10 Must Read Books of All Time

We have all heard the phrase, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but what about judging a book by its reputation? From timeless classics to modern bestsellers, certain books stand the test of time and remain staples in literature. In this article, we will be discussing 10 of those books that are considered must-reads for everyone.

10 Must Read Books of All Time
Books / Photo by Kenny Eliason

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina is a classic novel by Leo Tolstoy that explores themes of love, family, and social conventions in late 19th-century Russia. The book follows the lives of Anna Karenina and her husband, Karenin, as well as the lives of several other characters, including Levin, a nobleman who is searching for meaning in his life, and Kitty, a young woman who is struggling to find happiness in a society that expects her to marry and conform to specific standards.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

There are many reasons why you should read Anna Karenina. The novel is widely considered one of the world’s greatest works of fiction and is a masterpiece of storytelling. It is also an essential work of literature that explores complex themes in a compelling and thought-provoking way. Additionally, the characters in the novel are complex and well-developed, and the story is full of drama, romance, and intrigue.

I’m not sure Tolstoy ever worked out how he actually felt about love and desire, or how he should feel about it. He was torn between compassion and moral rigour, between lust and self-denial, between loving his wife and being bored by her.

The Guardian

Overall, reading Anna Karenina can be a rewarding experience that offers insights into human nature, relationships, and society. Whether you are a classic literature fan or want to read a great novel, Anna Karenina is definitely worth reading.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is a classic of 19th-century French literature. Written in 1856, the novel tells the story of Emma Bovary, a bored housewife who seeks adventure and excitement outside her marriage. Through Emma’s story, readers gain insight into the rigid class structure and gender expectations of life in provincial France during this period. Despite being censored upon its initial publication for being morally offensive, Madame Bovary was an immediate sensation amongst critics and lay readers alike. It has since become a cornerstone piece of literature that continues to inspire generations of writers today!

I spent hours and hours over a dictionary at age seventeen in high school, trying to read about her agonies in original French, with only the Isabelle Huppert film as a guidance. In fact, I actually think I owe it to Emma Bovary that I finally made it over the threshold to understand written French. 

Lisa goodreads.com

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is a classic novel by Leo Tolstoy that tells the story of several families in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars and the Russian invasion of 1812. The book follows the lives of characters such as Pierre Bezukhov, a nobleman searching for meaning in life, and Andrei Bolkonsky, a disillusioned war hero, as well as the lives of several other characters, including Natasha Rostov, a young woman who is caught up in the tumultuous events of the time.

There are many reasons why you should read War and Peace. The novel is widely considered one of the world’s greatest works of fiction and is a masterpiece of storytelling. It is also an essential work of literature that explores complex themes such as love, war, and the human search for meaning in a world that can often seem chaotic and uncertain. Additionally, the characters in the novel are complex and well-developed, and the story is full of drama, romance, and intrigue.

War and Peace has a great many themes, but that might be its central one: We are all people, writing the history that later generations will read about, even if we don’t realize it. Every action we take makes some small mark upon it, even if that mark is eventually (inevitably) erased. Nothing is certain, until it is. And that is when things change, for better or for worse.

Emily St. James Vox.com

Reading War and Peace can be a rewarding experience that offers insights into human nature, relationships, and society. Whether you are a classic literature fan or want to read a great novel, War and Peace are worth reading.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald / Urban Romantics www.urban-romantics.com

The Great Gatsby is a classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that tells the story of a young man named Nick Carraway, who becomes entangled in the lavish and decadent world of his mysterious neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Set in the summer of 1922, the novel explores themes of love, desire, and the corrupting influence of wealth and power in the United States during the Roaring Twenties.

Set during Jazz Age America, the novel follows Jay Gatsby—a wealthy man whose life revolves around his dream of one day reuniting with Daisy Buchanan—his former lover who married another man. Through this story, Fitzgerald illustrates how money can’t buy happiness and how life’s choices are not always so simple. Despite its small size, this timeless book packs quite a punch with its complex themes and memorable characters.

It is ironic that only the idle rich survive this novel, and Fitzgerald through this further enrages the reader about the cruelty and the injustice of the world. The rich are allowed to continue to be careless, for that is the dream, is it not? To live a carefree life?

The Guardian

Filled with wit and wisdom, The Great Gatsby will leave you thinking long after you turn the last page.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is considered one of the greatest novels of all time. As a book lover and aspiring writer, it’s no surprise that I want to read this novel myself. It’s a daring novel that delves into the complex relationship between an older man and a young girl without ever glorifying the subject matter.

Lolita has been immensely popular since its publication in 1955, with countless books written about it or inspired by it. The book’s controversial nature raises questions about what makes good literature and how we judge stories today – something I’m particularly interested in exploring. Reading Lolita would allow me to reflect on these topics while also enjoying a great story.

Aside from its themes and literary value, reading Lolita is also just plain fun!

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger / Photo by Gayle Nicholson

Reading J.D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye has long been a rite of passage for many young adults, and I’m no exception. It was more than just another book on my reading list. It was an opportunity to explore a different perspective on life through the eyes of protagonist Holden Caulfield.

The Catcher in the Rye is about growing up and learning to accept yourself and your flaws. In Holden’s journey from innocence to adulthood, he faces difficult questions about identity, morality, and authenticity that are still relevant today. By following his story, readers can gain insight into their own lives and discover how they might better understand themselves and their place in the world around them.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Reading classic literature is always daunting, and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations is no exception. It has been a staple in the literary world for generations. However, many still shy away from it due to its length and dated language. Despite this intimidating nature, there are several benefits to reading this acclaimed novel that has stood the test of time.

The first benefit of reading Great Expectations is that it is an excellent introduction to Victorian England and culture during the 19th century. The novel paints a vivid picture of what life was like in these tumultuous times and offers insight into how society has evolved since then. This can be an eye-opening experience and allow readers to develop a better understanding of history in general.

On top of that, Great Expectations also provides a fascinating examination of human behavior through its characters.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Many books have changed the way we think about life, but none are quite as influential as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. This novel, Published in 1954, looks at a group of young boys stranded on an island who attempt to form their own society. It truly is a classic work of literature, and there are many reasons why I need to read it. 

Lord of the Flies offers a powerful exploration into human nature and how we can quickly become savage when left unchecked. The story serves as a reminder that when rules and morals are not established by adults or authority figures, chaos can ensue very quickly. Additionally, this book exposes me to some timeless symbols and themes that remain relevant today, such as violence, power dynamics, and even the loss of innocence.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is not only a great way to pass the time. But it can also open our eyes to more significant issues in society. This dystopian novel follows the story of Offred. A woman who lives in a future where women have been stripped of all rights and live as servants of men. Not only does this book entertain readers with its captivating storyline, but it also serves as an important reminder that we must remain vigilant to protect our rights and freedoms. 

Atwood’s novel has become increasingly relevant in recent years due to its parallels with current events happening around the globe. It paints an alarming picture of what could happen if we don’t fight for gender equality and sound human rights practices.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Since its publication in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter has been considered a classic of American literature. Set in colonial America, the story follows Hester Prynne, who is forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ as punishment for her adultery. This powerful tale provides insight into the social rules and conventions of the time and is full of symbolism. 

The Scarlet Letter reminds readers about the power of judgment and hypocrisy within society. Hawthorne explores how individuals are treated when they break social norms or fail to meet expectations set by those in positions of authority or influence. The novel also examines how individuals carve out their identities despite external pressures while demonstrating that there can be redemption even after making mistakes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, many books are considered must-reads for a variety of reasons. These ten classic and contemporary novels have significantly impacted literature and culture and offer insights into human nature, relationships, and society. Whether you are a classic literature fan or want to read a great novel, these books are worth reading and offer something for everyone.

Garry L. Hemphill
Garry L. Hemphill

My mission is to help people discover their dreams and take action to make them a reality. I specialize in creating content that motivates, educates, and inspires others to pursue their passions with purpose.

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