50 Books to Read Before You Die

I have a bookmark entitled 50 Books to Read Before You Die. It’s a lovely thing. It’s the perfect bookmark size and shape. It’s made of metal and has substantial weight, but not too heavy. In short, I like it. I am, however, a little baffled by the book selections. Who came up with this list? Why these titles and not others? I’ve long since thrown away the wrapping, and don’t remember the manufacturer. I’ll give you the titles in a moment.

Lists like this are kind of fun. They bring out my latent competitiveness and suddenly I want to compare my checklist with everyone I know. How many have you read? Oh yeah, well I read more! Ha! *inward eye roll at myself* Why is it so important to me that my list include more arbitrary checkmarks than another’s? Meh, who cares? It just does. *nods matter-of-factly*

I’m definitely inspired to read more from these lists. My TBR list (that’s To Be Read for those not up on the bookish lingo) gains many new titles after perusing such lists. My TBR list… le sigh. It’s both exciting and daunting – it never shrinks, only grows. But I suppose that’s also encouraging because that means there are always more books to read! Yea! I’d just die if I suddenly couldn’t read anymore. *shudders*

I suppose I’d like to know why I should read these particular books before I die. Are these books meant to make me a well-rounded person? Meant to inspire? Just written well? Maybe these books, when taken as a complete list, are reflective of the quintessential human experience. And, then again, maybe I’m reading way too much into it, and it’s just a list of well-liked books.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

50 Books to Read Before You Die

  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien*
  • 1984 by George Orwell*
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • A Passage to India by E.M Forster
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding*
  • Hamlet by Shakespeare*
  • A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger*
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath*
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley*
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  • The Bible by Various
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Ulysses by James Joyce
  • The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  • Money by Martin Amis
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling*
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman*
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon*
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  • The Outsider by Albert Camus*
  • The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley*
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens*
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain*
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas*
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden*
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde*

*Denotes books I have read

As you can see, I’ve only read 19 of the above 50. I have some reading to do!

My own list would undoubtedly have different titles, and would most likely sample heavily from specific (favorite) genres. I like to think I’m fairly well read, but I have my preferences. Don’t we all? I’ll have to muse a bit on which works to include… This may be a later post.

So, how many of these have you read? Answer below in the comments.

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