From award-winning books to lesser known gems, the greatest books written will always be relevant regardless of time.
Running out of your to-read lists? As much as classics are appreciated, there are many contemporary novels to enjoy, but some are arguably better or more important than others. Here is a must-read list for book lovers.
10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Published in Dutch on June 1947, in a small edition of around 3000 copies, the book has become one of the most translated books. This work has become one among the world classics—a poignant reminder of the horrors of war and an emotionally expressive testimony to the human spirit.
A thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family abandoned their house in Amsterdam and went into hiding in 1942, when the Nazis occupied Holland. The Franks and another family were cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building for the next two years, until their whereabouts were revealed to the Gestapo. They suffered starvation, boredom and the continuous cruelties of living in a closed space because they were cut off from the outside world. Anne Frank kept a diary throughout this time, recording vivid recollections of the events. Her story is a brilliant reflection on human courage and frailty, as well as a riveting personality of a vibrant young woman whose promise was brutally cut short.
9. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things is a luscious, melodic, and frightening award-winning milestone that launched an impressive career of fiction and political criticism for its author.
The Booker Prize winner novel depicts the story of the children, Esthappen and Rahel. Arundhati Roy’s modern classic is a compelling family history, forbidden love story, and searing political drama, and has been compared favorably to the works of Faulkner and Dickens. Arundhati Roy’s debut work, in which she sheds light on several aspects of life in Kerala, including caste and communism. Esthappen and Rahel learn about the horrific truths of life at a young age. Though the story opens with Esthappen and Rahel, the majority of it is devoted to larger stories about the state’s political affairs, as well as their parents and relatives. As secrets, hatred, and falsehoods undermine their world, the darker undertones in twins’ lives become glaringly evident.
8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is the author of almost fifty novels, poetry collections, and critical essays. Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, and the MaddAddam trilogy are few among her works. The Testaments, a sequel to her 1985 classic The Handmaid’s Tale, was a global number one bestseller and received the Booker Prize in 2019.
This dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was first published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in the Republic of Gilead, a fiercely patriarchal, authoritarian theonomic state that has toppled the United States government. Offred, the major character and narrator, is one of the ‘handmaids,’ a group of women who are forced to bear children for the “commanders,” the ruling class. The story delves at the experiences of oppressed women in patriarchal societies and the ways in which they rebel and seek uniqueness and freedom. The title of the book is parallel to certain sections of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a collection of interconnected stories (such as “The Merchant’s Tale” and “The Parson’s Tale”).
7. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood brilliantly recaptures a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love, merging the music, mood, and ethos of the 1960s with the story of a college student’s passionate coming of age.
Published in 1987, the novel is a nostalgic tale of grief and sexual awakening. The story is narrated in the first person by Toru Watanabe, who reflects on his days as a college student in Tokyo. Readers observe Watanabe build connections with two very different women, the gorgeous but emotionally tormented Naoko and the extroverted, energetic Midori, through Watanabe’s reminiscences. The story takes place in late 1960s Tokyo, during a time when Japanese students, like those from other countries, were revolting against the established order. While it provides a backdrop for the novel’s events, Murakami paints the student movement as rather weak-willed and hypocritical (through the views of Watanabe and Midori).
6. Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian science fiction novel Never Let Me Go, published in 2005, was nominated for the 2005 Booker Prize. Ishiguro had previously won the Booker Prize in 1989 for The Remains of the Day. It was titled as the best novel of 2005 by Time magazine, which included it in its list of “100 Best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME.”
Ishiguro’s sixth novel is Never Let Me Go. This novel is set in 1990s England twhich is unlike the one we know. Human cloning was legalized and carried out during the time. Never Let Me Go was originally named ‘The Student’s Novel’, when Ishiguro began writing it in 1990. Never Let Me Go transcends the literary novel’s limitations. It’s a compelling mystery, a charming love tale, and a sharp criticism of human arrogance, as well as a moral assessment of the way in which the vulnerable are treated in our society. Ishiguro’s most poignant and powerful work till date, explores the themes of memory and the impact of the past, as well as the idea of a possible future.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Considered to be one of the best works of the century, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a romance novel published in 1813. Though it is widely appreciated as a novel belonging to the romance genre, the novel can also be classified as satire.
The novel explores the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist, as she learns about the repercussions of hasty judgments and the divide between superficial virtue and genuine goodness. The satire’s strength resides in its accurate portrayal of etiquette, education, marriage, and money in England during the Regency period. Despite the fact that it was first published over two centuries ago, Pride and Prejudice continues to enchant readers today.
4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart is the first of Chinua Achebe’s critically acclaimed African Trilogy. The story depicts Africa’s devastating confrontation with Europe as it creates its colonial presence. The novel explores a man’s futile resistance to the depreciation of his Igbo traditions by British political and religious forces.
Things Fall Apart deals with what sudden change from the customary path means for different characters. The strain concerning whether change ought to be privileged over tradition includes inquiries of individual status. The story captures the pre-colonial life in Nigeria and the advent of the Europeans during the late nineteenth century. The novel cross examines the conflict of societies, tradition and frameworks of belief.
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Emily Bront’s novel Wuthering Heights was first published under the pseudonym Ellis Bell in 1847. Romanticism and Gothic fiction influenced the novel. Although Wuthering Heights is now regarded a masterpiece of English literature, it was faced criticism at the time. It was divisive because of its portrayals of mental and physical cruelty, as well as its challenges to Victorian morality, religion and societal ideals.
Heathcliff and Catherine engage in a romance that destroys them and those around them in this epic saga of love, jealousy, betrayal, and retribution. This famous tale of thwarted romance is set in the lonely and harsh Yorkshire moors and begins when the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, Mr Lockwood, is forced to seek shelter for the night in Wuthering Heights. As the night progresses, Lockwood learns more about Wuthering Heights’ turbulent past and those associated with it.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s work To Kill a Mockingbird was first published in 1960 and became an immediate success. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has become a modern American classic. The work is known for its warmth and comedy, despite dealing with serious subjects such as rape and racial discrimination.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a compassionate, dramatic, and emotionally moving novel that leads readers to the origins of human conduct- to innocence and experience. This regional story by a young Alabama woman has been translated into forty languages. Harper Lee considered her work to be a simple love story from the beginning. It is now acknowledged as a literary masterpiece in the United States.
1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
If you are an avid reader, the probability of you having read the novel ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini is really high. The writer, in almost all of his works, directly hits at the double oppression that women face and about his homeland, Afghanistan.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a captivating novel set against the tumultuous events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years- from the Soviet invasion to the Taliban’s reign to post-Taliban rebuild- that puts the country’s violence, fear and faith in vivid, human terms. It’s a story about two generations of people brought together by the catastrophic expanse of war, where human lives are inextricably linked to the events unfolding around them. Life becomes a continuous struggle against famine, brutality, and dread once the Taliban seize control. Love, on the other hand, may drive a person to behave in unexpected ways and inspire them to overcome the most difficult challenges with astounding heroism.