100 Books Worth Reading

If you’re looking for a book to challenge yourself with this summer (on top of summer reading), peruse this list.  Each of these works is very meaty, deep in meaning, ambiguous enough for interpretation, yet forceful enough to have had a lasting impression on Western culture.  Some are old; some are new.  There are writers of all nationalities included here, and the books’ years of publication range from the 16th century to today.  They have nothing in common other than the fact that they’re all legit literature.  Look a few up on Wikipedia; read the first chapter/scene: get a feel for the work.  If you find one that grabs you, read it in a scholarly way.  You’ll enjoy it more anyway if you grab onto some big theme early on.  Plus, you’ll remember it all the better.  I’ve intentionally avoided listing books that are already a part of SPHS’s assigned reading, so this is a deeper cut of works.  (A note of caution to sensitive minds: Some of these stories do include some sketchy content, so read at your own peril.)

  1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (not the sci-fi story by H. G. Wells)
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevski
  4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. King Lear by William Shakespeare
  7. Billy Budd by Herman Melville
  8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  9. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  10. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  11. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
  12. Light in August by William Faulkner
  13. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  14. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  15. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  16. Antigone by Sophocles
  17. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  18. Candide by Voltaire
  19. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  20. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  21. Native Son by Richard Wright
  22. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  23. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  24. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  25. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  26. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  27. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  28. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
  29. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  30. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
  31. Sula by Toni Morrison
  32. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  33. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
  34. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  35. An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
  36. Equus by Peter Shaffer
  37. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  38. Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  39. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  40. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  41. Obasan by Joy Kogawa
  42. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  43. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  44. Sula by Toni Morrison
  45. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  46. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  47. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  48. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  49. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
  50. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  51. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  52. Medea by Euripides
  53. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  54. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  55. Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw
  56. Murder in the Cathedral by T. S. Eliot
  57. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
  58. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  59. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
  60. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  61. 1984 by George Orwell
  62. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  63. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  64. Water Music by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  65. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
  66. Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
  67. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  68. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  69. The Remorseful Day by Dexter Colin
  70. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  71. Justine by Lawrence Durrell
  72. Absalom! Absalom! by William Faulkner
  73. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
  74. The Good Soldier by Henry Madox Ford
  75. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  76. The Magus by John Fowles
  77. Loving by Henry Green
  78. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  79. The Plague by Albert Camus
  80. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  81. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  82. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  83. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  84. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  85. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  86. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  87. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  88. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  89. Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien
  90. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
  91. The Far Field by Theodore Roethke
  92. Paradise Lost by John Milton
  93. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  94. The Faerie Queen by Sir Edmund Spencer
  95. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  96. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  97. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
  98. Omeros by Derek Walcott
  99. The Hearts and Lives of Men by Fay Weldon
  100. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf