The Ultimate Book Bucket List: 55 Books You Need To Read Before You Die

The Ultimate Book Bucket List: 55 Books You Need To Read Before You Die

You can’t rest until you’ve read these books mentioned on Ask Reddit.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo. It is full of strong emotions, and makes you question what is justice.

2. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – reading plays is a great experience but this one is hilarious.

3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. This book is a series of connected short stories about the colonization of Mars. It’s relevant, it’s smart, it’s funny, it was the first time I ever truly enjoyed reading.

4. The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison). It makes you cry not just for what the main character suffers, but for the way world works. And it is BEAUTIFULLY written.

5. Lord of the Flies. It really exposes the nature of humanity and the older you get, the more you understand.

6. Fahrenheit 451 is a great read. It challenges today’s culture. Read it and decide for yourself.

7. Battle Royale. Makes you feel sympathy for even what appears to be the most villainous and cruel person.

8. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Tackles issues like free will and religion, all in a thrilling, full-realized fantasy world.

9. Peter Pan by JM Barrie. That is definitely not a book meant for children. For me personally it helped mentally prepare myself to leave for college.

10. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. There’s an unending amount of lenses to analyze the text through, and you can look at so many different issues (alienation, guilt, reproduction even) while reading. Find something new to discuss or think about every time I read.

11. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Abraham Lincoln allegedly, upon meeting her, said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!” It’s heart-wrenching, powerful, and eye-opening. Definitely a must-read!

12. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s much better and darker than the movie. It’s probably the closest imagining of what a real apocalypse would be like, with no heroes and no sense of hope.

13. Crime And Punishment. The KGB used Dostoevsky as part of their training for interrogations and it was so effective that the CIA was convinced they had developed a truth serum. He really knew how to write about the inner workings of the mind.

14. Catch-22. Hilarious, depressing, Couldn’t put it down.

15. Watership Down. I have made just about every member of my family read it. I don’t even know why I love that book so much. When I open it up and read the first line a feeling comes over me like I am home.

16. The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. It’s basically a treatise/plea on critical thinking and proper application of the scientific method for the good of the species.

17. I’ve recommended Brave New World to everyone I know. Not only does it touch on class hierarchy, which is still present in most societies, either blatantly or subtly, but the book also delves into what happens when we strive for efficiency and forget about some of the most important aspects of what makes us human.

18. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Very short book, but I believe everyone should read this at least once, especially adults.

19. I just read Dracula and I would strongly recommend it, in part because it’s phenomenal and in part because there’s a lot of irony in the fact that none of the characters know they’re Dracula characters.

20. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch. A brilliant book about a professor with cancer who does about everything on his bucket list and leaves little mementos along the way.

21. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. One of those books that just captures the overall feeling of being an adolescent while also dealing with mature themes such as rape and mental health.

22. Life of Pi. Never seen the movie, but the book was amazing.

23. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Helped me a lot with talking to people and making new friends.

24. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – an amazing work of postmodernism and satire.

25. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Get out of working for other people to make them money and wasting your life at a 9-5 job. It makes no sense.

26. East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck does an excellent job at explaining that people aren’t all good or all bad, and that we really do have a choice in how we live our lives. If you are someone who is too hard on yourself or if you internalize a lot of the things that happen in your life, then you should definitely read this book.

27. The Bourne series. I’ve read them 6 times each, and each time, it’s just as gripping as the first. Sure the movies capture the gist of them, and add their own perspective of it, but the books are just the best.

Ludlum did a great job in bringing a character like Bourne to life, that you can’t help but feel his anxious confusion and desperation, in trying to both figure out who he is, and staying alive, as he fights people and forces for so many reasons unknown.

28. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I don’t know why, but it touched me in a way I don’t understand. I read Preludes and Nocturnes and am planning on read all of them. Neil Gaiman is slowly becoming one of my favorite authors.

29. Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief. Amazing book. It really captures how middle schoolers think and behave. It’s also just really really good and funny.

30. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. Great read from start to finish. Makes you look at life differently from a great perspective. I’ll never forget the hot tub dream from the book. I don’t know why it just stuck with me.

31. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. One of the most underrated war/sci-fi books I ever read – it’s one of those books I remember getting so excited to have read as a kid.

32. A Man Called Ove. I laughed, I cried, and I couldn’t put it down.

33. The Harry Potter series. The movies are good, but nothing compared to the books.

34. For Whom the Bell Tolls. I have mixed feelings about Hemingway, and even about this book, but I still feel like every person will find something worthwhile in it.

35. The Book Thief. It’s narrated by Death, taking place in Germany during WW2 about a little girl that gets adopted. Amazing.

36. The Great Gatsby. One of my favorites ever since we read it in english class sophomore year of HS.

37. Alcoholics Anonymous. Even if you don’t NEED to read it, I found it incredibly enlightening to read something that has changed (and saved) so many lives. Even just to get perspective on the needs of those who suffer from addiction, I highly recommend it. The PDF is available online.

38. Enders Game by Orson Scott Card. Great bit of writing and keeps you on your toes. If you want to dive into it the layers are there but if you just want a simple book it’s very accessible. Nails the viewpoint of children and is a very interesting take on a war novel.

39. Invisible Man. This book is long as fuck but every word is worth it. From the main character fighting in a ring, mixing paint for cash, the explosion at the plant after walking in on a union meeting. Lots of hidden meaning is behind this book but once you realize it, you’re golden.

40. Night by Ellie Wiesel. This book is about Ellie’s holocaust story and how it tore him apart. This book is written very beautifully and you could feel the loss/pain/sadness in the author’s writing as he is telling his story.

41. 100 Years of Solitude. It’s so beautiful. I loved every page.

“Wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”

42. Flowers for Algernon. A lot of us had to read the abridged version in high school. If you liked it, definitely give the full edition a try. It’s worth it.

43. The Shining is a book I just recently read for the first time after 19 years on this earth. Very good. I wasn’t really scared by it, but the emotions and suspense it gave me were real.

44. Mists of Avalon. My God, I could not put this book down when I read it in high school. A wonderful perspective from the women in the King Arthur legends.

45. The Diaries of Anne Frank. Really helps show you the mood of the war from her perspective and is the only book that has actually made me feel really sad.

46. Where The Red Fern Grows. If you like dogs, this book will definitely have you in tears. It’s honestly amazing. I read it first when I was 11 and I’m 32 now and my copy of the book is so frayed and used. It’s beautiful.

47. The Metamorphosis – Frank Kafka. It’s so ridiculous on the outside but actually has a much deeper meaning (in the fact that humans search for meaning in places that there isn’t because we need that support to keep us grounded).

48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I read it for the first time when I was 13 and it really helped open my eyes and helped me make sense of some things. I think it’s essential reading for young women. Men too.

49. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami No book has made me feel such a wide range of emotions in such a short span of time. Never have I related more to the characters involved in the novel. It’s a must for people in their late teens early 20s.

50. 1984. It’s stuck with me more than anything I’ve ever read. It really makes you think.

51. Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury is so damn talented. It’s a great introduction to him and some of the stories have meaning today, such as the first one in the illustrated man: The Velt.

52. Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss. On a personal level, this book – while obviously being aimed for children – is super uplifting. Kind of just sticks in your head, super heartwarming. Recommended if you’re going through a bad spot I think.

53. The Ocean at the End Of The Lane, Neil Gaiman. Was recommended to my by a writer friend who is the biggest fanboy of Gaiman. It’s a short-ish read and one of my favorites. Am now a fangirl also.

54. Dune, even for people who don’t necessarily read scifi. Especially now, with the whole “let’s take care of our planet before it’s too late” discussion. Reading Dune in adulthood had such an impact on me, that I often found myself physically thirsty after each reading session. It also made me more aware of my footprint, made me think about the scarcity of resources, accumulating crap around the house, etc. Great book, great story, great writing style.

55. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Its an absolutely fantastic book that provides the view of an alternative history (something Alan Moore is very good at as seen in v for vendetta) and does a great job at illustrating how people felt about the cold war in 85’. Unfortunately it doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it should, simply because it’s a graphic novel.

My English teacher wanted to teach it but the board at my school said he couldn’t because it had blue penis. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

January Nelson

January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.