Books have opened a new world to learning that sometimes cannot be taught in a classroom, and the best part about it is the lessons we take from them are entirely a unique experience and vary from everyone. Most of us book lovers have, have at least once Googled “top 10 must read books”, with each search web page appearing with the same few book recommendations. The Carry A Book team have compiled a list of books that we urge for everyone to read at least once in their lifetime. With both classic and new release books, and a variety of genres there will be a book suited to everyone on this list!
Have a quick read of each book for a brief insight to make sure you don’t waste hours reading a book, only for it to be a let-down.
1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The novel follows Edmond Dante who is thrown in prison for a crime that he did not commit. There he learns of a great treasure hidden somewhere on the Isle of Monte Cristo which encourages him to not only plot his escape but to find the treasure and seek revenge on the 3 men who were responsible for his incarceration. Now, for a novel that was supposedly written about revenge and published in the 1840s, it was surprisingly modern as it refers to drug abuse, LGBTQ+ communities and even has commentary on sexism.
Even though some may find the predictability of The Count of Monte Cristo tedious, it is the overall wit and humour that draws you in and makes you want to continue reading the book.
2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Kurt Vonnegut wrote that there is one other book that can teach you everything that you need to know about life and that is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. If that isn’t enough of a reference, then Einstein calling it “the supreme summit of all literature” should convince you to read this book.
The novel is a murder mystery, concerning the homicide and robbery of Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov, the father and most vulgar character of the family. The subplots and arcs allows Dostoevesky to develop diverse, relatable characters throughout by using their behaviours under stressful situations and uncertainty to make general statements about the human condition in the face of moral corruption.
3. The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho (cliche we know)
Most people have probably heard the overused phrase “it isn’t about the destination but rather the journey”, and after a while it sort of loses its “wow” factor. However, The Alchemist, is a classic for a reason as it follows a shepherd boy from Spain, Santiago embarks on a journey to follow his dreams about treasures lying in the Pyramids of Egypt. On Santiago’s journey he not only discovers his destiny but encounters many challenges that help him learn and grow along the way. With emphasis being placed on faith, hope and spirituality throughout the novel, it is a great optimistic piece to inspire and instil hope in the reader.
4. We Have Always Lived in The Castle by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson, the author of the better known The Haunting of Hill House (which is now a Netflix series) writes timeless books as she infuses her own qualities as a person into the writing of her books. As a reader living through the Covid-19 pandemic it is easy to find parallels between our current situation and the novel, We have Always Lived In The Castle. The main characters, Merricat and Constance are fearful of other people and are mostly confined to their home where they spend most of their time nurturing small hobbies and never venture further than their backyard except for grocery trips. Not only can your everyday pandemic survivalist relate to the plot, but the novel provides solace for those who are odd and are beckoned towards normalcy.
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple, very simply is a novel on enlightenment and taking charge of your life. While following the life of a young African girl, Cecile, the novel explores themes such as racism, slavery, inequality, feminism, culture, LGBTQ+ and so much more. No wonder it is a novel that people are constantly trying to ban; any novel that people don’t want you to read means that you should by all means read it more.
6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This novel may have minimal structure to it, but the written form of humour is unique and brilliant. Although it may sound questionable, Author Dent and his alien best friend will keep you entertained, even when the earth explodes and is run by mice as they are on their way to write a guide to the galaxy and takes note of small observations in human inconsistency and the significance of mundane things like the number 42.
7. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Writing a gay romance novel in the 1950s before the gay liberation movement was extremely controversial and brave as James Baldwin aimed to work through his own feelings and frustrations with the men in his life just as his main character. Even though the story follows the romance between a same sex couple, David and Giovanni, it is rather about inner turmoil, denial and self-loafing that he faces because of society’s myopic beliefs.
8. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Traditionally known as a comedian and The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah provides insight into his turbulent life growing up during the most difficult times in South African history. Being the son of a white Swiss-German father and a black Xhosa mother, proved to be extremely difficult as the Apartheid era came to its end. The fact that he was “born a crime” did however shape him into the comedian and talk show host that he is today and gave Noah a platform to spread awareness on the South African culture.
9. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom reconnects with his old lecturer and mentor, Morrie who picks up where he left off by continuing to teach Mitch. However, this time the teachings are entirely academic. Every Tuesday Morrie takes him on a journey through his life, how every experience has shaped him and explains how life and death are more alike in nature than he may think.
10. The Arc Jar by Tory Henwood Hoen
This novel is a bracingly entertaining antidote to the issues of online dating, which is very relatable to many. With its intelligent and unfussy bent, the novel is foremost a plucky city romance that recalls the work of Laurie Colwin.
The best thing about books is the fact that we are all able to read the same books and take different lessons from them. The influences that books have are meant to be impactful on an individual basis and not on the masses. These are just 10 out of the thousands of life changing books that could later the way we look at life and inspire others. What books would you recommend? Add your suggestions for must-read novels on your Carry A Book app so that more people can experience the lessons that those books have shared with you!