Monday, October 7, 2013

My 50-book list

Recently, somebody sent me a list of 50 books to read before you die. The trouble with lists is that someone is bound to disagree with them and this one was no different. I thought the list was very predictable - it has your requisite old old classics (to impress) and a few popular newbies (to show that the compiler was no literary snob). Seriously, I don't think it's a tragedy if you don't read Harry Potter before you breathe your last breath.

So I decided to compile my own list of 50 must-read books. I will say upfront that this is MY list, ie books I've actually read and liked. I'm not claiming this to be THE ultimate list because I know it's slightly girl-biased, especially with regards to the classics. I am aware that books like Robinson Crusoe and The Three Musketeers, for example are considered classics but honestly, when I tried reading them, I was bored out of my skull.

Obviously, some writers have written more than one classic but I decided to list only one book per author to provide a better range (unless it's a series). Also, I found that humour books tend to be cast aside in favour of "serious" books, which I think is a travesty. It takes great skill, sometimes even more so, to be able to make people laugh. I don't feel that humour books are in any way inferior or less of a classic.

So here's my list, in alphabetical order. I've divided into two sections: classics and modern.  Each is further divided into adult and children fiction.

Classics (18):

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R.L. Stevenson
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Children (7):

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Modern (18):

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Adrian Mole diaries by Susan Townsend
All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Roots by Alex Haley 
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Children (7):

The Adventures of the Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein
The Nicholas books by R. Goscinny and J. Sempe

21 Oct 2013: I've added Aldous Huxley's Brave New World to the list because I've just read it and it took my breath away. It's one of those books that after you've finished it, you go "wow". Powerful stuff, a must-read.


Dion said...

Hi Monica!

I agree that humour books are underrated. It requires skill to be humorous in everyday life, much less in books! Incidentally, which humour books do you favour?

monlim said...

Dion: My favourite humour writer is Dave Barry. His style is original, easy to read and simply hilarious! He didn't make my list though cos they're non-fiction books. If you count comics, then Calvin & Hobbes for me, is up there with the best :)

Some of the other funny books on the list are the Adrian Mole diaries and the Nicholas books.

angiefm said...

You listed Nicholas! I love you already. :) My kids are reading it in original French. Mission accomplished.

monlim said...

Angie: Nicholas in original French must be HILARIOUS!

Anonymous said...

Why no Bible?

monlim said...

Anon: Bible is not fiction.

Anonymous said...

hi mon, die, i think i only read 9 of your top 50 books. of the 9, i have to add that Black Beauty was a picture book!!! i now have a Chinese classics (also picture books) to get through before my life ends. i figured that as a Chinese, i **should** try to be more acquainted with my roots. rgds - kjj

monlim said...

KJJ: Ok, your Chinese book makes up for 10 on my list! *slow clap*

Anonymous said...

hi may i know your list for children's book suitable for which age ?

monlim said...

It really depends on which book, obviously they aren't all for the same age groups. Eg. the Nicholas books can be read by younger kids but The Hunger Games would be more suitable for teenagers.

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