“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
–Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
One thing that can be said with certainty is that human life is absurdly limited and one way in which you can make this experience of life more meaningful is through reading books. One can live a thousand lives through pages of books because words have the power to recreate you. However, the current century believes in extracting its content through electronic means as it’s faster and more accessible.
This enslavement to electronic gadgets is making us distracted, impatient and unimaginative beings. But luckily there still exist few who are not entirely engulfed by the new medium and still believe in reading books.
Following is the list of twenty best books you must read once in your lifetime.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published in 1925, this novel is a portrait of the Jazz Age and is considered the greatest classic of the 20th century. The novel recounts the story of enigmatic and rich Jay Gatsby and his passion for his beloved, Daisy. It explores themes of the American dream, capitalism and social upheaval.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is the first and the only novel written by writer and poet, Sylvia Plath. The novel has autobiographical elements and is confessional in tone. In the book, Esther Greenwood, an aspiring poet of nineteen years old who descends into a mental illness and tries to kill herself. Sylvia Plath too was struggling with mental illness and tried to kill herself when she was young and then took her life in her thirties.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple, written as a series of diary entries and letters was written in 1982 and Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for this novel the following year. The novel documents struggles of Celie, a black southern woman who fights rape, racism, and toxic masculinity. The Color Purple is the story of Celie discovering herself and her independence.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things written in 1996 is a novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy. The book won the Booker prize in 1997. The novel is set in Ayemenem in Kerala, India and is about fraternal twins Rahel and Esthappen. The novel is about how Rahel and Esthappen’s lives are destroyed by the ‘love laws’ and how they defy it towards the end of the novel.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude, written by Columbian author, Gabriel García Márquez, is a magic realist book that tells the story of rise and fall of Buenďia family through several generations in the fictitious town of Macando. The novel is an insight into the Columbian culture and history.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre is a novel written by Charlotte Brontë under the pen name “Currer Bell” in 1847. The novel is a bildungsroman and speaks of the experiences of Jane Eyre from childhood to adulthood and her undying love for Mr. Rochester. The novel is said to be ahead of its time with feminist overtones.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland was published in 1865 by English author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who wrote the book under the pseudonym, Lewis Carroll. The book tells the story of a young girl Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world. Though a children’s book, the novel grips its adult readers with as much awe.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
Lolita authored by Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov is a 1955 novel about pedophilia of middle-aged literature professor, Humbert who is obsessed with 12-year old, Dolores Haze. He nicknames her “Lolita” and becomes sexually involved with her.
The novel received several objections due to its obscene nature back then and now is one of the most popular books in literature.
The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger is a novel by French writer Albert Camus published in 1942. The novel is the story of Mersault, who is deemed immoral and dangerous for the society because he refuses to cry and exhibit remorse at his mother’s death. The novel has a theme of existentialism.