When we thought of writing a post of 25 books one must read during her/his life, we never thought this could turn out to be the most difficult task. Choosing just 25 books out of millions and 1000s of great books was extremely difficult. What to pick and what to leave became a puzzling question for us. Should we pick religious book, like Bible or not? If Bible is chosen than why not Quran or Gita or other great religious books? Shall we pick classics only? If classics then why not modern literature? Millions of questions asked and debated, and finally we decided to make this list a random pick. Out of 1000s books, we have randomly picked 25. Here is the list. Feel free to add your books below and make this a never ending blog post.
Born to a affluent London family of wine merchants, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote this book containing an anthology of over 20 stories. Written in Middle English during the Hundred Years’ War, The Canterbury Tales comprises the story of diverse characters such as the Miller, the Friar, The Knight, the Wife of Bath, and others including Chaucer himself. The genius of Chaucer can be measured by the fact that it was written in English by him at a time when Latin was the standard literary language across western Europe.
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
First Published: 1478
Genre: compilation of poems, romance, parody, satire
Publisher: Initially distributed in hand-copied manuscripts
This 14th century Divine Comedy is the preeminent and unforgettable work of world literature and one of the foundation stones of the Italian writing. Split into three parts- Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, and composed of 100 cantos- the book chronicles the poetic journey of Dante in afterlife.
Author: Dante Alighieri
First Published: 1555
Genre: Epic poetry, Allegory
Publisher: Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari
Written in epistolary form, Frankenstein opens with Captain Robert Walton writing letters to his sister, Margaret Walton Saville. This classic gothic thriller deals with the dangers of technological advances and investigates man’s relationship with his creator at an allegorical level.
Author: Mary Shelley
First Published: 1818
Genre: Gothic, Horror, Romance, Sci-fi
Publisher: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones
Jane Eyre is a web of complex emotions and thoughts being felt by a small, plain-looking orphan. A masterful story of a women’s quest for finding freedom and love leaves a profound impact into the mind of the readers even when the book is shut. A must read book for anyone who wishes to commemorate the indomitable will power or promote it in their growing kids.
Author: Charlotte Brontë
First Published: 1847
Genre: Social criticism, Fiction, Bildungsroman, Novel, Romance novel, Gothic fiction
Publisher: Smith, Elder, and Company
Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, Wuthering Heights is the epic novel of love and vengeance, suffused with many unforgettable characters. The novel tells the passionate and wild love story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff- an orphan adopted by Catherine’s father. In the end, the extreme pride and former miseries make Heathcliff a cruel and a frightening man, who return years later to take a dreadful revenge. The novel is regarded as a masterpiece of English literature for its evocative representations of the lonely moorland setting and its poetic splendor of vision.
Author: Emily Brontë
First Published: 1847
Genre: Gothic novel
Publisher: Thomas Cautley Newby
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is widely considered as one of the greatest American novels. Told in the first person’s point of view, the novel provides a vivacious description of people and places along the Mississippi river. Consisting of 43 chapters, this perennially popular book has also been criticized upon release due to its coarse language and its often scathing examinations of racism.
Author: Mark Twain
First Published: 1884
Genre: Satirical novel
Publisher: Chatto & Windus / Charles L. Webster And Company
Ulysses is one of the greatest masterpieces of modernist literature by Irish writer James Joyce. This endlessly inventive novel, follows one day in Dublin, records events in the lives of two main characters- a middle aged Jewish man-Leopold Bloom and -a young scholar-Stephen Dedalus. Divided into 18 episodes, this book completely changed our mindset of knowledge and understanding of literature and language.
Author: James Joyce
Genre: Fiction, Modernist Novel
Publisher: Sylvia Beach
Set on the prosperous Long Island of 1922, The Great Gatsby introduces us a young man- Nick Caraway who is the narrator of the story and telling us the story through the filter of time. He rekindles his relationship with his cousin Daisy, who is already married to Tom. The author has wonderfully written this romantic and sarcastic novel about the prosperous and luxurious lifestyle of a group of New Yorkers during the Jazz Age. The writing style of Fitzgerald is definitely magnificent, as he paints a gloomy mood of shallow characters who put themselves in tough situations.
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
First Published: 1925
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Packed with the matter of picaresque romance: adventure, vulgarity, lust comedy, disaster, For Whom the Bell Tolls is considered as the Hemingway’s greatest literary achievement. It is sensitively and politically complex novel about the Spanish Civil War. The author wrote this novel 3 years after he returned from his journey to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper association. The story starts with Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer inspecting an area of mountain terrain of Spain behind fascist lines.
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Genre: War novel
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Originally published for adults, the novel became popular among the youngsters and teenagers because of its themes of teenage anxiety and alienation. The novel provides the eloquent voice of Holden Caulfield- the protagonist of the story- who soon has become an icon for teenage rebellion. The story deals with the complex issues including identity, innocence, death, real versus fake, sexual confusion and alienation.
Author: J. D. Salinger
First Published: 1951
Genre: Realistic fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
William Golding’s compelling adventurous tale explores the dark side of humanity, the argument between civilization” and “savagery”. Author presents the reader with a chain of events leading a group of boys from a fun play to a disaster as they attempt to endure their barbaric, illogical, isolated environment until saved. Written in extremely simple and candid style, Lord of The Flies is considered as a page-turner and highly provocative work of literature.
Author: William Golding
First Published: 1954
Genre: Fiction, YA fiction, Allegorical novel, Speculative fiction
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is a memorable masterpiece of obsession, fantasy and lust that has a scandal-tinted history. It tells the obsession of a middle-aged protagonist of the novel, Humbert Humbert with twelve-year-old daughter of his landlady, Dolores alias Lolita. In 1923, the book is listed on Time’s 100 Best Novels in the English language and has become one of the most controversial and bestselling examples of 20th century literature.
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
First Published: 1955
Publisher: Olympia Press
Set in pre-colonial Nigeria, Things Fall Apart follows the life of Okonkwo, a leader of the Umuofia clan and a wrestling champion. The book is divided into three parts: the first section tells the history of Okonkwo and his family, and their relations with tribal world of the Igbo in which they live, the second part introduces the influence of European missionaries and British colonialism on the Igbo society and third part recounts the Okonkwo’s return to his village and the effect of the white people’s arrival in eastern Nigeria.
.Author: Chinua Achebe
First Published: 1958
Genre: Historical, Tragedy, Children’s literature, Poetry
Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd.
Winner of Pulitzer Prize, To Kill a Mockingbird is known worldwide for its warmth and humor. This brilliant novel by Harper Lee gained groundbreaking success soon after its release in 1960 and became a classic of modern American literature. Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, the novel tells the stories of several different characters. Thus, the story explores several themes including class, racism, courage, justice empathy, and gender roles in the American Deep South.
Author: Harper Lee
First Published: 1960
Genre: Fiction, coming-of-age story
Set during World War II, this unparalleled satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller is told from the points of view of different characters. The novel ventures the experiences of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier and his attempt to prove his sanity to fulfill his service requirements so that he and his fellow airmen in the camp may return home safely.
Author: Joseph Heller
First Published: 1961
Genre: Black humor, absurdist fiction, satire, war fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
One of the great cult classics of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five tells about the WWII experiences and journeys of Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist of the story. The author realistically infuses the character’s capture and incarceration by the Germans during the end of World War II. The author’s infusion of the apocalyptic firebombing of Dresden as the central topic makes the novel semi-autobiographical, as he was also present during the bombing.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
First Published: 1969
Genre: War novel, Metafiction, Sci-fi and Dark comedy
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series of five novels by Douglas Adams that will take you across the universe, from starting to the end of time. It will help you to meet paranoid robots, to know the answer to the most definitive question concerning life, the universe and everything- albeit you’ll never know what the question is. If you allow yourself not be serious for sometime while reading the book, we promise you will find yourself in one of the finest written delights. A must-have book for those who need a good laugh.
Author: Douglas Adams, Eoin Colfer
First Published: 1979
Genre: Comedy, science fiction novel
Publisher: Pan Books
Set in the future United States Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic and a work of speculative fiction tells the tale of Offred, a handmaid, who prior to the regime change, was a working wife and mother is now forced to bear children by proxy for the infertile wife of commander. This wonderfully knitted tale of social satire was nominated for the Nebula Award in 1986 and won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987.
Author: Margaret Atwood
First Published: 1985
Genre: Dystopian novel, science fiction, speculative fiction
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart
Set in Estrella De Mar, a Spanish resort, J. G. Ballard’s Cocaine nights starts as a classic detective story. The story revolves around Charles Prentice, a travel journalist ventures to the resort in order to find the truth behind his jailed sibling- Frank’s strange confession to murdering five people. Charles set off to find the actual criminal by hanging around the resort and soon finds that the ostensibly peaceful facade of the dystopian resort communities are concealing dark secrets, as he immerses deeper into the strange and perilous world propelled by drugs, vandalism and illicit sex.
Author: J. G. Ballard
First Published: 1996
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Flamingo London
Told in first person perspective, Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical novel tells the fictional tale of Geisha working in Kyoto, Japan. It takes the reader into a world where girls’ virginity is sold, where women are trained in the arts – playing music, dancing, acting for the sole purpose of pleasuring men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a wonderful, tasteful, interesting and phenomenal work of fiction.
Author: Arthur Golden
First Published: 1997
Genre: Historical novel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Well-known social activist and feminist Bell Hooks discusses the role and aspects of love in modern society. She not only examines the value and power of love and the ways our society has deformed its real meaning but guides us – with personal anecdotes and psychological and philosophical ideas- toward new ways to think about love and provides a better understanding of how to cultivate it.
Author: Bell Hooks
First Published: 2001
Genre: Philosophy, Non-fiction
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a improbable story of Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone who decides to investigate the suspicious murder of his neighbor’s dog- named Wellington. In this bitterly funny novel by Mark Haddon, the mathematically gifted and socially desperate, Christopher also reveals secret information about his mother.
Author: Mark Haddon
First Published: 2003
Genre: Mystery novel
Publisher: Jonathan Cape (UK) and Doubleday (US)
Written in the last years of Roberto Bolaño’s life, 2666 is a supernovel containing five sections, each capable of standing alone. The author was welcomed across Latin America and Europe as his magnum opus, surpassing even his earlier works in its brilliance and scope. It has manifold themes and several memorable characters including scholars and scandalous people, a mysterious German writer, an American sportswriter, a teenage student and her widowed, and a mentally ill father.
Author: Roberto Bolaño
First Published: 2004
Genre: contemporary fiction
Set in 1956, Gilead is the tale of a Protestant pastor, the Reverend John Ames, who writes a letter to his seven-year-old son. Ames lives in Midwestern town of Gilead, lowa and now he is 76 years old and has a bad heart. Pastor wants that this letter is given to his son when he will reach his adulthood. The sheer beauty of the language, striking and spiritual prose, and the moral intricacy of the central character makes the novel refreshing and worth-reading.
Author: Marilynne Robinson
First Published: 2004
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Written by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro, this dystopian sci-fi thriller tells the love story develops between three friends- Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. In this insightful novel, the author presents an intensified sight of human life and its complexities by using a very thorough description of short lives of clones. The novel was adapted into a movie in 2010 and has won several awards.
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
First Published: 2005
Genre: Dystopian, science, speculative fiction
Publisher: Faber and Faber