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Top 50 books I should read before I die

Updated on March 1, 2012

Why this hub?

Maybe it's because it's a new year - well relatively speaking - or maybe it's because one day I decided that I needed to make a change for the better. Whatever the reason, I embarked on the task of reading the recommended "top 100 books you should read before you die". I've found that lately I look at too much television with my "can't miss" shows like The Mentalist, Gossip Girls, Desperate Housewives, The Game, Vampire Diaries, How I Met Your Mother, White Collar, Royal Pains and NCIS and the trashy list continues. The if I do decide to read, it's one of my romance novels - I'm addicted to that stuff. Judith McNaught is my favorite romance author and once I enter one of her fantasy world's my husband does not stand a chance of getting my attention. Oh now I remember! I was telling my husband I would love to start collecting books - like the classics to have in our study which we will build one day! 

Okay so back to my colossal task of reading this purported Top 100 books. First I had to do some research to see which one hundred books made the list. Off course, there isn't one "God sent" list ... no authoritative or definitive list. So I found several lists via google and sorted through them to come up with my very own guide. My very own Top 100 books I should read before I die. Low and behold, whilst going through these long listings, I decided that most definitely I will never ever read these 100 suggested books. So I decided to cut my list down to just fifty (50) books. Only God knows how long again I have to read these books so I'm aiming for 2 to 3 books a year from the list with lots of time to still indulge in my romance novels. Then I decided, I want to re-read many of the classics that I read as a child and some that I never got the chance to read. So I further broke up my list into various headings which you will see in the listing. Without further ado - here's my list. Please note that it is not ranked in any particular order - just sorted A to Z. I had to add one or two from Shakespeare in there and tweaked my google listings quite a bit. So I'll call it "Leandra's Top 50 books to read ...."

Classical Books I'm familiar with

I decided to list the really "classic" novels that I read as a child or that I am familiar with - all of which I intend to read over. Remember they are in no particular ranking... just alphabetic order.

1. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens
2. Crime and Punishment (1866) by Feodor Dostoevsky
3. Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker
4. Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley
5. Great Expectations (1860) by Charles Dickens
6. Little Women (1868) by Louise M. Alcott
7. Macbeth (1603?) by William Shakespeare
8. Moby-Dick (1851) by Herman Melville
9. Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens
10. Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen
11. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) Mark Twain
12. The Counte of Monte Cristo (1844-1846) by Alexandre Dumas
13. The Merchant of Venice (1596) by William Shakespeare
14. The Prince and the Pauper (1881) by Mark Twain
15. The Secret Garden (1911) by Frances Burnett


Other Classic Novels

These are some other classic novels... I can already tell that this is not going to be an easy thing to accomplish. Most of these books were written in the 1800's and early 1900's and I fear that they might be difficult to read and understand. Okay so these are my picks for this section:

16. Utopia (1516) by Sir Thomas More

17. Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce

18. The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzergerald

19. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J.D. Salinger

20. Gone with the Wind (1936) by Margaret Mitchell

21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), by Ken Kesey

Here are six novels which drew my attention. Let's hope I end up liking them. I already own a copy of Edith Hamilton book "Mythology" which I must say ... is not an easy read. I'll have another go at it some time.

22. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

23. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

24. A Passage to India (1924) E. M. Forster

25. Absalom, Absalom! (1936) William Faulkner

26. Anna Karenina (1877) Leo Tolstoy

27. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Other "Top" Novels

And the other novels that I added to my Top 50 Novels / Books to read before I die include:

28. Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller

29. Cities of Salt (1989) by 'Abd al-Rahman Munif

30. Don Quixote (1630) by Miguel de Cervantes

31. Madame Bovary (1857) by Gustave Flaubert

32. Mrs. Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf

33. Nostromo (1904) by Joseph Conrad

34. The Ambassadors (1903) by Henry James

35. The Big Sleep (1939), by Raymond Chandler

36. The Golden Notebook (1962) by Doris Lessing

37. The Good Soldier (1915) by Ford Madox Ford

38. The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck

39. The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888) by Oscar Wilde

40. The New York Trilogy (1987) by Paul Auster

41. The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne

42. The Tin Drum (1959) by Gunter Grass

43. The Trial (1925) by Franz Kafka

44. The Woman in White (1860) by Wilkie Collins

45. Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Bronte

46. Who Moved My Cheese (1998) by Spencer Johnson

47. The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame


There are still three spots available on my list. There are many books that I could choose from to add to this listing to get my "Top 50", however, I decided to leave three available places for suggestions from readers or in the even that I stumble onto a book that should have definitely been on this list and was unintentionally eliminated or excluded. I hope you guys enjoy this listing and maybe if you've read some of the more difficult ones on this list, like Utopia... you can share your thoughts, ideas and most welcomed input on the books! 

This is me outside the coolest bookstore I've ever seen! It's located in Barra de Tijuca, Brazil.
This is me outside the coolest bookstore I've ever seen! It's located in Barra de Tijuca, Brazil.


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    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      hey marwar, i agree - it's finding the time to read them! My husband is doing a much better job than me at that and has gotten through a few of them that we bought already. I on the other hand, lagging behind. Hey Brielise, thanks for your comment. I know what you mean..sometimes it is a bit painful to get through some of the chapters. Hey arusho, thanks for the comment. I haven't read the zombies one. Thanks for checking out my blog.

    • arusho profile image


      7 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      Have you read all these books? Wow! I would add "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Dreadfully ever after," I loved it, although it's not an old classic like most of what you have listed....what about The Time Machine, and War of the Worlds? I like your blog page too..

    • brielise profile image


      7 years ago

      Great list! I agree about watching too much TV (we have the same taste in "can't miss" shows as well), and I've been trying to read more, so I might have to steal your book list idea. A few of my favorites are on your list (Wuthering Heights and Madame Bovary to name a couple) and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. Madame B. can be a little painful to get through at times -as can many classics- but I think it was worth it.

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 

      7 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Good list. I knew of many of these novels. What's so frustrating is finding the time and inclination to read them

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hey Jancee,

      Thanks for leaving a comment and reading my hub. I hope you reach your goal of a novel a week. My husband and I really got into this list and bought four books so far with another four on its way. I am presently reading the Alchemist which I would highly recommend. My husband read it before me and now so far I am loving it.

    • Jancee Wright profile image

      Jancee Wright 

      7 years ago from Williamsburg, Kentucky

      I've read several books on this list. I like to find lists of top classic novels and check them off as I read through them. My project this summer was to read one classic novel a week for 9 weeks. I think I'm doing well so far.

    • bugslady8949 profile image


      7 years ago from The Bahamas

      I have a similar list of books I want to read before I die. I like your list you have some of my favorite books. I hope you follow threw. I wish you luck!!

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hey Mindfield thanks. I am now teaching at an international school in brasil and I had my grade 8 class read To Kill a Mockingbird and write a book report as well as we looked a the movie. I am planning to buy the Great Gatsby next month but now you have me thinking about the audio version! Thanks :-)

    • MindField profile image


      7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Let me recommend 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee. But do what I do: Find the unabridged audiobook read by Sissy Spacek and leave your hands free to do other things while she reads this magnificent book to you.

      And also get 'The Great Gatsby' in the unabridged audio version (from 1984). Frank Muller reads it brilliantly while you clean house or do your digitial scrapbooking. You won't be sorry!

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      thanks onceuponatime66 .. love the name :-)

    • onceuponatime66 profile image

      Jackie Paulson 

      7 years ago from USA IL

      Great hub since I love to read, Great research and thanks for posting such a great reading list.

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Oh no problem Bilalnr. Glad you like it!

    • Bilalnr profile image


      7 years ago from Islamabad, Pakistan

      It is indeed a great list...thanks for sharing Leandraluv!!!

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks Lorddraven... now I just have to get down to the reading!

    • lorddraven2000 profile image

      Sam Little 

      7 years ago from Wheelwright KY

      Great list. I was impressed.

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hey Jalal - this is my wish list...the books I intend to read :-)

    • profile image

      Jalal Hameed Bhatti\ 

      7 years ago

      You sure have a taste of reading as some of the books are really on top.

    • Leandraluv profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hey Larry - that is my fear - that some of these books will be difficult to read and I would start but not finish reading! Thanks for the suggestions.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What about The Pilgrimage (Paulo Coelho)...its very esoteric....started but didn't finish reading...Veronica Decides To Die (Paulo).

      the sequel (if thats the word) to Eat Pray Love which would be 'Committed'.....btw Eat Pray Love was really good, so i heard.

      check Oprah's book club.


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