There are a number of books that launch everyday. Some go on to become best selling novels, while some reside on the author’s desk. However, one thing common is that the authors were inspired by same great literary novels at some point of their lives. This brings me to the topic of the greatest books you got to read. Books that introduce you to different worlds, genres, story telling, characters you love, characters you despise, truth and fiction. Here is my list of 10 of the greatest books you got to read, which suffices all these aspects. This list is not in any particular order.
Author: Ayn Rand
First Published: 1957
"He was a man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him."
Ayn Rand was one of the greatest advocates of Objectivism; a theory which she proposes in the finest way in Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand personally considered Atlas Shrugged as her greatest work in fiction writing, through which she propagated her beliefs. In every industry or the minutest level of organization, there are just a few who run the same bearing the burden of the parasites loading on them. What happens if these people are pushed to the limit that they leave their respective fields? Well, the answer is Atlas Shrugged.
The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
First Published: 1951
“Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
J. D. Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye from the perspective of a teenager Holden Caulfied. Holded Caulfied is known for becoming an icon who represents teenage emotions in the form anger, despair and rebellion. But, what makes the novel complete is Holden’s empathy and love for his sister Phoebe. This novel had garnered a lot of controversy on its launch and is still banned from many libraries. But then, it is a supreme work of fiction and hence is also a recommended read in many school curriculams.
Author: Ayn Rand
First Published: 1943
“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.”
The Fountainhead is considered to be the first major literary success of Ayn Rand. Through this novel Ayn Rand cultivates the idea of individualism in the minds of her readers. Howard Roark, the protagonist of the story is presented by Ayn Rand as an ideal man. He is an architect who refuses to compromise his vision of work for aspects like recognition which he deems as mere worldly needs.
The Lord of the Rings
Author: J. R. R. Tolkein
First Published: 1955
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
If you have watched ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy movie series, you may consider to have been introduced to the epic fantasy world created by J. R. R. Tolkein, but it’s not complete. While I consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie series as one of the best adaptations which in a limited screen time portrayed such a huge classic but it just touches on the primary themes and storylines. There is a lot more left in the novels. Hobbits, elves, orcs, men, ents - all have their histories narrated in a wider way. Every character has a back story and a lineage defined. Even the geography and climate of the lands are described. Written as an extension to ‘The Hobbit’ another work by Tolkein, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a work beyond imagination.
A Tale of Two Cities
Author: Charles Dickens
First Published: 1859
“You have been the last dream of my soul.”
Considered as the best novelist of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens wrote ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ with reference to London and Paris. You may have heard the lines - “It was the best of time, it was the worst of time…”. In case you didn’t know, this is the novel that starts with these lines. It tells the plight of French peasantry and aristocracy during and after the French revolution and draws parallel to the state of affairs in London.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
First Published: 1960
“The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.”
To Kill a Mockingbird is a fiction novel for which Harper Lee received the Pultizer Prize. However, a fun fact is that it was just the first novel written by Harper Lee and is one of her only two novels. The story introduces us to Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the fictional town of Maycomb. The story is from the perspective of his daughter Jean Louis Finch. While the novel deals with serious issues like racism and rape; what makes it wonderful is the intelligent handling of other aspects like humour. Atticus Finch has since become a moral hero among readers and a cult figure in the law community.
Author: George Orwell
First Published: 1945
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell represents the events that led to the Russian Revolution and the subsequent state of affairs after the revolution in this novella. He does this by narrating the story of a certain farm where the animals fight back the brutalities of their human master and revolt against him. With the master ousted, the pigs take up position to form the government. While the other animals rejoice of being independent, the further plight of the humans that happens in a corrupt system under the pigs, forms the remaining story.
The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
First Published: 1925
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
The novel introduces us to the enigmatic character of Jay Gatsby. He is a decorated war veteran and during the phase of the story a millionaire. He is in love with Daisy Buchanan who he had met during his days in the infantry. However, Daisy is now married. The story touches multiple aspects of the time often referred to as the Roaring Twenties. This novel was not an initial success. In fact, Fitzgerald died in 1940 and considered his literary career as a failure. However, the novel was appreciated a lot, specially during and after the second world war and went on to become one of the most adapted stories in theater and movies.
Author: Charlotte Bronte
First Published: 1847
“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
Because of this novel Charlotte Bronte is known as the ‘first historian of the private consciousness’. The novel tells the story of Jane Eyre and was first published as ‘Jane Eyre - An Autobiography’. It tells the story of Jane to adulthood and explores various aspects like feminism, sexuality and religion. This is one of those novels which is considered to be way ahead of its time.
War and Peace
Author: Leo Tolstory
First Published: 1869
“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
Though published as a series from 1865 to 1867, the complete novel was printed for the first time in 1869. I agree this is a very long novel and sometimes the names get complicated for readers like me who are not used to Russian names. This novel is considered as an epic masterpiece of Tolstoy. The book narrates the lives of individuals during the Napoleonic wars and when the French invaded Russia. How the pretext of the story keeps changing from ball rooms to war councils, hence giving it the title War and Peace.
This is just 10 of the greatest books that I consider every individual must read. But, then, these are not the only ten. There are a lot more classics which have redefined literature. Let me know which are the classics that you consider any ardent reader must read.