105 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Reading is an investment that gives great returns. Whether you do it for a hobby or as a study method, you’ll always find a good friend in reading. Indeed, it helps you to generate new ideas, thoughts, and ways of interpreting the world. In this article, we give you a list of 105 books you must read before you die.
It isn’t a list of the biggest best-selling books in history. Nor is it a list of the classics in world literature. In fact, while we’ve obviously taken these works into account, our list contains some that are simply extremely interesting. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write them down.
List of 105 books you must read before you die
You can probably guess some of the books on our list. However, others will undoubtedly surprise you. We haven’t focused only on the classics, nor have we stuck to a specific genre. We hope you like them!
1. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
Don Quixote de la Mancha, popularly known as Don Quixote, is the second best-selling book in the world. Its first part was published in 1605 and the second was published 10 years later, shortly before the death of its author. It’s considered the first modern novel and the most important work in Spanish literature.
2. Cosmos, by Carl Sagan
Inspired by the popular science series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Cosmos expands on certain topics and addresses them from a more analytical perspective. It’s divided into 13 chapters, and, since its launch in 1980, it’s been a bestseller. If you’re a fan of Carl Sagan, you can enter his official page here and delve into his own very particular universe.
3. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas
Published in 1844, this book is considered the most important work of this French writer. Its protagonist, Edmundo Dantès, is one of the most iconic in French literature. Dumas also wrote The Three Musketeers, another book to add to your list.
4. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Its full name is Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus and it was published in early 1818. It’s considered one of the greatest exponents of the Gothic novel and a classic of fantasy literature and even science fiction literature. In fact, many consider it to be the first of this particular genre. The book has been adapted innumerable times to the cinema and theater.
5. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
A classic of English literature, published in 1859. The novel switches between London and Paris, with typical contextual contrasts of the historical period (The French Revolution). You might also like to add a couple of other works by Dickens to your list – Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. However, there are many more.
6. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Published in 1936, this is one of the best-known works in American literature. In fact, the novel was a bestseller from its first week on the market and was immediately adapted to the big screen.
The film was released in late 1939 and won ten Oscars. Set during the Civil War, Gone with the Wind is a must-read for all fans of romantic drama.
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
This is one of the Spanish-language novels most widely translated and read. It also serves as an introduction to the particular universe built by this Colombian writer. It was published in 1967 and since then has established itself as one of the referents of magical realism.
Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his novels and short stories. Several of them made reference to Macondo, the fictional town in this particular book.
8. Brief Answers to the Big Questions, by Stephen Hawking
Published at the end of 2018, this is one of the most important popular science works in recent years. In it, you’ll find an introduction to the most important mysteries of the universe, such as the origin of life, and the existence of God and other civilizations in the universe. It’s a posthumous book since its author died shortly before finishing it.
9. 1984, by George Orwell
This remains one of the best dystopian books ever written. It was published in mid-1949 and many of its ideas have been extrapolated to today’s society.
For example, today, the concepts of Big Brother and the Thought Police might be said to be not too far from reality. Furthermore, we use the term, Orwellian, to describe events similar to those narrated in the novel.
10. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
Thanks to the film adaptations of the last decade, passion for this famous English detective has been reborn. If you’ve seen any and liked any of them, you’ll probably like the books even more.
This collection brings together a total of 12 stories that serve as an introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes. If you enjoy them, there are other collections and novels you can read. There are also numerous works that have been written with reference to the ingenious detective written by other writers aside from his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
11. Harry Potter, by JK Rowling
Whether or not you’re a movie fan, the Harry Potter saga is one of the books you must read before you die. In fact, it’s one of the most important contemporary worldwide best sellers and its influence on popular culture is everywhere.
You can also explore other publications about this magical universe such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, among others.
12. The Lord of the Rings, by JR Tolkien
If you’ve seen the film adaptations, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the original. Although it’s often divided into three parts by publishers, the work isn’t actually a trilogy. If you get hooked on Tolkien’s world, you can also read The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.
13. Churchill: Walking with Destiny, by Andrew Roberts
Released in late 2019, this is considered to be the best written Churchill biography to date. In its more than 1,300 pages, you’ll find all kinds of information about the public and private life of Churchill. An irreplaceable work in our selection of books that you must read before you die.
14. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Another classic of North American literature that we simply couldn’t leave out. In fact, some of the events narrated in its pages form an integral part of US culture. You can also read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published a couple of years later by the same author.
15. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
A work that really needs no introduction, particularly considering the popularity it’s had in the world of Disney. Alice, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and the Cheshire Cat, among others, are characters that form a part of this popular culture. We also recommend Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found.
16. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
One of the best-known books by Richard Dawkins, the well-known evolutionary biologist. This work, published in 1976, is written in an informative tone in which the theory of evolution is explained from the point of view of genes. Without a doubt, an essential book to read.
17. A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin
Although the series of novels of the American writer was known before its film adaptation, it wasn’t until the success of the Game of Thrones series that it achieved worldwide recognition by millions. The saga is made up of a total of seven books, two of them still unpublished at the time of writing.
18. The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
Its first edition saw the light in mid-1951, amid more than a few controversies due to its somewhat provocative content at the time. The Catcher in the Rye is one of those books that contains everything but indifference.
Either you’ll love the author’s light-hearted style or you’ll hate it. Either way, you’ll probably know by the end of the first chapter. You’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a try.
19. Children’s and Household Tales, by the Brothers Grimm
This collection of folk tales written by the Brothers Grimm is by far the most detailed up to the time of its publication in 1812 (the date the first volume was published).
It includes stories like Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, and Snow White, among many others. However, you’ll find them different from the versions told on the big screen
20. Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The first edition was published in Hebrew in 2011. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that we learned about the version in English, Spanish, and 30 other languages. The work takes a walk from the Stone Age to the 21st century, critically analyzing the consolidation of man as a species. The title has been a bestseller and its author has continued his thesis in Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.
21. It by Stephen King
Like many of the must-read books on our list, It has been adapted for film a couple of times. These adaptations greatly publicized readings of this work, which was already popular with horror fans. It was originally published in 1986.
22. The Great Gatsby, by Scott Fitzgerald
One of the best-known works by this American writer, The Great Gatsby is one of the best novels written in English during the 20th century. At the time it was written, it was a failure, although after the death of its author there was renewed interest and it was rescued from oblivion. This book has been adapted to the theater and the cinema on several occasions.
23. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
Another title that explores dystopian settings and is now a part of popular culture. Its massive reception came when Kubrick adapted it for the big screen. However, this interpretation differs in many ways from the original version. The novel was initially published in 1962 and there have been multiple editions since then.
24. Asimov’s Chronology of the World, by Isaac Asimov
In its 900 plus pages, you’ll find a journey through the most important moments in the history of mankind, at least until the end of the Second World War. Other titles by the author to add to your list of books to read before you die are Chronology of Science and Discovery and The Universe: From Flat Earth to Quasar.
25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Published in 1964, this novel has risen to fame thanks to its film adaptations. The first of them was in 1971, with a script by Dahl himself. The second was in 2005, by Tim Burton. The book has a lesser-known second part: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
26. On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
Ever since its publication in 1850, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has caused a revolution in the field of science. Ideas that we all recognize today, like natural selection, can be found embodied in its pages. However, although similar ideas were already being discussed at the time, the title was met with much criticism by certain groups in society. In fact, even today, his ideas continue to stimulate intense debate.
27. Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
Although we could mention many other works by Jules Verne, this book is a really good place to start on his works. Journey to the Center of the Earth is undoubtedly one of the books you simply must read before you die. It explores the idea of the hollow earth. This was known as intraterrestrial theory and was popularized about 200 years before the book was published.
28. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Since its publication in 1726, this work has attracted all kinds of readers, to the point that it’s now considered a classic in world literature. In addition, there have been dozens of unofficial sequels, as well as adaptations to the big screen and TV. Many of Swift’s ideas are now a part of popular culture, such as the word Lilliputian, signifying something extremely small.
29. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
You may already have read this classic but we couldn’t leave it out. The hunting of the white sperm whale (sometimes called a white whale) is a symbol of popular culture and we find it in series, movies, comics, and theater. Although Melville wrote more than a dozen novels, this is the one that’s stood the test of time.
30. Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
This American chef was one of the most visible faces of gastronomy in recent decades, although he also explored other facets as a presenter and writer. This is one of a dozen books he wrote, in which he recounts the experiences of a professional chef.
31. The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton
Do you consider yourself an explorer or a travel fan? If so, you’ll love The Art of Travel. In fact, you’ll discover a different face of travel, a real departure from the travel guides that have you rushing to buy your next plane ticket.
32. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
Whether or not you’re a fan of vampires, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the books you must read before you die. It was the first work of its kind and the one that cemented the topic which was subsequently used in numerous future productions.
Shortly after its publication, in 1897, adaptations began in the theater and a couple of years later in the cinema. Murnau’s Nosferatu was the first big-screen adaptation in 1922.
33. The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean
This is one of the best popular science books you’ll ever read. It’s a series of stories about the periodic table and the elements that make it up. Its tone is extremely didactic and allows you to understand chemistry in a different way. In fact, it’s written in such a way that even those who hate science will be interested. It was published in 2010 and has been a bestseller ever since.
34. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
This is one of the most important novels in Russian literature. It’s also one that’s outstanding for its psychological elements. Crime and Punishment was published in 1866 and has since received recognition from both critics and readers alike. Hundreds of books have been written and dozens of films made that pay tribute either directly or indirectly to this novel.
35. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
It’s one of Hemingway’s best-known works, so definitely one you must read before you die. It was published in 1952, a year before the American writer received the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Pulitzer Prize.
36. One Thousand and One Nights, Unknown Author
The stories in One Thousand and One Nights are considered some of the most important legacies of Middle Eastern literature. In fact, this book has been edited and translated hundreds of times and is considered an undisputed classic among fans of literature. The story of Aladdin, adapted several times by Disney, is included, although it was a later addition.
37. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s most popular novel and one of the most widely read in English literature. Furthermore, it’s the best example of a romantic comedy. It was published in 1813 . However, during the 20th century, it was adapted innumerable times for film, theater, and TV. The film made in 2005 revived the interest of existing fans and also attracted many new ones.
38. Pedro Paramo, by Juan Rulfo
One of the best novels in Latin American literature, Pedro Paramo is Juan Rulfo’s second work. The novel has received critical acclaim, both for its content and its particular narrative structure. It’s been translated into more than 30 languages and adapted for the cinema on a couple of occasions.
39. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
The second biography on our list. In this case, it’s rather special since it was written at the request of Jobs himself. In fact, it was published a few days after his death, at the end of October 2011. It’s the best biography to read if you want to get closer to the life, work, and achievements of the most visible face of Apple.
40. The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
One of the best-known first-person accounts of the horrors of World War II, especially the Jewish Holocaust. This is also one of the best-selling books in history, one that allows you access to the mind of little Anne Frank. The original edition was published in 1947 and has since been translated into a multitude of languages.
41. A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket
This series of books gained interest from the public after the premiere of its film adaptation in 2004 and, more recently, for the series distributed on Netflix at the end of 2017.
The saga is made up of a total of 13 books, the first of them published in 1999. They make for enjoyable reading and the mysterious happenings will motivate you to continue reading until the end.
42. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
This was Shakespeare’s best-known tragedy, certainly if we look at it in terms of its influence on popular culture. It was published in 1597 when the Bard of Avon was in his early thirties.
It’s inspired operas, ballets, theatrical productions, paintings, songs, and films, among others. In fact, the names of Romeo and Juliet are often used to colloquially refer to lovers.
43. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Its publication in 1960 resulted in the Pulitzer for its author. Apart from the award, the film adaptation made two years later consolidated the story as one of the classics of the 20th century. It’s also been adapted to the theater on countless occasions.
44. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
This is the best-known novel by this English writer, However, it was savagely criticized when it was first published. Its original edition dates from 1847 and since then it’s established itself as one of the best books in English literature. It’s been brought to the big screen on more than ten occasions. In each of these instances, sales of the novel have subsequently revived.
45. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Another of Orwell’s titles that’s among the best dystopian novels in the history of literature. It was published in 1945, parodying the political regimes of the time.
However, the author experienced difficulties in getting a publisher to agree to commercialize the title and it didn’t achieve recognition until a couple of years later. It’s been adapted into movies and comics.
46. Treasure Island, by R.L. Stevenson
One of the essential classics of the adventure novel, it was this Scottish writer’s most famous work. Its main characters have been parodied or paid tribute to in many artistic productions, including video games, movies, and comics. A part of the plot is based on real events.
47. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
This science-fiction trilogy gained fame thanks to its film adaptations. The first title was published in 2008 and the last in 2010.
Its author also wrote a prequel to the series entitled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, distributed in mid-2020. The Hunger Games appears among the best bestsellers of the last two decades.
48. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
The best-known novel by Nobel Prize-winning writer William Golding. The Lord of the Flies was one of his first works, and its first edition dates from 1954. It’s been adapted twice to the cinema and has served as an influence for video games, songs, and novels. Today it’s seen as a classic in English schools.
49. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji Lopez Alt
This is the first nutritional book on our list, but not the last. It was edited in 2015 by American chef J. Kenji Lopez Alt and contains around 300 recipes from American cuisine.
Nevertheless, its author doesn’t consider it a recipe book, since it explores certain peculiarities of the kitchen that wouldn’t appear in cookery books. It’s won multiple awards and is ranked among the best-selling books in America.
50. A Short History of Almost Everything, by Bill Bryson
Another classic of popular science that we had to include on our list. It was published in 2003 and has since sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide.
The work itself is responsible for telling of the processes of creation of the Earth and the Universe in a didactic and instructive tone. There’s also an illustrated version for children.
51. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L.Frank Baum
The Wizard of Oz is one of those books whose characters are recognized by everyone, even though the younger generation won’t even have read it. For this reason, it’s a must for the list.
It was published in 1900, and although it was popular before that, its 1939 film adaptation further consolidated its popularity. In fact, the film became far more significant than the book itself.
52. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
One of the best-selling books by British chef Jamie Oliver. In it, you can find more than a hundred easy, quick and low-calorie recipes. If you wish, you can review the recipes here, on its official website so you can accompany the book with audiovisual material.
53. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
The Da Vinci Code is one of the best-selling books in history, therefore we had to include it in our list of books to read before you die. It achieved universal recognition thanks to its film adaptation in 2006, three years after its publication.
54. The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
Another of the novels that managed to establish itself thanks to its film adaptation. The original edition of the work dates from 2001 and was rejected by several publishing houses before finally being published.
Since then, it’s received several awards. There have also been several editions of the book, some of them with illustrated pages. The big-screen adaptation premiered in 2012, winning four Academy Awards.
55. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Published in 1963, this book is considered a classic of children’s literature for its influences on film and television. It was adapted to the big screen by Spike Jonze in 2009, which attracted a new generation to the book. However, when it was originally published, it was considered too grotesque and terrifying for the little ones to read.
56. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
This novel was published in 1997 and adapted to the cinema in 2003. Given the reception of the film (it won several Oscars and Golden Globes), the book became a bestseller. Its publication was surrounded by many controversies related to the role of geishas in the plotline.
57. You Are What You Eat, by Gillian McKeith
A bestseller in 2006, when it sold more than two million copies, this book also led to a television show. It advocates a healthy diet and a change of life based on the choice of foods that you include in your regime. Some of the ideas are not without controversy, however, it’s certainly one of the books you should read before you die.
58. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
This work was published in 1985 and quickly achieved critical acclaim. It’s been adapted to various plays, movies, and TV series. The production of a recent series for Hulu has seen further interest in the novel. The American writer has published a sequel under the name of The Testaments.
59. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
One of the best books in French literature and one of the essential classics of world literature. It was published in 1857 and, believe it or not, its author was embroiled in various legal troubles due to the novel’s apparently immoral plot. It’s been adapted a dozen times to the cinema.
60. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
This saga is made up of a total of seven books, published from 1950 to 1956 (one for each year).
It’s been adapted several times to the big screen, although the most important versions are those produced by Walt Disney, Walden Media, and 20th Century Fox.
61. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Published in 1943, in the midst of World War II, The Little Prince is one of the most widely read works in recent decades. It’s also one of the most widely translated (written originally in French) and adapted books. Plays, series, movies, and musicals have been made of this story.
62. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari
Published at the end of 2018, this Israeli historian investigates 21 problems of the present century and their possible solutions. Religion, immigration, terrorism, and education are just some of the topics you’ll find in its pages. It’s an unmissable book.
63. The Moon, by Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook
Edited in mid-2018, The Moon is a book that’ll bring you closer to the myths, stories, fiction, facts, and the relationship of the moon with man.
How much do you know about the planet’s natural satellite? Probably very little or nothing. Reading this book will put an end to your ignorance.
64. The Hite Report on Shere Hite by Shere Hite
Hite’s report is one of the first works to openly address female sexuality. Published in 1976, it represented a sexual revolution for issues that until then were considered taboo, such as the female orgasm. It’s considered a classic among sexology books. It also led to an edition on male sexuality.
65. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
One of the most acclaimed successes of the Italian writer that increased in popularity after its film adaptation. Eco published his book in 1980 and it immediately became a bestseller.
The film appeared six years later, with a similar reception among the public. The writer would later publish Postscript to The Name of the Rose, in which issues surrounding the creation of the original work are discussed.
66. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
One of the classics of Swiss literature that managed to cross the borders of the Alps. The first edition was published in 1880 and since then it’s been adapted several times for film and TV.
Although it’s not the only one, the Japanese version from 1974 is the one that has had the greatest importance so far. Furthermore, fans of the series and the book often visit Heidiland in Switzerland, a tourist destination where the action of the book is deemed to have taken place.
67. How the Steel Was Tempered, by Nikolai Ostrovsky
This realistic novel is set during the first adventures of the October Revolution, with autobiographical overtones of its author. It’s one of the best-selling Russian novels of all time, and a classic among Marxist fiction books. The full version of the book was published in 1936 and was soon adapted to the big screen.
68. The Late, Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey
In 1970, this was the biggest best-selling non-fiction book. It’s a work of Christian prophecies that was adapted to the cinema by Orson Welles. Whether or not you believe these kinds of theories, you certainly can’t ignore the impact this book had at the time of its publication. Because of this, we’ve included it on our list of must-read books before you die.
69 . Tokio Blues: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
This was and continues to be, one of the best-known works of this Japanese writer, a candidate for the Nobel Prize on several occasions. It’s been adapted several times to the big-screen, although the 2010 version has so far been the one with the best reception among the public. If you like his style, you should also explore some of his other works.
70. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
Originally published in 1969, this book was adapted for the big screen three years later in the film we all know very well. As a matter of fact, Puzo himself was present during the filming of the movie, as well as that of its sequels. If you’re a movie fan, especially of this movie, you must read the book.
71. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Another of the works cited as being one of the best books of dystopian literature. The first edition was published in 1932 and since then it’s become one of the most popular works in popular culture.
Films, series, and artists have paid tribute directly and indirectly to this book. Furthermore, the fact that it’s still being broadcast demonstrates that its plot is just as relevant as ever. Two decades later, the British writer published Brave New World Revisited, in which he analyzed certain aspects of his earlier book
72. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Published in 1939, this novel won the Pulitzer the following year. Set during the Great Depression, it was groundbreaking for readers of the time.
In 1940, it was made into a movie by John Ford. This helped increase both the popularity of the book and its author. Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
73. The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty
Partially inspired by real events, this book was published in mid-1971. It was a bestseller, so much so that it was adapted for film in 1973 with a script written by the author. The film is still considered one of the best in horror movies and it further consolidated the popularity of the book. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’ll love this book.
74. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
The first complete edition of the work appeared in 1877. It’s considered one of the most representative realistic works of the writer, and one of the classics of Russian literature. Furthermore, it’s been adapted countless times to the cinema and to various plays and ballets. In fact, it’s one of the best novels in the field of universal literature and essential reading.
75. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, by Carl Sagan
Another of the popular science books by Carl Sagan. This book mixes philosophy and science, but in a language that’s easy to understand.
It’s a kind of sequel to Cosmos, his book we mentioned earlier, in which he talks of the role that the human species plays in relation to the Universe. The title was inspired by the popular Voyager 1 photograph taken at 6 billion kilometers.
76. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Written by a Nobel laureate in economics, this book addresses topics of cognition and psychology. It was published at the end of 2011 and various critics considered it the best book of the year (including the National Academy of Sciences). Its style allows you to move easily through its pages without the necessity for much prior knowledge in this field.
77. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Published in 1961, this book is frequently cited among the best American novels of the second half of the 20th century. It’s full of satire and black humor and, during its first years in the market, it was at the top of several best-seller lists. A year after it was published, it was adapted to the cinema and a miniseries based on its plot has also been made.
78. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
The first edition dates from 1953 and has since established itself as one of the best-selling dystopian novels in history. Bradbury has received many awards and his book’s first adaptation to the big screen was made by François Truffaut. A recent adaptation distributed by HBO has repopularized the book.
79. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks
In the pages of this book, you’ll find real clinical cases that the neurologist Oliver Sacks treated. The plot not only revolves around these cases but also their causes and related brain disorders.
It’s been a success since its publication in 1985 and has also been adapted for theater and opera on a couple of occasions. Furthermore, Sacks has also produced other bestsellers, which you might want to take a look at if you enjoy this book.
80. Hopscotch, by Julio Cortázar
Published in 1963, this is the most representative work of Julio Cortázar. You, as the reader, can actually choose the order in which you read the chapters of this novel. Despite these complications, especially the famous “Chapter 68”, it’s been translated into several languages and the author was applauded for it.
81. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt
Through unconventional questions, such as, what’s more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?, economist Steven D. Levitt explores the ironic side of society. This book was an immediate success and was followed by several editions in dozens of languages. Without a doubt, a different work to include in your list of books that you must read before you die.
82. Guns, Germs, and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years, by Jared Diamond
This book was initially published in 1997 and since then several editions have been published. A year after its publication, it won the Pulitzer Prize. There was no sequel, but the author did expand on some of his themes of the book in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, published in 2005.
The first book examines why the Eurasian civilizations have been the most powerful in the course of humanity.
83. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Published in its first edition in 2005, this novel has been honored with a dozen awards around the world. It was also adapted for film by Brian Percival.
This Australian writer had already risen to fame a couple of years earlier with the publication of Crossed Letters, so he has at least a couple of bestsellers to his name.
84. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Considered one of the best children’s literature books, Charlotte‘s Web is White’s best-known work. It was published in 1954 and, since then, several adaptations for film and television have been made. Most important of all was the 1973 animated film produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Paramount Pictures.
85. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
Initially published in 1955, this book chronicles the incestuous relationship between an adult and his 12-year-old stepdaughter. At the time of publication, it was classified as pornographic and was banned in several countries. It’s controversial, daring, provocative, and honest with the reader. Kubrick made an adaptation of the book in 1962.
86. The Invisible Man, by HG Wells
Edited in 1897, this is one of the horror science fiction works that’s had the greatest impact in literature and popular culture. Furthermore, it’s been adapted hundreds of times into film and television, as well as parodied in different contexts.
One of the first adaptations, and at the same time the best, was the movie made in 1933 for the big screen by James Whale.
87. Fictions, by Jorge Luis Borges
This is one of the most acclaimed books of the work of Jorge Luis Borges and, for some critics, one of the most important in world literature. In fact, the stories included in Fictions influenced several generations of writers after its publication in 1944.
88. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
One of the most important works of English literature in history. It has a total of 24 stories, published at the end of the 14th Century. They’ve been parodied and reinterpreted many times. In 1972, for example, Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini brought it to the big screen. The film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
89. The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
The Decameron is another of the books that you have to read before you die. As a matter of fact, it possibly served as inspiration for our previous choice, number 88. It includes a total of 100 stories that revolve around different topics such as happiness, love, and wit. It was initially published in mid-1349.
90. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Released in 1987, the book won a Pulitzer Prize and other awards that praised its plotline. It was adapted to the cinema in 1998. Jonathan Demme was the director and Oprah Winfrey the main character. The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.
91. Dr. Zhivago, by Borís Pasternak
This book was initially published in 1957, a year before its author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (which he rejected). The work was censored in the Soviet Union and Pasternak was alienated by part of his social circle. This made the work even more interesting. It’s been adapted to film and television on a couple of occasions.
92. The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri
One of the most important works of universal literature, the Divine Comedy, shouldn’t be missing from any list of books to read before you die. The philosophical concepts of the work make it one of the best of all time. In fact, it’s served as an inspiration for writers, poets, and philosophers. Its influence has crossed artistic circles and today, several of its topics are to be found in popular culture.
93. La Celestina, by Fernando de Rojas
The real name of the work is The Tragicomedia of Calisto and Melibea, although it became popular all over the world under the name of La Celestina. It was published during the first years of the 16th century and, since then, it’s been one of the important reference works of Spanish literature. It’s also been adapted to theater, film, opera, dance, and many more.
94. Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm
Published in 1956, it’s one of this German psychologist’s reference books. In it, the problem of love is approached from a theoretical point of view. The work has been important in the psychological field, but also in other areas and even among the general public. Definitely one for the list.
95. Decisive Moments in History by Stefan Zweig
Another of the best books to learn about history. It was originally published in 1927 with five historical accounts, although over time the number rose to a total of 14. You’ll find some interesting stories here and learn some little-known curious facts. It’s good entertainment by a great writer. In fact, we recommend all of his works.
96. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
This book was initially published in France in 1934 and was banned in various circles due to its explicit sexual scenes. In fact, in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, it was only available on the black market. In 1970, a film adaptation was made.
97. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
Released in 2012, this was one of America’s best-selling books. It explores what’s behind our habits, their importance, and how we’re able to live our lives surrounded by them.
98. On Ugliness, by Umberto Eco
In this essay by the Italian writer Umberto Eco, you’ll take a trip through the concept of ugliness, from its idea in the classical world to the present day. The book is the other side of the coin of the essay Eco published a couple of years earlier, entitled On Beauty.
99. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
We’ve all seen adaptations of A Christmas Carol, but not many of us have probably read the original story. Published in December 1843, all we can say is that it’s an absolute classic. As a matter of fact, one of its characters, Ebenezer Scrooge, is seen today as the very epitome of greed.
100. The Story of Art, by Ernst Gombrich
Published in 1950, this is one of the best works, if not the best, to start learning about the history of art. The author takes you on a walk from prehistoric to the twentieth century, with a didactic style that’s geared toward teaching you.
This book isn’t only for art specialists, so you certainly shouldn’t leave it off your list of the books that you must read before you die.
101. Buyology: Truths and Lies About Why We Buy and the New Science of Desire, by Martin Lindstrøm
Have you ever wondered what makes you want to keep buying things? Although you’ll find the answer in many books, in this one by Martin Lindstrom you’ll discover the most coherent answers on the subject. It became a bestseller. In fact, Times magazine listed its author as one of the 100 most influential people in the world at the time.
102. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1981, this posthumous work is considered one of the best published during the second half of the 20th century in North America. As a matter of fact, its author committed suicide before seeing it in print, having been rejected several times by many publishers. Many artists have mentioned Toole as an indisputable reference during their training process.
103. The Prince, by Niccoló Machiavelli
The most important, or at least the most influential political treatise in modern history. It was published in the 16th century and has since been considered one of the pillars of political philosophy. The term machiavellian has its origins in this book.
104. Whoever Fights Monsters, by Robert Ressler
Written by FBI Agent Robert Ressler, this is one of the most important psychological profiling books of violent criminals ever written. Ressler himself pioneered the use of the term serial killer, as well as classifying certain of them he wrote about.
105. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
This is perhaps the best-known work of the Polish-British writer Joseph Conrad. It was initially published in 1899 as a critique of colonialism. It’s a short novel that’s been adapted several times to the big screen. It’s also served as an influence in the writing of the script for Apocalypse Now.
That’s the last in our list of books you must read before you die. Obviously, there are many we’ve left out in this rather limited list, but we hope you enjoy the ones we’ve chosen.It might interest you...