They broke boundaries and challenged conceptions. We asked our readers for their must-reads; from timeless non-fiction to iconic bestsellers, these are their essential recommends.
They broke boundaries and challenged conceptions. We asked our readers for their must-reads; from timeless non-fiction to iconic bestsellers, these are their essential recommends.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The greatest, most scathing dissection of the hollowness at the heart of the American dream. Hypnotic, tragic, both of its time and completely relevant.
Joe T, Twitter
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Magic realism at its best. Both funny and moving, this book made me reflect for weeks on the inexorable march of time.
Andre C, Twitter
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A jarring & poignantly beautiful story about how humans treat each other.
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Philosophy, history, wit, and the most passionate love story.
5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
In this groundbreaking novel, completed after six arduous years of research, Capote invented a new genre - the 'Nonfiction Novel' - applying prose techniques to fact. It spawned the school of New Journalism & invented the true crime genre as we know it.
6. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Rhys took a character from a classic novel and breathed new life into the “madwoman in the attic” based on her own experiences/world view. She beautifully showed how the stories we read fold into our lives to make new stories.
Eric A, Twitter
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Given the exponential growth of AI, Machine Learning & Robotics, Huxley's vision acts as a warning. Will we rise and challenge those who seek to shape our future or sleepwalk toward conditioning by technology?
David G, Twitter
8. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
A 'children's book' that speaks volumes (ha) about unrequited love and dysfunctional families. Timeless. And funny. (and we need some laughs on the 100 Classics list!)
Helen Y, Twitter
9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Because Jane is a role model: she stands up for herself, others and what she believes in, but isn't too proud to give second chances to those whose time is running out.
Sarah F, Twitter
10. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
No other novel has made me feel so much for the main characters, so deeply depicted by the author. I felt like an orphan when I finished it and it's the only novel I've re-read several times.
Angie V, Twitter
11. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
A modern classic - so well-articulated and written (something that’s hard to come by these days). Also, EXCELLENT PLOT!
12. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Because everyone who loves the earth knows it’s true.
Helen D, Twitter
13. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
A post-apocalyptic novel, about intolerance, loneliness, friendship, and what it means to be human. A fantastic sci-fi novel, as relevant today as it was in the 50s.
Hollie B, Twitter
14. Persuasion by Jane Austen
This continues to be my favourite novel. It is a more mature love story, full of humourous, delightful observations of human behaviour. It offers us a glimpse of redemption. We change as we grow, and the mistakes made in our youth can be overcome.
15. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The great American novel: great characters, wonderful language, thick with the Bible and Thomas Browne, and has the best opening sentence ever. What's not to like?
David H, Twitter
16. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
A beautiful timeless tale of innocence, wonder and sacrifice for young and old alike. It was one of the first books that I read from cover to cover without putting down!
Adisha K, Twitter
17. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
You feel like you’re stood on top of a cliff with the sea breeze blowing right through your bones.
18. Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
This book captures the awkward tension and anxieties of the interwar period through a deeply reflective, but oddly naive, unloved girl.
Heather O, Twitter
19. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
This novel teaches us about the position of women in the past and their moments of frailty versus moments of strength. Basically, an important insight for everyone to have!
Abbie H, Twitter
20. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Chosen for all the questions it raises about consequences and taking responsibility for your actions; nature versus nurture; the value of friendship. I could go on.
Julie A, Twitter
21. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
This novel has got the Devil mooching around Moscow with a massive black cat. Oh, and there’s a naked flying lady.
22. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
As a 17-year-old, I was completely absorbed by this story, wishing Leo was my brother so that I could protect him from the disappointment that awaited him.
23. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
A story that shows there is more to life than following rules. Having joy and being spontaneous are as important as anything else in life.
Darren B, Twitter
24. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
I first read this book years ago, and was glad I would never have to be a part of that kind of society. Yet, here I am in 2018, and so much of that novel has come true.
Donna J, Twitter
25. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
It’s a great novel about the rise and fall of a family, the relationship between fathers and sons, and the conflict between art and business. Well, and I have to say I do love family sagas.
Peter L, Twitter
26. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Migration in search of work and a better future. A modern day story. Still makes my skin tingle.
27. Beloved by Toni Morrison
This book is amazing. Beautifully written, haunting and the level of detail of the lengths people went to protect their families from slavery is fantastic.
28. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The best of the Bertie and Jeeves novels by Wodehouse, the 20th century master of the light comic novel. Intricate plotting and brilliant command of English prose.
Matt F, Twitter
29. Dracula by Bram Stoker
A Gothic tale of fear and love. Would one desire immortality at the cost of one’s morality and soul? Loneliness beckons down such a dangerous and fearful path.
Rob K, Twitter
30. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
It's got the great sweeping story, romance, heroism, self-sacrifice, social commentary... it's not just magic and elves!
Anne O, Twitter
31. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
This book demonstrates how a young boy learns to think for himself, and shows us how we can, too. It’s funny, sweet and sad – sometimes all in the same paragraph.
Richard C, Twitter
32. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
This book is not only important as a literary masterpiece and an evocative story - it also has universal appeal as, unfortunately, many children in today's world undergo the same suffering as Pip.
Ayesha K, Twitter
33. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
In my opinion there is no book that better captures human nature and the futility of conflict. You’ll come out the other side angry, uplifted, and crazy.
Sam W, Twitter
34. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
“When SHE comes she is different, and one doesn't know why...".
Lulu B, Twitter
35. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
A compelling and important exploration of cultural identity in relation to both the rising tide of British colonialism and the pressures of gender expectations. A poignant tragedy written with pathos. Necessary reading!
Danny N, Twitter
36. Middlemarch by George Eliot
This book is superb in form and content. There is no better dissection of and insight into human society. She was the Shakespeare of her day and Middlemarch is her finest novel.
Tim R, Twitter
37. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
This is the most magical and well written book I've read. The history of the partition of the Indian subcontinent told as a delightful allegory.
Claudia G, Twitter
38. The Iliad by Homer
This is the ultimate war poem, filled with existential drama, heroic striving, death, and the meaning of life.
Max G, Twitter
39. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Because Becky Sharp is the greatest female lead character in English literature. Bar none.
Greg R, Twitter
40. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
So evocative of a certain time and place, as well as being a compelling story.
Patricia C, Twitter
41. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
This novel’s main character, Holden, is coping with tragic loss, as all of us do in our lives. As he wanders aimlessly around the city, he struggles to plan his next life move, but finds happiness in small joys, such as his strong bond with his sister.
Alma E, Twitter
42. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
We should all get lost down a rabbit hole every once in a while and come out believing in six impossible things before breakfast #whyisaravenlikeawritingdesk
Lauren D, Twitter
43. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
One classic everyone must read: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. A beautifully told story of an intelligent girl who yearns for more than society allows.
44. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
This book has tremendous characters and a plot which sucks you into such a different world, about which you find yourself caring desperately.
Hilary S, Twitter
45. Another Country by James Baldwin
This is a book that shows how everyone can live and love together, passionately, dangerously, with exquisite music. I’ll never forget the thrill of first reading it.
Jon A, Twitter
46. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
A beautiful story of the power of redemption and a good heart along with a backdrop of the socio-economic iniquities of 19th century France. Beautifully written, it tugs the heartstrings.
Gary G, Twitter
47. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This list wouldn't be complete without some of Roald Dahl's magic, and my golden ticket is for this novel.
Isanne V, Twitter
48. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
The original YA novel, which sparked many crushes and made me fall in love with reading.
Claire C, Twitter
49. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The best classic tale! A story of innocence, romance, betrayal, suffering, revenge and more importantly, Man’s triumph over all life throws at him.
Hayati Y, Twitter
50. Ulysses by James Joyce
Reading it as a person, an emotional journey. Reading it as a writer, technically mesmerizing and inspiring
51. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Brilliant writing, epic family saga, drills deep into human nature and how we think, feel and act toward one another. My all-time favourite novel.
Naomi M, Facebook
52. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A depiction of the darkest recesses of human nature. But also of the brightest ones…
Luca C, Facebook
53. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Beautifully written. The book takes you into the mind of this awful character and lets you roll around in the gorgeous word-play as the story unfurls.
Lesley L, Facebook
54. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I will never forget reading this book as a child. I felt I was in the middle of the story.
Ulrika F, Facebook
55. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
A funny story wrapped around absurdity, journalism and war.
Guy V, Facebook
56. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Sitting alone at 16 years old after the family had gone to bed, tears streamed down my cheeks as I finished this novel.
Pat C, Facebook
57. Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
I have read this book so many times and laugh out loud every time. I have a Penguin Classic copy of it that's falling apart but I wouldn't part with it for the world
Emma H, Facebook
58. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Simply the best in-depth characterisation of all time. Tolstoy's psychological insights have never been beaten.
Chris W, Facebook
59. The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
This book is on the verge of being forgotten by casual readers, but it’s entertaining, socially and scientifically progressive for its time, has incredibly moving, beautifully-written passages on bread riots and the plague, and it has the best surprise trope-subversion at the end.
Shawna R, Facebook
60. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
What is it to be a woman? Woolf's modernist novel is so fresh even 90 or so years later. Gender fluidity before the term was even coined. And a history of literature as a backdrop.
Antonia M, Facebook
61. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
This book engages the reader through its characters and themes, allowing one to be entranced through this cautionary tale that can be applied to the modern world.
Deanna H, Facebook
62. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
A story of knowledge, education, and imagining a future.
Gultekin S, Facebook
63. The Art of War by Sun-Tzu
This should be called the little book of common sense. It makes everything easier to understand.
Darren G, Facebook
64. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
This book gives you a wonderful impression of life in the 19th and early 20th century. It’s both enthralling and touching.
Hildegard S, Facebook
65. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
One of the true first ‘road’ books – a search for the spirit of the ordinary American people.
Edith S, Facebook
66. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Loud, funny, sexual Paris in the 1930s. I read it when I was 20, and it changed the way I look at the world.
Brendan P, Facebook
67. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
This is Lawrence at his best… although I do think Lady Chatterley’s Lover is under-rated…
David P, Facebook
68. Staying On by Paul Scott
A funny, tragic, beautifully written study of an English colonial married couple left behind as an independent India moves ahead.
Catherine B, Facebook
69. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
You can enjoy this book at any age – and it’s beautifully written.
Vicky A, Facebook
70. My Ántonia by Willa Cather
Quite simply, a beautifully written book.
Carolyn R, Facebook
71. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Passion, heartbreak – this is the greatest novel ever written.
Tessa J, Facebook
72. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
A story of suspense and love, with beautiful narration.
Ivy W, Facebook
73. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
This novel is just gripping and beautifully written. Kept me enthralled for weeks....
Angela T, Facebook
74. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
A compelling story of unreciprocated love.
Rajan D, Facebook
75. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
An amazing story, with so many twists and turns
Jane E, Facebook
76. Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac
A magnificent story about human nature, ambition and society (in any century).
Isabel K, Facebook
77. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Reading this blend of surrealism, sci-fi and other genres made me realise that sometimes, fiction can be more powerful than real-life stories!
Kleber L, Facebook
78. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A masterpiece. The ultimate story of hope and redemption.
79. Silas Marner by George Eliot
Redemption and love. Beautifully written
Rhiannon C, Facebook
80. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
A reminder that no life is too small.
Marianna S, Facebook
81. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A story of growing up and changing and the world set around a group of young girls. This book is as timeless as it is beautiful.
Luke E, Twitter
82. The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
This book left me speechless, while reading and after reading and I still can't find the words to describe why it is one of the most impressive pieces of writing I have ever read.
83. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
This novel teaches the reader about the strengths and failures of human nature.
Louisa J, Twitter
84. The Castle by Franz Kafka
This book leads the reader into a maze of conundrums, confusion, iciness and moral fog. Never to be forgotten once read.
Arnold F, Twitter
85. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
A beautifully written novel about absolute power. Very relevant.
Ian M, Twitter
86. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
A book that reminds everyone to never grow up inside!
Jennifer M, Twitter
87. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Tool
I chose this book just because the characters are fantastic, and it makes me laugh.
88. The Razors Edge by Somerset Maugham
A profound story of one man’s journey to find himself.
Holden M, Twitter
89. Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
Perhaps a little bit out of left field, but I love this book. It's simple, it's beautifully written and it's all about capturing a vanishing way of life as countryside farming turns to Victorian towns... really eloquent, really moving!
90. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
I chose this book because Eustacia Vye is misunderstood - as are many women.
Linda M, Twitter
91. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Joyce is not only the greatest stylist in English, but the novel contains one of the most complex discussions of aesthetics in the 20th century.
Donald K, Twitter
92. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
What an amazing piece of writing from someone who had to learn the language first...
Tracey L, Twitter
93. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
This novel combines a beautiful love story and discussion of important economical and social issues of its time.
94. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I chose this book because it gives a feminist perspective on the world. Also, Atwood uses events from history to create the story, which I find important. History is a circle.
Emma H, Twitter
95. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemorovsky
This is my favourite book. It is an extremely moving account of the kinds of things that actually happened in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. It presents the dilemmas, fears and choices that were felt and had to be made by ordinary people.
Jim H, Twitter
96. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn’s writing from personal experience of life/existence in a forced labour camp under Stalin's communist regime is a stark, brutal, masterpiece.
Brian T, Twitter
97. What A Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe
This novel has so much to say about human nature, political power and the elite, and always will do. Caustic, heartfelt, funny, devastating; a beautiful book.
Declan C, Twitter
98. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
An amazing philosophical adventure that influenced a generation.
Jason F, Twitter
99. White Nights by Fyodor Doestoyesky
This is an incredibly beautiful and uplifting book. Everyone should read it!
100. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Pathos, humour, social comment, politic and incredibly well drawn, believable characters.
Books ranked in no particular order. Some answers have been edited for clarity and style.