I just finished reading Company’s list of 50 books you need to read before you die and was surprised that I’d only read seven out of the total 50. I like to think I’m particularly well read but then I’m guessing this list is aimed at young women in their late teens/early twenties, rather than a list for everyone to read within their lifetime. Regardless, it made me think about the books that are considered genuine ‘must-reads’.
From Company’s list I’ve read:
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
The Time Travellers Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzegerald
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran
The rest of the list consisted of titles I’ve never heard of (Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry and Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth), some I was familiar with (Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson and 1984 by George Orwell) and some on my ‘to read’ list (The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Book Thief by Markus Zusa and Lord of the Flies by William Golding).
If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep score and share with friends, the list on List Challenges is perfect – and gives me a higher score of ten! Not that it’s a competition or anything…
Looking for a shorter list? Huffington Post has a more manageable 30 but you have to get through it before you hit the big 3-0. I’ve only managed one and haven’t heard of more than half of them.
Check out The Guardian‘s list if you really want a challenge – there’s 1000 titles! If you want to focus on a particular genre, they’ve broken it down. I’ve already managed . How hard can it be?! I’ve managed 19 with more in my ‘to read’ pile.
There are some books and authors I’ve read which consistently appear on these lists: Jane Austen, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, The Bell Jar and it has made me ponder which other titles I think should be included. Modern titles are often off as well as those with more niche audiences. Little Women, Birdsong and The Diary of Anne Frank appeared once and definitely deserve a mention. But I’d also like to nominate the following:
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson
There are dozens of other books I’ve enjoyed but don’t necessarily recommend for this list, such as Roald Dahl’s The Twits, The Shopaholic series and anything by Dennis Lehane. The previously mentioned films are those which I read and instantly felt the need to share with someone else. That, to me, is the mark of a great book.
Which titles make your list?