Culture

Books That Changed Your Life 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated November 21, 2019 162.8k votes 8.5k voters 313.2k views 826 items

The most life changing books, ranked by the wisdom of the crowd of hundreds of people. If you are looking for books that will change your life, these have the themes, characters and story-arcs to do it. From the courage and determination of Frodo as he ventures into Mordor to the conviction of Atticus as he defends a man a whole town has already condemned, there are countless books to add to your list of books to read to change your life.

From teens to adults, anyone can add their picks to this list of life changing novels, making it an accurate, real-time ranking of the best life changing books, as picked by the people who love them. Ask yourself the question "what are the most life-changing books?" and "which books have affected my life the most" and then vote for the books that you read cover to cover (maybe even multiple times), the novels that changed the way you see the world, and the stories you still can't stop thinking about. Share your favorites and see how your taste stacks up against other readers.
list ordered by
1
Nineteen Eighty-Four is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
George Orwell

First Published: 1949-06-08

Subjects: Brainwashing, Literature, Classics, English Language, English Literature, + more

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

Original Language: English 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 ...more
2
Animal Farm is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
George Orwell

First Published: 1945-08-17

Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

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

Original Language: English 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 ...more
3
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Harper Lee

First Published: 1960-07-11

Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Fiction

Original Language: English 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
4
The Hobbit is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
J. R. R. Tolkien

First Published: 1937-09-21

Subjects: Wizards, Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Epic, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is a fantasy novel and children's book by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for ...more
5
The Lord of the Rings is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
J. R. R. Tolkien

First Published: 1954-07-29

Subjects: Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Chivalric romance, Fiction, Adventure fiction, Fantasy, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed ...more
6
Fahrenheit 451 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Ray Bradbury

First Published: 1953

Subjects: Bibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics, + more

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

Original Language: English 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 ...more
7
Brave New World is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Aldous Huxley

Subjects: Literary, Technology, Brainwashing, Literature, Classics, + more

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

Original Language: English Language

Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540, the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, ...more
8
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
William Shakespeare

Genres (Book): Tragedy

Original Language: English 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 ...more
9
Harry Potter and the Phi... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
J. K. Rowling

First Published: 1997-06-26

Subjects: Wizards, Education, Adventure, Friendship, Schools, + more

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

Original Language: English Language

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series and J. K. Rowling's debut novel. The plot follows Harry Potter, a young wizard who discovers his magical ...more
10
Adventures of Huckleberr... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Mark Twain

First Published: 1884-12

Subjects: Popular literature, Education, 19th century, Slavery, Mississippi River, + more

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

Original Language: English 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
11
Where the Sidewalk Ends ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Shel Silverstein

First Published: 1974

Subjects: Classics, English Literature

Genres (Book): Poetry, Children's literature, Fiction

Original Language: English Language

Where the Sidewalk Ends is a collection of children's poetry written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein and published by Harper and Row Publishers. The book's poems address many common ...more
12
Alice in Wonderland is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Lewis Carroll, William Glennon

First Published: 1865

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a ...more
13
A Wrinkle in Time is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Madeleine L'Engle

First Published: 1962

Subjects: Classics

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Young adult literature, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by American writer Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962. The story revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone ...more
14
One Flew Over the Cuckoo... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Ken Kesey

Subjects: Medical, Literary, Literature, Classics, English Language, + more

Genres (Book): Drama, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a novel written by Ken Kesey. Set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, the narrative serves as a study of the institutional processes and the human mind as well ...more
15
The Diary of a Young Gir... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Anne Frank

First Published: 1947

Subjects: Netherlands in World War II, Otto Frank, World War II, Hannah Pik-Goslar, Sol Kimel, + more

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

Original Language: Dutch 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
16
The Bible is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Books That Changed Your Life

Genres (Book): Biblical genre, History, Religion

The Bible is a canonical collection of texts sacred in Judaism and Christianity. There is no single canonical Bible and various religious traditions have produced different recensions with ...more
17
Charlotte's Web is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
E. B. White

First Published: 1952

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

Original Language: English Language

Charlotte's Web is a children's novel by American author E. B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams; it was published on October 15, 1952, by Harper & Brothers. The novel tells the story ...more
18
Where the Wild Things Ar... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Maurice Sendak

First Published: 1963

Subjects: Education, Games, Classics, Adventure, Children's film

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Picture book, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

Where the Wild Things Are is a 1963 children's picture book by American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, originally published by Harper & Row. The book has been adapted into other ...more
19
The Catcher in the Rye ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
J. D. Salinger

First Published: 1951-07-16

Subjects: Popular literature, Teenage rebellion, Literature, Human sexuality, Psychological identity, + more

Genres (Book): First-person narrative, Sports, Bildungsroman, Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage ...more
20
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
William Golding

First Published: 1954

Subjects: Monarch, Ethics, Literature, Young adult, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Allegory, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel

Original Language: English Language

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with ...more
21
Harry Potter and the Dea... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
J. K. Rowling

First Published: 2007-07-21

Subjects: Wizards, Education, Literature, Coming of age, Schools, + more

Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Magic realism, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, + more

Original Language: English Language

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final novel of the Harry Potter series, written by British author J. K. Rowling. The book was released on 21 July 2007 by Bloomsbury ...more
22
Charlie and the Chocolat... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Roald Dahl

First Published: 1964

Subjects: Chocolate, Classics, Adventure, Family, Folklore

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

Original Language: Welsh Language, English Language

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric ...more
23
The Adventures of Tom Sa... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Mark Twain

First Published: 1876

Subjects: Education, Linguistics, 19th century, Mississippi River, Men, + more

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

Original Language: English 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 ...more
24
The Great Gatsby is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
F. Scott Fitzgerald

First Published: 1925-04-10

Subjects: Music, Literary, Education, Revenge, Jazz Age, + more

Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer ...more
25
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Books That Changed Your Life
Frank Galati

Subjects: California, Oklahoma

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1988 play adapted by Frank Galati from the classic John Steinbeck novel of the same name, with incidental music by Michael Smith. The play debuted at the Steppenwolf ...more