Earlier this year I shared a list of 10 books I feel everyone should read at least once in their life. Of course, it was only Part 1 because there are far too many books in the world (with new fantastic possibilities every day) to pick just 10. But, for exactly that reason, it helps to have a few highlighted. So, without further ado:
Here are another 10 books everyone should read at least once in their lifetime
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I first read this during my high school years and fell in love with it. The allure of the roaring 20’s jazz, dancing, slang, and more, did not stay in the 20’s, and this book is a literary form of it. Fitzgerald manages to capture an era rife with issues that continue to this day, in their own ways. This book offers and challenges the idea of the American Dream and what that means. It’s been a while since I last picked it up, but the characters and the feelings stay with me to this day. Definitely worth your perusal.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
I’ve only recently (in the last couple of years) been introduced to the fantastic works of Wilkie Collins. Truly, when you put the stories written by Collins into context of the times they were published (mid 1800s), the works are remarkable. Between posing an intriguing mystery littered with false trails, fiends, and devious motives, there’s the challenge of gender norms, either in appearance or attitude. I was enthralled with story and characters alike and would happily return to it again someday.
The Yellow Wallpaper and other stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This incredibly short collection of short stories will leave your heart in your throat and a chill in your spine. The particular collection of stories I read and am referring to can be found here . Each one touches on serious topics of the age, and still today, concerning feminism, and issues with women’s health, not least of which being mental health. It took an afternoon to finish, but the stories and themes still echo in my mind and will for years to come. I heartily suggest this (un)easy read.
Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
I actually just finished reading the last book in this series the other day, and talk about some unexpected tear-jerking near the end (should have a review up eventually). In order, the books are Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam. Seriously, I cannot believe more people haven’t read these books, taken a look at the world, and collectively decided to change things before we put ourselves further down the path it lays out. A horrifyingly realistic story depicting the world leading up to and following a catastrophic plague that nearly obliterates the human race in sickening fashion. I can already tell that I will never shake these characters or the story from my mind, and I suggest you get to know them and their stories too, but it might keep you up at night, one way or the other.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K Dick
Some people may recognize this story better by the name of a movie called Blade Runner, but I couldn’t get into it nearly as much as I got into the book. Considering how speedily we are traveling on the technology road, androids being integrated into society at some point is a very real possibility in the near future. For that very reason, I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book and putting serious thought into your own beliefs about humans, androids, and empathy. Absolutely worth a read in this life.
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
I stumbled across this book years ago by pure accident while I was living in California and it still creeps into my thoughts. It’s the story of a man named Lou Arrendale, who is high functioning autistic, and his struggle with whether or not to try an experimental treatment that might “cure” his autism. I really cannot even begin to tell you all that went through my mind during and after I read this book. It gives an evocative and possible look into the future, which raises a myriad of vitally important questions that beg for answers sooner rather than later: questions like, is autism something you “cure”, or should the world at large learn to evolve and accept people as they are and create space for that in our culture? (For the record, I believe in the latter.) This book will challenge and change you, and needs to be read.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Another classic too easily looked over and dismissed by the average teen encountering it for the first time, usually, in middle/high school. The movie version with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch isn’t too bad either, he certainly captures the man I imagined. This book covers issues and themes like racism and racial injustice, class, gender roles, compassion, perception and more. There is plenty of criticism about this book by contemporary adult readers, and while I can appreciate some of those points, I still believe this book is worth a read, at least once in your life.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kayson
Another book you might have seen the movie version of (I have not, yet), this one is a memoir. It’s not a linear tale, but scattered memories and reflections of Susanna’s experience in a psychiatric hospital. It’s hard to tell you exactly why you need to read this, but with musings so eloquently worded and as relevant as how easily madness can be to slip into and out of, whether or not you can personally relate, I have to recommend a read. It’s short and not terribly complex in style, though the subject matter can certainly be unnerving. Give it a try.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The possibility of time travel has fascinated us for ages, and this book somehow remains timeless. Yet another book that’s been retold in cinema form, it’s still the book that keeps me up at night. Picked up by any generation, this book is a cautionary tale meant to challenge and instigate thought about capitalism and the harm it does the workers, as well as questions the assumption that the human race will continue to improve culture and society until the end of time. Depending on where you choose to point your scope, you could puzzle over this book for a long time, and thus, it should be read at least once in this life.
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
I’m a fan of H.G. Wells if you couldn’t tell. His novels are short enough to read in an afternoon, but always the ideas challenged and questions posed are certain to stay with you a lifetime. This book is horrifying to imagine, an island of degenerates that have been spliced together and experimented on at the whim of a man that decides he has the right; degeneration and vivisection were big topics at the time it was published. One of my favorite quotes is from this book (though I do have many), and the language often pulls you in and weaves around you. Another book full of ideas worth pondering and words worth retaining, everyone should read this at least once.
There you have it! And before you ask, yes, there will be a Part 3 at some point, I’m sure. As I said at the beginning, too many possibilities and more every day. How many of these have you read and what did you think of them?