Books opens doors in our minds, allowing us to live an entire lifetime and travel the world without even leaving the comfort of our chairs.
Books teach us about love, heartbreak, friendship, war, social injustice, and the resilience of the human spirit. Here are 10 must read books especially for novel lovers, and you should read them at least once in your lifetime.
When we read a book, we step into someone else’s shoes, see the world through someone else’s eyes, and visit places we might never otherwise go, whether a tiny village in India or the green fields of Narnia.
1. The House On Mango Street By Sandra Cisneros
This book follows the life of Esperanza, a Mexican girl. The novel takes place over the period of one year. Esperanza moves into a new home on Mango Street. The house is much better than her old one. It is the first house her parents have ever owned – all their other houses have been rented. Esperanza is not very happy because she had been dreaming of a different home – a bigger one. Their new house is old and small. The house is located in a busy Latino area of Chicago. In the new home, Esperanza feels like she has no time to be alone. She promises herself that one day she will leave and have her own home.
Throughout the novel the young girl grows up a lot. The story follows her life as she makes friends, her body changes and she begins to have feelings for a boy. With her new friends, she has many adventures. When she goes back to school after the vacation Esperanza is embarrassed about her family being poor. She writes poetry secretly to make her feel better.
There is a lot of focus on other women in the community and Esperanza hopes never to be like them. Through watching the older women and how they are stuck, she knows that she wants to leave
2. Peter Pan By J.M. Barrie
Almost everyone knows the story of “Peter Pan” which is why this is an easy read. Being familiar with a story already helps the reader to understand the text better. This book is aimed at children, but it continues to be enjoyed by adults around the world too.
Every night Peter visits the Darling family house and listens to Mrs. Darling tell bedtime stories. He sits on the window listening. One evening, they see Peter trying to escape. As he tries to run away, he loses his shadow. He goes back to get his shadow. He wakes up the daughter of the house, Wendy Darling. Wendy helps him attach his shadow to his body again. Wendy tells him she knows a lot of bedtime stories too.
Peter invites Wendy to return to Neverland with him. He wants her to be the mother of the Lost Boys. Wendy agrees to the mission and asks for her brothers Michael and John to join them.
They have a magical flight as they travel to Neverland and have many adventures along the way. Wendy is nearly killed and the boys build her a house in the trees to recover. After Wendy is okay, she takes the role of the mother.
After all their adventures and fun, Wendy decides that her place is at home with their mother. Wendy helps all the Lost Boys return to London. But Peter doesn’t want her to go. Instead he tries to trick her. He tells her that their mother doesn’t want them anymore. However, he understands how sad their mother must be. In the end, he decides to let them go home.
3. Number the Stars By Lois Lowry
This is a story of hope and courage. The year is 1943 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The area has been taken over by Hitler’s army. There are soldiers everywhere. The life of 10-year-old Annemarie has changed a lot. There is little food and everyone is very scared. There is talk about moving all of the Jewish people to another place. This is difficult for Annemarie because her best friend, Ellen, is Jewish.
This is a different book about the war. It shows it was not only the Jewish people who suffered during the war. Annemarie’s family lost their eldest daughter, Lise, a few weeks before her wedding.
Annemarie will later do what her sister, Lise, did. She will join the resistance party to fight against the Nazis. She ends up being a heroine (a female hero) for a few reasons (which I will not tell you because I don’t want to ruin the story
This book would be perfect for any Indian child who wants to indulge in some nostalgia. The narration is simple to read and yet, it carries a very typically Indian childhood in it. It is a compilation of 32 short stories, all located in Malgudi, an imaginary town in South India.
However, the stories are so real that you don’t feel like any bit of it is fictional. It deals with social issues that troubled the older generation and also the issues that the younger generation feels the closest to. A simple compilation that will keep you coming back till you finish the book and even then, you’d be wishing to read more
4. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
The story is narrated by Nick Carraway but it is primarily about a mysterious rich man Jay Gatsby. Jay is a millionaire known for his lavish parties but the strangest part is that he never attends them. At least that is what Nick discovers while he is meeting his cousin sister Daisy and her husband Tom.
As the story unfolds, we discover that Gatsby knew Daisy from before. However, when he initially met her, he wasn’t doing so well financially and she was a typical rich girl. But he still fell in love with her and gaining wealth was a part of his plan to become one with Daisy. The extravagant parties are an attempt to become a part of her world. Gatsby is more so obsessed with Daisy than in love with her and is trying his best to make her fall in love. But the question is, does he succeed? Does he finally get a reciprocation for his love?
5. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
The Harry Potter series is not officially a classic but this is the book that got a whole generation of teenagers into reading. It was the first children’s book series to be adapted into films and it managed increasing book sales at a time when people were reading lesser and lesser thanks to the variety of entertainment offered to us by technology. It isn’t just a children’s book but a story of genuine love, friendship, and bravery. It doesn’t fail to impress even though the readers have an idea how the story is going to pan out and can keep you engaged through 7 voluminous novels.
6. The outsider by Stephen King
Hinton penned this novel when she was only 16 because she was tired of reading fluffy romances. She wanted a story about the harsh realities of being a teenager in mid-20th century America, and since none existed, she wrote one herself. Told from the perspective of orphan Ponyboy Kurtis, this multiple award-winning young adult novel tells the story of a group of rough, teenage boys on the streets of an Oklahoma town, struggling to survive and stick together amidst violence, peer pressure, and broken homes. The novel reminds us that growing up is never easy and that pain, loss, friendship, and love are universal experiences that both create and dissolve socio-economic boundaries
7. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Yet another classic that talks about racism and discrimination against the blacks well after the more obvious brutalities had ended. It also is a book about man and his search for identity and how, sadly, our identity is largely defined by others. Ironically, many people describe the book as” the greatest work by a black”.
8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
it is a classic translated from spanish and many readers don’t seem to get the point of it. In Magic Realism, everything is a metaphor. It tells us more about the character and the plot and the behind-the-scenes stuff without explicitly detailing out the same. It takes us through the journey of different generations of a single family and shows us how many things change with time, while others remain.
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
While The Great Gatsby appears to be just another love-story, it actually has other main themes such as War and how it brings opportunities whilst taking away others. Gatsby got to be rich but lost the love of his life in the process. It is also about the drastic lifestyle change brought in by the post World War I era in America and how people were spoilt because of the excess they now had. It is definitely worth a read even if you have watched the movie and weren’t very impressed.
10. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
This is a novella, nonetheless, is regarded as a top rated novel as it takes us through an individual’s journey to find himself and his purpose. It is rather abstract and not very easy to read but at the same time happens to be the favourite of many because of its story and its many layers. It was translated from German and is poetic and lyrical which makes it hard for novice readers to comprehend.
11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This is yet another jovial classic that has more to it than being a funny book. It is a satire that narrates the story of one person going against a whole institution. It faced its share of controversies (as is common with books that talk of disobeying authorities) but managed guarded its spot as one of the greatest novels of all time. The book also shows mindless obedience and how sometimes we are so preoccupied we miss the big picture.
12. The Trial by Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka is one of the most renowned writers of the last century and The Trial is one of his most notable works. It has a storyline ridden with mysteries and twists. Like a lot of acclaimed literature it is pretty difficult to understand. It is this book and many others by the author that an entire category called Kafkaesque was made.
13. 1984 by George Orwell
Dystopias are all the rage now but 1984 was the first of its kind to make its cut as a classic. It is a rather serious narrative which gives us an insight into the kind of environment the protagonist lives in. Like many dystopias it is all about a single person going against a much larger cruel system. Despite its release nearly 70 years ago, it feels very relevant even for today.
Also read: What is Webtoon and Where to read them?
14. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This novel is critically acclaimed as well as appreciated by the masses. It won various accolades mainly due to its theme of racism and ill-treatment of the weak. What really stood out for me with this book was how it was told through a child’s perspective. To create a candid, innocent narration of matters that are considered quite grave even today, is a feat.