15 Books everyone should read once in their lifetime

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Someone rightly said-“Friendship with books is the healthiest and wisest relation one can ever dream of”. Books give wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. Some books you read, some books you enjoy, but some books just swallow you up, heart and soul. Listed here are some of the best books, read them while you still can.

 1. To Kill a Mockingbird – By Harper Lee

A Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee first published in 1960. It is often regarded as a classic of modern American literature, winning masterwork of honor and racial injustice in the deep south, and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred. An all time bestseller,  the novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality.

One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism. The book was made into the well-received 1962 film with the same title, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. Lee went on to  received Presidential Medal of Freedom for this book.

2.  Gone With The Wind – By Margaret Mitchell

A Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County and Atlanta,  during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era. Survival is identified as the primary theme of the novel. The story depicts  the struggles of young daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty.

Gone with the Wind was popular with American readers from the outset, and was the top American fiction bestseller in the year it was published(1937). The novel has been absorbed into American popular culture, since then.t


3.  Great Expectations – By Charles Dickens

Great Expectations is the 13th novel by Charles Dickens, published around 1861. It was first published as a serial in Dickens’s weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. Set in mid 19th century London & Kent, it is full of extreme imagery – poverty; prison ships and chains, and fights to the death, and has a colorful cast of characters who have entered popular culture.

The  novel’s theme include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil. The novel is set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century , and contains some of Dickens’ most memorable scenes, including the opening in a graveyard, where the young Pip is accosted by the escaped convict. Upon its release, the novel received near universal acclaim. Since then, it has been translated into many languages and adapted numerous times into various media.


4.  War and Peace – By Leo Tolstoy

A novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy, published in 1869 and often regarded as one of the central works of world literature. The novel depicts the history of the French invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on society, through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families. In 2007, Time magazine ranked War and Peace third in its poll of the 10 greatest books of all time. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “no single English novel attains the universality of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.”

Although the book is mainly in Russian, significant portions of dialogue are in French. War and Peace was well adapted in films and translated into many languages.

 5.  The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

It is the first novel by Khaled Hosseini, published in 2003.  The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.

The Kite Runner was critically well-received, became a bestseller after being printed in paperback and was popularized in book clubs. Critics praised it as beautifully written, startling and heart wrenching. A number of adaptations were created following publication, including a 2007 film of the same name and several stage performances.sspace

6.  Moby Dick – Herman Melville

A novel by American writer Herman Melville, published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance. Sailor Ishmael tells the story about the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the previous whaling voyage, bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee.

The novel was a commercial failure and out of print at the time of the author’s death in 1891, but during the 20th century, it has become a great American novel. Critics called it “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world”, and “the greatest book of the sea ever written.t


7.  Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

A novel by William Makepeace Thackeray,  it was first published as a 19-volume monthly serial from 1847 to 1848, carrying the subtitle Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Life, reflecting both its satiristic view of early 19th-century British society, and the many illustrations drawn by Thackeray to accompany the text. Later on, it was published as a single volume in 1848 with the subtitle “A Novel without a Hero”, reflecting Thackeray’s interest in deconstructing his era’s conventions regarding literary heroism. The story is framed as a puppet play

The novel is now considered a classic of English Literature,  and has inspired several film and book adaptations.


8.  The Fault in Our Stars – By John Greent

Sixth novel by John Green, published in Jan 2012,  the story is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-year-old girl with cancer. Hazel is forced by her parents to attend a support group in the “Literal Heart of Jesus” where she subsequently meets and falls in love with 17 year old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.

The book was adapted in film of the same name and both the book and its film adaptation were met with strong critical and commercial success.


9.  Pride and Prejudice – By Jane Austen

A novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The novel is set in England in the early 19th century, and tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after two gentlemen have moved into their neighborhood. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency

Pride and Prejudice retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of “most loved books”. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature. The novel has engendered numerous adaptations in films and television versions.


10.  1984 –  by George Orwell

A dystopian novel by George Orwell, published in 1949, is a classic novel in content, plot and style. The story is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation

In 2005, the novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor’s list, and 6 on the readers’ list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC’s survey ‘The Big Read’.  Nineteen Eighty-Four was well adapted in films and television versions.t

11.  In search of lost time – By Marcel Proust

A french novel in 7 volumes (also translated as Remembrance of Things Past), by Marcel Proust, published between 1913–1927. The novel recounts the experiences of the Narrator (who is never definitively named) while he is growing up, learning about art, participating in society, and falling in love.

In Search of Lost Time is often considered as the definitive modern novel by many scholars. It has been well adapted in film, television and theatrical  media.t


12.  The Catcher in the Rye – By J. D. Salinger

It is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation. The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection.

The novel was included on Time’s 2005 list of the 100 best English language novels written since 1923. In 2003, it was listed at #15 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read.


13.  The Diary Of A Young Girl – By  Anne Frank

It is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944, and Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

The diary received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language translation Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl


14.  Hamlet – By Shakespeare

Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet is called to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet

Hamlet is one of the most quoted works in the English language, and is often included on lists of the world’s greatest literature.


15.  One Thousand and One Nights

It is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706).

The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, and South Asia and North Africa.