Books to Read Before You Die
You’ve probably already heard of most of the books on this list because they’re acclaimed and beloved by so many. Add these classics, nonfiction, and young adult books to your to-read list!
1. Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a novel that beckons you over and over again with its eternal contemporariness. This book is a satire on the rigid and shallow class structures and an expose on the marriage market of Georgian England. However, if you read this, you may be shocked to realize that that society probably has not changed much in modern times.
2. Never Let Me Go
This science-fiction (sci-fi) novel written by the Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro is about the intricacies of love, friendship, freedom, youth, loss, and acceptance. ‘Never Let Me Go’s’ main characters are flawed, much like average humans, even though they are “clones” in a dystopic world. This book is an emotional read that teaches valuable life lessons and one of the best books to read before you die.
Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ is important to read for many reasons. One of them is the fact that it was written by a woman of color, who won the Pulitzer for this very book. This much-loved classic is a critique of the slave trade in America. The painful spirit of ‘Beloved’ that haunts the main character is symbolic of America’s tainted past.
4. Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ is an illuminating glimpse into African culture and literature. The novel deals with the shifting power dynamics in a colonized Africa. The protagonist, Okonkwo, finds it difficult to accept the laws and norms imposed on his community. Recommended by bibliophiles around the world, ‘Things Fall Apart’ is among the top books to read before you die, because it strengthens your perspective on what civilization and community mean.
Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ is an incredibly important contribution to the literary world. It can easily qualify as the first sci-fi book to ever be written. The plot revolves around an obsessed scientist, Frankenstein, and the monster he creates. Having read this great piece of fiction, many questions about the ethos and pathos of life will crowd your mind. The most important question will be: who is the real monster in Frankenstein?
6. The God of Small Things
If there was only one book to read before you die, Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ should definitely be considered. Roy’s first fictional work and her debut novel earned her the Booker Prize. Readers have described it as a hauntingly beautiful tale of caste taboos and what breaking them means in rigid and orthodox societies.
7. To Kill a Mocking Bird
DA timeless American classic, Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ is extraordinary and very educational in the way it is written. It depicts the oppressive power structure in America through the eyes of its young and innocent protagonist, Scout. This is one of the must-read books before you die. Although it was written in the 20th century, American society will seem eerily similar to you even today.
8. The Great Gatsby
The backdrop of this great American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the roaring 1920s. This was the time when American society was steeped in decadence and indulgence. When you read this book, you will learn all about the fragility of the American dream and the lengths people can go to achieve it.
9. The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ can be best described as terrifying. The novel’s disturbing yet plausible dystopic society is a sharp critique of the patriarchal status quo and endangered women’s rights in America. Certainly one of the most important novels to read before you die, this impactful book raises several political concerns for today’s world.
10. All About Love
Yet another one of the books you must read before you die, is Bell Hooks’ ‘All About Love’. It is an astounding book that teaches us all about ‘love’, the most important quality a human possesses. The novel asserts the fact that love is more of a noun than a verb. It also describes how our society has appropriated and distorted the meaning of ‘love’. Read this book to know how you can fall in love, stay in love, and cultivate love.
How to get through the list of books without taking a lifetime to do so
If you don’t have time to sit and read -I don’t- then you can ‘read’ on the go with Audible. I’ve made it through countless books this way and swear by it. Audible offers a free 30 day trial. I highly recommend giving it a try.
There is a certain kind of snobbery that exists about ‘reading’ books, and while I think sitting and reading is a superb discipline, there’s also something to be said for hearing them. Not everyone learns the same way. I actually retain more information by hearing than seeing and therefore have loved Audible and have been using it for the better part of seven years.
In addition to that, not all books are created equal and therefore don’t deserve the same attention. Audible allows you to do something about that. As such, with Audible you can listen to books at 1.25x, 1.5x, or even 2x the speed.
What have we missed?
Is your favorite romance novel missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more great reads? Check out our other ultimate reading lists: