Have you ever tried to pick your next read and felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices?
With approximately 130 million books in the world and more and more coming out every day, it is increasingly difficult to decide what to read next. While some people read habitually and for pleasure, others might not be inclined so and want to read for its benefits or to inculcate reading habit, and not know where to start.
As an avid reader since childhood, here are my picks for the TOP 15 books that you MUST read — even if you are not into reading.
The list is in increasing order of difficulty, based on the topic, language, and length, and is a fair mix of fiction and non-fiction.
1. Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm is a deceptively simple story of pigs, goats, sheep, cows, puppies, hens, and humans, a fairy tale of sorts. This novella is a poignant comment on the cycle of society, where an oppressor is overthrown only to be replaced by another oppressor. According to Orwell, the fable reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union.
2. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Another simple and beautiful read throws light on love, life, loss, and death. Tuesdays With Morrie presents a valuable reminder that “once you learn to die, you learn to live”. Filled with innumerable gems of wisdom, this is a must-read for people of all ages. Read my full review of Tuesdays with Morrie.
3. To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
A classic of modern American literature, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is painfully innocent and refreshingly honest. Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, To Kill A Mocking Bird presents the views of a child on race and justice.
4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The quintessential Black Lives Matter book, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas sheds light on the reality of how society systematically represses a race. Written with immense vulnerability and honesty, this book is extremely emotional and thought-provoking.
5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A heartbreakingly beautiful and intimate story of friendship, devotion, regret, and redemption, this one is a book that will stay with you forever. Set against the backdrop of the history of Afghanistan, this debut novel by Khaled Hosseini is highly emotional and beautifully crafted. I dare you to not cry reading this one!
6. Wild: Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
A raw, emotional, and brutally honest account of loss and grief, spiraling down and finding oneself through travel, Wild by Cheryl Strayed is a highly enjoyable and enlightening read. Read my full review of Wild by Cheryl Strayed
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is a well-renowned historical romance, a classic, but it is so much more than that! Read this one for glorious characters, vastly ahead of its time feminism and highly enjoyable and witty dialogues.
8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A beautiful and heart-warming tale of the March sisters, Little Women is a classic, loved by young and old alike. It explores timeless themes of love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.
9. 1984 by George Orwell
Another gem by Orwell, 1984 is the indisputable king of dystopia. A highly disturbing and mind-shattering novel, this is a must-read to push your mind’s horizons. This one will surely change the way you look at things.
10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Originally published in Dutch in 1946, The Diary of a Young Girl is the actual diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. While Anne herself succumbed to typhus in a concentration camp, her words lived on through this book published by her father. It is a first-hand account of the horrors of WW2 and a must-read for everyone.
11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World is a first-rate dystopian novel and represents with horrifying clarity the conclusion our society is plausibly headed towards. Though somewhat poorly written, the sheer brilliance of its concept makes it intellectually stimulating and a must-read. It is a highly controversial read and has been banned by several countries in the past for a multitude of reasons. Read my full review of Brave New World.
12. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
In this enlightening and fascinating book, Charles Duhigg unravels the mysteries of the brain — how we form habits, how these habits control our lives, and more importantly, how can we use this knowledge to reform the undesirable habits and replace them with new ones.
13. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
An epic saga of love and war, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is a masterpiece of literature — unforgettable characters, beautiful prose, and a story that will have you totally engrossed. Another Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, it is a 1000+ page novel, but every page is worth reading.
14. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell has the gift of looking at things from a different angle. An intellectually stimulating and eye-opening read, Outliers is one of the best behavioral psychology books to read — highly engaging, thoroughly researched and truly mind-blowing.
15. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
If you read one science book during your lifetime, make it this one. In this one, Bill Bryson quite literally presents a history of nearly everything — universe, solar system, planet, the human race, and that too in a highly engaging and hilarious manner. A must-read for everyone, irrespective of educational background.