob madness set in the Paris of the French Revolution. Brad Leithauser, in the New Yorker described A Tale Of Two Cities as the “most satisfying thriller I’ve ever read”. It even, he observed, has a chase scene to rival any we may have seen in Hollywood thrillers, as “past ‘solitary farms, ruinous buildings, dye-works, tanneries’, the Manette family race across the northern face of blood-mad France towards sane, cosy England.”

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Young solicitor, Jonathan Harker, travels to Transylvania to meet Count Dracula, and while at his castle is attacked by a vampiric woman. Thus starts a novel that, in its entwining of horror and desire, takes a dark and gripping voyage through Victorian attitudes to sex, illness and death. “There was a deliberate voluptuousness,” Harker writes, describing one of the female vampires, “which was both thrilling and repulsive.”

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Its hard overstate the significance of Mary Shelley’s 'Modern Prometheus'. Written when she was just 19 years old, on a fateful stormy night at the Villa Diodati, it would become one of the most influential works of the Romantic period, and kickstart the genre of science fiction.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

For sheer adrenalin-on-the-page its to beat Kidnapped’s Flight In The Heather sequence of chapters The book, said Robert Louis Stevenson, was the one he considered “infinitely my best”. But this great action-adventure story is about more than just the thrills. Critic Robert McCrum notes that it “stands out as an inspired and memorable study of the duality in the Scots character”.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

When, in 1847, the publisher George Smith received the manuscript of Jane Eyre,m he began to read it on a Sunday morning, and described later, "The story quickly took me captive. Before twelve o'clock my horse came to the door but I could not put the book down… before I went to bed that night I had finished reading." Bronte’s romantic tale brought together a crucible of gothic elements – crumbling house, orphaned governess and mysterious Byronic hero. Angela Carter once wrote “of all the great novels in the world, Jane Eyre veers the closest towards trash.”

The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas

The classic tale of revenge, written by the French son of a slave who some see as the granddaddy of popular fiction. Edmond Dantes, betrayed by friends and framed for a crime he didn’t commit, is sentenced to solitary confinement on the island prison of Chateau d’If, where he spends 14 years in the very harshest of conditions. When he escapes he transforms himself into the Count of Monte Cristo and plots vengeance. His desire, he considers, is to "return as nearly as possible a pain equivalent to the one inflicted on me. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, as they say in the East”.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

In the age of #MeToo Tess of the d’Urbervilles, subtitled “A Pure Woman” is a tale to make you weep not just over the attitudes of the past, but the values of the present. But there’s something compelling about its tale of a young woman, cruelly treated by the men around her – first, Alec, the landed charlatan, whose seduction of Tess looks very much like a rape, then Angel, who rejects her when he finds out she is not the pure thing he once thought.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

The greatest British novel of all time, according to a 2015 poll of international critics. The Wall Street Journal’s Sam Sacks said it was “the greatest social and psychological novel ever written in English”,

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

You want cliffhangers? There are over forty of them in this book. You want the sensational? It’s here. In fact, some say it was the foundation text of “sensation fiction” – an electrifiying, suspenseful genre, whose plots are often horrific, and. Here, the plot includes an evil aristocrat, a body swap of one woman for another and the misuse of the lunacy laws to incarcerate someone. On publication, in serial weekly parts, it was a wild success with the public and Prince Albert even admired it so much he sent copies as gifts.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Three sons all with the urge to kill their father – it’s no wonder Sigmund Freud described The Brother’s Karamazov as “the most magnificent novel ever written.” The author’s last book combines a deftly told crime story with philosophical debate and meditation on what it is to be human.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Purge from your mind all thoughts of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s transplantation of Conrad’s vision of horror to Vietnam. Turn instead to the original, a 40,000 word masterwork, telling a story of colonial brutality through one man’s journey up the Congo to find the mysterious Mr Kurtz. Robert McCrum has described it as “a haunting, hypnotic masterpiece by a great writer who towers over the literature of the 20th century”. But it’s not without its critics. Chinua Achebe, for instance, who denounced the author as a “bloody racist”.

Native Son by Richard wright

"No American Negro exists", James Baldwin once wrote , "who does not have his private Bigger Thomas living in his skull." He was referring to the central character in a book, published in 1940, by Richard Wright, an African American, grandson of slaves who had been forced to drop out of school at the age of nine. It told tthe story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s, who ends up killing a young woman – but it's less about Bigger himself than the system of oppression that shapes his life.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

“It’s a bit on the gloomy side,” Daphne du Maurier wrote to her publisher, Victor Gollancz, “the ending is a bit brief and a bit grim”. But Rebecca, an atmospheric and hypnotic psychological thriller which the author saw as a study in jealousy, became a bestseller, and even 80 years on is still bought at a rate of about 4,000 copies per month.

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Ten people are, one by one, murdered on an island off a Devon coast. It’s hard to pick which of Agatha Christie’s novels are the most masterly, but this one is sharp, smart and almost minimalist. In 2015 it was voted the favourite Agatha Christie novel in a poll to mark the 125th anniversary of her birth.

The Worst Books Ever

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Meyer’s books may have sold millions and inspired blockbuster movies, but they are not the finest of literature. Not only are they poorly written and riddled with clichés, but they're sexist and misogynist.

Taster: “Each time, his beauty pierced me through with sadness.”

Fifty Shades Of Grey by E L James

Top of the list of books that people don’t finish and no wonder. It's little more than a pimped up Mills & Boon.

Taster: "'Argh!' I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity."

The Eye Of Argon by Jim Theis

A book so bad it was good. This heroic fantasy novel, the story of Grignr, a barbarian who slashes his way to the city of Gorzam, hoping to find women and adventure, written by the author at the age of sixteen, became a cult phenomenon after people started reading it simply for the thrill of its appalling prose. People even created a party game where players had to read out chapters aloud and straight-faced without laughing.

Taster: “Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of hell, barbarian!”

Moon People by Dale M Courtney

In the age of Amazon it’s possible to be absolutely dire yet have a stellar review rating. Moon People has become famous for being that ultimate bad art book, with over 100 reviews that fall over themselves to revel in just how wonderfully awful it is, or ramp up the sarcastic praise.

Taster: “They woke up starring at each other with a big smile on each other faces.”