Advertising
Advertising

30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

The greatest books are defined as classics for a reason. Written by the greatest literary minds of their time, they have universal themes, characters, experiences, emotions and perspectives that are still relevant today. Some of them are the very inspiration from which entire modern genres of literary fiction have sprung up from.

If you love reading, here’s a perfect reading list for you. Even if you aren’t so much into reading, here’re 10 reasons to love reading.

Everyone should read at least once for these 30 books — some are well known classics, others are modern giants.  All are well worth reading at least once in your life!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

50-anniversary-cover1

    Published in 1960, this timeless classic explores human behaviour and the collective conscience of The Deep South in the early 20th century. Humour entwines the delicate strands of prejudice, hatred, hypocrisy, love and innocence to create one of the best novels ever written.

    Print | eBook | Audiobook

    2. 1984, by George Orwell

    1984

      Although 1984 has passed us by, George Orwell’s dystopian, totalitarian world of control, fear and lies has never been more relevant. Delve into the life of Winston Smith as he struggles with his developing human nature in a world where individuality, freewill and love are forbidden.

      Print | eBook | Audiobook

      3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

      harry_potter_and_the_Sorcerers_stone_adult_usa

        I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of Harry Potter, but have you read the books? Join Harry Potter as he begins his journey into the world of magic, where he is the celebrated Boy Who Lived. Visit Hogwarts, meet your favourite characters and watch Harry grow into the one of the most famous literary characters in the world.

        Print | eBook | Audiobook

        4. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

        9780618640157_custom-s6-c30

          Middle Earth is a wonderful, expansive fantasy world filled with turmoil, heroes, evil and innocence. Although our protagonist Frodo Baggins’ quest seems impossible to complete, this trilogy is a tale of triumph in the most impossible circumstances.

          Print | eBook | Audiobook

          5. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

          Penguin-2

            Published in 1925, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby explores the decadence of the Jazz Age, and one man’s introduction into a world where even those with the most indulgent lives cannot earn love.

            Print | eBook | Audiobook

            6. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

            pride_and_prejudice_book_cover_by_fourblackbirds-d533108

              One of the most famous novels of all time, Pride And Prejudice details the courtship of two opposed characters in a world where manners and courtesy are of the utmost importance.

              Advertising

              Print | eBook | Audiobook

              7. The Diary Of A Young Girl, by Anne Frank

              diary-of-anne-frank-postcard-front_0

                Unforgettable and deeply influential, Anne Frank’s diary is a raw account of a young girl’s life as she hides from the Nazis. Despite her circumstances, Anne believes that people are still good at heart and that the world is full of beauty: she will change your life.

                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                8. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

                71h2sjik5al-_sl1380_

                  Set in Germany during 1939, The Book Thief follows Liesel as she rescues books from the tyranny of Nazi rule. Meanwhile, her family has hidden a Jewish fighter in their basement and death looks down on the family, narrating our tale. Experience bravery that is rarely found in the world, and friendship that is formed in the most unlikely of situations.

                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                  9. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

                  Hobbit_book

                    Although the movies are inexplicably long, The Hobbit was originally written as a short children’s book. Meet your favourite characters for the first time as the unforgettable Bilbo Baggins traverses the harsh landscapes of Middle Earth to challenge a dragon.

                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                    10. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

                    9780147514011

                      Join four sisters, each with their own prominent personality, as they come of age in charming 19th Century New England. Experience their struggles and revel in their flaws, as these girls become strong women.

                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                      11. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

                      tumblr_nd4wnpO3ZS1tv8vcro1_r1_1280

                        Books are forbidden, and it is our main character Guy Montag’s job to burn any books he comes across. Often compared to George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s dystopian world is an unsettling commentary on Western societies’ addiction and dependence on the media and conformity.

                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                        12. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

                        cvr9781416500247_9781416500247_hr

                          Arguably one of the most influential fictional heroines of all time, Jane Eyre is a strong, unbroken women despite her troubled childhood and repressed Victorian society.
                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                          13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

                          Advertising

                          Print

                            This famous 1945 satire, examines the realistic risks of revolution and the dynamics animals will inevitably give in to.

                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                            14. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

                            gone-with-the-wind

                              Set in The South during The Civil War, chances are if you love the movie you’ll love the book. Although the main character and the world she lives in is loathsome, readers’ opinions are twisted as this novel dishes out a fated justice when both Scarlett and The South lose their wars.

                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                              15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

                              97803167694881

                                Starring the original cynical adolescent, The Catcher In The Rye explores the challenges and isolation of adolescence. Decipher your own message as you follow sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, in this novel that has split audiences for decades.

                                PrintAudiobook

                                16. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White

                                image_35

                                  Team up with Charlotte, a loving and generous spider, and Fern, a farmers daughter as they try to save Wilbur the piglet from becoming breakfast. Charlotte’s Web is a compelling reminder to bask in the simplistic wonders of everyday life, and to be kind to all living creatures.

                                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                  17. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

                                  il_fullxfull.346024210

                                    Another renowned fantasy world, Narnia is the home of hundreds of magnificent creatures each with their own origins, morals and ideals. Let you imagination run wild as you enter the wardrobe and meet some of the most famous literary characters in history.

                                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                    18. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

                                    9780141185064

                                      Published in 1939, this novel set during The Great Depression follows one Oklahoma family as they are forced to travel to California. Experience America in a tale where it’s people are divided into the haves and have-nots, the powerful and the powerless.

                                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                      19. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

                                      previous_Lord_of_the_Flies

                                        This classic novel follows the lives of boys marooned on an island as they regress into savages; and their beautiful, enjoyable island existence collapses into a primitive and cruel nightmare.

                                        Advertising

                                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                        20. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

                                        kiterunner

                                          A story of true friendship, The Kite Runner follows Amir as he tries to find the only true friend he’s ever had – despite abandoning him due to ethnic and religious differences that were prominent in Kabul, Afghanistan.

                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                          21. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

                                          bookcover2

                                            Of Mice And Men is a complex story of a friendship between two migrant workers: George Milton and Lennie Small, in California. Watch their friendship develop as the pair work towards their modest dreams of owning their own land and pets.

                                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                            22. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

                                            twocities

                                              Following eighteen years as a political prisoner, Dr Manette is released and returns to England with his daughter Lucie. There, two very different men fall in love with Lucie and become entwined in a tale of love and sacrifice.

                                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                              23. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

                                              cvr9781451621709_9781451621709_hr

                                                Perhaps the most famous love story ever written, Romeo and Juliet is an epic tragedy that explores the euphoria of desire and the tragedy of revenge.

                                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                24. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

                                                h2g2-01 copy

                                                  Grab a towel and accompany human Arthur Dent on a fantastic adventure across the galaxy. Learn not to take the universe so seriously and forget any meaning you’ve applied to anything in your life, because we all know the real meaning of life is 42.

                                                  Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                  25. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

                                                  216215

                                                    Published in 1847, this passionate and harrowing story of love, rivalry and revenge follows Catherine Earnshaw and her father’s adopted foundling Heathcliff as they grow into very different adults.

                                                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                    Advertising

                                                    26. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

                                                    purple

                                                      Winner of multiple awards, The Color Purple is a devastating tale that tackles the lives of colored women in 1930s USA. Censored and challenged, the harsh reality displayed in The Color Purple will leave you shaken.

                                                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                      27. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

                                                      alice_cover

                                                        Bizarre and curious, Alice In Wonderland explores the potential of imagination and the reality of fiction. If you’re a fan of escaping the real world, this is definitely the book for you.

                                                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                        28. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

                                                        frankenstein_book_cover_by_mario0357-d6rszr0

                                                          A combination of gothic thriller, cautionary tale and romance novel, Frankenstein is a story like no other. Written by Mary Shelley when she was just eighteen, Frankenstein prompts readers to ask themselves some truly shattering questions: what makes us human? What do we owe to one another as living creatures? How far can science push the boundaries of nature?

                                                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                          29. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

                                                          Huck-Fin

                                                            Often titled The Great American Novel, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is a deep and complex tale of friendship, adolescence and shifting societal norms.

                                                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                            30. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

                                                            9780385333849_custom-s6-c30

                                                              Although Vonnegut himself admits there are few characters or confrontations in this book, the impact of his novel is undeniable.

                                                              We travel through life with our protagonist Billy Pilgrim as he experiences World War II from a rather unique perspective – that is, he’s been abducted from his home planet of Tralfamadore. Rich and deeply funny, this tale aims to discourage us from war and murder that the authorities force the public into.

                                                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                                              Featured photo credit: Prasanna Kumar via unsplash.com

                                                              More by this author

                                                              Anna Chui

                                                              Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

                                                              Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 20 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life How Self-Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It) 23 Books About Racism to Inspire You to Embrace Race and Do Good 50 Life Purpose Quotes to Give Meaning to Your Life

                                                              Trending in Communication

                                                              1 Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It) 2 How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future 3 How to Live a Stress Free Life in a Way Most People Don’t 4 Midlife Crisis in Men: The Definitive Survival Guide 5 How to Find Joy in Life During Difficult Times

                                                              Read Next

                                                              Advertising
                                                              Advertising
                                                              Advertising

                                                              Last Updated on September 30, 2020

                                                              How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

                                                              How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

                                                              We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

                                                              In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

                                                              The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

                                                              The Importance of Living in the Moment

                                                              “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

                                                              While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

                                                              Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

                                                              Better Health

                                                              By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

                                                              Improve Your Relationships

                                                              Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

                                                              Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

                                                              How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

                                                              By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

                                                              Greater Self-Control

                                                              You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

                                                              Why Do We Worry?

                                                              Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

                                                              When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

                                                              Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

                                                              Advertising

                                                              Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

                                                              3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

                                                              Step 1: Overcome Worrying

                                                              In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

                                                              Calm Your Mind

                                                              When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

                                                              The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

                                                              In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

                                                              Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

                                                              Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

                                                              People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

                                                              If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

                                                              Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

                                                              In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

                                                              Racing Mind

                                                              Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

                                                              You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

                                                              If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

                                                              Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

                                                              None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

                                                              So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

                                                              By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

                                                              Advertising

                                                              In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

                                                              Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

                                                              A Wandering Mind

                                                              From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

                                                              Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

                                                              Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

                                                              Outside Influences

                                                              Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

                                                              Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

                                                              Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

                                                              So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

                                                              Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

                                                              Understand Mindfulness

                                                              The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

                                                              When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

                                                              You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

                                                              This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

                                                              To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

                                                              If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

                                                              Advertising

                                                              You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

                                                              Mindfulness Meditation

                                                              Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

                                                              Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

                                                              You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

                                                              This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

                                                              If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

                                                              Mindful Breathing

                                                              While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

                                                              You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

                                                              Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

                                                              Mindful Walking

                                                              Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

                                                              Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

                                                              Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

                                                              You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

                                                              In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

                                                              You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

                                                              Advertising

                                                              Mindful Eating

                                                              Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

                                                              The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

                                                              Live in the present with mindful eating.

                                                                Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

                                                                So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

                                                                • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
                                                                • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
                                                                • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

                                                                You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

                                                                Mindful Activities

                                                                Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

                                                                Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

                                                                You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

                                                                Final Thoughts

                                                                Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

                                                                Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

                                                                Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

                                                                The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

                                                                More About Living in the Present

                                                                Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

                                                                Reference

                                                                Read Next