It is true that those who have not read books are missing out on a whole world out there. Books are your window to the world, they take you to yonder areas, teach you many things and opens up your mind to the wonders, hitherto unknown.
“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking,” said Jerry Seinfeld, an American actor/writer.
If people stopped writing, and in turn reading, the world would be a much poorer and boring place indeed.
Books have the power to change people and society by forcing them to think. This is why English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton said,
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
The best of books tend to take you away into a world of their own. Good books leave a magic spell in which you continue to live for a while, and your imagination is awakened. Reading books is the best mental exercise that can help keep you young.
Not everyone is lucky to have enough time to read all the books that they would like to. We have compiled here, a list of 20 books that we feel everyone should read in their lifetime. Check them out.
10 Books Everyone Should Read
1. To Kill A Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
This American classic which won a Pulitzer Prize was published way back in 1960 by Harper Lee and still manages to hold sway with the people. The book is Harper Lee’s observations of her family and neighbors and an event of 1936. The characters are so compelling that they remain with you and make an impact. It’s a southern novel that explores the human minds and behavior in racial prejudice, practices that existed at the time.
Atticus Finch, the protagonist, evolved as a moral hero for many and is quoted for lessons in tolerance, compassion, and racial equality. This book is a timeless classic that everyone should read.
2. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
This is a satirical book by Joseph Heller often counted among the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. The plot is set in the times of the Second World War and explores the story of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. The fictional plot and characters beautifully tell a story of how the phrase catch 22 is used to explain many things unreasonably.
The story tells us how the American airmen of a fictional squadron try to avoid certain death in combat. The only escape for them would be to get declared mentally unfit; however, that option is almost not existent leading them to a Catch 22 situation.
3. Love In The Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is a Spanish novel by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez published in 1985. An English translation was later published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1988. It was also adapted into an English movie in 2007.
This beautiful story takes us through the lives of the main characters Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. An expertly woven plot tells us how they fall in love and how Fermina’s father, Lorenzo Daza opposes the same and separates them by moving to a different city. Though they continue a long distance relationship over telegraph, she returns to find that they are almost strangers.
Fermina later marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino, who is committed to the eradication of cholera. They grow old together while Florentino continues his promiscuity. The story tells how he still loves Fermina and proposes to her after her husband’s death. She also learns about Urbino being unfaithful and slowly realizes the value of Florentino’s love.
4. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Considered among the must-read is this hugely popular novel by Louisa May Alcott, called Little Women. In fact, the novel was such a big hit that readers demanded to know more about the lives of the four main characters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. The novel is said to be loosely based on the author and her sisters.
The story talks about the lives of four sisters during the American Civil War and how they handle their poverty in the absence of their father. The story also talks about the wealthy neighbor Mr. Laurance and his orphaned grandson Jo. The story talks about how the lives of four sisters unfold, how they fall in love, get married, etc.
5. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
This is an American Southern novel set in the backdrop of the American Civil War written in 1936 by Margaret Mitchell. It was made into a feature film and won 12 Oscars, including those for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. The heroine of this novel Scarlett O’Hara is a strong-willed daughter of a Georgia Plantation owner. The whole story tells about her romantic interest in her cousin’s husband Ashley Wilkes and her marriage to Rhett Butler.
The plot takes us through the lives of Scarlett and Rhett, along with the other characters whose lives are intertwined. The story ends with Rhett walking out on Scarlett and her vow to win back his love.
6. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
This is a book which had mixed reviews due to what few people considered as vulgar and offensive language. The story talks about how two migrant workers George Milton and Lennie Small move places to find work during the Great Depression in America. While George is intelligent, Lennie is mentally disabled. It is a beautiful story about how they dream of owning their piece of land, but ultimately George ends up killing Lennie due to his destructive nature, that led him to commit murder.
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
An English literature classic, this book published in 1847 talked about the hypocrisy, class divide, gender inequality, etc., that was prevalent during the Victorian era. Wuthering Heights is the farmhouse of Heathcliff, the landlord of Lockwood, who has rented Thrushcross Grange.
After a night of being snowed in Wuthering Heights and having a nightmare about a lady named Catherine, Lockwood returns home and tells his housekeeper about the same. She then narrates the story of Wuthering Heights to him.
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Renowned author Mark Twain published this in 1884 and is named among Great American Novels. The story is narrated as a first person account of Huckleberry Finn, who is a friend of Tom Sawyer, the main character of Mark Twain’s two other famous novels. The book in set in the American South and gives beautiful descriptions of the river Mississippi. The story is satirical at times and talks about racism and is shown in the moral conflict of Huck.
9. Animal Farm – George Orwell
A satirical novel published in 1945, this one talks about events that led up to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Orwell himself described Animal Farm as a satire against Stalin. The story talks about how the animals of a farm take over the farm, ousting their human master.
10. How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The title itself suggests that this is a must read for everyone and come from the best-selling author Dale Carnegie, cannot be ignored. Though published as far back as 1930, the theories hold good even today. This is an absolute classic that talks about how simple things like smiling and remembering people’s names can help and go a long way. It is a simple book that talks about the fundamentals that humans should stick to in society.
11. The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
A Spanish novel initially rejected by many publishers that later became a best seller and also got translated into 37 languages. Received the Best Novel of the Year in Chile in 1982 and also ensured that Allende got the Panorama Literario award.
The plot takes us through the story of the Trueba family across four generations in the backdrop of political changes that happened in Chile during the time. Told mainly from the perspective of two main protagonists – Esteban and Alba, the story keeps you hooked till the end.
12. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Published in 2003, this novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini tells the story of Amir from the Kabul district. This story is set in the times of the collapse of the Afghan monarchy, the Soviet intervention, the refugee exodus and the Taliban regime’s rise.
13. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
It is a debut novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy that won the Booker Prize in 1997. The story tells us about the childhood experiences of fraternal twins Rahel and Esthappen, how small things affect people’s behavior and how lives are destroyed because of that. Set in Kottayam, Kerala the book talks about communism, caste system and the Syrian Christian way of life.
A beautifully told tale of the twins’ life, and how they realize in the end that there is none other who understood them as they did each other.
14. The Diary of A Young Girl – Anne Frank
This is a must-read story of a young girl who went into hiding along with her family, during the Nazi regime. She diligently noted down her experiences in her diary as a raw account. She died in a concentration camp. However, her diary was retrieved and given to her father, Otto Frank and got published in more than 60 languages.
The entries are in the form of a confidential narration to her friend, the diary, from a young girl. It is certainly worth a read and tells about how she still thought of the goodness of the people and beauty of the world around.
15. For Whom The Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
For whom the bell tolls is a war story published in 1940. The protagonist, Robert Jordan, is a young American who is attached to International Brigades. During the Spanish Civil War, he is assigned to a guerilla unit and allocated the task to blow up a bridge in Sergovia.
It graphically describes the brutal side of the war, which Hemingway himself has seen. It is a beautiful narration of the guerilla soldier and his sense of duty that got a Pulitzer nomination for Hemingway.
16. War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy
This masterpiece by Russian author Leo Tolstoy talks about the French invasion of Russia. It beautifully chronicles the impact of the Napoleonic era on Russia’s aristocratic society through of story of five families, namely the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, the Rostovs, the Kuragins, and the Drubetskoys. The story carries a mix of fictional as well as real characters. This work has later been translated into English by many authors.
17. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
Hailed as one of the best literary fiction of the 20th century, this was also made into a movie. It is a beautifully woven web of fantasy that was a sequel to The Hobbit. The strength of the story is in each character: the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Pippin Took and many others. The story is set in the English lands of The Shire. The story talks about One Ring with the power to rule and corrupt those who wore it.
18. The Catcher In the Rye – J.D Salinger
“The Catcher In The Rye” is a novel published in 1951 originally meant for adults. But it has since been popular with teenagers in the way it has chronicled the teenage alienation and angst. It has been included in the 100 best English novels written since 1923 list. The story unfolds through the life of Holden Caulfield, a youngster who starts from an exclusive private school in Pennsylvania to his journey to an institution.
The story beautifully captures the ups and downs of a teenager and hence finds itself popular among the teens.
19. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
It is an 1867 novel by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who published it under the pseudonym, Lewis Carroll. The whole story is about how Alice, a little girl, falls into a rabbit hole and finds herself in a world of fantasy and fiction. This story tells about the power of imagination and takes you along to a different world.
20. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
This novel published in 1932 talks about London in the year AD 2540. It talks about advances in reproductive technology, psychological manipulation, sleep learning and classical conditioning. The plot uncovers the friendship between Lenina Crowne and Bernard Marx – one who is socially accepted and the other who is not.
These are the 20 Books Everyone Should Read and not give a miss! We are sure you would love each one for its uniqueness and narration. Go ahead, enjoy them at your leisure!