List of 20 Best Must Read Books of All Time

two book, a cup of tea, and flowers on a table

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Here is my list of best must read gripping books of all time that taught me a lot of things from philosophy to psychology. Unfortunately, often people read books for the plot only, ignoring the deep thoughts the author tried to convey but if you read these books carefully and understand them right, you can avoid many life mistakes.

  1. The Magus – John Fowles

The Magus is the best piece to learn about freedom and responsibility related to it. Best quote: “The better you understand freedom, the less you possess it.” The Magus is not an easy book to read. In fact, it rather belongs to elite literature than to popular literature.

  1. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

A Farewell to Arms is the piece that changed my mindset the most. Besides being mind-blowing, it is also a very well-written novel. A Farewell to Arms completely changed my perception of war and made me understand why the generation Ernest Hemingway belonged to was known as the Lost Generation. All in all, A Farewell to Arms is a powerful masterpiece.

  1. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

To be honest, I didn’t expect much of this novel because well, this is Emily Brontë’s only novel. However, to my surprise, Wuthering Heights impressed me much more than most books I’ve ever read! It is not a plain and dull love story but a mystery you get to understand at the very end. Influenced by Romanticism, Wuthering Heights is truly the most devilish love story.

  1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Similar in some way to Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre written by one of Emily Brontë’s sisters, Charlotte Brontë, unlike Wuthering Heights, depicts a healthy relationship and true love. I wish I had read it when I was 16!

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

A philosophical story about meanness, love, fortitude, tenacity, persistence, honor, selflessness, generosity, wisdom, and true love. A story of calculated revenge which proves that revenge makes us blind and it’s definitely not worth dedicating your life to it.  

  1. The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

You’ll never really understand the title of this novel unless you read the book. I’d call it a psychological novel. Although, it’s equally a philosophical one. If you are interested in psychology – this novel is a good source for analysis of various personalities.  

  1.  Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Ignored by me during my college years as “probably not intellectual enough”, this novel turned out to be a perfectly-written satirical masterpiece. The author’s language is absolutely unique.

Unlike the above-mentioned novels by sisters Brontë, Pride and Prejudice is a realistic novel without any mysteries. However, this fact doesn’t make it boring. This story will make you hate and it will make you love. Pride and Prejudice is the type of a love story we should see more on TV nowadays to teach girls that this is the kind of love they deserve.

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Ever since I’ve read this novel, Dorian Gray has been a symbol for me. A symbol of everything I despise in people as I find hedonism or seeking pleasures – the most meaningless and selfish thing ever.  It turned out that I knew many people like Dorian – people ready to walk over anyone to achieve what they needed.

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

It took me one night to read this novel, not because it’s that short but because it’s that gripping. The dystopian novel gave me a sad feeling of despair.  Fahrenheit 451 shows us how a totalitarian state is formed. This novel taught me that banning something in a country brings it one step closer to a totalitarian regime.

  1. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary is a story about despair of another kind. It’s not a love story. It’s rather a story about mistakes. This novel teaches girls and women that life is not always rainbows and butterflies as well as love. Do not give up your calm family life for the thrill of adventure. Constant thrill and constant adventure are impossible. If you want to be happy – get rid of expectations.

  1. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This sad novel teaches us that sometimes people we would do anything for are not worth it because it’s just our love that makes them perfect. The novel also teaches that money not always can buy happiness.

  1. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

A novel that exposes human vices. Also, sometimes evil is not as evil as considered by blind and ignorant society, and sometimes what is considered good is actually evil.

  1. Martin Eden – Jack London

Many people who have ever felt the urge to write will understand the feelings of Martin Eden – a young sailor from a poor family who’s working day and night to educate himself and become an acknowledged writer. It’s a story about hypocrisy, ignorance, materialism, and opportunism in society which is not easy to get used to if you’re an intelligent, honest, open-minded, and decent man.

  1. Three Comrades – Erich Maria Remarque

The novel written by one of the most prominent writers of the Lost Generation teaches us to value peace, love, true friendship, and be happy with small things in life.

  1. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – Victor Hugo

The best novel to teach you not to judge people based on their appearance or social status.

  1. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – I couldn’t have put it any better. Anna Karenina is a story about a wicked and selfish woman. It teaches us that true happiness is never gained at the expense of others. It also teaches us that being clingy in love is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Another wise thought: selfish people are the saddest. They are unhappy themselves as that’s why they can’t think about others.

  1. White Nights – Fyodor Dostoevsky

White Nights is a short-story. A sad story about a pure soul like that of “the idiot’s”, Prince Myshkin’s, and selfless love.

  1. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka 

The Metamorphosis is an allegorical novella that teaches us that life is not always fair, and people we love sometimes aren’t worth those things we do for them. I hope that people who truly understand the novella, will never act like Gregor’s family.

  1. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is not just a story about war and peace but also a story about various: wicked and nearly-saint personalities. This novel shows how vicissitudes of life make people change. Also, karma is real.

  1. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe

A good read for fans of horror stories. Poe’s talent helps the reader to vividly imagine the scene and everything that is going on in the short-story.

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