One Hundred Books You Must Read Before You Die

I watched The Enforcer recently and was intrigued by the hero’s goal of reading a hundred books you must read. In response, I obtained the following list of books you must read.

[CHILD] – 33 titles are suitable for children and adults.

[READ] – I have read 16 of the titles. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

[BANNED] – 22 books are banned in Texas and other states.

1. 1984 by George Orwell [BANNED]

2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain [CHILD] [READ] [BANNED]

3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

5. The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges

6. Animal Farm by George Orwell [BANNED]

7. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop [CHILD] [READ]

8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll [CHILD]

9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

10. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner [BANNED]

12. Beloved by Toni Morrison [BANNED]

13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak [CHILD]

14. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley [BANNED]

15. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky [READ]

16. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

17. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger [BANNED]

18. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl [CHILD]

19. Charlotte’s Web by E. B White [CHILD] [BANNED]

20. The Call of the Wild by Jack London [CHILD]

21. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess [BANNED]

22. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

23. The Collected of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

24. The Color Purple: A Novel by Alice Walker [BANNED]

25. Coraline by Neil Gaiman [CHILD]

26. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas [CHILD]

27. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky [READ]

28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon [CHILD]

29. The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

30. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Lu Xun

31. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank [CHILD] [BANNED]

32. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

33. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra [READ]

34. Dracula by Bram Stoker

35. Emma by Jane Austen

36. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury [BANNED]

37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

38. The Giver by Lois Lowry

39. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman [CHILD]

40. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown [CHILD]

41. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

42. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald [BANNED]

43. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm [CHILD] [READ]

44. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift [CHILD] [READ]

45. Hamlet by William Shakespeare [READ]

46. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood [BANNED]

47. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling [CHILD] [BANNED]

48. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad [READ]

49. Here’s to You, Jesusa! by Elena Poniatowska

50. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

51. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien [CHILD]

52. Holes by Louis Sachar [CHILD]

53. Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

54. The Iliad by Homer [READ]

55. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison [BANNED]

56. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

57. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne [CHILD]

58. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

59. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

60. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis [CHILD]

61. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry [CHILD]

62. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott [CHILD]

63. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov [BANNED]

64. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien [CHILD] [BANNED]

65. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

66. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

67. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

68. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville [READ]

69. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

70. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

71. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck [BANNED]

72. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway [CHILD] [READ]

73. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens [CHILD]

74. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

75. One Thousand and One Nights by Unknown

76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

77. Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo

78. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster [CHILD]

79. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren [CHILD]

80. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

81. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

82. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare [READ]

83. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket [CHILD]

84. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

85. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

86. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata

87. The Stranger by Albert Camus

88. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

90. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas [CHILD]

91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [CHILD] [READ] [BANNED]

92. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson [CHILD] [READ]

93. Ulysses by James Joyce

94. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy [READ]

95. Watership Down by Richard Adams [CHILD]

96. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne [CHILD]

97. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

98. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum [CHILD]

99. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

100. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Of the 1,648 titles on the PENN AMERICA banned book list for the 2021-2022 school year:

41% explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+ (this includes a specific subset of titles for transgender characters or stories – 145 titles, or 9%)

40% contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color;

21% directly address issues of race and racism;

22% contain sexual content of varying kinds, including novels with some level of description of the sexual experiences of teenagers, stories about teen pregnancy, sexual assault, and abortion as well as informational books about puberty, sex, or relationships.

PEN AMERICA INDEX OF SCHOOL BOOK BANS – 2021-2022,, retrieved April 18, 2023.

About Allen Mesch

Allen is an author, educator, and historian. He has written six books: The Analyst; Teacher of Civil War Generals; Your Affectionate Father, Charles F. Smith; Charles A. Marvin - "One Year. Six Months, and Eleven Days", Preparing for Disunion, and Ebenezer Allen - Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy. He taught classes on the American Civil War at Collin College. He has visited more than 130 Civil War sites and given presentations at Civil War Roundtables.
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