Wednesday, March 14, 2012

75 Books Everyone Should Read

Awhile back, I asked friends on my personal Facebook page, and on the SFC page - what are five books everyone should read? Not necessarily your favorite books, or the best books, but books that everyone would be better having read them.

The answers were so diverse, and surprising, and intriguing, that I knew I had to share them here. I was a little surprised at the popularity of some of the answers (Harry Potter was a top pick for many people) and how many of the books I'd never even heard of.

Here's the list, inclusive of my five picks. Interestingly, no one else chose the books I did. I'll let you try to figure out which ones are mine (and I've put them all together, to make it easier). A few people took liberties, like including a series or a play, but My rules tend to be loose, so I included them. I hate some of these, I love some of these, and some of these are now added to my ever increasing 'to read' list.

Which books would you include? Which ones would you take off?

75 Books Everyone Should Read (in no particular order)

1. Five People You Meet in Heaven
2. The Help
3. Tess of the D'Urbevilles
4. Jane Eyre
5. Twilight series
6. The Hunger Games
7. A Wrinkle in Time
8. Hamlet
9. Romeo & Juliet
10. Harry Potter series
11. Lord of the Rings trilogy
12. To Kill A Mockingbird
13. One Hundred Years of Solitude
14. The Cider House Rules
15. Native Son
16. Plainsong
17. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
18. Blood Meridian
19. (Anything by) Flannery O'Conner
20. Stargirl
21. Song of Solomon
22. The Book Thief
23. 1984
24. Things Fall Apart
25. Lord of the Flies
26. Chronicles of Narnia
27. It
28. The Holy Bible
29. The Name of the Wind
30. The Kite Runner
31. The Red Tent
32. The Book of Negroes
33. Pride & Prejudice
34. The Good Earth
35. Cry, the Beloved Country
36. The Poisonwood Bible
37. In the Time of Butterflies
38. Midwife of Venice
39. The Room
40. Jesus' Son
41. Light in August
42. Mere Christianity
43. The Sun Also Rises
44. The Shack
45. On the Road
46. Catcher in the Rye
47. Living Buddha, Living Christ
48. The Pearl
49. The Stand
50. East of Eden
51. The Odyssey
52. Persuasion
53. Roots
54. Love is a Dog From Hell
55. Siddhartha
56. The Old Man & the Sea
57. The Road
58. The Alchemist
59. (A Field Guide to Your Local Flora)
60. Kristin Lavransdatter
61. Great Expectations
62. Run With the Horseman, The Whisper of the River, When All the World Was Young (Ferrol Sams trilogy)
63. Empire Falls
64. Middlesex
65. The Time Traveler's Wife
66. The Shipping News
67. The World According to Garp
68. Slaughterhouse Five
69. A Prayer For Owen Meany
70. The Sound and the Fury
71. The Scarlet Letter
72. Brideshead Revisited
73. Atonement
74. Of Human Bondage
75. Heart of Darkness


  1. Heinlein needs to be in there for me- Stranger in a Strange Land or Job: A Comedy of Justice. Twilight should only be read to know what bad writing looks like (yes, I read it, and it made me angry reading it).

    1. That's how I felt about The Shack, JRose. Except I didn't finish it.

  2. What a great list! Lots of good stuff on there that I think I need to read / re-read. You totally put the Twilight series on there, didn't you Kelly? That's a "must read as a somewhat less unpleasant alternative to a frontal lobotomy". I would add "The Life of Pi" - besides the all of the interesting facts about animals, it's a fascinating study of human nature and what we do to survive.
    Also, this make me an ignoramus, but anything by Thomas Hardy just puts me to sleep.

    1. I LOVED Life of Pi, and it is one of my most recommended books. It was just so different. I think it would make a really fantastic book club book.

  3. I have practically the entire collection of Iain Banks, which I haven't finished yet. But I bought most of them in a single purchase after reading one of his books. If I had to choose just one Bank's book, it would be either Matter or Consider Phlebas. I think I have owned and read all of Kurt Vonnegut. I would include Solzhenitzen's The Gulag Archipeligo. I have read about half of his works.

    1. I've read all of Vonnegut, too. I remember the first book of his I read, it was Cat's Cradle and I was maybe 12? I remember thinking - this guy must be the most interesting person in the world.

  4. I'm guessing you're responsible for "Plainsong" - which is pretty awesome. :-)

    If I ever voted, I can't remember what I voted for. Except probably "A Wrinkle in Time" and the LOTR trilogy.

    1. Sandy, I am shocked and impressed! You are right, Plainsong is one of my books. How did you guess? I think Kent Haruf is one of the finest writers alive today, and that is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. I actually think I may like Eventide better (story wise), but there is no Eventide without Plainsong.

  5. What a great list! I'm like you, there's some I love on there, and some I hate. I'm amazed at how many of them I haven't read! I think I'll keep this as my reading for the summer and see how many of them I can get read.
    The Hunger Games disturbed me, but I had to keep reading. I've tried to read Mere Christianity multiple times, but it's not easy reading. Very interesting!!! Thanks!

    1. I know, I have my reading list set for awhile. My oldest read and love The Hunger Games, but I haven't. I am a huge CS Lewis fan, and Mere Christianity is not easy reading - but I think it's worth it. (I would also highly recommend The Problem of Pain, especially for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, and The Screwtape Letters for religious fun, if there is such a thing. ;) But all his theological work requires a presence of faith, otherwise I suppose it would be sucky reading).

  6. Great list! Add the Great Gatsby for me, and Gone With The Wind, and Generation X (yes it was a book).


    1. MOV, Gatsby has long been one of my very favorite books, and one of the few that I've read more times than I can remember. The last line is, to me, one of the best concluding sentences ever written.

  7. OH! I'm SO glad you have Empire Falls on there! My mom, who NEVER reads, devoured that and wanted more. To me it is the ultimate primer on human behavior.

    I would have to add Alas, Babylon to the list. It's a sixties novel about nuclear war and I think of it every time the Zombie Apocalypse or similar comes up in conversation.

    1. Empire Falls is a GREAT book. My dear friend Michelle put that on the list, and she's the one that suggested I read it. Such a fantastic story.

  8. I have read perhaps half of these. I don't know that I could pick five must-reads, but if I did I'm sure most of those five are already on this list. I am fascinated by what other people love, though. The frightening thing about lists of books is how they increase my ever-increasing to-read list as well.