Lists, My Opinions

100 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

These are a hundred books that I love and that I feel you MUST read (in my opinion). It is a very diverse selection of books. They are also in no particular order.

 

 

1. Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained- John Milton

This is an epic poem, but it is considered a book often. It is such a thought-provoking piece and a great source for debate of many topics. It is the best religious piece I have ever read. It even inspired me to write a short story, Confessions of a Catholic.

 

 

 

2. The Fault in our Stars- John Green

This book is great for all ages and although it is heartbreaking, it teaches readers a lesson and gives us a view of life with cancer.

 

3. Madame Bovary-Gustave Flaubert

It is beautifully tragic, this book. I guess by beautiful I mean it is well-written, realistic, and full of impact. This is a must read, especially for females. There is even a movie that was made for it.

 

4. Tess of the d’Ubervilles- Thomas Hardy

Although it is tragic, like every book with a female protagonist, it is a great read. Simply seeing a book during this time period featuring a female main character is interesting itself. But, the plot of this one is also captivating.

 

5. The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

This book was probably my favorite to read in high school. I loved reading and analyzing it. The two movies based off of it are great too.

 

6. Dreamland- Sarah Dessen

I read this my sophomore year of high school, and it was so traumatizing. It was more of a memorable trauma than a painful one. I don’t want to say too much and give it away, but this book was so great. It caused me to want to read more of her books. This is great for teenage girls. DReamland is amazing in its own way that is different from her others.

 

7. Every You, Every Me- David Levithan

I love this book. It is also very short. I read it in an hour. It feels so short because it is mostly a picture book. It is considered emo to some critics, but I consider it a great mystery book for all teenagers. It also deals with mental health issues.

 

8. The Mortal Instruments Series- Cassandra Clare

Yes this is a series of books, six books to be exact, but they are very great books. It sucks the movie was unsuccessful, because I love seeing what I read be brought to life, but I am glad they have a television show now. This series is great because it gives life to all of the things that have been disproven like monsters, fairies, angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, etc.

 

9. Just Listen- Sarah Dessen

This was the first book I read after her book Dreamland. It is such a sweet book about friendship, love, and the power of music.

 

10. Between the World and Me- Ta Nehisi Coates

This was a great autobiography I read in class. It is a must read for African Americans for he perfectly discusses black identity and our place in America. It has even inspired a few of my poems on the black body.

 

11. Dracula- Bram Stoker

This is a classic perfect for those who loved or hated Twilight. It is also perfect for those into vampire stories. It was such a great story to read.

 

12. The Awakening- Kate Chopin

Another great book with a female protagonist. For females, it is enlightening to read these kind of classic books about females and comparing it to our lives and experiences.

 

13. The Scarlet Letter- Nathaniel Hawthorne

I loved reading this book. It is also a classic with a female lead character, and it also has a major plot twist in the end which stuns the reader. Easy A also references the book with her big, red “A” she wears on her clothing.

 

14. Be Mine- Laura Kasischke

This book was such a great read. I had found it for a dollar at Barnes and Noble in the clearance section. It ended up being such an amazing book. It involves an affair, an inappropriate crush, and murder. Read it!

 

15. Vampire Academy Series- Richelle Mead

This is a really great series, way better vampire books than Twilight. They are not typical teenage vampires in high school like the movie (that failed) portrayed. There’s fighting, relationships, training, and more.

 

16. Will Grayson, Will Grayson- John Green and Levithan

This book was co-written by two great authors. It is a fun teenage story, but it also explores friendship, sexuality, online chatting, relationships, identity, and home.

 

17. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

This was a great book to read. It covers deep and sensitive topics, but also exemplifies a story of adventure and growing up. It is a must read whether assigned in class or read on your own.

 

18. The Autobiography of Malcolm X- Malcom X and Alex Haley

This book is a great read, especially for African Americans since he was a major player in our progress. We are given a certain image of Malcolm X by the media, but reading his autobiography allows us to see his true character. He got to paint himself with this book, and with it we really get to know him and his life.

 

19. Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

This book was so great. I read it my freshman year of high school for class. It is about censorship and a bit of dictatorship if you ask me. Reading books is banned completely and those who have them are punished and their books are burned by the fire department. I loved it, so check it out. It is very appropriate for today, National Book Lover’s Day.

 

20. Looking for Alaska- John Green

John Green creates great literature for young adults to read. He is simply great. The movie is being made too!

 

21. Paper Towns- John Green

I love the book’s simplicity and its deep message. I love how Green is always so realistic in his books and not just writing cliché romances. The ending will shock you, in a good way.

 

22. Letters from the Earth- Mark Twain

It is probably based off of Milton’s Paradise Lost, but it is such a thought-provoking and life-altering piece of literature. It changed my perspective on religion and produced a bunch of questions for me. It is a great book that you must read.

 

23. The Giving Tree- Shel Silverstein

This was my favorite book as a kid. I had even convinced my older sister to give me her copy of it when I was younger. It is a book for all ages though. It is such a great tale with a great message.

 

24. Kiss Me Tomorrow- Susan Shreve

This was a book I read as a young teenager, but it is still a wonderful book to me. It’s about friendship, friend zone, growing up, growing apart, bad boys, moving, guy best friends, and all of those other relatable teen themes. I’ve read it three times though, so trust me- it is good.

 

25. The Twilight Series- Stephanie Meyer

These books were a major part of my teenage years. The movies did not do them justice, but they are great books with lots of substance.

 

26. Generation Dead- Daniel Waters 

This is a really cool book I read some years ago about teenage zombies, except they don’t eat brains. They just come back to life when they die, most of the time. There is zombie and human tension with some, and zombie and human romance with some. It’s fantastic.

 

27. Getting It- Alex Sanchez

I loved this book in high school. It is a book about friendship and what really matters in life, which the character finds out is not sex. The story follows a budding friendship between a straight teenager and a gay teenager. It is a great story.

 

28. The Circle- Dave Eggers

This is a great story about obsession and reliance on technology, I would consider it satirical. It is about a social media company and one of its employees. There’s chips being inserted into bodies, lack of privacy with an audience 24/7, and more.

 

29. Hamlet- Shakespeare

All of Shakespeare’s works are great, but this is one of the best. There’s a mysterious ghost, some peculiar underlying themes, and of course tragedy since it is Shakespeare. I have read it twice.

 

30. King Lear- Shakespeare

Another of his works that I love. I even chose the name Cordelia, one of the daughters of the play, when we had to choose a Shakespeare name for my literature class last semester. It is such a complicated work that is more than meets the eye and disguise.

 

31. Macbeth-Shakespeare

I love Macbeth as well. The scene about washing the blood out of their hands always sticks with me for some reason. I also love seeing a story where the main character is being dictated by some magical outside source.

 

32. King Edward II- Christopher Marlowe

Marlowe reminded me a lot of a Shakespeare play. They always say they are the same person, who knows. I loved Edward II. It is such a deep story about royalty and what goes on in the castle, from homosexualy to regicide to betrayal to affairs to victory.

 

33. Beloved- Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is a great author. All of her books are genuine and amazing stories. Sometimes for women, sometimes for black people. Yet, everyone is always impacted.

 

34. Canterbury Tales- Geoffrey Chaucer

I love the Canterbury Tales because of the diversity of each of the stories. The prologues and stories are so unique even though they are telling the story of the same person, and they are just well-written for their time period. My personal favorite is The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale.

 

35. Sula- Toni Morrison

I read this book in Women’s Literature last semester. I never read for that class, but I read this one. That tells you how great it is. It is quite tragic in the end, but Morrison beautifully exemplifies the life of a black woman in the 20th century.

 

36. The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton

I have read this book twice, and I am captivated by it each time. There’s always unanswered questions by the end. I love how she is a single woman of a very marriageable time period and at a very marriageable age.

 

37. Frankenstein- Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is a classic story that everyone must read at least once in their life. A story of a monster created by a doctor. It’s interesting, we call the monster Frankenstein, yet we are never given a name. Frankenstein is the doctor. The monster is simply Frankenstein’s monster.

 

38. On the Origins of Species- Charles Darwin

This is a scientific book, but it is a great book. If you are religious then you will not favor this book, for it is Darwin discussing his discoveries and writing about his theory of Evolution. I love reading about compelling and thought-provoking theories and questions though, so I enjoyed it.

 

 

39. Household Tales- Brother’s Grimm

I love the Grimm Brothers, so I loved this book of some of their stories. I am often a fan of twisted, dark, or weird stories so it was easy for me to fall in love with this book.

 

40. Every Day- David Levithan

David Levithan is a great writer. This book tells the story of a person who wakes up every single day a different person. That’s an interesting story that I have never seen written about before. I love its uniqueness.

 

41. Medea- Euripides

This isn’t Tyler Perry’s Madea, but the spite, power, and strength may remind you of her. Although it is semi-tragic in the end, it is still a great old read that every person must read.

 

42. Doctor Faustus- Christopher Marlowe

I love Marlowe’s work. This is one of his best, after Edward II. This is tragic like many works of that time, but such a deep and interesting play that follows the life and death of Doctor.

 

43. Flowers for Algernon-Daniel Reyes

I loved reading this book. I even wrote a poem about it. I love how the author explores science and control

 

44. Schooled-Gordon Korman

I loved this book in elementary school. I was primarily interested in it because it was about a hippie boy, but it ended up being so much more. It was a great coming-of-age book about unfamiliarity, fitting in, and friendship. It can also be enjoyed by all ages.

 

45. Looking for JJ-Anne Cassidy

This book was so, so, so, so, so great! I got it for free from the school library when all honors students got two free books. It was such a compelling and shocking book. There’s a child murderer, a new identity, and a large mystery. It is not a romance, it is a unique book that you will become addicted to once you start reading.

 

46. The Odyssey- Homer

This is a classic piece of literature and a very old piece of literature. I have read it in high school and college. I enjoyed it each time. It is a magical story that tells the journey of a man.

 

47.  A Child Called It- Dave Pelzer

This book is heartbreaking, but it is an important and powerful book. It is probably the first book I had read about abuse years ago. It tackles the life of a suffering boy, and his fight for survival. It is a must read, unless you cannot handle the sensitive topics and the abuse it is encompassed with.

 

48. Esperanza Rising- Pam Munoz Ryan

This book was a favorite of mine in elementary school. It is a Hispanic story and it is told with great imagery. I remember reading some of the scenes over and over again because it was told with such intense and captivating imagery.

 

49. Boy Meets Boy- David Levithan

This is the first LGBT book I have ever read, some years ago, and I loved it. I loved seeing their relationship blossom with each other. It is told so nicely, for David Levithan is great.

 

50. They Never Came Home-Lois Duncan

I had borrowed this book from my sister a while ago, and I have not returned it because I found it so superb. I love the suspense of the story and the neverending mystery that isn’t resolved until the end.

 

51. Pool Boy- Michael Simmons

I used to always check out books when I worked in the school library. This was a book I just grabbed and decided to try. It ended up being a great short book with a simple, but important theme.

 

52. Geography Club- Brent Hartinger

I loved this book, and the movie created after. It is a group who call themselves the Geography Club, but it is actually a safe group/place for the LGBT community to come together. I love how there’s a gay guy in it who online chats and the one he chats with turns out to be the popular guy of the school who is in the closet. I love how it is realistic in the end as well when the popular guy has to choose between love with his online friend and pleasing society and his father and staying in the closet.

 

53. Passing- Nella Larsen

This is a great book about a mixed woman who pretends to be, and passes as, white. She is even married to a white man. This novel explores identity, self-hate, and being black in a white society. It is such a great read for black women everywhere or any minority women.

 

54. Endgame- Samuel Beckett

This is a loaded, but short play. I loved reading it and dissecting it. There is so many hidden gems in its simplicity.

 

55. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight- Unknown

It is crazy no author has ever been discovered, or that no author has ever claimed this Medieval gem because it is my favorite piece of literature from its time era. I love the realization by the end, the hint of satire, and the message it portrays.

 

56. The Book of Margery Kempe- Margery Kempe

I didn’t read this when it was assigned to us last semester, the whole class didn’t actually haha (we were burned out from our final paper) but when my professor started discussing it, it sounded so great I went back and read it. It is such a risky, unique, and addicting story. It is about a religious woman written in the medieval era, but it is written in a timeless and captivating way. It is also sexual at times which is shocking and risky from a religious woman in the medieval period.

 

57. Zami- Audre Lorde

This is a compelling memor I read. It follows the story of a black lesbian woman and her journey. It is such a great read. I always love seeing the minority perspective, especially in non-fiction. And, she tells it in such an artistic and poetic way.

 

58. To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

This book is a classic that deals with a never-ending and historic issue of the world-racism. I am sure most of you have heard of it, read it, or watched the black and white movie. If you haven’t, you are missing a prominent piece of literature. So, read!

 

59. The Beautiful and Damned- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I tried this book because it was free on Kindle and because he wrote the amazing Great Gatsby, and this book was amazing just like his other works. I loved reading it so much. It may be considered bitter and depressing but it is still a great read.

 

60. The Prince- Niccolo Machiavelli

This is such a great book, and after reading it, every piece of literature and movie is changed for you. It seems like everything that has been produced since this book follows the Machiavellian rules. I’m sure not everything does, but the book makes you think about  everything and the validity and importance of the book’s content.

 

61.  The House on Mango Street- Sandra Cisneros

I loved reading this novel. It is a very short and easy read, yet it is still full of many topics and documents the life of a Hispanic girl. I also love the little vignettes the book is composed of.

 

62. The Truth About Forever- Sarah Dessen

It is literally truthful about what forever means. I love its honesty. It explores what foreer means, how we find forever, and if forever really exists. I loved reading it. I love the message it gives the readers-to enjoy life and live in the moment. Quit worrying about forever, for it may not even exist. I also love the love interest, Wes.

 

63. What Happened to Goodbye- Sarah Dessen

Because I have read all of Dessen’s books, I accurately predicted the ending but it didn’t change how happy I felt with the ending. I loved the book as a whole as well. I honestly didn’t want it to end.

 

 

64. This Lullaby- Sarah Dessen

I love this book because the girl who thinks she has everything figured out fools herself with the nerdy musician she meets. She sees her mother’s many failed relationships, so she scratches out getting serious with a guy. But, then with this musician she starts buying groceries and dishes for his house and falling in love. It is such a sweet story about unexpectedly falling in love.

 

65.  Fifty Shades Series-E L James

Most people ridicule this series because of the sex, but the books are much more than sex. The books explore many topics like abuse, relationships, finding ourselves, finding love, and much more. My personal favorite is the second of the trilogy- Fifty Shades Darker.

 

66. Along for the Ride- Sarah Dessen

I love this book for its sweetness and simplicity. They go out and ride bikes together, the female protagonist is literally along for the ride with the guy she meets in the novel who makes her summer special. It is a great summer read.

 

67. Keeping the Moon- Sarah Dessen

This is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen novels. It tackles very important topics and issues teenage girls face in their lives. It tells the story of a girl who loses weight but hasn’t gain confidence because of bullying and insecurity. She meets a great guy who helps her gain the confidence she deserves.

 

68. Skywriting by Word of Mouth- John Lennon

I am a huge John Lennon fan, so when I found out that he was an author as well, I had to buy his books. This one is amazing and such an entertaining book.

 

69. In his own write and a Spaniard in the Works- John Lennon

I just got this book last Christmas and I love it. Lennon was a great writer, and I love the little drawings he includes in the book.

 

70. Haight Ashbury- Charles Perry

This book captures the genuine Haight Ashbury hippie experience. I love how much detail is written and how much of the Hippie era is covered in the book. I learned so much more about hippies and their movement in the sixties.

 

71. Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy- C.D.C Reeve and Patrick Lee Miller

This is kind of like a textbook, but it is a great book. I had to buy it and read it for my Ancient Philosophy class and it was so enlightening and thought-provoking. It has great and very debatable subjects. It features some of Plato’s and Socrates’s classic pieces.

 

72. The Hook-Up Artist- Tucker Shaw

I loved this book in high school. I could not remember the name of it. I almost gave up, but I had to include it on this list so I googled for thirty minutes. I literally typed in “book about gay guy who works in a Mexican restaurant and falls for the new guy” and finally it popped up. Haha. Great, great book.

 

73. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a wonderful writer, and this is a wonderful piece of literature. I love everything she writes. If you love her, or never really read her, be sure to check this book out.

 

74. Forever- Judy Blume

I loved this book as a teenager. I remember I read it just because it had a sex scene, and that was something new to me to see in a book so I read it. It ended up being an incredibly great coming-of-age novel for teenagers and young adults.

 

75.  Me Before You- JoJo Moyes

If you love The Fault In Our Stars, you love Me Before You. Such a great book. It is so sweet, amazing, and real. I love realistic books. This book is that, and it is also an eye-opener to the purpose and reason of people’s choices.

 

76. A Clockwork Orange- Anthony Burgess

This is a dystopian novel, a world perspective that is intriguing to read about. This book is a fantastic classic. Dystopian novels are always important to read to expand our minds, so be sure to check it out.

 

77. Anatomy of a Boyfriend- Daria Snadowsky

I loved this book in high school. It isn’t your typical teenage romance. The girl always reminded me of myself, which is probably why I loved it so much. She is hard into academics and that makes love not a simple and smooth part of the plot.

 

78. The Queen of Cool- Cecil Castellucci

I used to check this book out from the public library all the time. It was such a cool book. It was probably the first Young Adult book I have read. Yes, that means I read it a long time ago but I still consider it a wonderful book.

 

79. Love You Forever- Robert Munsch

This is often considered a children’s book, but that’s okay. It is still a classic in s and it is still the sweetest and cutest book I have ever read. I am sure many of you remember it and remember the famous song the mommy used to sing.

 

80. The Lord of the Rings- J. R. R. Tolkien

I don’t have to explain this one much, it is a sensation around the world. There are also movies and merchandise and more. If you have not even been curious about these books, try them now. They are awesome.

 

81. Housekeeping- Marilynne Robinson

I loved how this book was about different females. Each woman was diverse. The book was also very philosophical and full of nature. It is a soothing read even though it is loaded with a plethora of different (and sometimes intense) subjects.

 

82. The Moon and More- Sarah Dessen

This is one of her newest books and it is amazing just like the other ten or eleven books Dessen has written. It shows the life of a girl the summer before he leaves to college, and for everyone who went to college away from home, we all know how important, life, changing, and memorable that summer before we leave can be.

 

83. Zombie Blondes- Brian James

This is a great zombie book I read a few years ago. It is about a girl who wants to fit in, but falls in with the wrong crowd- a group of popular cheerleaders who are also zombies.

 

84. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas- Frederick Douglas

This book is a prominent piece of African-American history. I learned so much about Douglas from reading this book. I also learned a lot more detail about the horrors of slavery and the conditions of the country and society at the time. It is a great non-fiction piece.

 

85. Fun Home: A Family Tragiocomic- Alison Bechdel

I love this book so much. It is like a comic book for adults. It tells a great story as well. It is the story of a woman and her family. The fourth graders I worked with were so fascinated by it because it’s a huge chapter book in the form of comics. For a change from traditional literature, read this one.

 

86. Lost It- Kristen Tracy

This is a great book for teenagers. I read it as a teenager, but I still think it is an important book. It is a light-hearted, funny, and cool coming-of-age novel.

 

87. Eleanor and Park- Rainbow Rowell

This is a really wonderful book. It follows the lives of two misfit teenagers. This is great for teenagers and for young adults to read.

 

88. The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

I loved this book a few years ago. I myself used to be a wallflower, I guess I still am in certain situations, but this book perfectly tells the tale of the wallflowers in the world.

 

89. War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy

I first read it just because of the title, and it was a classic. It is a very important piece of the literature world and should be read by every book lover.

 

90. Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad

This is a classic novel. I downloaded it onto my kindle because it was free and I enjoyed reading it so much. It talks about a voyage up the Congo River.

 

91. Pygmalion- George Bernard Shaw

This is a great play that I love reading. It may not sound familiar as Pygmalion, but it may ring a bell as My Fair Lady. My Fair Lady is based off of this play about wealth, status, love, and self-gain.

 

92. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot

This was a book I read in Anatomy my senior year of high school, but I found it very interesting. I never knew the history behind Henrietta and her cells. It also demonstrates lack of privacy of the body, doctor dictatorship, corporation control, and the life of a poor black woman.

 

93. Brown Girl Dreaming- Jacqueline Woodson

I love books by black authors. This is a memoir about growing up as a black woman, and I found it relatable and inspiring. It can inspire anyone too, not just black women or black people.

 

94. The Book Thief- Markus Zusak

I am infatuated with this book .It is a very powerful book that I have read twice. Everyone should read it.

 

95. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian- Sherman Alexie

I love reading about different lives and perspectives. I especially love seeing the often voiceless given voices. This story is told from the perspective of a fourteen-year-old Native American.

 

96. 1984- George Orwell

This is interesting because it is a dystopian novel. I sometimes like reading dystopian novels and comparing it to the current world. It is also fun to dissect the dystopia and the condition of the book’s world/society. This is also a classic, so go read it.

 

 

97.  The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe- Edgar Allan Poe 

This is a very lovely and thick book that I have read. It is a collection of short stories and poems by Poe, one of my favorite writers. It includes my favorites and his classics like, “The Raven”, “Annabel Lee”, and “The Falling House of Usher”.

 

98. Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte

This is a classic that you have most likely been assigned to read for a class. If you have not been, or did not read it when assigned, read it. It is a fantastic novel.

 

 

99. The Red Badge of Courage- Stephen Crane

The first time I read it, I fell asleep. I thought I hated it. But, the second time I read it, I realized how important this book is and how powerful it is. It is a war novel that follows the American Civil War.

 

100. The Portrait of a Lady- Henry James

This book is a great women’s novel. It is a tragedy of course, and it dives into money and happiness.

 

 

*The pictures of book covers, I do not own. I only own the featured image up above by the title of the post… Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

The Poetry of List-Making

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31 thoughts on “100 Books You Must Read Before You Die.”

  1. I always find these lists a fascinating insight into each reader’s personal tastes. There are many books I wholeheartedly agree with you on. I cannot concur as far as Twilight and Fifty Shades is concerned though! This is what makes the world a varied and interesting place – difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I arrogantly thought I would have read many of these when I saw the post title but boy have I been put in my place! Sobering. Time to dust of my long time ignored reading list. Ironically blogging makes me read less, not good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am always looking for a good book. Some of these are ones I have been meaning to get to for some time now. Others are ones I would just love to find time to reread. Thanks for putting this list together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! I loved that one when I read it. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite. But I guess at the moment I can say Paradise Lost, even though it’s an epic. It’s just so thought-provoking and has impacted my writing and stuck with me the most. So beautifully done, and he did it while he was blind! He just thought it and spoke it and had someone write it down. Milton was a genius.

      Like

  4. Wow that’s a long list of books! lol I have read the Vampire Academy series, as well as the spinoff series Bloodlines. I LOVE those books and wish there were more, especially of the Bloodlines series. I’ve also read the Twilight series back in 2010.

    Liked by 1 person

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