From the best-selling titles to the lesser-known ones. From the genre-defining books to the path-breaking ones. It’s really a herculean task to fit in all the books in one list. But we bring to you 50 books- out of all the millions of books you can read- that you should read before you die.
Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. It was immensely popular, having been translated into over 40 languages and selling over 30 million copies around the world. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The work was lauded for portraying a child’s exposure to racism and discrimination in the American South in a compassionate manner.
The Great Gatsby is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third novel, published in 1925. The novel is set in Jazz Age New York and chronicles the sad story of Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire, and his pursuit of Daisy Buchanan, a wealthy young woman he adored as a child. Despite its failure upon publication, the novel is today regarded as a classic of American fiction and has been referred to as “the Great American Novel”
Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude was first published in 1967. In lush, creative writing that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism,” this bestselling novel narrates the narrative of the Buendia family and chronicles the irreconcilable clash between the longing for seclusion and the need for affection.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is an unusual book among the 20th century’s classic books that grows more disturbing as its futuristic torment becomes more apparent. George Orwell’s horrific image of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world, as well as one poor stiff’s effort to achieve individuality, was published in 1949.
The 1885 novel by Mark Twain, which criticizes the pre-Civil War South’s institutionalized bigotry, is one of the most well-known works of American literature. Twain’s account of a runaway youngster and an escaped slave’s journey down the Mississippi encapsulates the essence of liberty.
The magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd kid who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure, is told in Paulo Coelho’s masterwork The Alchemist. Santiago’s quest will bring him to riches, unlike anything he could have imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the importance of listening to our hearts, identifying opportunities, and learning to read life’s omens, and most importantly following our dreams.
Criminals take over after dark in Anthony Burgess’ renowned nightmare picture of the future. Alex, a teen gang leader, speaks in marvelously imaginative lingo that reflects the ferocious intensity with which youngsters struggle against society. A Clockwork Orange is a terrifying narrative about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom, that is both dazzling and subversive.
Raskolnikov, an impoverished and desperate former student, wanders the slums of St Petersburg and kills without remorse. He imagines himself as a great man fighting for a higher purpose than just following the rules of morality. However, Raskolnikov is chased by the increasing voice of his conscience as he engages in a perilous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police detective. Raskolnikov is being hunted by his conscience, who is tightening the rope of his own guilt around his neck. Sonya, a dejected sex prostitute, is the only one who can provide hope.
The Diary of a Young Girl, generally known as The Diary of Anne Frank, is a journal written by Anne Frank, a Jewish adolescent, about her family’s two years in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II (1942–44). The novel was initially published in 1947, two years after Anne’s death in a concentration camp, and went on to become a war classic.
Don Quixote is regarded as one of the most well-known works in Western literature. Originally intended as a spoof of the long-popular chivalric romances, it depicts realistically what happens to an older knight who, bewildered by such romances, rides forth on his old horse Rocinante with his pragmatic squire, Sancho Panza, in search of adventure.
Dracula is a Gothic horror book by Irish author Bram Stoker published in 1897. The novel narrates the account of Count Dracula’s attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England in order to obtain new blood and spread his undead curse, as well as the battle between Dracula and a small party of men and women commanded by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Great Expectations is a classic work of Victorian literature that is a coming-of-age story. It follows Pip, an orphan, as he grows up and develops his personality. From December 1, 1860, to August 1, 1861, the novel was serialized in Charles Dickens’ weekly publication All the Year Round. Great Expectations is a tale of intrigue, unattainable love, and all the joys that money cannot buy.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first book of British writer Douglas Adams’s extremely popular series of comedy science fiction books, published in 1979. The narrative features a hapless, deeply ordinary Englishman (Arthur Dent) who finds himself adrift in a realm defined by randomness and absurdity, mocking modern society with comedy and cynicism.
The prequel to The Lord of the Rings and a superb modern classic. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who lives a simple, uninterested life, rarely venturing beyond his kitchen or cellar. His happiness is shattered, however, when the wizard Gandalf and a band of dwarves appear on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They’ve devised a plan to raid Smaug the Magnificent’s treasure hoard, which is guarded by a gigantic and ferocious dragon. Bilbo grudgingly accepts their quest, unaware that he will encounter a magical ring as well as a terrifying creature known as Gollum on his way to the Lonely Mountain.
Yann Martel’s fantasy adventure novel Life of Pi was published in 2001. From a young age, the protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil kid from Pondicherry, investigates themes of spirituality and practicality. He survives a shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days while stranded on a boat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
The Lord of the Rings is the saga of a group of sometimes reluctant heroes who set forth to save their world from consummate evil. Its many worlds and creatures were drawn from Tolkien’s extensive knowledge of philology and folklore. It was published in three parts as The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), The Two Towers (1955), and The Return of the King (1955).
A powerful love story with a delightful comedy. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs—yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral.
When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from a nightmare, he found himself changed into a nasty vermin in his bed. Thus starts The Metamorphosis, widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s major masterpieces of fiction. The Metamorphosis is a book about Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who wakes up one day to find that he has metamorphosed into an insect. The Metamorphosis is a work on alienation, disillusionment, and existentialism, among other things.
E.M. Forster’s novel A Passage to India was published in 1924 and is considered one of the author’s best works. The novel explores racism and colonialism, as well as a concept that Forster explored in many of his previous writings, namely the necessity to maintain both physical and mental connection to the soil.
Jane Austen’s romance book Pride and Prejudice was published anonymously in three volumes in 1813. It centres on the stormy relationship between Elizabeth Bennet, the daughter of a country gentleman, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, a rich aristocratic landowner. It is classic English literature written with biting humour and great character portrayal.
ALSO READ: Popular Young Adults Books of 2021
Shakespeare created a harsh universe in Romeo and Juliet in which two young people fall in love. It’s not only that their families don’t like one other; the Montagues and the Capulets have a blood hatred. This wonderful play has become the classic story of young love.
Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick was first published in London in October 1851 as The Whale, and then in New York City a month later as Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. Melville’s magnum masterpiece, Moby Dick, is widely regarded as one of the finest American novels.
Randle Patrick McMurphy, a loud, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over, is Ken Kesey’s hero in this famous novel. McMurphy, a passionate, life-affirming fighter, rallies the other patients around him by questioning Nurse Ratched’s tyranny.
Catch-22 is a satirical war novel by American author Joseph Heller. It employs a unique non-chronological third-person omniscient storytelling style that describes events from the perspectives of various persons. Because the tales aren’t in chronological order, the timeline moves along with the plot.
Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children was published in 1981 and it depicts India’s passage from British colonial control to independence, as well as the country’s split. It’s thought to be a work of postcolonial, postmodern, and magical realism literature. Saleem Sinai, the main character, tells the story, which is situated in the background of true historical events.
Dumas’ epic narrative of agony and retribution, which was inspired by a real-life example of wrongful imprisonment, was a major hit when it came out. Edmond Dantes is imprisoned in a grim fortress, accused of a crime he did not commit. There, he learns about a vast treasure hoard hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo, and he vows not only to flee but also to retrieve the treasure and use it to arrange the assassination of the three men who imprisoned him.
Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 is the central theme of War and Peace, which follows three of literature’s most well-known characters: Pierre Bezukhov, an illegitimate son of a count who is struggling for his inheritance and searching for spiritual satisfaction; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who abandons his family to fight Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, a lovely young noblewoman who attracts both men.
A Wrinkle in Time is the first novel in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic Time Quintet, and it won the Newbery Medal in 1963.
A strange guest arrives at the Murry house on this chaotic night, inviting Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most perilous and spectacular adventure—one that will endanger their lives and our universe.
ALSO READ: Popular Books to Read this Summer | 2021