List of the most important books to read?

I am looking for a list of the "books you have to read before you die." A list of books in the canon, so to speak. Does anyone know where I would find such a list? Any list of recomended reading would be appreciated. Best, most complete list (or web page link) "wins" the best answer.

7 Answers

Relevance
  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    According to Random House, this is the top 100 novels of the English language. The first list is chosen by a board of editors, the second by the general readership (probably only Americans, due to the heavy bias towards American lit- that sort of bias is a problem in any "canon").

    ULYSSES by James Joyce

    THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce

    LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov

    BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

    THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner

    CATCH-22

    DARKNESS AT NOON by Arthur Koestler

    SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Lawrence

    THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck

    UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry

    THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler

    1984 by George Orwell

    I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves

    TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

    AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY by Theodore Dreiser

    THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers

    SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut

    INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison

    NATIVE SON by Richard Wright

    HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow

    APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA by John O'Hara

    U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos

    WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson

    A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forster

    THE WINGS OF THE DOVE by Henry James

    THE AMBASSADORS by Henry James

    TENDER IS THE NIGHT by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    THE STUDS LONIGAN TRILOGY by James T. Farrell

    THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford

    ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

    THE GOLDEN BOWL by Henry James

    SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser

    A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh

    AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner

    ALL THE KING'S MEN by Robert Penn Warren

    THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder

    HOWARDS END by E.M. Forster

    GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin

    THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene

    LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding

    DELIVERANCE by James Dickey

    A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME (series) by Anthony Powell

    POINT COUNTER POINT by Aldous Huxley

    THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway

    THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad

    NOSTROMO by Joseph Conrad

    THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence

    WOMEN IN LOVE by D.H. Lawrence

    TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller

    THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer

    PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth

    PALE FIRE by Vladimir Nabokov

    LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner

    ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

    THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett

    PARADE'S END by Ford Madox Ford

    THE AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Wharton

    ZULEIKA DOBSON by Max Beerbohm

    THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy

    DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather

    FROM HERE TO ETERNITY by James Jones

    THE WAPSHOT CHRONICLES by John Cheever

    THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger

    A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess

    OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham

    HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad

    MAIN STREET by Sinclair Lewis

    THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton

    THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET by Lawrence Durell

    A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA by Richard Hughes

    A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS by V.S. Naipaul

    THE DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathanael West

    A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

    SCOOP by Evelyn Waugh

    THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark

    FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce

    KIM by Rudyard Kipling

    A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster

    BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh

    THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH by Saul Bellow

    ANGLE OF REPOSE by Wallace Stegner

    A BEND IN THE RIVER by V.S. Naipaul

    THE DEATH OF THE HEART by Elizabeth Bowen

    LORD JIM by Joseph Conrad

    RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow

    THE OLD WIVES' TALE by Arnold Bennett

    THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London

    LOVING by Henry Green

    MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie

    TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell

    IRONWEED by William Kennedy

    THE MAGUS by John Fowles

    WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys

    UNDER THE NET by Iris Murdoch

    SOPHIE'S CHOICE by William Styron

    THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles

    THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain

    THE GINGER MAN by J.P. Donleavy

    THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS by Booth Tarkington

    ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand

    THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand

    BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard

    THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien

    TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

    1984 by George Orwell

    ANTHEM by Ayn Rand

    WE THE LIVING by Ayn Rand

    MISSION EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard

    FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard

    ULYSSES by James Joyce

    CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller

    THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    DUNE by Frank Herbert

    THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert Heinlein

    STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein

    A TOWN LIKE ALICE by Nevil Shute

    BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

    THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger

    ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell

    GRAVITY'S RAINBOW by Thomas Pynchon

    THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck

    SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut

    GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell

    LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding

    SHANE by Jack Schaefer

    TRUSTEE FROM THE TOOLROOM by Nevil Shute

    A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY by John Irving

    THE STAND by Stephen King

    THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN by John Fowles

    BELOVED by Toni Morrison

    THE WORM OUROBOROS by E.R. Eddison

    THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner

    LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov

    MOONHEART by Charles de Lint

    ABSALOM, ABSALOM! by William Faulkner

    OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham

    WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor

    UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry

    FIFTH BUSINESS by Robertson Davies

    SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING by Charles de Lint

    ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

    HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad

    YARROW by Charles de Lint

    AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS by H.P. Lovecraft

    ONE LONELY NIGHT by Mickey Spillane

    MEMORY AND DREAM by Charles de Lint

    TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

    THE MOVIEGOER by Walker Percy

    TRADER by Charles de Lint

    THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams

    THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers

    THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood

    BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy

    A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess

    ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute

    A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN by James Joyce

    GREENMANTLE by Charles de Lint

    ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card

    THE LITTLE COUNTRY by Charles de Lint

    THE RECOGNITIONS by William Gaddis

    STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert Heinlein

    THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway

    THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving

    SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury

    THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson

    AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner

    TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller

    INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison

    THE WOOD WIFE by Terri Windling

    THE MAGUS by John Fowles

    THE DOOR INTO SUMMER by Robert Heinlein

    ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert Pirsig

    I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves

    THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London

    AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS by Flann O'Brien

    FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

    ARROWSMITH by Sinclair Lewis

    WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams

    NAKED LUNCH by William S. Burroughs

    THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER by Tom Clancy

    GUILTY PLEASURES by Laurell K. Hamilton

    THE PUPPET MASTERS by Robert Heinlein

    IT by Stephen King

    V. by Thomas Pynchon

    DOUBLE STAR by Robert Heinlein

    CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY by Robert Heinlein

    BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh

    LIGHT IN AUGUST by William Faulkner

    ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST by Ken Kesey

    A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

    THE SHELTERING SKY by Paul Bowles

    SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION by Ken Kesey

    MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather

    MULENGRO by Charles de Lint

    SUTTREE by Cormac McCarthy

    MYTHAGO WOOD by Robert Holdstock

    ILLUSIONS by Richard Bach

    THE CUNNING MAN by Robertson Davies

    THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie

    My personal additions- I'm mortified they weren't included:

    Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen

    Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

    Wuthering Heights- Charlotte Bronte

    Great Expectations- Charles Dickens

    A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens

    Vanity Fair- William Makepeace Thackeray

    Mrs. Dalloway- Virginia Woolf

    Middlemarch- George Eliot

    The Portrait of a Lady- Henry James

    Things Fall Apart- Chinua Achebe

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 4 years ago

    Okay... I'll put them in order, an order which will give you a definite understanding of Christianity. Luke James Acts With those 3 books, you'll have a solid foundation, and an understanding of what Christianity is, without reading the entire bible. After that, I'd go back and read the other Gospels, then some of the more popular books of the Old Testament (Jonah, Psalms, Genesis, etc) as well as other books in the New Testament. (Epistles)

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Well, that's going to be different for different people.

    I can give you a list of books I am glad I have read to this point.

    1. Moby Dick

    2. A Christmas Carol

    3. The Caves of Steel (Great introduction to future history)

    4. Carrie (Stephen King just showing his roots)

    5. Interview with a Vampire

    6. Uncle Tom's Cabin

    7. Ben Hur

    8. Bio of a Space Tyrant (5 book series)

    9. White Fang

    10. The Brothers Lionheart

    My list is is pread from science fiction, to classic to horror. You just have to find what your list is.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Personally, I like this site:

    The Most Influential Novels and Books

    The first list is pretty good, even if it doesn't have any really old books. But then there are other lists on the same web page that covers all time periods.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • sarah
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    The Bible

    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien

    1984 by George Orwell

    A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque

    His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

    Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

    The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

    Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy

    Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne

    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

    The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

    The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    Life of Pi by Yann Martel

    Middlemarch by George Eliot

    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

    I got all this information from this website:

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,17215...

    http://www.amazon.com/Books-To-Read-Before-You-Die...

    http://www.listsofbests.com/list/2222

    http://www.librarything.com/groups/1001bookstoread...

    http://www.ipa.org.au/files/58-2-BOOKS.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1001_Books_You_Must_R...

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    1) The Bible

    2) The Stand

    3) The Hitchhiker's "Trilogy" by Douglas Adams

    4) Wounded Innocents by Richard Wexler

    5) Dark Secrets within Child Protective Services by Teresa Cunio

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Puff
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Well, there's only one book I can think of that is truly a matter of life or death, and that's the Bible, the word of God.

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.