25 Books To Read Before You Die

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.

The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales

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

Divine ComedyDivine Comedy 

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

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

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 EyreJane Eyre

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

Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights   

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

The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  

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

UlyssesUlysses

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

First Published:1922

Genre: Fiction, Modernist Novel

Publisher: Sylvia Beach

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby

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 

Genre: Novel

Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons

For Whom the Bell TollsFor Whom the Bell Tolls

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

First Published:1940

Genre: War novel

Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons

The Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye 

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

Lord of The FliesLord of The Flies

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

LolitaLolita  

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

Genre: Tragicomedy

Publisher: Olympia Press

Things Fall ApartThings Fall Apart

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.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdWinner 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

Publisher: Lippincott 

Catch-22Catch-22

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

Slaughterhouse-Five A NovelSlaughterhouse-Five

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

Publisher: Delacorte

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyThe Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy 

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

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale

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

Cocaine NightsCocaine Nights

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

Memoirs of a GeishaMemoirs of a Geisha

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

All About Love New VisionsAll About Love: New Visions  

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

Publisher: Harper

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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)

26662666                           

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

Publisher: Anagrama

GileadGilead  

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

Genre: Novel

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go

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

Over The Rainbow: How Depression Has Forced Me To Find Balance In Life

Guest Author: Rachel Kelly

rachelMy story begins seventeen years ago, when I was a working mother and journalist. For no visible reason I went from feeling mildly anxious to being completely unable to function, in the space of three days. I was married with two small children and a supportive, loving husband. I didn’t know that depression could happen so swiftly, least of all to someone like me who had a happy and prosperous life, or that it could be so physically painful: I was in screaming agony. I was bed-ridden for six months.

Though outwardly still, inside my body was furiously busy. I had a permanent headache, as if dozens of vicious, heat-maddened wasps were stinging my brain. My rancid stomach fiercely knotted and re-knotted itself. Often I would throw up. It was as though I was hurtling downwards on a plane which was constantly about to crash. My mother took to reciting a phrase from the Bible at my bedside: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). I was unable to process much of what was around me, but this mantra cut through the pain – there was some point to the illness. I would get better, and be stronger for it.

After that first crisis subsided, my lifestyle changed very little. I returned to working full-time until I became pregnant with our third child and left office life to become freelance. Years passed, twins arrived, and my anxiety levels remained high: I was pushing myself to be the best mother, wife, daughter, friend and writer I could be. The more I multi-tasked, the more I was multi-asked. In 2004, I succumbed to a second depressive episode even worse than the first – I was bed-ridden for a year, during which time the physical pain was so debilitating that I was often sedated. Ever since then I have been battling the Black Dog – and now, thank goodness, have him on a tight-ish leash.

In Black Rainbow , I write about my slow climb to recovery black rainbowthrough medication, prayer, my family’s love and – unusually – the healing power of poetry. Sounds odd, I know, but for me, poetry can be one answer to depression. It is free, has no side-effects and can provide words to describe what we cannot: an expression of our common humanity when faced with the extreme isolation of feeling depressed.

As we become increasingly aware of the limitations of drugs and their potential long-term side effects, alternative approaches have proved to be a lifeline for me. I now manage by treating myself like a rather nervous pet who must eat well, be exercised, not do too much, and uses therapy and medication as and when. Oh, and loves learning a poem to calm down in the middle of the night. 

When I officially spoke out last year as someone with depression, the first reaction from many was: ‘You’re very brave’ – which tells you a lot about the stigma that still exists around mental ill health.

 The second has really moved me. Friends, colleagues, relations, and mothers at the school gate have confided that they too suffer from high levels of anxiety and depression. They are hugely relieved to open up and find a fellow sufferer, and this is what has made sharing my story feel worthwhile. In the words of Emily Dickinson, ‘If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.’

Book Review: Black Rainbow How Words Healed Me – My Journey through Depression by Rachel Kelly

Enjoy this Video Review by Rachel Kelly on Her Book, “Black Rainbow”

About Author:

Rachel Kelly is a writer with a particular interest in how the arts can help those with poor mental health. Her bestselling memoir Black Rainbow: How words healed me – my journey through depression was published by Hodder & Stoughton in April 2014, with all author proceeds going to the charities SANE and United Response. The book was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and won the Spear’s Best First Book Award that year. She previously co-edited a poetry anthology for children If: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility, published by Canongate and now in its fourth edition. Rachel spent ten years at The Times as a reporter, feature writer and columnist on alternative health and now writes regularly for national newspapers and magazines. She runs poetry workshops in prisons and for mental health charities including Mind and Depression Alliance, and is an Ambassador for SANE.  Follow Rachel @rache_Kelly or visit www.blackrainbow.org.uk

A Romantic Historical Thriller

Guest Author: Anne Blankman 

anne-blankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who’s forced to question everything she’s ever believed when she stumbles across shocking information about her father’s death. The catch? Gretchen is a Nazi who’s been indoctrinated into the Party by old family friend Adolf Hitler himself.

I have been fascinated by World War Two ever since I read Anne Frank’s diary when I was twelve. A few years ago, I read a nonfiction book about Geli Raubal, Hitler’s real-life half-niece. She shares his luxurious Munich apartment when he was still an emerging politician. From most accounts, he was genuinely fond of her. Long after I finished the book, I could not stop thinking about her. What must her life have been like, living when Hitler when she was still a young woman? How had he treated her, and what had she thought about his politics? The lure of writing about a girl growing up within the Nazi elite was irresistible.

I knew I needed the freedom of a fictional main character, though, so Prisoner of night and fogGretchen Müller was born. She’s a seventeen-year-old student: smart, sensitive, tough, and, at the story’s outset, a Nazi. Although she calls Hitler “Uncle Dolf,” he’s actually a beloved family friend she’s known for years.

Once I had my initial set-up I wondered how I could force Gretchen to realize what her cherished idol really stands for.  How could I help her break free? The answer came to me with surprising swiftness: I had to confront her with something she cannot ignore—the murder of her father. I decided to weave my fictional murder around real events and real people, and set my story during 1931, when Hitler was rising from political obscurity. Everything is poised on the brink of an abyss—Munich, the Nazi Party, and Gretchen herself. Part murder mystery, part romance, and part coming-of-age story, Prisoner of Night and Fog is considered a work for both adults and young adults.

Prisoner of Night and Fog has been named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book of 2015. The forthcoming sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, releases on April, 21, 2015 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins.

Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman 

Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

About the author:

A native New Yorker, Anne Blankman now lives in Virginia with her husband and young daughter. Publishers Weekly named Blankman a “Flying Starts” author of 2014. Prisoner of Night and Fog is her first novel. She loves hearing from readers, and you can visit her online at www.anneblankman.com. 

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: A Riveting psychological thriller

Author: Sherry Helms

the girl on the trainThe Girl on the Train is a dark and haunting debut psychological thriller from a journalist turned novelist- Britain’s Paula Hawkins- that may remind you the bestselling Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” Since its publication in Jan 2015, the book has sold more than half a million copies worldwide, though the initial print run of the book was 40,000 copies, as per the reports by the book’s publisher, Penguin Riverhead. Moreover, the book will soon get the cinematic treatment as the film rights have already been acquired by DreamWorks Studios.

Like Gone Girl, this electrifying debut from Paula Hawkins is a mystery that unspools through various unreliable perspectives. The novel alternates among the three women’s stories, but Rachel Watson, a miserable alcoholic, is the central character of the story. Every morning, she takes the same train from her rented room in Ashbury, Oxfordshire. The train stops, every day, at a signal opposite a stretch of cozy suburban homes with gardens. Separated from her ex-husband, Tom, Rachel feels relaxed when she sees the home of a loving couple who often appear breakfasting on their back terrace. She calls them ‘Jess and Jason’, and feels that she knows them. The couple live four doors down from her former home, where currently her ex-husband Tom is living with his new wife Anna. Then one day she sees the woman, Megan Hipwell, whom she thinks of as Jess, kissing another man, and  not long after that, she vanishes. Finding herself an important character in Police investigation, Rachel goes to the cops to report her observations, but, in her despondency, she has not taken seriously by the police because of her history of drunken blackouts.

Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, Paula Hawkins has become a global sensation with this page-turning debut novel. As per the author, the idea of this story came to her years before on her morning commute, when she frequently found herself gazing into the yards and windows she passed. She always wondered what she would do if she saw something creepy.

Hawkins creatively uses the point of views of three different unreliable narrators- Rachel, Anne and Megan, to create this breathtaking mystery. Interconnected stories of three women, with plenty of hidden secrets gives suspenseful effect to the story. There are several gripping scenes and twists & turns in the story that show the brilliant and cinematic writing style of the author. The last part of the story plays out like a movie scene which is much tighter and more fascinating.

It’s not just the twists and turns in this multifaceted mystery that keep the pages turning; it’s the gradual realization that nobody, and indeed no relationship, is perfect and as smooth as it first appears. With consummate skill and profound understanding, the author provides a wonderful plot that never fails to thrill. We should give the author credit for writing such a provocative story.

Although the climax is a little less convincing yet the twisty, fast-moving plots of The Girl on the Train will never let you put the book down. Those who enjoy psychological thrillers will certainly enjoy this book.

15 Creative Bookshelves You Would Like To Own

Author: Sherry Helms

It is quite difficult for every book lover to have a private library at home. If you are one of those who don’t have enough space for a private library and who are tired of simply stacking their books along their windowsill, take a look at our list of creative and stunning bookshelf designs. These wonderful book cases are designed by different designers to help you to better organize and display your favorite books. Plus, these exceptionally innovative designs will give you a great source of inspiration for creating your own version of artistic bookshelf.

1. Malagana: Equilibrium Bookcase

(Image Source: Malagana)

1. Malagana Equilibrium Bookcase.

2. “Has Been Read” And “Will Be Read” Bookshelf

(Image Source: ezgiayaz)

2. Has Been Read And Will Be Read Bookshelf

3. Alphabetic Bookshelf

(Image Source: swiss-miss)

3. Alphabetic Bookshelf

4. Bibliotheque Tree Bookshelf

(Image Source: Contemporist)

4. 'Bibliotheque Tree' Bookshelf

5. Inverted Bookshelf

(Image Source: Instructables)

5. Inverted Bookshelf.

6. Prove Shelves

(Image Source: Creosa)

6. Prove bookshelves

7. United States Bookshelf

(Image Source: hiconsumption)

7. United States Bookshelf

8. Console Bookshelf

(Image Source: Stanislav Katz)

8. Console Bookshelves.

9. Bookworm Bookshelf

(Image Source: Kartell)

9. Bookworm Bookshelf.

10. BookTree

(Image Source: Kostas Syrtariotis)

10 BookTree.

11. The Staircase Bookshelf

(Image Source: apartmenttherapy)

11 The Staircase Bookshelf

12. Bookseat

(Image Source: Fishbol)

13 Bookseat

13. Invisible Bookshelves

(Image Source: pennysdaybook)

14 Invisible Bookshelves.

14. Leaves Shelves

(Image Source: designspotter)

12 Leaves Shelves

15. Chuck 

(Image Source: Hafriko)

15 Chuck

Do let us know in the comments which you’d like to have in your own home!

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