Books Everyone Should Read Once

Harry Potter Series - J. K. Rowling

Probably the most read series for me on this list - this is the series of my childhood and coming of age. If I were to give you a timeline, I started the first book when it came out in 1997, when I was 7 - the last book came out when I was 17. I grew up reading these stories, and the world created by Rowling. While I have often heard it described as a children’s book about wizards in school - that has always felt rather reductive. The book is set in a world of wizards going to school, but it has never been about that. While I know not everyone will be a fan of the series, I always recommend it, as it is one of those books you cannot help but going back into.

Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien

Probably my favorite fantasy book ever written - the depth of the world created by Tolkien is simply overwhelming. It was not just characters and locations he created; he developed languages, writing systems, cultures, historical background, origin stories, and mythology. The character development of the main characters carries this epic tale of adventure, and in true Tolkien style, the whole story is centered on the idea of Good vs Evil, and the survival of the world.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is probably one of those books that you only find out through school, but end up loving the story regardless. It is a tale of glitz and glamour, of secrets and lies, and of the hopeful love. It captures its setting, the characters feel real, and the story does not feel overly exaggerated. A classic of the modern age.

Hamlet - William Shakespeare

If there was one Shakespeare on my top ten, it would undoubtedly be Hamlet. The primordial theme of the story is revenge, and how and where it can take a man. Other themes in the book are betrayal, forgiveness, grief, death, and friendship. As his works are plays, getting into Shakespeare can be challenging, as it is not only a different format, but the language is not something you hear every day. This is probably, in my opinion, the most emotional of Shakespeare’s work, and depending on how you take it, it is not always tragic.

Gai-Jin - James Clavell

This not the most well know book in this list, and yet, it is probably one of my favorite discoveries. While Clavell’s Shogun and Tai-Pan are his most known stories, it is this sequel to those stories that I love the most. Set in Japan in the early 1860s, the story begins with what can be considered an international incident, and the story kind of spins from there, as characters travel the intricacies, of foreign and domestic policy, economic struggles, the role of the society standard, while working with a large ensemble cast of characters. It is not a book for everyone, as you will often find yourself googling some of the references to historical events and people mentioned. This is one of those great novels to dive into.

Honorable mentions

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

Night - Elie Wiesel

A Death in Vienna - Daniel Silva

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

Henry V - William Shakespeare

Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie