Inspired by Manda at I Solemnly Swear, I began searching for lists of “books you should read before you die” — only to discover that there are lists all over the place, and all of these lists have different quantities of books in them. 50, 100, 101, 1001. While looking through these various lists, I began asking myself questions.
- Which list do I choose?
- Which list is the REAL list?
- And, more importantly, why should I read these books in my lifetime?
Some of these lists are more descriptive than others. Some of them are easier to look at than others. And some of them have much more interesting (in my opinion) books on them than others. It’s the books that don’t seem interesting to me that have me wondering why I should force myself to read them.
As I like to challenge myself, and apparently I can’t get enough of making lists (and then crossing things off those lists!), I’ve come up with my own version of this project. I’ve decided to collect the most popular (as far as I can tell) books from these lists, along with a few that aren’t on them but that I personally want to read before I die. I only included my personal choices if they are not especially books that I would set out to read for funzies, you know what I’m saying? Of course you do.
The 50 Books I’ve Decided to Read Before I Die
I’m going to start with the ones I’ve already read. And yes, of course they count, even though I read them before I made this list.
- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
- Beowulf by Anonymous
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
- Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by JK Rowling
- Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- Grendel by John Gardner
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
- The Bible
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Charlotte’s Web by EB White
- Of Mice and Men by Jon Steinbeck
Woohoo! Look at that; I’ve already read almost half of my list! At this point I suspect you might be narrowing your eyes and calling me a cheater, but whatever man. I found every single one of those books on various Read Before You Die lists, and only like 2 of those appeared on only ONE list. SO.
On to the rest of my list. This includes several that were already on my to-read list, which is awesome, along with many that I had probably never planned to read. I did try to include only those that I feel I could actually get into and finish, though, so that has to count for something! AND, if you add them up you will see that I’ve actually included five bonus books, for a total of 55.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tosltoy
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Siddartha by Hermann Hesse
- The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
- A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
- The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
Let’s see how many (if any) of these I can cross off my list by the end of 2013. Not that I’m planning to die soon or anything, just. I like to get things done as soon as possible. No waiting until the last minute for me! Ooh, ooh, even better: let’s see how many of these I can convince my book club to read! Aha! I am clever or something. Oh, and if you’re interested, I will be keeping track of this list over on this page.