Books You Need to Read to be Considered Well-Read

Contemporary or classic novels, plays, poem and short story anthologies, that any serious reader should read at least ones in his or her life.
1

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3.87 avg rating — 188,420 ratings
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9

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10

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11

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3.80 avg rating — 2,494,274 ratings
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12

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3.91 avg rating — 3,390,369 ratings
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13

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14

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15

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3.67 avg rating — 2,078,929 ratings
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16

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3.89 avg rating — 615,515 ratings
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17

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3.83 avg rating — 760,157 ratings
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18

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3.81 avg rating — 1,091,702 ratings
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19

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4.02 avg rating — 668,050 ratings
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20

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4.47 avg rating — 6,204,590 ratings
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21

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4.12 avg rating — 1,484,796 ratings
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22

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3.79 avg rating — 1,056,642 ratings
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23

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4.07 avg rating — 851,108 ratings
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24

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3.39 avg rating — 653,860 ratings
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25

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4.27 avg rating — 2,597,195 ratings
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26

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3.49 avg rating — 176,284 ratings
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27

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4.04 avg rating — 542,497 ratings
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28

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3.70 avg rating — 82,642 ratings
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29

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4.04 avg rating — 607,130 ratings
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30

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3.85 avg rating — 324,017 ratings
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31

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3.99 avg rating — 844,104 ratings
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32

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3.49 avg rating — 451,509 ratings
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33

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3.96 avg rating — 687,962 ratings
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34

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4.07 avg rating — 1,044,029 ratings
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35

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3.85 avg rating — 1,211,268 ratings
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36

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3.77 avg rating — 601,220 ratings
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37

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4.21 avg rating — 556,755 ratings
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38

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3.98 avg rating — 1,303,409 ratings
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39

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4.11 avg rating — 242,050 ratings
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40

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3.97 avg rating — 618,189 ratings
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41

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4.24 avg rating — 695,039 ratings
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42

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4.07 avg rating — 429,678 ratings
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43

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3.98 avg rating — 4,469 ratings
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44

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3.98 avg rating — 677,682 ratings
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45

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3.89 avg rating — 609,383 ratings
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46

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3.76 avg rating — 735,706 ratings
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47

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4.06 avg rating — 1,494,996 ratings
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48

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3.89 avg rating — 372,092 ratings
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49

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4.09 avg rating — 77,959 ratings
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50

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4.32 avg rating — 884,581 ratings
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51

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4.29 avg rating — 1,013,345 ratings
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52

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3.96 avg rating — 331,343 ratings
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53

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4.42 avg rating — 202,430 ratings
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54

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4.16 avg rating — 128,831 ratings
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55

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3.66 avg rating — 226,162 ratings
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56

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4.19 avg rating — 587,688 ratings
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57

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3.67 avg rating — 228,511 ratings
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58

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4.16 avg rating — 626,061 ratings
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59

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 129,055 ratings
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60

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3.86 avg rating — 293,474 ratings
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61

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4.22 avg rating — 1,279,522 ratings
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62

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4.06 avg rating — 681,167 ratings
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63

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3.82 avg rating — 290,282 ratings
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64

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3.89 avg rating — 290,522 ratings
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65

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4.49 avg rating — 515,119 ratings
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66

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4.34 avg rating — 9,284 ratings
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67

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4.20 avg rating — 471,987 ratings
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68

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3.64 avg rating — 95,788 ratings
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69

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4.26 avg rating — 467,583 ratings
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69

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3.75 avg rating — 803,137 ratings
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71

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4.17 avg rating — 1,292,957 ratings
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72

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3.95 avg rating — 1,087 ratings
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73

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3.70 avg rating — 159,027 ratings
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74

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3.86 avg rating — 1,835,360 ratings
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75

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3.86 avg rating — 182,185 ratings
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76

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3.65 avg rating — 260,871 ratings
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77

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4.12 avg rating — 433,793 ratings
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78

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4.30 avg rating — 1,158,339 ratings
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79

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4.30 avg rating — 137,284 ratings
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80

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4.12 avg rating — 83,109 ratings
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80

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3.81 avg rating — 336,314 ratings
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82

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4.51 avg rating — 159,981 ratings
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83

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3.99 avg rating — 165,437 ratings
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84

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 533,257 ratings
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85

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4.34 avg rating — 245,563 ratings
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86

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3.93 avg rating — 95,581 ratings
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87

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4.13 avg rating — 813,983 ratings
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88

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4.05 avg rating — 6,945 ratings
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89

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 980,266 ratings
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90

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3.43 avg rating — 213,157 ratings
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91

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3.89 avg rating — 197,852 ratings
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92

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4.08 avg rating — 241,534 ratings
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93

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4.29 avg rating — 206,428 ratings
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94

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3.98 avg rating — 213,669 ratings
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95

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3.77 avg rating — 60,477 ratings
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95

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4.22 avg rating — 360,099 ratings
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97

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3.73 avg rating — 102,326 ratings
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98

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3.64 avg rating — 161,072 ratings
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99

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4.38 avg rating — 200,054 ratings
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100

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3.69 avg rating — 336,374 ratings
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638 books · 512 voters · list created August 26th, 2010 by Joe (votes) .
252 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Joe 19 books
0 friends
Ricki 4073 books
1474 friends
Sara 2140 books
41 friends
Diane 0 books
0 friends
Susan 451 books
4 friends
Benjamin 301 books
0 friends
Hweeps 1385 books
36 friends
Carrie 2286 books
62 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Why the hell is "To Kill a Mockingbird" at number 1 and "Ulysses", the very definition of "literature", only 78. And no "Molloy" either?


message 2: by Caleb (new)

Caleb I take huge issue with Animal Farm being #4. That book is boring as hell and would be considered simplistic by a 3rd grader. It's practically condescending. When my high school lit. teacher told me it was his favorite book, I lost all respect for him as a reader and writer. I made an account here just to correct this wrong.


message 3: by A (new)

A Thorpe deleted user wrote: "Why the hell is "To Kill a Mockingbird" at number 1 and "Ulysses", the very definition of "literature", only 78. And no "Molloy" either?"

Probably because nobody ever actually reads "Ulysses" and people actually read "To Kill a Mockingbird"


message 4: by James (new)

James Doto Caleb wrote: "I take huge issue with Animal Farm being #4. That book is boring as hell and would be considered simplistic by a 3rd grader. It's practically condescending. When my high school lit. teacher told me..."

Obviously you completely missed the point of the entire book.


message 5: by Booklovinglady (last edited Oct 05, 2014 07:55AM) (new)

Booklovinglady A wrote: "Probably because nobody ever actually reads "Ulysses" and people actually read "To Kill a Mockingbird.."

I voted for both but you certainly have a point there.

It also sort of works the other way around: I disliked The Catcher in the Rye for instance but would have read it anyway should I have known beforehand, even if it hadn't been compulsory reading for me at the time. Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies aren't quite my thing either but I'm still glad I've read them.

I noticed by the way that there's an emphasis on books originally published in English, as there are only a few exceptions in this Listopia at present. For me 'being well read' is not only a work in progress but it also means having read important books published originally in other languages than English (whether in a translation or in the original language) and I was wondering how others felt about this. I'm moderator of a Dutch/Flemish group and our seasonal challenges take us around the world, which made me come across some classics I'd never even heard of before. like The Rose Garden (Gulistan) of Saadi, The Book of Dede Korkut, The Ring Of The Dove or the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, for example.

By the way, have a look at the Listopia for Forbidden books (now often considered classics), because there are certainly "Books you need to read to be considered well-read" on there. The number of titles which can be found on both Listopias is stricking...


message 6: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah Caleb wrote: "I take huge issue with Animal Farm being #4. That book is boring as hell and would be considered simplistic by a 3rd grader. It's practically condescending. When my high school lit. teacher told me..."

oh right... you get that it's a political fable that millions of people have identified with?


message 7: by Tyler (new)

Tyler Cameron Even if you don't get the Russian revolution bit Animal Farm is a great satire on humanity.


message 8: by Monica (new)

Monica What happened to reading for it's own sake? What happened to picking up a book and reading it, simply to enjoy it? I've read a lot of the books on this list, not out of some ego-driven desire to flaunt my "well-read" superiority in the face of my peers, but because i held the (obviously mistaken) belief that these books have attained that lofty status of 'classic' for a reason. And that reason is simply that they are good books. I guess i've come to realize that life is too short (and my love for a book i can sink my teeth into is too great) to spend my time reading something i don't want to, just so i can say "i've read that!"


message 9: by Booklovinglady (last edited Jun 06, 2015 10:04PM) (new)

Booklovinglady Monica wrote: "What happened to reading for it's own sake? What happened to picking up a book and reading it, simply to enjoy it? I've read a lot of the books on this list, not out of some ego-driven desire to fl..."

Just ignore the title of this Listopia and vote for the books you liked or loved (a lot). That's what I did :-)


message 10: by Quint (new)

Quint Quinton This is an exceptionally helpful list to someone such as I, whom was not given the proper 'education' in terms of reading and speech. Though I have passed Math, English, History and the like with flying colors, I find myself dumb-founded when it comes to the most basic of logic processing--the kind that reading is supposed to enhance. As I search for both entertainment and a better intelligence, I hold great appreciation to the creator of the list--putting out the most common sense of book titles out for even the most uneducated to find easily. Now, let's start with Winnie the Poo--and hopefully work our way up to The Great Gatsby.


message 11: by Tyler (new)

Tyler Cameron Quint wrote: "This is an exceptionally helpful list to someone such as I, whom was not given the proper 'education' in terms of reading and speech. Though I have passed Math, English, History and the like with f..."
I have to say I don't understand the draw to Gatsby... I found it no better than average. Atlas Shrugged however...


message 12: by Booklovinglady (last edited Dec 19, 2015 04:40AM) (new)

Booklovinglady "Monica wrote: "What happened to reading for it's own sake? What happened to picking up a book and reading it, simply to enjoy it? I've read a lot of the books on this list, not out of some ego-driv..."

By the way, did anyone have a look at 12 Books You NEED On Your Bookshelf :-) Very similar...


message 13: by Neal (new)

Neal None of The Lord of the Rings books are on this list? The books that defined modern fantasy? O_o Well, consider them added now.


message 14: by Mel (new)

Mel Only 2 women authors in the top 20? If this is what the canon looks like then we have some work to do.


message 15: by Erin (new)

Erin Monica wrote: "What happened to reading for it's own sake? What happened to picking up a book and reading it, simply to enjoy it? I've read a lot of the books on this list, not out of some ego-driven desire to fl..."

One should always read a book for its own sake; the purpose of lists (better than this one) should be to direct you to books that many people have enjoyed and been enriched by. Since joining groups focused on reading classics, I have been delighted and edifies that books I had either not heard of or might have overlooked before. Certainly, if you are reading a book with the sole goal of saying that you have, you are wasting your time.


message 16: by Tyler (new)

Tyler Cameron Mel wrote: "Only 2 women authors in the top 20? If this is what the canon looks like then we have some work to do."

I'm always interested in comments like this. I don't ever consider the gender of the author. If I read something I like I will up more by that person. If GR, or a friend recommends something I will look into it, but I never consider the writer's gender. I like most genres, and have enjoyed books by men and women to be sure, but gender, race, religion... whatever of the writer simply don't enter into it.


message 17: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan M I like Oscar Wilde, but I'd prefer Gogol's "The Portrait" to The Picture of Dorian Gray, even if the former is a short story (that may have inspired Wilde's story). I'm disappointed that Gogol is overlooked altogether on this otherwise good list. His short story, "The Overcoat," is brilliant and the foundation of virtually all of Russian literature.


message 18: by Mel (new)

Mel Tyler wrote: "Mel wrote: "Only 2 women authors in the top 20? If this is what the canon looks like then we have some work to do."

I'm always interested in comments like this. I don't ever consider the gender of..."


Hello, thanks for your comment. I understand why it wouldn't occur to someone to look at the gender-- there is so much fabulous work out there. Why should the background of the author make a difference? The reason why I started looking at the gender is that I realized we are not picking up good books indiscriminately.

There are good books by people of all backgrounds, yet the ones that come into our sphere-- through networks on Goodreads, friends, publishers, articles, bookstores, etc. are not randomly ordered, because there is a historical social gendered logic to it. Because of this, lots of good books by men make this list here, for example, but the equally fantastic books written by women do not.

One more comment- the recently recurring concept (that I'm not necessarily alluding to) of "women exclusion" denotes an "inclusion" default, in which men are already found. If the men "category" is the default and women is the exception, then the complexity of gender in art and social spaces is already knotty. Lots to be said on this :-)


~☆~Autumn♥♥ Caleb wrote: "I take huge issue with Animal Farm being #4. That book is boring as hell and would be considered simplistic by a 3rd grader. It's practically condescending. When my high school lit. teacher told me..."

I agree with you and gave it one star! Ridiculous book!


message 20: by J. (new)

J. Caleb wrote: "I take huge issue with Animal Farm being #4. That book is boring as hell and would be considered simplistic by a 3rd grader. It's practically condescending. When my high school lit. teacher told me..."
I am sorry, do you realize its an allegory of the Russian revolution, and everything in the book actually happened in real life? How is that simplistic?


message 21: by Erin (new)

Erin There is an over representation of English books on this list (not that many of them aren’t rightfully classics), but I do not believe that one can be considered well-read without reading at least the major classics from around the world.

And then there are books that even those who enjoyed them could not conceivably think are literature, much less belonging on this list (Twilight being a flagrant example)! Maybe I should create a new list...


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