Over the years, many authors have published great novels for people to read, some of which have gone on to become classic books. Whether it be for school or reading for pleasure, the content, themes, and symbolism inside of these classic books are universal.
Regardless if you are a book lover or not, reading books is an essential activity to do as they will increase one’s lifespan, boost your intelligence, give you stronger analytical skills, and reduce stress, to name a few benefits. All of the classic books on this list range from children’s classics to powerful memoirs to the general classics.
Now, with that being said, here are 15 Classic Books That Every Person Should Read At Least Once In Their Lifetime:
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
I couldn’t do an article on Classic Books without including The Great Gatsby, one of the greatest novels of all time! Set in the roaring 1920s, The Great Gatsby is centered around the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his over-the-top parties at his Long Island Mansion. Fitzgerald explores the themes of idealism, decadence, social classes, and the American Dream. The Great Gatsby will no doubt leave readers with a new outlook on what love and life are.
2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote:
Capote spent six years on his nonfiction novel which details the 1959 murders of four members of the Herbert Clutter family in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas. Capote draws sympathy and suspense from readers with his reconstruction of the murder and the investigation that lead to the capture, trial, and execution of the two killers. His detailed reportings in In Cold Blood also laid the foundations of New Journalism and is viewed by critics as a pioneering work in the genre of true crime.
3. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
Another staple in Classic Books, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is set in the South in the 1930s and explores the themes of racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Lee’s novel also teaches us lessons of empathy, compassion and kindness.
4. The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank:
In her diary, Anne Frank documents her two years (1942-1944) in hiding (with her parents, another family, and a dentist) from The Nazis during The German Occupation of The Netherlands during WWII. After Anne and everyone who hid with her was caught and sent to the transportation camps, her diary was found by Miep Gies (a close family friend and one of the helpers), who kept it safe and later gave it to Anne’s father Otto (of the eight people in hiding, Otto was the only one to survive The Holocaust).
Since it was published in 1947, The Diary of A Young Girl has since become of the world’s most classic books as it depicts Anne’s sense of humanity in the faces of uncertainty and fear while sending a powerful reminder of the horrors of World War II and The Holocaust.
5. Moby Dick by Herman Melville:
Melville’s 1851 novel as become one of the most classic books of all time as readers join Ishamel’s on Ahab’s obsessive quest for revenge on the giant whale Moby Dick.
6. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway:
Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises captures the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I Generation (The Lost Generation) and explores the themes of love, tragedy, morality, and gender.
7. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling:
The Harry Potter book series (and films as well) have made fans around the world believe in magic no matter how old they are.
8. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl:
One of several children’s classic books on this list, Dahl’s novel has people of all ages never be tired of wanting to explore the wonders of Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory.
9. Lord of The Flies by William Golding:
Set during World War II, William Golding’s book focuses on a group of British schoolboys stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.
10. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?” At first glance, people tend to view Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince as a children’s fairy tale. As they dive into the book, they’ll soon discover that it’s not the case as The Little Prince makes poignant observations about human nature and life that will touch readers of all ages. In terms of classic books, The Little Prince highly underrated and I encourage you all to read it ASAP!
11. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls:
In her 2005 memoir, Walls recounts the poverty-stricken and unconventional upbringing her and her siblings had at the hands of their dysfunctional parents. The memoir’s title is reference to Rex Walls ‘s (Jeannette’s father) goal of building his dream house, a glass castle.
12. The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger:
Despite the polarizing reviews from critics, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye is still considered one of the most classic books of all time for its depiction of the themes of angst, alienation, connection, and belonging. The novel’s protagonist Holden Caulfield has become one of the most enduring characters in 20th Century American fiction and an icon of teenage rebellion.
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White:
The second of three Children’s Classic Books to make this list, E.B. White’s novel tells the story of “Some Pig” named Wilbur and his friendship with a spider named Charlotte.
14. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck:
Despite its’ tragic ending, Steinbeck’s novel is one of the classic books to add to your reading list with its’ powerful depictions of themes such as dreams, friendship, and loneliness, to name a few.
15. Educated by Tara Westover:
Although Tara Westover’s memoir hasn’t been released as long as the other books on this list (it was only published by Random House on February 18th, 2018), it will soon become one of those classic books that students will be required to read for school.
In Educated, West details her journey from her isolated life in the mountains of Idaho to earning her PHD at Cambridge University. West was only 17 years old when she stepped foot into a classroom for the first time for college (she had no formal education while growing up). Educated also details her struggles to fit into the world her radical survivalist father created for her and the world outside of the mountains.