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40 must-read books, as chosen by people from all over the world.

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

Looking for a read that could sync with your current emotional state? Discover a range of unputdownable novels from dark thrillers to light, breezy romance and everything in between. I hope you find your next favorite book here.

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40. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose is the 1980 debut novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, and an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies, and literary theory. It was translated into English by William Weaver in 1983.


About the book: Wikipedia



39. Blindness by José Saramago

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Blindness is the story of an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone in an unnamed city, and the social breakdown that swiftly follows. The novel follows the misfortune of a handful of unnamed characters who are among the first to be stricken with blindness, including an ophthalmologist, several of his patients, and assorted others, who are thrown together by chance.


About the book: Wikipedia


38. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

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Pale Fire is a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire", written by the fictional poet John Shade, with a foreword, lengthy commentary and index written by Shade's neighbor and academic colleague, Charles Kinbote. Together these elements form a narrative in which both fictional authors are central characters.


About the book: Wikipedia


37. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


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Published in 1937, it narrates the experiences of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States.


About the book: Wikipedia




36. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth by J. R. R. Tolkien

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Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth is a collection of stories and essays by J. R. R. Tolkien that were never completed during his lifetime, but were edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and published in 1980.


Many of the tales within are retold in The Silmarillion, albeit in modified forms; the work also contains a summary of the events of The Lord of the Rings told from a less personal perspective.


About the book: Wikipedia


35. House of Leaves by Mark Danielzewski


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The plot is centered on a (possibly fictional) documentary about a family whose house is impossibly larger on the inside than the outside. The format and structure of House of Leaves is unconventional, with unusual page layout and style, making it a prime example of ergodic literature


About the book: Wikipedia



34. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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Flowers for Algernon is the title of a science fiction short story and a novel by American writer Daniel Keyes.


Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence. The story is told by a series of progress reports written by Charlie Gordon, the first human subject for the surgery, and it touches on ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.


About the book: Wikipedia


33. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

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The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel by Welsh author Ken Follett published in 1989 about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England.


The book traces the development of Gothic architecture out of the preceding Romanesque architecture, and the fortunes of the Kingsbridge priory and village against the backdrop of historical events of the time.


About the book: Wikipedia


32. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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Each chapter in the novel follows a different descendant of an Asante woman named Maame, starting with her two daughters, who are half-sisters, separated by circumstance: Effia marries James Collins, the British governor in charge of Cape Coast Castle, while her half-sister Esi is held captive in the dungeons below. Subsequent chapters follow their children and following generations.


About the book: Wikipedia



31. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

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Jane Eyre is a Bildungsroman which follows the experiences of its eponymous heroine, including her growth to adulthood and her love for Mr. Rochester, the brooding master of Thornfield Hall.


About the book: Wikipedia




30. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Treasure Island (originally The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys) is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold."


Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an "X", schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders.


About the book: Wikipedia


29. The Stand by Stephen King

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The Stand is a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel written by American author Stephen King and first published in 1978 by Doubleday.


The plot centers on a pandemic of a weaponized strain of influenza that kills almost the entire world population. The few survivors, united in groups, establish a new social system and engage in confrontation with each other.


About the book: Wikipedia


28. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a young adult coming-of-age epistolary novel by American writer Stephen Chbosky, which was first published on February 1, 1999, by Pocket Books.


Set in the early 1990s, the novel follows Charlie, an introverted observing teenager, through his freshman year of high school in a Pittsburgh suburb.


The novel details Charlie's unconventional style of thinking as he navigates between the worlds of adolescence and adulthood, and attempts to deal with poignant questions spurred by his interactions with both his friends and family.


About the book: Wikipedia


27. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.


The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met.


About the book: Wikipedia


26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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The broad narrative of Hitchhiker follows the misadventures of the last surviving man, Arthur Dent who is rescued from Earth's destruction by Ford Prefect—a human-like alien writer for the eccentric, electronic travel guide The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—by hitchhiking onto a passing Vogon spacecraft.


Following his rescue, Dent explores the galaxy with Prefect and encounters Trillian, another human who had been taken from Earth (prior to its destruction) by the two-headed President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox and the depressed Marvin, the Paranoid Android.


Certain narrative details were changed among the various adaptations.


About the book: Wikipedia


25. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

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Shantaram is a 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, in which a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict escapes from Pentridge Prison and flees to India. The novel is commended by many for its vivid portrayal of tumultuous life in Bombay.


The novel is reportedly influenced by real events in the life of the author, though some claims made by Roberts are contested by others involved in the story.


About the book: Wikipedia


24. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee's observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was ten.


Despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality, the novel is renowned for its warmth and humor.


Atticus Finch, the narrator's father, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers.


About the book: Wikipedia


23. The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

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The Earthsea Cycle, also known simply as Earthsea, is a series of high fantasy books. Beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan, (1970) and The Farthest Shore (1972), the series was later supplemented by Tehanu (1990), and Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind (both 2001). In 2018, all the novels and short stories were published as The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, with illustrations by Charles Vess.


Magic is a central part of life in most of Earthsea.


About the book: Wikipedia


22. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose by Rupi Kaur. The collection is about survival. It is divided into sections, with each section serving a different purpose and relevance to Kaur’s experience. The sections explore the themes of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.


About the book: Wikipedia


 

Enjoying these suggestions? You might also want to check Part One of this series : 10 must-read books, as chosen by people from all over the world.

 

21. Matilda by Roald Dahl

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Matilda is an extraordinary girl trapped in an ordinary family. She loves to read and has magical powers. Her family, though, is incapable to acknowledge the gift Matilda has.


This is a book about bullies and standing up against it. Matilda's journey teaches the readers that eventually one has to live with themselves. It also teaches that one should never change oneself to meet other people expectations.




20. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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The story follows a young prince who visits various planets in space, including Earth, and addresses themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss.


Despite its style as a children's book, The Little Prince makes observations about life and human nature.


About the book: Wikipedia


19. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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This Side of Paradise is the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1920. The book examines the lives and morality of American youth in the aftermath of World War I.


Its protagonist Amory Blaine is an attractive student at Princeton University who dabbles in literature.


The novel explores the theme of love warped by greed and status seeking.


The novel famously helped F. Scott Fitzgerald gain Zelda Sayre's hand in marriage; its publication was her condition of acceptance.


About the book: Wikipedia



18.Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

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Interview with the Vampire is a gothic horror and vampire novel by American author Anne Rice, published in 1976. It was her debut novel.


The novel centers on vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac, who tells the story of his life to a reporter.


Rice composed the novel shortly after the death of her young daughter Michelle, who served as an inspiration for the child-vampire character Claudia.


About the book: Wikipedia


17. The City and The City by China Miéville

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The City & the City is a novel by British author China Miéville that follows a wide-reaching murder investigation in two cities that occupy the same space simultaneously, combining weird fiction with the police procedural.


About the book: Wikipedia




16. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

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In A Wild Sheep Chase, Murakami blends elements of American and English literature with Japanese contexts, exploring post-WWII Japanese cultural identity. The book is part mystery and part magical realism with a postmodern twist.


About the book: Wikipedia


15. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

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The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military.


Traversing a wide range of knowledge, Gravity's Rainbow transgresses boundaries between high and low culture, between literary propriety and profanity, and between science and speculative metaphysics.


About the book: Wikipedia


14. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

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The book centres on a boy, Bastian Balthazar Bux, an overweight and strange child who is neglected by his father after the death of Bastian's mother.


While escaping from some bullies, Bastian bursts into the antiquarian book store of Carl Conrad Coreander, where he finds his interest held by a book called The Neverending Story. Unable to resist, he steals the book and hides in his school's attic, where he begins to read.


The story Bastian reads is set in the magical land of Fantastica, a place of wonder ruled by the benevolent and mysterious Childlike Empress.


About the book: Wikipedia


13. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

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The Sirens of Titan is a comic science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., first published in 1959. His second novel, it involves issues of free will, omniscience, and the overall purpose of human history. Much of the story revolves around a Martian invasion of Earth.


About the book: Wikipedia



12. This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathon Tropper

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This is Where I Leave You tells the story of four grown siblings who are forced to return to their childhood home after their father passes away and live under the same roof for seven days, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes, and might-have beens.


About the book: Wikipedia


11. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles is a science fiction fix-up novel, published in 1950, by American writer Ray Bradbury that chronicles the settlement of Mars, the home of indigenous Martians, by Americans leaving a troubled Earth that is eventually devastated by nuclear war.


The book is a work of science fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, and horror that projects American society immediately after World War II into a technologically advanced future where the amplification of humanity's potentials to create and destroy have both miraculous and devastating consequences.


About the book: Wikipedia


10. Ramayana

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The epic, narrates the life of Rama, a legendary prince of Ayodhya city in the kingdom of Kosala.


The epic follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest urged by his father King Dasharatha, on the request of Rama's stepmother Kaikeyi; his travels across forests in the Indian subcontinent with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana – the king of Lanka, that resulted in war; and Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king amidst jubilation and celebration.


About the book: Wikipedia



9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Wuthering Heights is an 1847 novel by Emily Brontë, published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell. It concerns two families of the landed gentry living on the West Yorkshire moors, the Earnshaws and the Lintons, and their turbulent relationships with Earnshaw's adopted son, Heathcliff. It was influenced by Romanticism and Gothic fiction.


About the book: Wikipedia




8. The Shadow of The Wind by Zafon

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The novel is actually a story within a story. In the story-world "The Shadow of the Wind" is a novel by the obscure Catalan author Julián Carax.


A boy, Daniel Sempere, sets out to discover Julián's other works, and becomes involved in tracing the entire history of Carax.


About the book: Wikipedia


7. The Long Walk by Stephen King

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The Long Walk is a dystopian horror novel. Set in a future dystopian America, ruled by a totalitarian and militaristic dictator, the plot revolves around the contestants of a grueling, annual walking contest.


About the book: Wikipedia







6. Stoner by John Williams

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Stoner follows the life of the eponymous William Stoner, his undistinguished career and workplace politics, marriage to his wife, Edith, affair with his colleague, Katherine, and his love and pursuit of literature.


About the book: Wikipedia



5. The Brothers Karamazov

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The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel that enters deeply into questions of God, free will, and morality. It is a theological drama dealing with problems of faith, doubt and reason in the context of a modernizing Russia, with a plot that revolves around the subject of patricide.


About the book: Wikipedia




4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Sallinger

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It was originally intended for adults but is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst, alienation, and as a critique on superficiality in society.


The novel's protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion. The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, connection, sex, and depression.


About the book: Wikipedia


3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a 1943 semi-autobiographical novel written by Betty Smith. The story focuses on an impoverished but aspirational adolescent girl and her family living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, during the first two decades of the 20th century.


About the book: Wikipedia



2. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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The Age of Innocence centers on an upper-class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of the bride's cousin, plagued by scandal, whose presence threatens their happiness.


About the book: Wikipedia




1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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Set in 1941, the story of a young African-American girl named Pecola tells that she is consistently regarded as "ugly" due to her mannerisms and dark skin. As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with "whiteness".


About the book: Wikipedia






I'd love to know which ones among these must-read books you've already read? Let me know in the comments below.


I post every Wednesday and Sunday. Meanwhile, explore the other sections of the blog, they are great too!




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