Friday, February 7, 2014

My Own 100 Books for a Lifetime

Amazon just released its list of “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.”  After perusing this list, I have read 51.  I’m proud of myself for being over half way there, and I also gained a few reading recommendations.  However, like most great lovers of books, I found that there were some novels I believed to be blatantly missing.  Therefore, I have created my own list of “100 books to Read in a Lifetime.”  There will no doubt be duplicates, but I hope you also appreciate some of the new additions.  I am also aware that some of these selections are technically drama, short stories, or poetry collections.   What books would make your essential list?  Please leave your comments!

1.       To Kill a Mockingbird – I won’t make note of every book I mention here.  However, I truly believe that this book, more than any other (even the bible), should be read by every single global citizen.  If the reader truly follows Atticus Finch’s advice, this book has the power to transform.  An individual can truly become a better person simply for having read this book.  It should be mandatory reading in every secondary school district.

2.       The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – How could Amazon possibly omit this book?  It is so critical to our nation’s history and has become deeply rooted in our culture.  Likewise, this novel should be mandatory reading in every secondary school district.

3.       Of Mice and Men – This novel has also become deeply rooted in our culture.  Does no one else remember the Loony Tunes character that asked to pet the bunnies?  This is a vital novel of friendship and Lenny and George are pivotal characters in the realm of fiction.


4.       Pride and Prejudice – Of course Austen tops my list.  Recall my wish to make zombie Jane Austen my BFF.  However, it is quite deservedly that this novel should rank so high in Amazon’s list, Good Reads reader polls, and my personal opinion.  Austen is an astute observer of human nature.  Further, particularly given the time period, Elizabeth Bennett is an admirable marvel of a woman and an exemplary role model.


5.       The Grapes of Wrath – Steinbeck appears twice in my top five.  This book is such a brilliant portrait of our nation during a difficult time.  Told with honesty and poetic grace, the Joad family should be known kin to every American reader.



The following novels appear without comment and in no particular order:

6.       The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck

7.       Night - Elie Wiesel

8.       The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

9.       All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten - Robert Fulghum

10.   The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

11.   Life of Pi - Yann Martel

12.   Nickeled and Dimed - Barbara Ehreneich

13.   The Help - Kathryn Stockett

14.   The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver

15.   Fear of Flying - Erica Jong

16.   Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

17.   The Road - Cormac McCarthy

18.   As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner

19.   Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

20.   The Circle - Dave Eggers

21.   Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

22.   The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

23.   The Color Purple - Alice Walker

24.   Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

25.   Black Boy - Richard Wright

26.   The Alchemist - Paulo Coehlho

27.   1984 - George Orwell

28.   The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

29.   Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

30.   Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

31.   Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

32.   A Passage to India - E.M. Forster

33.   I am Malala - Malala Yousafzai

34.   The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

35.   Animal Farm - George Orwell

36.   Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

37.   A Thousand Acres - Jane Smiley

38.   Bastard Out of Carolina - Dorothy Allison

39.   Persepolis -  Marjane Satrapi

40.   The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

41.   Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

42.   The Wasteland, and Other Poems - T.S. Eliot

43.   A Long Way Gone - Ishmael Beah

44.   The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

45.   Every Day - David Levithan

46.   Sold - Patricia McCormick

47.   The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri

48.   Peace Like a River - Leif Enger

49.   The Invitation - Oriah Mountain Dreamer

50.   The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

51.   Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

52.   The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

53.   Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

54.   Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

55.   The Jungle - Upton Sinclair

56.   The Stranger - Albert Camus

57.   The Things they Carried - Tim O'Brien

58.   The Round House - Louise Erdrich

59.   Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson

60.   Room - Emma Donaghue

61.   Lord of the Flies - William Golding

62.   Ellen Foster - Kaye Gibbins

63.   The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton

64.   The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

65.   Go Ask Alice - Anonymous

66.   The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chobsky

67.   A Doll’s House - Henrik Ibsen

68.   Beloved - Toni Morrison

69.   The Awakening - Kate Chopin

70.   The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

71.   Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

72.   Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
73.   Same Kind of Different As Me - Ron Hall & Denver Moore

74.   The Hunger Games  - Suzanne Collins

75.   The Red Tent - Anita Diamant

76.   Gilead - Marilynne Robinson

77.   Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

78.   A Farewell To Arms - Ernest Hemingway

79.   The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer

80.   The Crucible - Arthur Miller

81.   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Ken Kesey

82.   Walden - Henry David Thoreau

83.   Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

84.   The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud

85.   Looking for Alaska - John Green

86.   Paradise Lost - John Milton

87.   Gulliver’s Travels - Jonathan Swift

88.   Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes

89.   Silent Spring - Rachel Carson

90.   There are No Children Here - Alex Kotlowitz

91.   The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Fredrick Douglass

92.   A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O'Conner

93.   Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe

94.   Annie on my Mind - Nancy Garden

95.   The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

96.   Feed - M.T. Anderson

97.   The Dinner - Herman Koch

98.   The Reader  - Bernhard Schlink

99.   Little Bee - Chris Cleave

100.      Naked - David Sedaris


  1. Well, I've read about the same number on each list. I've read 27 of the Amazon's list and 26 of your list. I think you make good recommendations here. I have to admit that I keep reading and hearing about Pride and Prejudice being super great, which I only thought was ok. The majority of the rest of the highly acclaimed books l really liked. Except Lolita and Anna Karenina; I didn't enjoy those either. One book I don't see on your list is the original Winnie the Pooh. I hope you have read that. I only ever read it as an adult and felt cheated out of it as a child, it was wonderful.
    Some of the books I would recommend to anyone are: 1984 by Orwell, Animal Farm by Orwell, The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver, The Pearl by Steinbeck, The Hunger Games by Collins, and The Harry Potter Series by Rowling, and yes, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

    1. I just chose not to add any children's books, but I remember reading Pooh as a child. I never liked the cartoons, though, so I've been turned off. I also must admit I have never read the Harry Potter series, or even seen the films. I had an Austen literature course in college, so I think being able to study her work under a great professor and discuss it with other English majors surely contributed to my love for Austen.

  2. I've read only 30 here but many are on my "to read" radar already. I'll have to think, the get back with my additions.