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Top Books That Everyone Should Read Before Dying

Updated on August 6, 2014

# 1 Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Published in 1813


The story is centered around Elizabeth Bennet, who is the second of five daughters in early 19th century England. She is headstrong, intelligent, and witty, everything that a woman shouldn't be in the 19th century. Even though the story was written in 1813 it still holds and captures many readers hearts today because of its ability to stay relatable to today's society.. It deals with topics which will never go out of style, manners, social standing, pride, prejudice, love, and first impressions. The books speaks of following your heart and taking the road less traveled. You may not always be everyone's favorite person but at least your are staying true to yourself.

# 2 Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte

Published: 1847


The books follows the life of Jane Eyre the title character as she moves from childhood into adulthood. The books begins with her harsh and abusive life living at Gateshead Hall with her cousins and Aunt, until she sent away to Lowood School where she also suffers further abuse but eventually she grows into her own, become intelligent and strong willed. When she leaves Lowood School she takes a job as governess at Thornfield Hall where she begins a torrid love story with Mr. Rochester.

This book shows a young girl coming from unbearable and deplorable conditions and making her way into the light and finding her own happiness. It's a classic rags to riches story but so much more.

# 3 The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published: 1925


Jay Gatsby, the rich, intelligent, loving man is at the center of this novel. Jay Gatsby has made a name for himself and has become a very wealthy man, all to win back his first love Daisy Buchannan. Gatsby will stop at nothing to gain Daisy's love back, even taking the blame for something Daisy did, and offering his life up in order to protect her.

This is not a happy ending story and does not follow the typical disillusionments that many stories follow. This story shows what can really happen when one person loves another more than their lover does, and how ideliably bad the human race truly is. This is not about there being good in every person. People are mean, filled with hatred, and ruthless.

# 4 To Kill A Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Published: 1960


If you read To Kill a Mockingbird when you were in high school you must read it again as an adult to fully appreciate the story. This story has won a Pulitzer Prize and is one of the greatest American Classics.

This novel features difficult topics in society in the Deep South during a time when race was very much a large issue and when African Americans were treated severely unfairly.

The plot entails, a poor white trash woman who claims she was attacked and taken "advantage" by a black man, Tom Robinson. In the deep south, Tom is already guilty in every white person's eyes before a trail is even held because he is black.

Atticus Finch plays the moral hero in the story as a white lawyer who believes Tom Robinson is being accused of the atrocious crime falsely. Finch represents Robinson and faces the harsh realities and the hatred of a Deep South culture and their inherently wrong beliefs. The story is told through Finch's daughter, who goes through a lot of changes during her father's representation of Tom Robinson.

# 5 The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Published: 1993


Set in a supposed "Utopian Society", The Giver follows a boy named Jonas during his twelfth year of life. The society which is considered Utopian has given up any emotional depth in order to eliminate pain and suffering. There is no war, no suffering, no hunger, no colors, no music, and not love in Jonas's community.

It isn't until he begins receiving memories from the current Receiver, who holds all the memories of the past, which include colors, love, feelings, emotions and the history of the world that Jonas finally experiences what it truly means to feel happiness.

The current Receiver and Jonas decide that it is time for the "community" to have it's memories back because they are doing very cruel things such as "releasing" children which is a quite disturbing action in the novel.

# 6 Gone With The Wind

Author: Margaret Mitchell

Published: 1936


The story is set during the period of the Civil War and the Reconstruction of the South after the Civil war in the state of Georgia. The story follows a young southern belle Scarlett O'Hara, who is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. However, the spoiled O'Hara is left poor and starving after the end of the Civil War and she takes matters into her own hands to rise back to power.

The character of Scarlett is sometimes very hard to love but deep down the character is full of deep love for the people in her life, and the character creates a love hate relationship with the reader. At times you want to smack the character of Scarlett and tell her to wake up stupid!

# 7 Of Mice or Men

Author: John Steinbeck

Published: 1939


The plot follows two migrant workers named Lennie and George as they search for work during the Great Depression Era in the state of California. Lennie and George move place to place looking for any work they can find to keep themselves fed and alive.

George is an intelligent man but has received no schooling, and Lennie is very big and strong, but has very limited mental abilities. The two men dreams of owning a piece of land, Lennie merely wanting the land to tend to rabbits and to care for them. However, Lennie doesn't know his own strength and his lack of knowledge and his incredible strength cause many big problems. The ending of the story is bittersweet and will send shivers down your spine.

# 8 Great Expectations

Author: Charles Dickens

Published: 1861


The plot follows a young orphan named Pip and his venture from childhood into adulthood. As a young child, Pip is chosen as a playmate for an eclectic old woman's adopted daughter Estella, who Pip falls deeply in love with. From there many events occur drawing Pip and Estella apart, and a twist of stories intertwine everything back together.

# 9 The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Published: 2008


Katniss Everdeen is living in a post-apocalyptic world that doesn't seem so far in the distant future. Especially with society's current direction. She lives in a world where the nation of Panem had been divided into twelve districts. Panem currently holds a reality tv like based game called the Hunger Games, which is no game at all. One boy and one girl from each district is chosen to fight to the death in a televised death game called the Hunger Games. The games are held to remind people of the terrible atrocities of mankind's past. In a terrible twist of events, Katniss's sister Prim, is chosen to go into the games, but Katniss takes her place forever changing her life and the lives of everyone in the nation.

# 10 Iliad

By Homer


The Iliad is a very difficult book to tell the plot too but it is an important piece of literature because it is one of the oldest works of Western literature available. The Iliad has been translated into English from ancient Greek and their are a variety of translations available. My top two translations are by Chapman, which is the classic translation and by Robert Fagles. The story is set during the Trojan War and spans over only a few weeks of time. It tells the story of men and gods, during a period of war in ancient times. The Iliad was originally meant to be told orally, so buying the book on tape and listening to it, is far more powerful than reading it. However, it is a piece of history that everyone should be exposed to.

Which book do you think should be number one?

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