Books & Reading

150 Books to Read in a Lifetime

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While perusing Instagram the other day, I was inspired by an idea that Bookstagrammer @jobis89 had. She made her own “30 Books to Read Before You’re 30” list because the ones she found online were sub-par.

That feeling really resonated with me because so many of the lists out there that claim to contain the “100 books that you should read before you die,” actually just list really obscure books and leave out more modern classics. Because I’m of the opinion that books don’t have to be age-old classics to be meaningful or life-changing (and that some of the “classics” really aren’t all that amazing), I decided to make my own giant list of books to read in a lifetime.

First, I compiled seven online “100 best” lists, and then I condensed those down to the most frequently added. Then, I asked friends to tell me which books changed their lives, which books made them feel something, and which books they thought that everyone should read before they die. I had over 200 titles, so with the help of my husband, I whittled that down to 150 (it was simply impossible to go any lower). To be honest, I really enjoyed all of the thought and research that went into making this list, and I’m pretty proud of it. I might even make more book lists in the future!

So without further ado, here are the 150 Books to Read in a Lifetime — you’re more than welcome to read along with me! I just ask that you please give credit if you do.

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  7. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  8. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  9. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  10. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  11. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  12. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  13. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  14. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  15. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  16. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  17. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  18. Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan
  19. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  20. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  21. Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan
  22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  23. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  24. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  25. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  26. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
  27. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  28. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  29. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  30. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  31. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  32. A Clockwork Orange  by Anthony Burgess
  33. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  34. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  35. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  36. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  37. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  38. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  39. Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig
  40. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  41. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  42. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  43. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  44. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  45. Dune by Frank Herbert
  46. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  47. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  48. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  49. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  50. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
  51. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  52. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  53. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  54. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  55. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  56. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  57. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  58. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  59. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  60. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  61. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  62. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  63. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  64. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  65. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  66. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  67. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  68. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  69. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  70. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  71. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  72. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  73. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  74. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  75. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  76. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  77. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  78. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  79. Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
  80. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  81. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  82. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  83. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  84. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
  85. The Martian by Andy Weir
  86. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  87. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  88. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  89. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  90. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  91. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  92. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  93. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  94. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  95. Night by Elie Wiesel
  96. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  97. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  98. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  99. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  100. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  101. Paradise Lost by John Milton
  102. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  103. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  104. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
  105. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  106. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  107. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  108. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  109. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  110. Psycho by Robert Bloch
  111. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi
  112. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  113. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  114. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  115. Room by Emma Donoghue
  116. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  117. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  118. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  119. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  120. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  121. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  122. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  123. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  124. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  125. The Stand by Stephen King
  126. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  127. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  128. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  129. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  130. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  131. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  132. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  133. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough
  134. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  135. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  136. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  137. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  138. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  139. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
  140. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  141. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  142. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  143. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  144. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  145. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  146. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  147. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  148. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  149. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  150. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Let me know what your thoughts are, and if you plan on reading along!


Disclaimer: I’m in no way saying that these are the only books that you should read in a lifetime; this is merely a compilation of the “latest and greatest” authors and titles, according to my research and opinion.

2 thoughts on “150 Books to Read in a Lifetime”

  1. What an awesome list of books!

    Gone Girl is really good! I read that awhile ago when I finally started to get into reading again finally. I want to read Call Me By Your Name in 2019. I watched the movie and it was so good. I usually try to read a book first and than see its adaptation but I saw the movie was on demand.

    Have fun reading!

    I’m currently reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I haven’t heard of Call Me By Your Name before making this list, but apparently, it’s pretty good. I always try to read books before watching the movies, too, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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