By Rinshi Ansari
Books open doorways in our thoughts, enabling us to visit the world and live a lifetime without ever having to leave the comfort of our chairs.
When we read a book, we put ourselves in another person’s shoes, experience the world from their perspective, and travel to places we could never otherwise visit, such as a little Indian town, the world of Harry Potter, or the lush lands of Narnia.
Books educate us on a variety of topics, including social injustice, friendship, conflict, and the resiliency of the human spirit.
Here are 25 books that everyone should read at least once in their lives, especially those who enjoy novels:
This 2009 masterpiece by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, is the story of the unlikely and complex friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy merchant, and Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, until cultural and class differences and the turmoil of war tear them apart. It is set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s shifting political landscape from the 1970s to the period after 9/11. In a way that post-9/11 media coverage failed to do, Hosseini brings his native country to life for us by illuminating a world of regular people who live, die, eat, worship, dream, and fall in love. It is a tale about the lingering effects that family secrets have on people over the years, the continuing love of friendship, and the healing power of forgiveness.
The protagonist of this Newbery-winning book is Danish-born Annemarie Yohansen, who grows up in Copenhagen during World War II with her Jewish best friend Ellen. When Annemarie discovers the atrocities the Nazis are committing on the Jewish people, she and her family do everything in their power to defend Ellen, her parents, and countless other Jews. The book by Lois Lowry serves as a potent reminder that real friends can transcend cultural and religious barriers and that love is even more radiant in the face of hatred.
One of the most famous introductory lines from this Jane Austen classic is the one from the first page of the book: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” However, Jane Austen’s most well-known work is more than just a comedy of manners about the 19th-century English marriage market and social etiquette. Though that is surely a good enough argument, Pride and Prejudice is still among the most popular pieces of English literature not because we enjoy seeing Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s romance so much. Because Austen accurately depicts human nature with all of its charms and flaws, readers love the book.
S. E. Hinton, who was only 16 at the time, wrote this book because she was sick of reading cheesy romances. Since there wasn’t a story about the difficult realities of being a teenager in mid-century America, she created one on her own. This numerous award-winning young adult novel tells the tale of a group of rough, teenage guys on the streets of an Oklahoma town, striving to survive and keep together against violence, peer pressure, and shattered parents. The story is told from the perspective of orphan Ponyboy Kurtis. The book serves as a reminder that growing up is never simple and that suffering, friendship, and love are universal emotions that can both reinforce and break down socioeconomic barriers.
Louisa M. Alcott’s Little Women is a beautifully written novel with a cast of endearing characters that welcomes us into the cosy home of a 19th-century American family. Any person can identify with one of Jo’s temper tantrums, Meg’s conceit, Amy’s mischievousness, or Beth’s timidity. The book is a coming-of-age tale that follows four sisters (the March girls) as they mature from girls to women during the American Civil War. Together, they discover how to dream, love, and laugh in the face of the terrible realities of poverty, disease, and death. This pleasant, enduring classic is about the value of family and the straightforward comfort of never being alone.
Christopher Isherwood’s book focuses on a single day in the life of George Falconer, an English professor in his middle years who is lamenting the death of his partner, Jim. George eventually discovers the gift of being alive with all its challenges and victories during a meal with his closest friend and a heart-to-heart conversation with a student as he battles his sadness and questions the meaning of life. Isherwood conveys the importance of each and every moment in life through a snapshot of one day in a man’s life. His blunt, lucid writing will seize you, make you turn around, and force you to confront your mortality.
E.B. White’s children’s classic, which won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, is about Wilber the pig and his assortment of barnyard companions, including Charlotte the spider and Templeton the rat. The book throws open the door to imagination and prompts us to consider what life would be like in a world in which animals could communicate. More seriously, it pushes us to consider how we would treat animals if they had the ability to communicate. Would we treat them more kindly if they could express their joys and anxieties to us? Children can learn from White’s book, and adults can use it as a reminder of the value of understanding the cycle of life and the beauty of nature.
This novel, which is set in the late 20th century and centres on a curious intergenerational relationship between 15-year-old Michael Berg and 36-year-old Hannah Schmitt, an illiterate tram operator and former Auschwitz prison guard, boldly confronts long-standing German national guilt regarding the Nazi war crimes of the Holocaust. Hannah teaches Michael how to read people, so too does Michael teach Hannah to read books. As a result, Michael learns how to distinguish between good and evil and how to live with the results of one’s decisions. The Reader, written by Bernhard Schlink, is a narrative about the power of redemption, the cost of holding secrets, and both personal and collective shame.
The classic novel by Charlotte Bronte chronicles the struggle of a young girl to succeed in the world, from the oppression she experiences as an impoverished orphan living with her aunt, to the appalling conditions she endures at Lowood School, to the dark secrets she discovers while serving as the governess at Thornfield Hall, the mansion of the mysterious and alluring Mr. Rochester. Strong-willed and tenacious, Jane yearns for the independence that women were denied in Victorian England, and her story serves as a timeless illustration of a woman’s desire to choose her own path in life despite difficulty and scorn.
This is yet another book chock full of truths that, while they may be hard to swallow at first, we all need to learn to swallow. The End of the Affair by Grahan Greene chronicles the brief but profoundly impactful adulterous union between Sarah Miles and Maurice Bendrix. The internal conflicts of love, hate, guilt, and the pursuit of truth and forgiveness are made all the more dramatic since they are partially set against the upheaval of World War II. The tale of Maurice and Sarah serves as a reminder that while love doesn’t always endure, the lessons we learn from it do, and that the actions we take out of love can set off an irresistible tug of fate that sends our lives on a passionate and occasionally dangerous journey.
The story by Harper Lee, which is told from the viewpoint of 6-year-old Scout Finch, describes the upheaval caused when African-American Thom Robinson is accused of raping a young white woman in her Alabama hamlet. Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, is the lawyer selected to represent Robinson. The book examines societal concerns of class, race, and sex politics as well as the occasionally comical injustices of the American court system in a way that is both amusing and brutally honest.
Harry Potter’s wizarding universe has enchanted both kids and adults. The Boy Who Lived, a dejected and emotionally abandoned orphan who learns he’s a magician, checks off all the major requirements on must-read lists. It addresses the eternal love of friendship, the agony of loss, the triumph of good over evil, and the truth that often the most difficult fights we face are those we wage inside of ourselves.
The Secret Garden is a popular children’s classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and is about young Mary Lennox, who relocates to her reclusive uncle’s English manor estate when her parents pass away from cholera. It is a timeless classic about the wonders of nature, the healing power of love, and a belief in magic. You’ll laugh and cry with Mary as she learns how to love, how to trust, and how to extend herself to nurture the world around her as the Yorkshire sunshine softens her stony little heart and she befriends the animal charmer Dicken, her disabled cousin Colin, and a myriad of lovely creatures.
While confronting the White Witch and making friends with talking animals in the magical kingdom of Narnia, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy learn the importance of bravery and the ties that bind families together. This isn’t only a tale about a whole world hidden inside an old piece of furniture. In it, C. S. Lewis talks about how the power of the human imagination knows no bounds. The land of Narnia symbolises the enduring faith in a better, brighter future when set against the backdrop of World War II England.
When 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley moves in with middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, she learns that there was a mix-up and they had intended to adopt a boy instead. You’ll be happy when Anne’s spirited imagination and loving heart win over everyone whose life she touches, despite the fact that this disaster initially plunges Anne into a world where she fears being rejected and hated. This touching tale of love and friendship serves as a poignant reminder that sometimes things in life don’t turn out the way we expect them to.
The protagonist of this book is Rachel, a Danish mother and a black father’s daughter. The only survivor of a nine-story apartment building fall involving Rachel, her mother, and her younger brother is taken in by her black grandmother in a largely white Portland area. Rachel has the issue of learning what it means to be biracial in a black-and-white world because of her brown skin and blue eyes (white girl’s eyes in a Black girl’s face). In his excellent novel, Duro invites us to examine how race is constructed culturally in America and to face our own prejudices.
Since her debut in 1996, Bridget Jones has become a well-known pop culture phenomenon. For women from the UK to Japan, she represents daily feminism. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, so readers can relate to her self-deprecating, open chronicling of dating and dieting blunders, struggle with body image, and yearning for personal and financial independence. Fielding’s novel is humorous and endearing, and it reminds women (and men) that feminism is less about bra-burning and defying marriage statistics and more about standing up for yourself and loving yourself exactly as you are. It also offers a comical but critical commentary on what it means to be a woman in today’s world.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a well-known abolitionist book, is a political and puritanical condemnation of American slavery. From the fierce Eliza, who will do anything to prevent her son from being sold, to the meek, modest Uncle Tom, who bears his burden calmly and quietly, serving his masters with the faithful honesty of a man for whom freedom is as much a state of mind as it is a physical condition, Stowe weaves together the stories of several slaves. This book by Harriet Beecher Stowe explores the resilience of the human spirit and the duty to stand up for what is right.
Based on Plath’s own life, The Bell Jar is a hauntingly realistic novel that tells the tale of Esther Greenwood, a gifted young woman who secures a summer internship at a major New York magazine and finds that, rather than relishing the glamorous New York lifestyle, she finds it unsettling and disorienting. The Bell Jar, which draws inspiration from Plath’s own battle with depression, offers an honest glimpse into the human psyche and illuminates the truths surrounding mental illness.
An iconic piece of Victorian children’s literature, Alice finds herself in an imaginative world after chasing a white rabbit she spots while sitting calmly on the riverside. The story is whimsical and full of magic and nonsense. This book’s cover invites you to enter a world of talking animals and mystical mushrooms that can make Alice grow or shrink depending on which side she eats. With its blending of the lines between reality and fiction and the all-too-real experience of attempting to navigate a world we can’t understand, this work has pleased readers of all ages.
The above-mentioned book list has withstood the test of time and still remains the personal favourites of many millions of readers across the world, including myself. It has changed the lives of people and given them a true meaning to their lives. So, what are you waiting for? Grab the book and start reading! Get lost in the world of literature.