me reading my kindle

My Own 101 ‘Awesome Books to Read Before You Die’ List

I recently downloaded ‘50 Masterpieces you have to read before you die‘ onto my Kindle for a princely sum of less than a euro (around a dollar) because I wanted to read Don Quixote and couldn’t see why I wouldn’t take an extra 49 books thrown in for good measure.

It turns out I only bought Volume 1 of two so I’ll have to dredge up another euro for the other Volume of 25 books. It also turns out that Don Quixote is sooooooo long. And a bit boring to be honest.

(By the way, don’t you also hate the ‘before you die’ bit? I always find that a bit of a morbid tagline even though I used it myself in the heading. What would be a nicer alternative do you think? What about ‘Awesome books to read and so would life be if you read them, so read them while you can’?).

I used to be the type of person who felt compelled not only to eat all the food on my plate but also to read a book through to the bitter end, even if I dozed through or was confused by most of it. Now I feel like there are too many good books to read in the world to waste my time reading the ones that aren’t satifying my proverbial appetite.

However, although I didn’t make it through to the last page of D.Q., I did manage to bravely plow my way through Aldous Huxley’s ‘Crome Yellow’ in the same volume. It was satirical and witty and I’m sure a whole lot better written than I can give it credit for. I am also slightly gratified to see I’ve read a few other titles in the volume already so I’m not a complete classics ignoramus.

I’ve decided I’m not going to feel compelled to read any specific books just because they’re on a ‘Classics or Masterpieces’ list, but I do appreciate the value in finding out what others have read and enjoyed. I have found some real gems that way.

This led me to thinking about all the wonderful books that have read in my life, written from all corners of the globe, and on the encouragement of my blogger friend Martina of Empty Nest Mummy, I have compiled my own list.

This list was meant to be my recommended 50 books but when I sat down to compile it, I soon went past the 50 mark and ended up with 101 titles! This is actually not even a list of only 101 books as some of them are series of up to 7 books each.

I am not claiming that these are all literary classics at all. They are not from a specific genre or era, these are just books that I have read throughout my life, ranging from my childhood to the teen years and up until today, that have all resonated with me in some way. They have left enough of an impression on my memory that I can recall characters and events in the books and all of them I would pick up and read again tomorrow.

As a fun exercise why don’t you count up how many of these you have read and see how well we match up in our reading choices.

Here is my list of 101 awesome books to read before you die because they’re awesome:

  1. Alcott, Louisa May: Little Women (have you seen the film yet? Is it any good? I’d hate to spoil a good book).
  2. Austen, Jane: Emma
  3. Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice
  4. Backman, Frederik: A Man Called Ove
  5. Barry, Sebastian: The Secret Scripture
  6. Bender, Aimee: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
  7. Bible, the
  8. Boylston, Helen Dore: The Sue Barton Series
  9. Boyne, John: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
  10. Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre
  11. Bryson, Bill: Down Under
  12. Bryson, Bill: Notes From a Big Country
  13. Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden
  14. Carroll, Lewis: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  15. Chang, Jung: Wild Swans
  16. Chesterton, G.K.: Father Brown Stories
  17. Coelho, Paulo: The Alchemist
  18. Coetzee, J.M.: Age of Iron
  19. Coetzee, J.M.: Disgrace
  20. Dahl, Roald: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  21. Dahl, Roald: Danny the Champion of the Word
  22. Dahl, Roald: Going Solo
  23. Dahl, Roald: James and the Giant Peach
  24. De Berniérs, Louis: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
  25. Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe
  26. Diamant, Anita: The Red Tent
  27. Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations
  28. Dinesen, Isak: Babette’s Feast
  29. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor: The House of the Dead
  30. Du Maurier, Daphne: Rebecca
  31. Eco, Umbo: The Name of the Rose
  32. Ende, Michael: The Never Ending Story (I have to say the film adaptation was a huge disappointment!)
  33. Esquivel, Laura : Like Water For Chocolate
  34. Faulks, Sebastian: Birdsong
  35. Frankl, Viktor: Man’s Search for Meaning
  36. Golden, Arthur: Memoirs of a Geisha
  37. Golding, William: Lord of the Flies
  38. Grahame, Kenneth: The Wind in the Willows
  39. Hayes, Terry: I Am Pilgrim
  40. Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter
  41. Hemingway, Ernest: A Farewell to Arms
  42. Holme, Anne: I am David
  43. Honeyman, Gail: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  44. Hosseini, Khaled: The Kite Runner
  45. Ishiguro, Kazuo: An Artist of the Floating World
  46. Ishiguro, Kazuo: The Remains of the Day
  47. Jerome, Jerome K.: Three Men in a Boat
  48. Kidd, Sue Monk: The Secret Life of Bees
  49. Larsson, Stieg: The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo trilogy
  50. Lawhead, Stephen: The Song of Albion Trilogy
  51. Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird
  52. Lessing, Doris: Alfred and Emily
  53. Lewis, C.S.: The Chronicles of Narnia
  54. Lewis, C.S.: The Screwtape Letters
  55. Magorian, Michelle: Goodnight Mr Tom
  56. Márquez, Gabriel García: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  57. McCarthy, Pete: McCarthy’s Bar
  58. McCourt, Frank: Angela’s Ashes
  59. Milne, A.A: Winne the Pooh
  60. Moggach, Deborah: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  61. Mosely, Charlotte: The Mitfords, Letters Between Six Sisters
  62. Nichols, Beverly: The Tree that Sat Down Trilogy
  63. Orwell, George: Animal Farm
  64. Paton, Alan: Cry the Beloved Country
  65. Petzer, Dave: A Child Called It
  66. Potok, Chaim: My Name is Asher Lev
  67. Potok, Chaim: The Chosen
  68. Proulx, Annie: The Shipping News
  69. Rivers, Francine: The Scarlet Thread
  70. Rivers, Francine: The Lineage of Grace Series
  71. Shute, Neville: A Town Like Alice
  72. Shakespeare, William: Romeo and Juliet
  73. Shakespeare, William: King Lear
  74. Sixsmith, Martin: Philomena
  75. Smith, Zadie: White Teeth
  76. Smith, Alexander McCall: The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series
  77. Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men
  78. Steinbeck, John: The Pearl
  79. Steinbeck, John: Travels with Charley
  80. Stockett, Katheryn: The Help
  81. Stone, Irving: Lust for Life
  82. Stone, Irving: The Agony and the Ecstasy
  83. Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  84. Styron, William: Sophie’s Choice
  85. Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver’s Travels
  86. Tan, Amy: The Joy Luck Club
  87. Tartt, Donna: The Secret History
  88. Thackeray, William Makepeace: Vanity Fair
  89. Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Hobbit
  90. Tolkien, J.R.R: The Lord of the Rings
  91. Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina
  92. Townsend, Sue: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾
  93. Twain, Mark: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  94. Uris, Leon: Exodus
  95. Uris, Leon: Trinity
  96. Verne, Jules: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
  97. Walker, Alice: The Colour Purple
  98. White, E.B: Charlotte’s Web
  99. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray
  100. Wilkerson, David: The Cross and the Switchblade
  101. Williams, Niall: The Four Letters of Love

I am sure that I have forgotten a whole bunch of amazing books that I have read and perhaps this list will grow with time as I remember and add them, until I’m going to have to change the title to 202 books. Which will no doubt be terrible for my website’s SEO.

What’s your score, how many of these have you read and how well do we compare?

What are your absolute Must Reads that you feel I have left off this list?


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2 thoughts on “My Own 101 ‘Awesome Books to Read Before You Die’ List”

  1. I have read at least 22 of the books on your list, some more than once. A couple of them I’m not sure if I have read or only watched in movie form. Some I have seen in movie form. I just saw the new Little Women yesterday and it’s wonderful. The acting is superb and it follows closely the version with Dorothy McGuuire and Meredith Baxter from decades ago. The only problem I could see with it would be for people who have not read the book or seen another version. There are a lot of flashbacks and they just appear without warning. But I have watched older versions enough times that it didn’t take more than a second or two to figure it out.

    I have read every one of Dickens’ books and have many of them on DVD in different versions. I have read all of Jane Austen and have them all on DVD in different versions of some. A lot of Dickens I have read twice or more.

    1. Sounds like you’re a great fan of the classics Diane, I have also enjoyed reading all of (and watched most of) the Jane Austen books and screen adaptations. I haven’t seen the recent Little Women movie but I am keen to as I’ve heard only good things about it.

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