10 Books Everyone Should Read Before They Die

There are tons of books out there, but some are just too good to miss. We’ve picked out 10 that you’ve just got to read before, well, you know. These books are the real deal: they make you laugh, think, and maybe even cry. So, here’s our no-frills list of 10 books that should definitely be on your reading radar.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)

There are so many important texts about the Holocaust that must be read, and this book is at the top of the list. It chronicles two years during the Holocaust when thirteen-year-old Anne Frank and her Jewish family went into hiding. It’s a personal account of an incredibly tragic time, chronicling Anne’s feelings of isolation, love, fear, and adolescence.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937-1949)

Everyone knows the films, but not everyone has read the books they’re adapted from, which is a mistake you should rectify. Tolkien is an incredible wordsmith, weaving important themes of friendship, power, and mortality into his more expansive fantasy lore. Across three books, he creates an incredible tale of adventure, as well as several original languages and dialects.

1984 by George Orwell (1949)

Even the most casual reader will have heard of Orwell’s 1949 dystopian classic, 1984. As well as being an interesting read, this book is incredibly informative, chartering the dangers of a totalitarian state and its grip on the general public. The theme of humanity is even more poignant, making this book an absolute must-read.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

This is arguably Jane Austen’s most famous novel, and for good reason. As well as being a gorgeous romance with a strong-willed female protagonist, it’s a deep dive into human nature, our relationships, and the dangers of preconceptions. If you’re looking for an accessible classic to begin with, Pride and Prejudice is the book for you.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

To Kill a Mockingbird is considered a defining book of the twentieth century, so everyone should read it at least once. It explores life in 1930s southern America through the innocent eyes of a child, telling the story of a black man accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, facilitated by the horrific real-life racism of the time.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)

The Kite Runner is Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel, and it made an immense impact when it first came out. The book’s significance is timeless, chartering a story of friendship that tragically falls apart against the backdrop of war-torn Afghanistan. Themes of guilt plague the protagonist, guiding him through the book’s harrowing events on a quest for redemption.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

The ‘roaring twenties’ are endlessly fascinating, so if you’ve been searching for a fabulous novelization of the period, give The Great Gatsby a try. While the glitz and glamor of the 20s are a huge part of the plot, Fitzgerald also dives deeper into how dysfunctional and corrupt people can become when engulfed by that kind of society.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

As far as thrillers go, Gone Girl is highly regarded as one of the best. Gillian Flynn creates compelling characters that beg to be analyzed, exploring both male and female perspectives within themes of sexual politics, morality, and power. It relies on its excellent suspense, which proves that it’s still possible to write something original in the twenty-first century.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

This classic has been adapted time and time again, but nothing can ever beat the original. Mary Shelley’s novel is the original creation story, utilizing themes of gothic horror to tell a much more poignant story of ethics, morality, and the twisted forms that love takes. Throughout history, Frankenstein has been used as a source in many important ethical debates.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

The most terrifying thing about The Handmaid’s Tale is that it was inspired by actual events. The novel is set in a fictional version of the United States, where women have been forced into sexual servitude, reproducing against their will to repopulate the state. This book is shocking, disturbing, and all too relevant in the present day.