Culture
22.5k voters

The Top Must-Read Books of All Time

Updated January 21, 2020 501k votes 22.5k voters 746.6k views331 items

List RulesMust-Read Books everyone should read

Need a good read? Take a look at this list of the best must-read books of all time, suitable for every one of all ages, creeds and color. Featuring the newest YA novels reviewed by popular literary channels on YouTube, these are the novels, autobiographies, and short books that you should consider when you ask yourself, "What book should I read next?" If you somehow made it through school without reading the classic - or you're still in school - be sure to check them out to expand your literary horizons.

An eclectic mix that does not cater solely to the sensibilities of the literati, culturati, illuminati or even paparazzi. With some hidden gems in here, it's a great list to consider when looking for something to read next.  

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread' - François Mauriac. Give fellow voters the best tips you can on the top books of all time that they must read by voting on your personal favorites and downvoting those you didn't enjoy.

 

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  • 1
    6,806
    1,606

    First Published1949-06-08

    SubjectsBrainwashing, Literature, Classics, English Language, English Literature

    Genres (Book)Utopian and dystopian fiction, Social science fiction, Political fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English author George Orwell published in 1949. The novel is set in Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania in a...  more
  • 2
    6,037
    1,671

    Animal Farm

    George Orwell

    First Published1945-08-17

    SubjectsMonarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Roman à clef, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution...  more
  • 3
    4,590
    1,099

    Of Mice and Men

    John Steinbeck

    First Published1937

    SubjectsCalifornia, Drama

    Genres (Book)Novella

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize–winning author John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who...  more
  • 4

    First Published1876

    SubjectsEducation, Linguistics, 19th century, Mississippi River, Men

    Genres (Book)Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Reference

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is an 1876 novel about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River. The story is set in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, inspired by Hannibal,...  more
  • 5
  • 6
    3,255
    753

    Grimm's Fairy Tales

    Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm

    First Published1812

    SubjectsFairy tales

    Genres (Book)Fairy tale

    Original LanguageGerman Language

    Children's and Household Tales is a collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm. The collection is commonly known in English as Grimm's Fairy...  more
  • 7
    3,118
    953

    Odyssey

    Homer

    Genres (Book)Epic poetry

    Original LanguageAncient Greek

    The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western...  more
  • 8
    3,826
    1,144

    Romeo and Juliet

    William Shakespeare

    First Published1597

    SubjectsPopular literature, Star-crossed

    Genres (Book)Play, Tragedy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Romeo and Juliet is a play by William Shakespeare....  more
  • 9
    3,812
    1,211

    Hamlet

    William Shakespeare

    Genres (Book)Tragedy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare at an uncertain date between 1599 and 1602. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play...  more
  • 10
    2,755
    779

    Macbeth

    William Shakespeare

    Subjects11th Century Scotland

    Genres (Book)Tragedy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, and is considered one of his darkest and most powerful works. Set in Scotland, the play dramatizes the corrosive psychological and political...  more
  • 11
    3,065
    966

    Frankenstein

    Mary Shelley

    First Published1818-01-01

    SubjectsScience, Love

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Romanticism

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley about the young student of science Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an...  more
  • 12
    4,389
    1,409

    A Christmas Carol

    Charles Dickens

    First Published1843-12-19

    SubjectsLiterary, Holiday, Ghost, Redemption, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Morality play, Ghost story, Fiction, Fairy tale

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. Carol tells the story of...  more
  • 13
    2,089
    640

    First Published1903

    SubjectsNature, Animal welfare, Animal, Dog

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Historical fiction, Fiction, Adventure film

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Call of the Wild is a novel by Jack London published in 1903. The story is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush—a period in which strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel's...  more
  • 14
    4,211
    1,385

    Fahrenheit 451

    Ray Bradbury

    First Published1953

    SubjectsBibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and "firemen"...  more
  • 15
    4,634
    1,094

    First Published1884-12

    SubjectsPopular literature, Education, 19th century, Slavery, Mississippi River

    Genres (Book)Humour, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction, Adventure fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American...  more
  • 16

    First Published1950

    SubjectsEvacuations of civilians in Britain during World War II

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia...  more
  • 17
    2,133
    720

    Treasure Island

    Robert Louis Stevenson

    First Published1883

    SubjectsMonarch, Literary, Piracy, 18th century, Places

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Adventure fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold". First published as a book on 14 November 1883 by Cassell & Co., it...  more
  • 18
    3,608
    1,338

    First Published1892

    SubjectsEngland

    Genres (Book)Short story, Detective fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective, and illustrated by Sidney Paget....  more
  • 19
    2,882
    1,012

    Dracula

    Bram Stoker

    First Published1897-05-27

    SubjectsLiterary, Ghost, 19th century, Vampire, British Cuisine

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Horror Film, Mystery, Fiction, Epistolary novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from...  more
  • 20
    7,662
    1,994

    First Published1960-07-11

    SubjectsMonarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama

    Genres (Book)Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and...  more
  • 21
    2,138
    645

    First Published1947

    SubjectsNetherlands in World War II, Otto Frank, World War II, Hannah Pik-Goslar, Sol Kimel

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Biography, Autobiography, High fantasy

    Original LanguageDutch Language

    The Diary of a Young Girl is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the...  more
  • 22
    1,853
    689

    A Midsummer Night's Dream

    William Shakespeare

    First Published1596

    SubjectsPopular literature

    Genres (Book)Comedy, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus,...  more
  • 23
    3,041
    1,118

    The Scarlet Letter

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

    First Published1850

    SubjectsMonarch, Popular literature, Literary, Revenge, New England

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Children's literature, Romanticism, Fiction, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston,...  more
  • 24
    3,568
    1,337

    First Published1813-01-28

    SubjectsPopular literature, Literary, Education, 19th century, English Language

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Satire, Novel of manners, Fiction, Novel

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality,...  more
  • 25
    1,662
    626

    Iliad

    Homer

    SubjectsMusic, Poetry, Trojan War

    Genres (Book)Poetry

    Original LanguageAncient Greek

    The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it...  more