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Updated: October 16, 2017

30 Books That Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

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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 are 30 books that that we feel are defining milestones in our literary tradition.  Some are well known classics, others are modern giants.  All are well worth reading at least once in your life!

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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.

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1984

by George Orwell

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.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

by J.K. Rowling

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.

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The Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien

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.

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he Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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.

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Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

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.

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The Diary Of A Young Girl

by Anne Frank

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.

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The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

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.

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The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

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.

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 Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

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.

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 Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

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.

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 Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

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.
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Animal Farm

by George Orwell

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

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 Gone with the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell

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.

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The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger

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.
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Charlotte’s Web

by E.B. White

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.
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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

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.
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The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

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.
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 Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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.

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The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

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.
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Of Mice and Men

by John Steinbeck

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.
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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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.
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Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

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.
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The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

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.
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 Wuthering Heights

by Emily Bronte

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.

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The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

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.
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Alice in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

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.
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Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley

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?
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 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

by Mark Twain

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

by Kurt Vonnegut

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.

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Featured photo credit: Girl Reading A Book | Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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