Book-lovers read for a variety of reasons. Some of us like to unwind with a great fiction book that transports us to places we’ve never been, into lives that are different from our own. Others love the shiver that goes up your spine when you fall into a creepy ghost story that makes you think twice before turning off the light to go to bed.
Of course, the best nonfiction books can also teach us something, or open our eyes to elements of experiences we think we already know. Needless to say: books can also change lives, whether they’re intended to be inspirational or just come to us at the perfect time.
If you love reading, here’s a perfect reading list for you. Even if you aren’t so much into reading, here are 8 books everyone should read at least once.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and became an immediate classic of literature. The novel examines racism in the American South.
The story follows the white lawyer Atticus Finch as he attempts to save the life of Tom Robinson, a Black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. By being narrated by Finch’s six-year-old daughter Scout, the unfairness and incomprehensibility of the situation is illuminated further, seen through the eyes of an innocent child.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is said to be the quintessential novel of the Jazz Age. Set in 1922 amongst unfathomable indulgence and decadence, the novel highlights a man’s struggle to earn the love of the woman he’s obsessed with, while at the same time critiquing the idea of the “American Dream.”
Perhaps the most-famous aspect of the novel is its cover art—a piercing face projected onto a dark blue night sky and lights from a cityscape—an image that is also found, in a slightly different configuration, within the text itself as a key symbol.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child”.
The book details the courtship of two opposed characters in a world where manners and courtesy are of the utmost importance. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed.
It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
No reading list would be complete without Emily Brontë’s gothic romance, Wuthering Heights. Published in 1847, this passionate and harrowing story of love, rivalry and revenge follows Catherine Earnshaw and her father’s adopted foundling Heathcliff as they grow into very different adults.
Featuring some of the most beautiful prose in the English canon, its depiction of Heathcliff and Cathy’s doomed love affair haunts the reader long after the book has been put down.
1984, by George Orwell
George Orwell certainly couldn’t have known how prophetic his words might have been when he wrote the dystopian novel 1984 in the mid-twentieth century.
1984 tells the futuristic story of a dystopian, totalitarian world where free will and love are forbidden. Although the year 1984 has long since passed, the prophecy of a society controlled by fear and lies is arguably more relevant now than ever.
Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Bizarre and curious, Alice In Wonderland explores the potential of imagination and the reality of fiction. If you’re a fan of escaping the real world, this is definitely the book for you.
Scholars have tried to apply political, historical, and ideological theories to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but it’s quite simply the dreamlike story of learning to grow (or shrink) and explore, told through the eyes of a curious child.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids.
Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.