21 Books Everyone Must Read {at least} Once in Their Lives

       Never underestimate the power of the classics. Here is the list of the best must-read books. Enjoy!

“Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
One of the greatest ever written novels, “Gone with the Wind” was “doomed” to succeed from the beginning. It has a fascinating storyline, a rich historical background and skillfully outlined characters. It is impossible to stay indifferent to the power of spirit, vitality and personal transformation of the main characters – Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler – throughout the book.

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
A witty, profound and timeless novel, written by Jane Austen, takes readers back in times of Old England, when social status, arranged marriage, money were more important than real love.

“Crime and Punishment” by Fedor Dostoyevsky
An outstanding creation of Russian writer, Fedor Dostoyevsky, notable for its depth of psychological insight, understanding and analysis of human nature, philosophical questions of faith and morals, is a great example of a spiritual search and struggle between good and evil in man.

“An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser
Another famous book by American writer, Theodore Dreiser, about internal struggles and contradictions of human nature, that gives you food for thought. Pursuing the “American Dream” and mercenary motives, the main character finds himself at the crossroads of conscience and desires, leading him to tragic consequences.

“The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough
A heartwarming bestseller about the maze of human destiny, about generations, each of which made its own choice of life path, set priorities and faced the final outcome and consequences of the choice made.

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
The love story about the beauty of the soul, courage and the devoted affection of the heart. It cleverly and elegantly denounces futility of the veneer, skillfully ridicules human vices, and shows that real love can pass any trial of life.

“Vanity Fair” by William Makepeace Thackeraya
A novel, where virtue does not always win in the world of vanity, self-deception and selfishness. A thorny life journey of Becky Sharp shows a reader that it is wrong to stigmatize someone as a bad person, as we are all human beings with all our weaknesses and shortcomings.

“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina” has left a significant mark in world literature and is regularly used as a basis for movies, ballets and theatrical performances. The story of broken social and moral norms, tragic love and a broken life can make any callous heart shrink.

“The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
Where else, if not in Duma’s work, you see so many interesting philosophical arguments on moral and ethical themes (in the context of the book), and a number of very accurate and apt aphoristic sayings and expressions. This book is great not only to read when you are young, but also to re-read it when you are mature.

“Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
History, politics, philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, and a sense of aching love for Paris permeated the entire novel. Examining the nature of law and grace, this book elaborates upon the history of France, moral philosophy, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love.

“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fedor Dostoyevsky                                                                  Set in 19th-century Russia, the novel enters deeply into the ethical debates of religion and God, free will, and morality.  It is a passionate and spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, judgment, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide and contradictions of human soul.

“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
Gothic and controversial, this novel is about tragically self-consuming nature of passion on the verge of insanity. But despite its dark motives,  this strange book is intriguing and powerful, it captures the reader’s attention throughout the whole story and carries valuable lessons in it.

“Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)” by Jerome K. Jerome
British humour won’t disappoint any reader in this witty and timeless novel, written by Jerome K. Jerome. Hilarious description of adventures of three friends and a dog, accompanied by a good doze of jokes and anecdotes, can make anyone lose track of time, while reading it.

“The Lady of the Camellias” by Alexandre Dumas, fils
Despite such a delicate subject, as love of the courtesan, the plot, Dumas, fils, was able to create a true masterpiece, revealing the agony of the fallen woman, her noble sacrifice for love, and the tragic consequences of her dissolute life. The book has been adapted into various movies, opera and theatrical performances.

“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
A mystical novel about good and evil, love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, faith and hypocrisy. It has two separate storylines: one about Jesus and one about the devil, visiting the atheistic Soviet Union. Stalin’s favourite playwright, this book makes you want to re-read it immediately, once you finish it.

“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
Another romance novel by Jane Austen, raising the issue of love in the framework of social inequality. The main advantage of this work is its lightness and ease to read, in conjunction with incredible depth of raised topics and eternal problems.

“The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas
A historical and adventure novel, which plot revolves around adventures of four friends Musketeers against the backdrop of the controversial political situation in France in the early 17th century. The story of one of the Musketeers, d’Artagnan, is continued in two other books.

“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle
With Guinness World Records listing Sherlock Holmes as the “most portrayed movie character” in history, this book has earned the world-wide success. These series of short stories about “consulting private detective” investigating crimes, have forever left mark in world literature.

“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” by Victor Hugo
Set in Paris in the late Middle Ages, the story is about the gypsy Esmeralda and three different men, who all fall in doomed love with her, which, eventually, leads her to tragic end. Passion, religion, social strife and revolution themes play an important role in this book, as well as the architectural symbolism.

“The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe
This bestselling novel is full of drama about ambition, racism, social class, politics, and greed in 1980s New York City. It centers on three main characters: WASP bond trader Sherman McCoy, Jewish assistant district attorney Larry Kramer, and British expatriate journalist Peter Fallow. Three different lives, yet so many of the same human vices.

“Sister Carrie” by Theodore Dreiser
Often called “the greatest of all American urban novels”, this novel is praised for its realism in regard to our society, moral norms, human nature and desires. The pursuit of a beautiful life is normal, but what a person is willing to do for it – that is the question to think of.

 

 

Photo of Marilyn Monroe: Courtesy of Alfred Eisenstaedt