Where the Crawdads Sing (2018) is a coming-of-age story that seamlessly blends into a murder mystery and an ode to nature. A reminder that we are forever shaped by our childhoods, it recounts the early life of a remarkable girl, Kya, and her transformation into an equally remarkable young woman.
The Alchemist (1988) follows the story of a young Andalusian shepherd, who travels to the pyramids of Egypt to find a treasure he has recurrently dreamed about. On his journey, he has to overcome multiple obstacles – through which he learns valuable life lessons. Based on a thirteenth-century folktale, it explores topics such as following your dreams, finding your destiny, and the nature of love.
Thunderstruck (2006) is the true story of two seemingly unrelated people, an inventor and a murderer. Set in Edwardian England, the lives of the men intersect in one of the most suspenseful criminal cases in history.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is one of the most influential American novels ever written. Set in a small town in Alabama in the 1930s, it follows the Finch family over three tumultuous years as a trial divides a community. Covering themes of love and hate, innocence and experience, and kindness and cruelty, Harper Lee’s book goes to the heart of human behavior.
Don Quixote (1605) is widely regarded as the first modern novel. Its claim to fame extends beyond historical novelty. For many readers and critics, it remains the greatest novel of its kind. It tells the story of a man who becomes so enchanted by tales of chivalry that he decides to become a knight-errant – a wandering gallant in the style of Lancelot. The self-styled knight who calls himself Don Quixote and his trusty sidekick Sancho Panza get themselves into all kinds of absurd mischief, but their foolish quest ultimately brings them something precious: an immortal friendship.
The Iliad (c. eighth century BC) is one of the oldest and most important works of Western literature. Attributed to ancient Greek poet Homer, the epic poem recounts the final days of the Greek siege of Troy. At the center of the story is Greek war hero Achilles, who has to beat back the Trojan enemy, struggle against meddling gods, and vie for recognition among his fellow Greeks.
The Nightingale (2015) is a historical novel telling the often-neglected story of those left behind when soldiers go off to war. Set in northwestern France during World War II and told through the eyes of two sisters, this sweeping saga reveals the hidden horrors, and heroism, of the survivors.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, also published as 1984, is a dystopian novel from 1949 that deals with the perils of totalitarianism. It’s set in an imagined future in a superstate called Oceania, which is ruled by an authoritarian government that maintains power through constant surveillance and other insidious means.
The Secret History (1992) is the gripping tale of a group of Classics students at a New England college who are involved in the murder of a classmate. The novel explores the complex relationships between the friends, and the impact the incident has on their lives.
Lessons in Chemistry (2022) is the story of Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant scientist who has the misfortune of being a woman in 1950s America. After a frustrating failed academic career, Zott finds success in an unlikely place: as the host of a television cooking show.
Dune (1965) is a modern epic, often considered the greatest sci-fi novel of all time. Set in a distant future, it follows the story of Paul, son of the noble Duke Leto of Atreides, as he adapts to life on Arrakis – his family’s new dominion. The desert planet is highly contested as it’s the source of a valuable commodity called spice. Soon, Paul must join the native desert people in an epic battle against the power-hungry enemies of Arrakis.
Beowulf is a masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon literature, set in sixth-century Scandinavia. The narrative poem recounts the heroic exploits of Beowulf, who battles monsters and eventually becomes king.
The Song of Achilles (2011) is a creative retelling of Homer’s Iliad. The epic tale of the Trojan War is transformed into a moving love story, told from the perspective of Patroclus, the beloved companion of the Greek hero Achilles.
The Catcher in the Rye (1951) is J. D. Salinger’s classic coming-of-age novel, telling the story of the troubled young Holden Caulfield. Holden has just been expelled from school, and spends several days traversing New York City, sharing his opinions of the world around him.
The Kite Runner (2003) is narrated by Amir, an Afghan living in the US, as he reflects on his childhood in Kabul, and an incident that changed his life. This best-selling novel is a story of friendship, family, betrayal, and redemption.
Anyone who’s curious about a book that was a New York Times bestseller for 2 years
Brave New World (1932) is a dystopian novel set in a world where citizens are socially engineered to be complacent and pleasure-seeking. It’s a world that worships Henry Ford – a scaled-up version of an assembly line that’s mass produced, homogenous, and ultimately consumable.
Jane Eyre (1874) is an intense, intimate portrait of a young woman’s search to find her place in Victorian society without compromising her passionate ideals. It follows her as she navigates life’s obstacles – and her developing love for the mysterious Edward Rochester.
Of Mice and Men (1937) is a poignant tale that traces an unlikely friendship between two impoverished workers in California during the Great Depression: compact, quick-witted George Milton, and huge, childlike Lennie Small.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (2022) by Gabrielle Zevin tells the story of Sadie and Sam, childhood friends turned creative collaborators and video game designers. The novel charts the tumultuous highs and lows of Sam and Sadie’s friendship against the vividly realized backdrop of the gaming industry at the turn of the 21st century.
A Court of Thorns and Roses (2020) follows the story of Feyre, who inadvertently kills a fairy and finds herself on the wrong side of the fairy/human border. She is given the choice to die in exchange for the life she took or go to live as a human prisoner in the land of Faerie. Her choice launches her on a journey of adventure and romance. This is the first book in the five-part A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Normal People (2018) tells the story of Marianne and Connell, two people who grow close during the final days of secondary school. As they move on to college and careers, the two struggle to make sense of their relationship and their feelings for one another.
The Great Gatsby (1925) tells the tale of a tragic romance set against a Roaring Twenties backdrop of hedonism and excess. It's considered a defining work of America’s Jazz Age and the time leading up to the Great Depression. With sales surpassing 30 million copies worldwide, it’s among the twentieth century’s most enduring novels.
Persuasion (1817) is the story of Anne Elliot, a 27-year-old woman whose heart was broken at 19, when she was persuaded not to marry the naval captain Frederick Wentworth – the love of her life. When Anne and Captain Wentworth cross paths again, they are both still unattached. But does the Captain still carry a torch for Anne, or has resentment and time snuffed out the flame forever?
The Hobbit (1937) is the classic fantasy adventure story of an unsuspecting hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Ripped unexpectedly from his idle epicurean life by the wizard Gandalf, Bilbo finds himself on a journey to help a group of dwarves take back their stolen treasure from the jealous dragon Smaug. Along the way, he encounters trolls, elves, goblins, and spiders – plus a certain magic ring – and eventually finds that he had what it took to be a hero all along.
Verity (2018) is the breakout thriller leaving mystery fans breathless. Taut and tense, with a final plot twist delivered like a sucker-punch, the novel leaves readers questioning everything in the end — especially the truth.
Little Women (1868-1869) tells the story of the four March sisters, and the struggles and day-to-day obstacles they faced while becoming young adults. While the story takes place in the American Northeast, it’s a universal coming-of-age story that has been appreciated around the world.
The Screwtape Letters (1942) is a satirical novel in the form of letters written from one demon to another. Senior demon and hellish administrator Screwtape shares advice and lessons with his nephew, Wormwood, who is tasked with tempting his “patient” away from God and toward Satan. As such, readers see the ordinary troubles and temptations of human life depicted from a devil’s point of view.
Wuthering Heights (1847) is a masterpiece of English literature. Set in Yorkshire, it tells the story of two families and their intense, often tumultuous relationships – in particular, the stormy romance between Heathcliff and Catherine.
Macbeth (1606) is the Shakespearean tragedy of Scottish general Macbeth and his doomed attempt to seize his country’s throne. His ambitions ignited by a prophecy spoken to him by three witches, Macbeth’s path to power begins with anxiety and reticence and ends with callousness and cruelty. His story is a timeless exploration of guilt, paranoia, madness, prophecy, and the evils of ambition.
American Psycho (1991) is a controversial cult novel that uses graphic violence to satirize modern capitalism and consumer culture. It follows the life of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and handsome investment banker living in Manhattan in the 1980s. Beneath his polished exterior lies a psychopathic killer who preys on his victims without remorse. Bateman’s exploits quickly grow more and more extreme, and his mask of sanity starts to slip.
Mad Honey (2022) tells the story of two women who have fled abusive pasts to make a new life in the small town of Adams, New Hampshire. When one is found dead, and the other finds her son accused of the murder, the tense courtroom drama that unfolds shines light on the true cost of secrets kept for love.
Crime and Punishment (1866) is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Russian literature. It follows a young man called Rodion Raskolnikov – first as he plots to kill an elderly pawnbroker, then as he commits the deed, and finally as he confronts the many consequences of his actions. Emotionally poignant as well as philosophically and psychologically complex, the novel has left a visible mark on generations of writers, thinkers, and artists ever since its publication.
Animal Farm (1945) is a classic satirical novella that transplants the events of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to a small English farm. Once the animals stage an uprising, a political battle ensues between an ideological pig named Snowball and a power-hungry pig named Napoleon.
War and Peace (1869) is a novel that follows the lives of several aristocratic families during the French invasion of Russia and the Napoleonic Wars. It explores themes of love, war, politics, and the human condition, and is considered one of the great works of literature.
A Little Life (2015) follows the lives of four friends in New York City: aspiring actor Willem, moody painter JB, quiet architect Malcolm, and the brilliant, mysterious litigator Jude. Over the years, the four friends grow together, drift apart, find love and success, and struggle with loss and addiction. As enigmatic Jude gradually moves into the center of the narrative, the full extent of his unbearable burden begins to reveal itself.
Romeo and Juliet (c. 1591-1597) is the iconic tragedy of two youths who fall in love amid the feud raging between their two families. The many themes it explores include love and hate, fate and free will, and dream and reality.
Things Fall Apart (1958) was the first in the African Writers Series of 350 books published between 1962 and 2003 which provided an international audience for many African writers. It tells the story of a respected leader of an Igbo community and the problems faced by the community as white men arrive and bring with them their laws and religion.
We Were Liars (2014) is the suspenseful story of the wealthy, carefree Sinclair family and the tragic event that exposes the cracks in their perfect facade – as told by an unreliable narrator, Cadence Sinclair.
Death of a Salesman (1949) is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest plays. A poignant critique of the promises and pitfalls of capitalism and the American Dream, it follows the salesman Willy Loman, his increasingly tense relationships with his family and colleagues, and his tragic, hallucinatory descent into fantasy and madness.
Antigone (c. 441 BC) is a tragedy by Sophocles, one of ancient Greece’s greatest playwrights. After a civil war, two brothers – the leaders of rival factions – are dead. One is remembered as a patriotic hero; the other, as a treacherous usurper. The king of Thebes, Creon, has forbidden anyone to bury the traitor – an order the man’s sister, Antigone, can’t square with her conscience. The stage is set for a conflict pitting the individual against the state, justice against law, idealism against realism, and a defiant woman against a male-dominated world.
Lord of the Flies (1954) is the allegorical story of a group of young boys stranded on a deserted island and left to fend for themselves and create a society. As the boys struggle with the complexities of leadership, cooperation, and survival, they are forced to face some fundamental questions about human nature and the fragility of civilization.
East of Eden (1952) is a sweeping epic that centers around three generations of the Trask family. Growing up, Adam Trask competed with his brother for his father’s love – with jealousy and vengeance leading to violent consequences. When Adam has children of his own, he struggles to spare them the same fate.
Frankenstein (1818) is a Gothic horror classic that tells the tale of ambitious young scientist Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with the idea of creating life, Frankenstein assembles a freakish human-like monster. But when he animates it, he’s shocked at the horror he’s created. Although the monster seeks affection at first, it’s continually rejected and eventually seeks revenge on humankind.
Hamlet (c. 1509-1601) is widely regarded as Shakespeare’s greatest play. A tragedy in five parts, it tells the story of Prince Hamlet, a thinker who must turn to action to avenge his father. It’s not only the finely crafted plot that’s fascinated readers and theatergoers down the centuries, though – Hamlet is also a penetrating study of the meaning of life and death.
Heart of Darkness (1899) is a classic novella that explores themes of imperialism, power dynamics, and morality. It tells the story of sailor Charles Marlow, who becomes captain of a river steamboat for a Belgian ivory trade company Africa and witnesses the brutal reality of European colonialism. Marlow becomes fascinated with the mysterious ivory trader Kurtz – a mad genius who commands a trading post deep in the jungle.
A Rose for Emily (1930) was first published in Forum magazine. Told in a nonlinear style, it starts with the funeral of Emily, a fixture in the fictional Jefferson County. It then goes back in time to trace moments of her life, and the decline in her health and status.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) is often considered a landmark, if controversial, work in the history of American literature. It tells the story of a young teenager who runs away from an abusive, alcoholic father by fleeing in a raft down the Mississippi River. Along the way, he befriends a man running from slavery and becomes a reluctant accomplice to a pair of con artists.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2011) is the first in the Fifty Shades trilogy, telling the story of student Anastasia Steele and businessman Christian Grey – who introduces her to his dark world of sensuality, bondage, and discipline.
The Bluest Eye (1970) is the debut novel of author Toni Morrison. It tells the story of Pecola Breedlove and her parents, and reflects upon the familial and societal circumstances that would lead a Black girl to wish she had blue eyes.
The Brothers Karamazov (1879) follows the events, machinations, and tragedies of the Karamazov family over the course of four critical days in an unnamed town in Russia. As tensions within the household simmer and seeth into a stunning climax, we are treated to one of the most penetrating explorations of religion, faith, and doubt in all of world literature.
The Hunger Games (2008) is the first volume of the popular YA fantasy trilogy. In the post-apocalyptic future state of Panem, teenagers participate in a brutal yearly game show where they compete against each other in a deadly obstacle arena. When her sister is drafted for the games, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place – not realizing she’ll end up fighting for something bigger than mere survival.
The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) is a contemporary classic – the story of a patriarchal dystopia that inspired the hit television series of the same name and remains as relevant today as it did when it was first published.
The Prophet (1923) follows the prophet Almustafa during his departure from the fictional city of Orphalese. As the community bids Almustafa farewell by the harbor, they petition him to share some final nuggets of wisdom from the deep well of his mind. What follows is a collection of profound insights into various aspects of life and the human condition.
The Metamorphosis (1915) is an allegorical novella about what happens when the main character, Gregor Samsa, is transformed into a bug. It grapples with the themes of alienation, the absurdity of life, and the power of change.
The Little Prince (1943) is the classic allegorical tale about a stranded pilot’s extraordinary encounter with a wise and curious little boy from another planet. As the boy shares his fantastic and poetic journey, he reveals profound lessons and observations regarding life, love, and the importance of looking with our hearts.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) is a compelling indictment of slavery. Describing the many trials of Uncle Tom, its long-suffering enslaved protagonist, the story reveals the horrors of America’s “peculiar institution” while showing how Christian love can triumph over evil. It played a pivotal role in the abolition of slavery and remains one of the most important American novels ever written.
Parable of the Sower (1993) is the story of Lauren Olamina, a young woman who lives in a near-future dystopian California. When her home community succumbs to the destructive forces of the world around it, Lauren is forced onto the road in search of a new life. Throughout her journey, she gradually builds a new belief system, as well as kinship with a new community.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) is an iconic late-Victorian gothic novel that centers on the young aesthete Dorian, who never seems to age or feel the ill effects of his hedonistic lifestyle, and the supernatural portrait that reveals the truth behind the face Dorian presents to the world.
Great Expectations (1860) is Charles Dickens’ classic novel about the social ambitions and failings of Pip, a small-town orphan who suddenly becomes wealthy through a mysterious benefactor. Pip leaves his home town for London, but as his social and material standing develop, he suffers a moral deterioration that leaves him questioning his decisions.
Bartleby, the Scrivener is a novella about the isolation and forced conformity of the modern work world. In flowery and sometimes humorous prose, the story tells the tale of Bartleby, an office worker who suffers from mental health issues and alienation. Although we don’t learn many details about the title character, we sympathize with his plight through the eyes of the unnamed narrator, Bartleby’s boss.
Paradise Lost (1667) is an early classic of English literature. In over ten thousand lines of verse, the epic poem tells the biblical story from Satan’s rebellion against God to Adam and Eve’s original sin. Written at a time of great political and religious upheaval, the epic proves an impressive inquiry of free will, sin, and the nature of evil to this very day.
Moby Dick (1851) is an enduring classic of American literature. From the perspective of a boat hand named Ishmael, it tells the story of an ill-fated voyage aboard the Pequod, a whaling vessel. With humor and attention to the smallest detail, it explains how a crew came under the spell of the obsessed Captain Ahab, who had only one mission in life: to kill the giant white whale known as Moby Dick.
The Bell Jar (1963) follows the story of Esther Greenwood, a talented young woman who secures a coveted internship at a New York fashion magazine during the summer of 1953. But Esther feels trapped by the gender roles and societal expectations of the time, and soon spirals into a deep depression from which there seems to be no escape.
Atlas Shrugged (1957) plunges you into a dystopian America where the economy stagnates and society crumbles. As you navigate this complex narrative, you'll meet ambitious industrialists and scheming bureaucrats, and encounter the enigmatic question, "Who is John Galt?" Prepare to grapple with philosophical themes of capitalism, individualism, and self-interest in this intricate web of economics, politics, and human resilience.
The Cask of Amontillado (1846) is a chilling tale about one man’s expertly plotted revenge on another who has insulted him. It is a story of deceit, detachment and coolly premeditated murder.
The Book Thief (2006) is a story about a young girl living in Nazi Germany who makes her way in the world by stealing books. With Death as the narrator, it follows her coming of age in the most difficult of times and places.
“Young Goodman Brown” (1835) is a short story that thrusts us into a nightmarish world of witchcraft, religion, sin, and temptation. Composed as an allegory – a story that acts as a thin wrapper for an author’s intended message or meaning – this bite-size tale has much to say on human nature, Christianity, hypocrisy, and our ideas of community.
Siddhartha (1922) is the beloved classic novel about a pampered prince who goes on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. Through the depths of asceticism to the heights of worldly success, the novel traces one seeker’s path to enlightenment taking the road less traveled.
Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is a seminal work that delves into the experiences of Billy Pilgrim, a soldier who becomes unstuck in time after surviving the devastating bombing of Dresden in World War II. It intricately interweaves themes of fate, free will, and the nature of time, using a nonlinear narrative that reflects the protagonist's time-traveling episodes. Through dark humor and poignant commentary, it critiques the horrors of war and the absurdities of human existence.
Oedipus Rex (fifth century BCE) is a tragedy based on the myth of King Oedipus. While investigating a murder, Oedipus learns shocking truths about his life.
The Hate U Give (2017) is a critically acclaimed coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of racism and police brutality. It follows 16-year-old Starr Carter as she navigates two contrasting worlds: the poor Black neighborhood where she lives and the white prep school where she studies. Starr's attempt to strike a balance between these two worlds is shattered when she witnesses the shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, by a police officer.
The Road (2006) is a dystopian thriller following a father-and-son duo fighting to survive in a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. Forced to scavenge for food and supplies, threatened by gangs of outlaw survivors, and faced with death and illness, the duo struggle to maintain morality and hope in a world that seems to have lost all humanity.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a historical novel set against the backdrop of the tumultuous times of the French Revolution and London in the late eighteenth century. The story revolves around the lives of Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a dissolute English lawyer, who share a striking physical resemblance. As the novel unfolds, it explores themes of sacrifice, resurrection, and the stark contrast between the two cities of Paris and London, ultimately culminating in a powerful and emotionally charged climax.
Small Mercies (2023) is an intense thriller that takes place in Boston in 1974, when the city’s busing crisis was just getting started. The story centers around a single mother in the neighborhood of South Boston, whose daughter goes missing on the same night a Black man is found dead under suspicious circumstances.
Snow Crash (1992) is a cyberpunk sci-fi novel starring katana-wielding, pizza-delivering hacker Hiro Protagonist and his partner, spunky teen skateboarder Y.T. It features a virus called Snow Crash which pervades both the physical world and the virtual world, also known as the Metaverse. But it soon becomes apparent that Snow Crash is more than just a virus – as Hiro delves deeper, he discovers a conspiracy that has its roots in ancient Sumerian legends and poses a dire threat to humanity.
What Napoleon Could Not Do (2023) explores the contrasting experiences of two Ghanaians, Jacob and Belinda, and their aspirations in the United States. Jacob, an awkward computer programmer who still lives with his father, wants to join his wife in America but is foiled by visa denials. His sister, Belinda, meanwhile, has studied in the US and married an American – Wilder, a prosperous Black Texan businessman. But she, too, contends with disappointment: as she waits for her green card, her perception of America is soured by racism. Their journeys reflect the allure and letdowns of life in a foreign land, and the narrative insightfully captures how each grapples with dreams both realized and thwarted.
Hello Beautiful (2023) is a tale of love, family, and sisterhood. It centers on William Waters, who meets and marries the ambitious, practical Julia Padovano while they are both still in college. Julia is one of four girls in a close knit Italian-American family, whose storybook lives at first seem like a fantasy to William. But soon enough, life’s many obstacles catch up with the Padovanos, and William is drawn deep into their lives, loves, conflicts, and griefs.
Birnam Wood (2023) is an engrossing thriller about what happens when a group of idealistic activists cross paths with the wrong venture capitalist. What looks like an amazing opportunity soon turns into a deadly nightmare, full of lies, cover-ups, and dangerous bedfellows.
All the Sinners Bleed (2023) is a work of crime fiction, focused on main character Titus Crown’s efforts to investigate several recent killings in his hometown. To solve the crime, Crown must contend with the town’s racist history, a far-right group, and a long-undiscovered serial killer.
Blue Hour (2023) is a novel that explores motherhood, identity, and hope in an unraveling America. The story centers around an unnamed multiracial woman in New York, who’s struggling with personal loss and ubiquitous racial violence. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she must decide what shape her future will take.
The Odyssey (c. eighth century BC) is one of the foundational works of Western literature. The ancient Greek epic chronicles the arduous 10-year journey of hero Odysseus as he strives to return home from the Trojan War. Battling vengeful gods, mythical monsters, and the siren call of temptation, Odysseus's quest is not just for Ithaca, but for identity and meaning in a turbulent world.
Sophie’s World (1991) is a unique story that takes you on a journey through the history of philosophy, as experienced by a teenage girl named Sophie Amundsen. After receiving mysterious letters containing philosophical questions, Sophie finds herself exploring fundamental questions about life, reality, and the very nature of existence.
Married at First Sight (ongoing) is a 2,300-plus chapter contemporary romance novel. It follows the fortunes of two characters, wealthy Mr. York and independent spirit Serenity Hunt, who enter into a self-declared “marriage of convenience.” As they come to know each other, however, genuine affection begins to grow between them – forcing us to rethink our romantic idealization of love and marriage.
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) tells the multigenerational story of the Buendía family, founders of the fictional town of Macondo. Mixing magical realism with historical events, it follows the family members and inhabitants of Macondo over a century through cycles of happiness and tragedy, as well as periods of solitude.
The Confessions of Nat Turner explores the life and rebellion of Nat Turner, an enslaved African American who led a violent uprising in Virginia in 1831. Kenneth S. Greenberg delves into the complexities of Turner's motives, the social and political climate of the time, and the impact of the rebellion on American history. It offers a compelling and thought-provoking examination of a pivotal moment in the fight against slavery.