Putting together my own "100 Books You Must Read Before you Die" list has brought me to several conclusions.
First, it's really really hard. There are so many books out there how does one choose 100?
Second, I am realizing how many books I want to include on this list, but haven't read so I'm going to amend my previous statement of listing only books I've read in this 100 list and include books I have not read... After all, if it's my list of books I must read before I did, wouldn't it make sense to include books I've not yet read... else I will have reached my goal and I'm not yet ready to leave earth. (The books in my list that I have not yet read are marked with an *, so whenever you see a * know it to mean: "This book deserves a place on the list, and I hope to read it in the near future.")
Third, not all the books I have on this list are books I loved. This isn't a list of 100 books I love, though most of them are books I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the books are on this list not as a favorite, but for some other special reason. For example, I might not like the story, I might have had very mixed feelings about it, but I felt it was really well written and thus it really is worth the experience of reading it. Or perhaps it wasn't the best written story in the world, but it's SUCH a wonderful tale that it has to be on this list. Either way, this is my list so it will contain the 100 books I wish to declare "Must Reads". Don't agree? I'd love to see your list, maybe it'll give me more ideas of books to add. Who says I have to stop at 100 books... How about 1000?
Fourth and last, I have marked specific books with a + symbol. This means I have a special comment to make about this particular book, so look at the bottom of the post if you are curious to learn more.
Books 26-50 in alphabetical order:
26. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
27. Around the World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne
28. The Holy Bible (perhaps I should have listed this first)
29. Bleak House by Charles Dickens*
30. Besty-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace +
31. The Count of Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas*
32. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley +
33. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
34. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
35. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
36. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo +
37. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling*
38. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
39. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
40. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
41. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
42. The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope
43. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
44. Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
45. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn
46. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas*
47. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
48. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
49. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame*
50. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Look for the next twenty-five books on my list in the upcoming weeks.
+ Betsy-Tacy -- is the first in a series. I had a difficult time picking just one book from this series (as I did with the Anne series and the Little House on the Prairie series, All Creatures Great and Small series, Narnia series, etc. etc.). It didn't seem fair to list all the books as they would take up much of my 100 titles. In the end I chose the first title from each series (i.e. Betsy-Tacy, Anne of Green Gables, Little House in the Big Woods, etc. etc.) as a starter book. If you read it and enjoy it, then it might just wet your appetite to read the rest in the series, which I hope it does as they all merit your time.
+ Frankenstein -- I didn't like this story. I really found it too sad and dreadful to finish and yet... for others it may be an excellent read. I had to list it because it is truly a classic and there is a good message to be learned from this book, but even so, consider it a "maybe" on my list --meaning it's not one my hard set "Must Read" books. (Another of these would be East of Eden.)
+ The Hunchback of Notre Dame -- This is an excellent story. I started this book and it was a chore to finish (it's long and Hugo was long-winded), but in the end I was so glad to have read it. It will require pushing through some very dry and dull parts (particularly when Hugo rambles on about the architecture of the bridges in France), but if you've made it through Les Miserables, you can make it through Hunchback... and if you haven't... well, trust me, you're missing something. If it's a real struggle for you then I advise locating an unabridged audio book version and, no, that's not cheating.