10 Books to Read Before You Die

In honor of National Read a Book Day, Jack has compiled a list of must-read classic novels!

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald: Voted second best English-language novel of the 20th Century, this book is sure to keep you entertained. The rags to riches story of the mysterious Jay Gatsby takes place during the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition. Gatsby is known for hosting extravagant parties for the elite to enjoy, however, he finds that they will never consider him an equal because he was not born into money.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This Pulitzer Prize winning novel takes place in Monroeville, Alabama  in 1936. It is the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer and his two young children. To the dismay of his neighbors,  Mr. Finch has taken on the duty of defending a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white female in an extremely bigoted community. As a result of the trial, Monroeville is turned upside down.

Ulysses by James Joyce: Ulysses is based on the frame of  Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, the story of Odysseus and his difficult journey following the the fall of Troy. Originally published between 800 and 600 B.C. ,Joyce took the poem and turned it into a story that would be more fitting with his time period. It was the first time a writer of fiction had  explored this style of writing. The novel was voted the best English-language novel of the twentieth century.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: One of the greatest novels of the 20th Century, The Sound and the Fury is the tragic story of the Compson family. It is a first-person narrative of the three Compson brothers and their struggles as their family falls from grace.

The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger: In 2005, this novel made Time magazine’s 100 best English-language novels list and has sold more than 65 million copies. The book was originally  intended for adult readers but has been extremely popular among adolescents due to its themes of teenage angst and rebellion.

Invisible Man  by Ralph Ellison: Published in 1952, the book addresses many of the intellectual struggles faced by African-Americans during the early twentieth century.The book was ranked nineteenth on  Modern Library’s 100 Best English-language Novels for the 20th Century.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon: The  mystery novel received the Whitehead Book Award for Best Novel and Book of the Year in 2003. The story is told from the perspective of Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15 year-old with Asperger syndrome. The unique perspective makes for an interesting read.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  by Dr. Seuss: The popular children’s book is frequently associated with high school and college graduations. Nearly 300,000 copies are purchased yearly, a significant amount of them are purchased in the spring months. Simple rhymes are used to tell a story about life and its challenges, making it an enjoyable read for all ages.

The Last Lecture  by Randy Pausch & Jeffrey Zaslow: This New York Times best-seller is sure to tug at your heart strings. It is a non-fiction novel that stemmed from a lecture given by Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch was dying of pancreatic cancer when he gave his last lecture entitled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams in which he reveals childhood stories and things he wanted his children to know about life.

The Life of Pi  by Yann Martel: An exciting fantasy novel in which a young boy, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is stranded in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days following a shipwreck. The novel won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Best Adult Fiction for the year 2001-2003. A film adaptation of the book is set for November 21, 2012.