Prepare yourself for some dreadful news: according to LitHub, you only have a certain amount of time left to read. For example, the average American reads 12 novels each year. Assuming you’re above 25, that means you’ll only read about 700 books throughout your lifetime.
Do you sense the coil of mortality tightening around your neck? Great. If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Before you die, read these 100 novels.
1984 by George Orwell
In the year 1984, Winston Smith faces a terrifying foe: an all-knowing government with a plan. This is the book that established dystopian fiction as a genre and made Big Brother a part of our everyday lexicon. Perhaps George Orwell’s most powerful book.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
In 19th-century Louisiana, a little boy and a slave must navigate their way home using only the Mississippi River as a guide. This slim work by Mark Twain is widely recognized as The Great American Novel.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
“A Scandal in Bohemia,” the first Sherlock Holmes short tale, was published in 1891 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This anthology, which is both sharp and captivating, explains how Sherlock Holmes became a cultural phenomenon and the most renowned investigator of all time.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist, written in under two weeks, has sold over two million copies worldwide, and the enchanting story of Santiago’s voyage to Egypt’s pyramids continues to amaze readers. A fantastic victory.
The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges
In this celebrated collection of short stories, Jorge Luis Borges’ sharp observation and philosophical knowledge are on full show. The stories within are brilliant, haunting examples of worlds constructed by a master of magic realism, from “The Immortal” to “The House of Asterion.”
Animal Farm by George Orwell
When Old Major the boar dies on Manor Farm, two young pigs named Snowball and Napoleon rise to power, emulating the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Stalinist Soviet Union. Animal Farm is a remarkable achievement, not just because Orwell demonstrated that a novel about pigs can be horrifying.
Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
More than two millennia ago, an oral tradition passed down this collection of stories. Aesop’s stories are more than simply stories; they mirror every aspect of human nature.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice is only seven years old when she observes a White Rabbit dashing past with a pocket watch. Alice’s experiences in a place that isn’t quite what it seems begin here. In 1865, Lewis Carroll released this novel, launching it down the rabbit hole and into the revered halls of children’s literature.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This is a fantastic treat for anyone who like long books in which to lose themselves. Over the course of 800 pages, this epic work covers the parallel stories of Anna Karenina and Konstantin Levin, while also dealing with social transformation, politics, theology, and philosophy in nineteenth-century Russia.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Reading Anne of the Green Gables is like falling in love with the characters, especially the protagonist, a feisty young girl with a castle-sized imagination. This cherished classic by L.M. Montgomery has it all: humor, grief, and heart, from coming-of-age arcs to the occasional drunken episode.
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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
“I set out purposefully to compose a tour-de-force,” William Faulkner said. I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall before I ever put pen to paper and wrote the first word.” This is the harrowing account of the Bundren family’s long and arduous journey to Mississippi to bury Addie, their wife and mother.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s magnum opus, Beloved, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1987. It is about Sethe, a former slave whose house may or may not be haunted by the ghost of the infant she was forced to murder. A masterpiece about slavery, race, and familial ties.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Death is the unmistakable narrator of this children’s novel. It follows Liesel, a young girl in her new foster care home in Nazi Germany. As the world around her crumbles, Liesel turns to books and the power of words for comfort.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
One of the dystopian genre’s titans. Brave New World, which shook up the literary world when it was originally published, is still important today because it encourages readers to think about autonomy, hedonism, and our idea of “utopia.”
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
“The Brothers Karamazov – that for him in 1919 was the absolute apex of all writing,” novelist C.P. Snow famously said of Albert Einstein’s adoration for The Brothers Karamazov. By reading this strong, moving reflection on God and the power of free choice, you can follow in Einstein’s footsteps.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Captain John Yossarian, a B-25 bombardier in the United States Army Air Forces, longs to return home. But that’s a little difficult when he’s in the middle of nowhere — or, more precisely, the fictional Mediterranean island of Pianosa. A biting satire that captures the spirit of the era.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Meet Holden Caulfield, a kid who decides to leave his boarding school in Pennsylvania and return home to New York with no intentions in mind. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is perhaps the first “cynical teenager” — and a wistful novel about the meaning of youth.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlie Bucket’s life is flipped upside down when he discovers a Golden Ticket that grants him admission to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory at the age of eleven. As young readers discover the enchantment of the Chocolate Factory (and Oompa-Loompas) for the first time in Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book, their minds are spinning.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B White
Thanks to a small girl named Fern, Wilbur, the runt of his litter, is saved from probable death. However, his life takes a change when he is sold to Homer Zuckerman, who intends to butcher him, and encounters Charlotte, a kind-hearted spider. Charlotte’s Web is a classic of children’s literature, as well as the all-time best-selling children’s book.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Buck, a young dog in the 1890s, hears the call of the wild. But can he answer it, especially when the odds are stacked against him by nature and man’s cruelty? For many years, this harsh, thrilling story has inspired millions of trips.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Alex is arrested by the authorities in the midst of an ultraviolent youth cultural insurrection in an unspecified year in the future. One of the most enduring studies of good and evil, and what it means to be free to choose one or the other, is A Clockwork Orange.
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
Reading P.G. Wodehouse is one of the few things that will always make you happy. And The Code of the Woosters is Wodehouse at his most dazzling: a trip through Britain with an amusing ensemble of characters that includes Jeeves, Bertie, and cow-creamers.
The Collected of Edgar Allan Po by Edgar Allan Poe
Today, Edgar Allan Poe is synonymous with horror, and this anthology demonstrates why. Poe’s dark imagination and uncanny ability to portray the darkest depths of the human heart are fully displayed in this collection of his best short stories, which includes “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”