40 books to read before you die - GulfToday

40 books to read before you die

40 books

They teach you about the history of our world, the possibilities of our future and the fabric of our souls.

Whatever the breathless claims about reading, one thing is certain: losing yourself in a great novel is one of life’s most enduring and dependable joys. Job satisfaction comes and goes, partners enrapture and abscond, but you can always fall back on the timeless ability of literature to transport you to a different world.

From Jane Austen’s mannered drawing rooms to the airless tower blocks of 1984, novels do something unique. They simultaneously speak to the heart and mind.

They teach you about the history of our world, the possibilities of our future and the fabric of our souls.

So where do you start? It’s a fraught question, because the obvious answer – “the literary canon” – means a pantheon of predominantly dead, white dudes.

The power structures at play for centuries have meant that a very narrow band of people have been given the opportunity to say something universal about the human condition.

As it stands, whittling this list down to 40 novels has been a process that makes Brexit negotiations look simple and amicable. We hope you enjoy the selection – or at least enjoy arguing about who should or should not have made the cut.

  1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  2. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾, Sue Townsend
  3. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  4. Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  5. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
  6. 1984, George Orwell
  7. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  9. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  10. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  11. The Code of the Woosters, PG Wodehouse
  12. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  13. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  14. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  15. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  16. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  17. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  18. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  19. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  20. Beloved, Toni Morrison
  21. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  22. Dune, Frank Herbert
  23. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  24. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
  25. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
  26. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  27. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K Dick
  28. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  29. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  30. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  31. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
  32. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
  33. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  34. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  35. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  36. Dangerous Liaisons, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
  37. 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  38. The Trial, Franz Kafka
  39. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  40. The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

The Independent