Saturday, February 23, 2013

Top Ten Novels You Should Read Before You Die

If you're like me, you're always on the lookout for good books to read.  Not only that, but you want to make sure that the books you read are really worth a look.  Today, I'm going to list ten books which I think should be on everyone's to-read list.  

1.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Taking into consideration that I love this story and that I'm almost finished with reading it for the second time, I might be a bit biased.  Still, despite its massive size (about 1000 pages for the unabridged version), The Count of Monte Cristo really is a worthwhile read that you should make time for.  The speeches Dumas writes are profound, you get to learn a bit about the history of France and the mystery and intrigue that seasons the plot is fantastic.  Revenge stories may not be everyone's cup of tea, but The Count of Monte Cristo is undoubtedly among the best of the genre.  

2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman


There is so much that I love about this book.  First of all, even though William Goldman claims that he's not the original author of the book, he is.  This makes it really interesting because everything between the covers of this book, even the "autobiographical" introduction, is fiction.  Once you get past this introduction, you enter into the story that you probably think you know well from watching the movie.  While the movie is pretty close to the book in most cases, the book has a lot of details that the movie ignored.  It's a fun adventure full of daring swordplay and nutty humor.  You'll want to read this book in your lifetime.  

3. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Most of you have probably already read this book, but if you haven't, go and read it.  Not only is it a classic according to Time magazine, it's also a powerful allegory about Christian life.  Sure, there have been movies, TV and stage adaptations of this story, but never did any of these adaptations quite capture the emotion that this short book can still invoke in me.  This masterpiece isn't all that long, either, so you should really pick it up if you haven't.  

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

To those of you who loved the movie, tried to read the book and just couldn't do it: I encourage you to try again.  I admit that I too, struggled to make it through the book because it wasn't like the movie, but it really is worth another look.  In fact, I'd go so far as to call it one of the best romances I've read.  Sure, the length and vocabulary of this book is a little daunting, but it really is worth it.  


5.  The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

Another book that's not too long.  It was, however, published in the early 20th century, making it a bit of a difficult read at first.  The first reason I enjoyed this book so much was because of the sentence structure.  That may sound weird, but it's true.  There are some parts of this book that just beg to be read aloud, and when you do so, you realize how wonderful they sound.  I don't want to spoil the story, but suffice it to say that my other favorite element of this book was the conflict.  It was communicated in such a way that I found myself really caring for it and waiting anxiously to see how it would end.  

6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I like a lot of Tolkien's work, but I admit that reading through it can be really time-consuming.  There's just so much history and depth to the world that he created that it can be difficult to comprehend it all.  If you never read any of his other books, I highly recommend The Hobbit.  Not only is it shorter than The Lord of the Rings, it's also a little bit lighter in terms of feeling.  Although the epic story of The Lord of the Rings is fantastic, sometimes it's nice to just read something that's a little simpler to grasp.  The Hobbit is one of these stories.  

7. The Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson


Wayne Thomas Batson is one of my favorite authors, and though I really like all of his books, The Door Within trilogy are the books that really made the biggest impact on me.  Like C.S. Lewis, Batson writes a wonderful allegory of the Christian life in these books.  Although younger teens are the target audience of these books, they can still be enjoyed by readers of all ages.  

8. Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn


I know this was supposed to be a list of ten books, but there are very few series that you can break apart without something being lost.  And yes, I know that Star Wars may not be everyone's favorite, but trust me, these two books are good.  I've read them probably about five or six times and each time I loved them even more.  If you're not a huge fan of Star Wars, you might be a little lost at first, but hang in there and give these books a chance.  They just might surprise you.  

9. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

A lot of Christians have probably read these books or have been meaning to.  I read the whole series a few years ago, and I have to say that they were definitely worth my time.  Even if you don't agree with the theology of the authors, at least read the first book of this series.  They're not only exciting to read, but also thought-provoking.  

10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This book is so wonderfully weird that it merits a place on your to-read shelf. It's totally illogical, easy to read (more or less), and laugh out loud funny. In fact, one of the lines I remember best from any book comes from this one.
‘You know,’ said Arthur, ‘it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.’

‘Why, what did she tell you?’

‘I don't know, I didn't listen.’
I don't know why these lines were so funny when I first read them.  I mean, they're funny, but not funny enough to explain why I laughed for several minutes over them.  Anyway, for whatever reason, they've imbedded themselves in my memory.  

So there you have it, my list of ten books (okay, fourteen), that you should read before you die.  No doubt I'll have more books to add to this list as I read more. 

What books would be in your top ten list?









  1. This is a good list, though there are some I disagree with. :) I haven't read the book of The Princess Bride but now I am thinking maybe I should. I do love the movie a lot.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Lois! You're certainly free to disagree with me. ;)

      Some people may not like the book of The Princess Bride, as it's a little different from the movie and the introduction being fiction as well throws some people off. Personally, I thought it was great. Let me know what you think of it if you decide to give it a try.