Mrs. Scales’ Must Read Top 100 Books
Here is my list of the top 100 books that everyone should read at least once in their life. Many come from lists of people other than myself and therefore I have not read all of them yet. Those titles printed in red are the ones I have read and many, although not all, of those are my own personal recommendations.
Mrs. Scales’ List of “Must Reads” – Books and Short Stories that Everyone Should Read (At Least Once)
The Little Prince makes several profound and idealistic observations about life and human nature.
In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life — the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.
3. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe (1845)
Edgar Allan Poe remains the unsurpassed master of works of mystery and madness.
4. This Boy’s Life – Tobias Wolff (1989)
A memoir, which describes the author’s adolescence as he wanders the continental United States with his itinerant mother.
5. Dandelion Wine – by Ray Bradbury (1957)
A 1957 novel, taking place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois — a pseudonym for Bradbury’s childhood home of Waukegan, Illinois. The novel developed from the short story “Dandelion Wine” which appeared in the June 1953 issue of Gourmet magazine.
6. Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Doug Adams (1978)
Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs to the stars and begin a wild journey through time and space.
7. East of Eden – by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck
Published in September (1952). Often described as Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel, East of Eden brings to life the intricate details of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, and their interwoven stories.
8. The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin (1859)
9. Slaughterhouse- V – Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Angelou (1969)
Maya Angelou’s six volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother’s lover. ‘I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it’s like to be a human being.
11. Once and Future King – T. H. White (1958)
The whole world knows and loves this book. It is the magical epic of King Arthur and his shining Camelot; of Merlyn and Owl and Guinevere; of beasts who talk and men who fly; of wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad. It is the fantasy masterpiece by which all others are judged.
12. Almost A Woman – Esmeralda Santiago (1998)
Follows the author from the Brooklyn barrios to Harvard as she overcomes an overprotective mother, siblings who scoff at her attempts to learn “”Eastern Standard English,”” a whirlwind marriage, and her search for cultural identity.
13. Roots, by Alex Haley (1976)
The monumental two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after him. By tracing back his own roots, Haley tells the story of 39 million Americans of African descent. He has rediscovered for an entire people a rich cultural heritage that ultimately speaks to all races everywhere, for the story it tells is one of the most eloquent testimonials ever written to the indomitability of the human spirit.
14. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
Told with deadpan humor and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it …
15. Summer of My German Soldier – Bette Greene (1984)
Award winning debut novel, a young Jewish girl in the postwar South finds herself drawn to a German prisoner of war. When the Army delivers a batch of Nazi prisoners of war to an internment camp in Jenkinsville, Arkansas, Patty Bergen is as anxious as any of her neighbors to get a glimpse of the monsters. The eldest child in the townÆs sole Jewish family, Patty is lonely and isolated, spending most of her time in the company of Ruth, her parents black house keeper. Then she meets Anton Reiker, an inmate in the camp. Even though he fought against the Allies, Anton seems to understand Patty in a way even her parents never have.
16. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – C. McCullen (1940)
With the publication of her first novel, THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation. With its profound sense of moral isolation and its compassionate glimpses into its characters’ inner lives, the novel is considered McCullers’ finest work, an enduring masterpiece first published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940. At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer’s mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book’s heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated — and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.
17. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison (1952)
Ralph Ellison A young African American man moves to New York City and discovers he is “invisible,” seen only as a racial stereotype and never as himself.
18. The Martian Chronicles – Bradbury (1945)
Leaving behind a world on the brink of destruction, man came to the Red planet and found the Martians waiting, dreamlike. Seeking the promise of a new beginning, man brought with him his oldest fears and his deepest desires. Man conquered Mars—and in that instant, Mars conquered him. The strange new world with its ancient, dying race and vast, red-gold deserts cast a spell on him, settled into his dreams, and changed him forever. Here are the captivating chronicles of man and Mars—the modern classic by the peerless Ray Bradbury.
19. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller (1961)
This black comedy about World War II Army Air Corps aviators attempting to survive the absurdities of military bureaucracy has become a part of the American collective consciousness.
20. On the Road – Jack Kerouac (1957)
On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. The defining novel of the 1950s Beat Generation (which Kerouac named), “On the Road” is a semiautobiographical tale of a bohemian cross-country adventure, narrated by character Sol Paradise. Kerouac’s odyssey has influenced artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Hunter S. Thompson and films such as “Easy Rider.” “On the Road” has achieved a mythic status in part because it portrays the restless energy and desire for freedom that makes people take off to see the world.
21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Kesey (1962
An international bestseller and the basis for a hugely successful film, Ken Kesey‘s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was one of the defining works of the 1960s. A mordant, wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising, life-affirming hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse.
22. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho (1993)
Enchanting novel that has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transformation power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
23. The Hundred Secret Senses – Amy Tan (1995)
Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of southern China, this is a tale of American pragmatism shaken, and soothed, by Chinese ghosts. What proof of love do we seek between mother and daughter, among sisters, lovers, and friends? What are its boundaries and failings? Can love go beyond ‘Until death do us part?’ And if so, which aspects haunt us like regretful ghosts? In 1962, Olivia, nearly six years old, meets Kwan, her adult half sister from China, for the first time. Olivia’s neglectful mother, who in pursuing a new marriage can’t provide the attention her daughter needs, finds Kwan to be a handy caretaker. In the bedroom the sisters share, Kwan whispers secrets about ghosts and makes Olivia promise never to reveal them. Out of both fright and resentment, Olivia betrays her sister — with terrible consequences. From then on she listens to Kwan’s stories and pretends to believe them. Thirty years pass, and Olivia is about to divorce her husband, Simon, after a lengthy marriage. She is certain he has never given up his love for a former girlfriend, who died years before. Kwan and her ghosts believe otherwise, and they provide Olivia with ceaseless advice and pleas to reconsider. But Olivia has long since dismissed the ghosts of her childhood and the wacky counsel of her sister. Just as Kwan anticipates, fate intervenes and takes her, Olivia, and Simon to China. In the village where Kwan grew up, Olivia confronts the tangible evidence of what she has always presumed to be her sister’s fantasy of the past. And there, she finds the proof that love endures, and comes to understand what logic ignores, what you can know only through the hundred secret senses.
24. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (1813)
Jane Austen is master of romance and her era, she knew people and their psychology very well. If you love classic and hopeless romantic, this story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett will have a hold on you. One of my favorite book by my favorite author.
25. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (1847)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte’ tells a story about Heathcliff and Catherine are soul mates, but destiny keeps them apart, destroying them with deep and unresolved passion between them. This Gothic story is told in flashback in this great classic.
26. Jane Eyre –Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte’ is romantic, Gothic novel. Poor orphan Jane is hired by rich, older and mysterious Mr Rochester to teach a young girl with a questionable past. Mr. Rochester becomes friend and eventually falls for plane Jane and want to marry her. But he already has a dark past, can they overcome it? Not without many sacrifices.
27. Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands in the years following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, this story follows the fortunes of the young David Balfour as he endeavours to claim the inheritance of which he has been cheated by his scheming Uncle Ebenezer.
28. Walden – Henry David Thoreau (1854)
Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in Walden, a cabin tucked deep in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. This work of non-fiction describes the changing of the seasons over the course of a year and was intended to give the author an escape from society in order to achieve a more objective point of view.
29. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain (1876)
From the famous episodes of the whitewashed fence and the ordeal in the cave to the trial of Injun Joe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is redolent of life in the Mississippi River towns in which Twain spent his own youth. A somber undercurrent flows through the high humor and unabashed nostalgia of the novel, however, for beneath the innocence of childhood lie the inequities of adult reality—base emotions and superstitions, murder and revenge, starvation and slavery. In his introduction, noted Twain scholar John Seelye considers Twain’s impact on American letters and discusses the balance between humorous escapades and serious concern that is found in much of Twain’s writing.
30. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (1884)
1884, Mark Twain Moral questions are raised in this touching (and amusing) story about Huck’s adventures on the Mississippi River with the runaway slave Jim. A satirical depiction of the social climate in the South just before the turn of the century, “Huck Finn” is largely considered to be the first Great American Novel. Twain’s take on the issue of racism and slavery was initially criticized upon publication and remains largely controversial to this day.
31. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift (1726)
Swift’s scrupulous satire on travelers’ tall tales (the Lilliputian Court is really George I’s).
32. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (1873)
Anna Karenina is one of best book written by Tolstoy. Anna is a tragic heroine in loveless marriage, a charming lover Vronsky, and love of son from the marriage, she loses everything she cared and loved for including her social standing because of that is how it is in 19th century Russian society. Gripping and tragic masterpiece of Anna Karenina.
33. Persuasion – Jane Austen (1816)
Jane Austen wrote and completed six novels, and a few unfinished novels. I love persuasion as it is story about second chances in love. Rich and young Anne Elliot breaks the engagement to young Wentworth after being persuaded by her godmother, only to realize that she could never love anyone else. Now her father is poor and Captain Wentworth has become rich and loved by ladies, does she have a chance for love? I have read one of the best love letter ever written in this book, check it out the best love letter ever written here.
34. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas (1844)
Complex but engaging tale of Edmund Dante’s adventure from naive young man in to being a count. The story has romance, betrayal, revenge and finally redemption. It has lot of characters and complex hence many people read abridged (or shorter version) but that makes the complex story very confusing, read the unbridged original version to have better understanding.
35. Dracula – Bram Stoker (1897)
The aristocratic vampire that haunts the Transylvanian countryside has captivated readers’ imaginations since it was first published in 1897. Hindle asserts that Dracula depicts an embattled man’s struggle to recover his “deepest sense of himself as a man,” making it the “ultimate terror myth.”
36. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (1818)
Human endeavors “to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world” have tragic consequences.
37. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (1838)
The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens’s tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters—the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.
38. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke (2007)
Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can “read” fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.
39. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
An early work of feminist literature, this story follows a young woman as she descends into psychosis, becoming obsessed with the pattern and color of the wallpaper.
40. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
“To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history….”
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor”, and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of–a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.
41. Love Story – by Erich Segal (1970)
Love story by Erich Segal is story of 2 college graduates, from opposite sides falling in love despite all odds. Oliver, a rich guy and Jennifer with not much money but love of life, marries each other only to face tragedy and finding solace in each other. The movie made the famous quote “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
42. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (1997)
The Red TentHer name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent.
43. The Princess Bride – by William Goldman (1973)
A classic fantasy story that mixed with romance and an adventure based on S. Morgenstern’s “Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure” with a few changes. There are bad men, good men, pirates, snakes, giants, revenge, love and miracles all rolled in to one. Great read.
44. The Last of the Mohicans by James Cooper (1826)
Last of Mohicans by James Cooper is 2nd of 5 leather stocking tale about a scout’s friendship with a mohican warrior as they escort two sisters through the jungle, an adventure story set during a French and Indian wars and non stop thriller ride all the way.
45. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (1845)
Another adventure tale, of 3 (story has actual 4) musketeers who are friends, hero, and savior of kingdom and queen. It is fictional historical book. Dumas write usually complex and long story, so do not buy abridged or shorter version as you will lose lot of content.
46. The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas (1848)
Man in iron mask continues its story and takes place 20 years after 3 musketeers time . Those four musketeers are now getting older but still adventures and working for the queen. This involves the fictional twin of Louise XIV, who is better suited for the role of king and how musketeers play part in it. Without giving it away too much, I will share one thing, book is not similar to the movie by Leonardo DiCaprio, which also entertaining to watch.
47. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1605)
Written somewhere around in 1500, over 500 years ago. This classic seems light and high on imagination side and has over 1000 pages to read. It is story of Alonzo who loves reading romantic stories decides to become a knight called Don Quixote with his faithful neighbor Sancho Panza as a his squire to join. They seem fool and day dreamers but when right moment they are wise and sane. Join them in their refreshing adventure in this classic
48. & 49. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring J. R. R. Tolkien (1937)
I had read Hobbit when I was younger and it is fantasy children tale about a magic ring that Bilbo Baggins finds and his adventure. The same ring, he did not know was evil until he was much older and he gave this ring to Frodo much later in Lord of the Ring trilogy. Lord of the ring has an adventure of fellowship, Gandalf and Sauron the villain and their journey to destroy the ring in original fire that created it. Lord of the ring movies are great and I enjoyed it, one of the few instances where they have tried to stay true to the book mostly. What I find fascinating about the stories that J. R Tolkien created maps of middle earth and actually languages that various people spoke during that fictional era. Impressive.
50. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)
Starts with murder and follows a journey of Robert Langton to uncover a secret that has been kept since days of Christ. Sophie Neveu and Robert Langton untangles the codes, mysteries through France, England as they travel along learning history.
51. Othello by William Shakespeare (1603)
Shakespeare has written many comedies and tragedies, this is one of sad but powerful tale of Iago, the person with extreme jealousy destroy Othello and his love Desdemona. Othello is a black man and moor (Muslim), and his promotion in white society is not liked by Iago who wanted it the promotion for himself. Othello’s trust on Iago makes him easier to control emotions of everyone he is around and manipulates as he chooses.
52. Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1606)
No other books in my mind, takes readers to journey of raw ambition, deceit, murder, passion, and madness. Following to create a self made prophecy and lust for power, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth shows and proceed to trails of blood, murder and pure evil to get what they want. In the end, they falls in to guilt, fear and mental madness. Actually many people believe to never mention its full name, and they believe, the dark superstitions that hover around this play really show its power.
53. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1603)
One of most famous quote ” To be or not to be, that is the question”, comes from this play by William Shakespeare. The story is about Prince of Denmark, whose father is killed by his evil uncle Claudius to gain control of the throne. After this event, Hamlet goes through inner conflicts and validity of his father’s ghost around him, making him look insane by others of his his bizarre actions. One of the finest work by Shakespeare. Many of Shakespeare’s writing are complex to understand, If you find getting lost in early English, please read simplified version of story as the stories are very powerful and shows deep human emotions.
54. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (1873)
Jules Verne is one of my favorite author, as he writes many science fiction and adventure stories and this book is no exception. Now, the concept of traveling around the world in 80 days much easier, it was not so during the times the book was written. Philleas Fogg, and his faithful servant goes on traveling across the England, Paris, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Japan, America, and Ireland. In India they rescue a lady who joins the rest of their journey and a love interest grows between her and Fogg. There is also another subplot involving a bank robbery in England where 55 thousand pounds have been stolen. Fun read and ending is surprisingly uplifting.
55. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)
The book written around 1869, when submarines were not yet invented but Jules Verne, some how knew how future would be and created this story of Captain Nemo and his marvelous Nautilus, the vast submarine. Jules Verne obviously has taken thoughts in to care such as air pressure, water pressure and giant sea creatures. Captain Nemo is also one of the fascinating characters who is kind in a way but yet like under sea pirate all in to one.
56. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)
Jules Verne, way ahead of his time wrote many science fiction books in his native language French. Story starts with Professor Hardwigg and his nephew Harry discover an ancient parchment showing how to travel to center of the earth. They travel to Iceland and climb an extinct volcano called Sneffels. They journey into the center of the earth having wonderful adventure as they travel inside the inner core of the earth. Wonderful and very unique concept story.
57. The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne (1874)
This classic has 5 prisoners escaping by hot air balloon ride and not knowing where they will end up and if they ever see civilization again. They drop off at uncharted island. It has hints of Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson adventures.
58. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1905)
Originally written as play that is set around the French revolution. “We seek him here, we seek him there, that damned, elusive Pimpernel.” and “Sink Me” are made famous by sir Percy who at first glance looks almost idiotic but behind that persona hides brave and ingenious Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues the innocent royal and aristocrats from the revolution. There is romance, spy, adventure, disguise, secret identity and much more packed in this one book.
59. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel (1980)
This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.
60. Dead Souls by Nicolai Gogol (1842)
Part poem, part prose, novel in verse!. Although novel ends in mid sentence, it is generally claimed to be a complete work by Gogol. In Russia around that time, an idea was that landowners can own serf/souls, sell and pay taxes on it. The main character comes to Chichikov comes with proposition to people for buying the serf/souls scheme is more than its meets the eye. This complex story has lot to offer in understanding human nature.
61. & 62. Fahrenheit 451 and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1953 / 1949)
I mentioned both of these books here in one place as they share many similarities, both written around the same time, 1950s, both books have theme on Utopian future where citizens have less freedom and choice, both are excellent science fiction books. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury has fire fighters not putting fires but actually burning books and citizens are watching mindless trivia games shows, and 1984 by George Orwell shows future where big bother keeps eye on everyone, and everything. If you think about it, it is so possible reality that is scary!
63. Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Agatha Christie (1934)
When I first read this book, I was so intrigued. I kept guessing who the culprit was, getting it wrong in next pages until the end. The end surprised me the most as I would have never guessed it. I will not reveal it here for those you have not read it. Murder on orient express has been made in to movies and TV plays so many time, but I think book is superior than any well made movie. This book made me a fan of Agatha Christie and my fictional French detective Poirot.
64. Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie (1939)
10 little Indians also known as ”and there were none“, is another gem by Agatha Christie and considered by many readers to be the best mystery novel. Premise is simple enough, which has been copied in to many books and movies since then, 10 strangers are invited and lured to an Indian island by mysterious host. One by one all people are being killed and no one can leave the island, plot really thickens! Who is killing them and why? To find out, you must read 10 little Indians.
65. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (1963)
The original book is much better and differs from the movie a bit. First of all, the planet that ape live is not earth but planet in different galaxy, also apes there live in big city, drive cars and wear modern clothes, they also have done space flight as a human inside (like we did it with monkeys). The book also looks in to a deeper moral meaning and philosophical tone. Worth a read!
66. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895)
Classic story of a time machine was written around 1894 in form of series. Narrator shares a story of a person known only as a Time Traveler (No name), where he shares his recent adventure in to a future, when human have race has evolved in to Eoli who live above the ground and Marlocks who live the below, do work and eat Eoli people and his adventures in that future. There are many version of movies, TV and radio shows based on the story, however the real gem is to read the original story as always.
67. The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: (1706)
This is collection of 1001 stories of south Asian and middle eastern folk tales in three volumes. These are the stories told by Scheherazade to her husband Shahryar starting from their first night after the marriage. It includes some of the famous stories of “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” and many more. A wonderful collection for your kids and yourself, as you will love magic, adventure and fantasy aspects of these wonderful stories for years to come. (A Persian king’s new bride tells tales to stall post-coital execution)
68. The Hound of the Baskerville by Arthur Conan Doyle (1901)
This list would not be complete without my favorite fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes., part detective, part musician, part scientist and overall genius man. Created so real that many visitor still asks where is 221B Baker Street is when they are visiting England. The novel starts with the death of Sir Charles Baskerville and everything points to supernatural killer. Holmes must find the right killer before any other death. Very captivating and ingenious tale.
69. The Chronicles of Narnia by T.S. Lewis (between 1949 and 1954)
Chronicle of Narnia is first in series of 7 children book series. This book and other in series are also great for teenagers and adults who are kids at heart (like me). Story takes place around world war II, and adventure of 4 brothers and sisters in a magical world where animal that can talk, brave lion and ice queen witch, what is not to love? Other books are series are also a great read for everyone the family.
70. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
Morrison’s haunting novel follows the story of a woman who escapes from slavery to freedom in Cincinnati but remains damaged by the murder of her daughter. Brutal, haunting, jazz-inflected journey down the darkest narrative rivers of American slavery.
71. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)
Fleeing his Pennsylvania prep school, Holden Caulfield holes up in New York City and rails against adult phoniness while trying to lose his innocence.
72. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
Hawthorne’s novel is a study of sin, guilt, and revenge. Adultress Hester Prynne must bear public humiliation but Roger Chillingsworth and Arthur Dimmesdale suffer equally. The Scarlet Letter was the first important novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the leading authors of 19th-century romanticism in American literature. Like many of his works, the novel is set in Puritan New England and examines guilt, sin and evil as inherent human traits. The main character, Hester Prynne, is condemned to wear a scarlet “A” (for adultery) on her chest because of an affair that resulted in an illegitimate child. Meanwhile, her child’s father, a Puritan pastor who has kept their affair secret, holds a high place in the community.
73. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (1532)
Considered by most to be the authoritative text on statesmanship and power (how to obtain it as well as an illustration of its trappings), although certainly a shrewd one.
74. The Republic by Plato (380 b.c.)
75. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
Arguably the best work from the ever-quotable Wilde, this novel is a guide for how to live a life of pure decadence. Packed with impeccable wit, clever one-liners and an excessive amount of egotistical vanity. At the very least, this book will show you the glory and the pitfalls of being the best looking chap around.
76. & 77. The Iliad and Odyssey by Homer (962 B.C. / 927 B.C.)
Roughly based around the events of the Trojan War, these poems are likely a great collection of common Greek folklore surrounding the events in those days of fierce political turmoil. It is rumored that there were 10 epics in all, and 8 were lost over time.
78. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
Exploring the “virtue” of living for ourselves, this monster of a book (1,084 pages in my version) is certainly worth plowing through as it is simply a great story. The fundamental concept is that our world falls apart when individuals stop seeking their own satisfaction through personal achievement and feel a sense of entitlement to the accomplishments and work of others. This book challenges us on many levels…you may find it conflicting with your value of other people, her treatment of God, or any other beliefs you already hold. Yet, who can argue with “The most depraved type of human being … (is) the man without a purpose.”
79. The Metemorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
None of us want this to happen. Well, most of us don’t. Kafka employed terms from law and politics, and was always concerned about some vague, oppressive bureaucracy that sought his ruin, though seeming cool and detached. We can take something from the very approach of Kafka to his work and find a balance between reading too much meaning into an event and, on the contrary, caring too little and being completely disillusioned.
80. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1983)
S. E. Hinton’s classic story of the struggle between the Socs and the Greasers remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written, and it is taught in schools nationwide. Now available in a great new package with an improved trim size, a stunning new cover, and bonus material.
81. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
The most popular pirate story ever written in English, featuring one of literature’s most beloved “bad guys,” Treasure Island has been happily devoured by several generations of boys—and girls—and grownups. Its unforgettable characters include: young Jim Hawkins, who finds himself owner of a map to Treasure Island, where the fabled pirate booty is buried; honest Captain Smollett, heroic Dr. Livesey, and the good-hearted but obtuse Squire Trelawney, who help Jim on his quest for the treasure; the frightening Blind Pew, double-dealing Israel Hands, and seemingly mad Ben Gunn, buccaneers of varying shades of menace; and, of course, garrulous, affable, ambiguous Long John Silver, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader!
82. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry (1906)
This sentimental story has a twist with a lesson about the true meaning of gift giving.
83. – 89. Harry Potter Books 1-7 (1997 / 2007)
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, started young kids back to reading when the first book came out. It is an fantasy story of an orphan Harry Potter who lived under the stairs and had no friends to realize on his 11th birthday that he is actually a Wizard and goes to Hogward school where makes friends and plays Quidditch and fight with evil Voldemort with support from his friends. These 7 books story is very engaging and must read. Harry Potter movies do not come close to the original stories, so read the books.
90. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
A child’s-eye view of racial prejudice and freaky neighbors in Thirties Alabama. This 1960 Pulitzer Prize winner was an immediate critical and financial success for its author, with more than 30 million copies in print to date. Harper Lee created one of the most enduring and heroic characters in all of American literature in Atticus Finch, the small-town lawyer who defended a wrongly accused black man. The book’s importance was recognized by the 1961 Washington Post reviewer: “A hundred pounds of sermons on tolerance, or an equal measure of invective deploring the lack of it, will weigh far less in the scale of enlightenment than a mere 18 ounces of new fiction bearing the title ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’”
91. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1866)
Boy meets pawnbroker. Boy kills pawnbroker with an axe. Guilt, breakdown, Siberia, redemption.
92. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820)
One of the first works of fiction by an American author to become popular outside the United States, Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was first published as part of “The Sketchbook” in 1820. Irving’s vivid imagery involving the wild supernatural pursuit by the Headless Horseman has sustained interest in this popular folktale through many printed editions, as well as film, stage and musical adaptations.
93. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy come of age while their father is off to war.
94. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)
The progenitor of all self-help books, Dale Carnegie’s volume has sold 15 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has also spawned hundreds of other books, many of them imitators, written to advise on everything from improving one’s relationships to beefing up one’s bank account. Carnegie acknowledged that he was inspired by Benjamin Franklin, a young man who proclaimed that “God helps them that helped themselves” as a way to get ahead in life.
95. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey (1989)
96. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new–something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
97. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1472)
The Divine Comedy begins in a shadowed forest on Good Friday in the year 1300. It proceeds on a journey that, in its intense recreation of the depths and the heights of human experience, has become the key with which Western civilization has sought to unlock the mystery of its own identity.
98. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (1894)
The Jungle Books can be regarded as classic stories told by an adult to children. But they also constitute a complex literary work of art in which the whole of Kipling’s philosophy of life is expressed in miniature. They are best known for the ‘Mowgli’ stories; the tale of a baby abandoned and brought up by wolves, educated in the ways and secrets of the jungle by Kaa the python, Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the black panther. The stories, a mixture of fantasy, myth, and magic, are underpinned by Kipling’s abiding preoccupation with the theme of self-discovery, and the nature of the ‘Law’.
99. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm, Wilhelm Karl Grimm (1812)
For almost two centuries, the stories of magic and myth gathered by the Brothers Grimm have been part of the way children—and adults—learn about the vagaries of the real world. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow-White, Hänsel and Gretel, Little Red-Cap (a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood), and Briar-Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty) are only a few of more than 200 enchanting characters included here. Lyrically translated and beautifully illustrated, the tales are presented just as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originally set them down: bold, primal, just frightening enough, and endlessly engaging.