Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reader's Bucket List: Books to Read Before You Die

Last year AOL did a piece on Ten Books You Should read Before You Die that drew hundreds of comments. Here are the books the writers recommended:

#1 - The Holy Bible
The most popular and best-selling book of all time is The Holy Bible. No book has had more influence on the world. Its pages tell the story of the creation, fall, and redemption of mankind. Relive the story of creation and the fall of man in Genesis. Cross the wilderness with Moses in Exodus. Welcome the coming of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. The Holy Bible contains epic stories of history, heroism, and hope.

#2 - Gone With the Wind
Published in 1936, Gone With The Wind sold 50,000 copies on its first day, and two million after a year. Even though it is 1,037 pages long, readers all over the world snatched up the book. In 1937 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Mitchell prided herself on the historical accuracy of her work. Gone With The Wind is a sweeping account of how the Civil War tore apart an entire way of life, and Scarlett O'Hara is one of the most enduring characters in American fiction.

#3 - The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is regarded by many to be the most important and influential work of fantasy of the 20th century. It generated the fantasy novel industry practically single-handedly, inspiring a multitude of novels concerning elves and dwarves on quests to conquer ultimate evil despite overwhelming odds. Although intended to be published as a single volume, its division into a trilogy created the iconic format for epic fantasy literature.

#4 - Harry Potter series
Follow Harry Potter from his first days at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, through his many adventures with Hermione and Ron, to his confrontations with rival Draco Malfoy and the dreaded Professor Snape. From a dangerous descent into the Chamber of Secrets to the Triwizard Tournament to the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, each adventure is more riveting and exhilarating than its predecessor.

#5 - The Stand
In 1978, Stephen King published The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. It depicts his apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. It is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic. Those reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.

#6 - The Da Vinci Code
The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Robert Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci -- clues visible for all to see -- yet ingeniously disguised by the painter. The Da Vinci Code heralds the arrival of a new breed of lightning-paced, intelligent thriller...utterly unpredictable right up to its stunning conclusion.

#7 - To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird is about the crisis of human behavior and conscience arising from the racism and prejudice that exist in the small Southern town during the Depression. Scout Finch tells the story of her father's defense of Tom Robinson, a young black man who is being tried for the rape of a white woman. Harper Lee's only novel, awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, is a much-beloved tale of growing up, as well as an exploration of heroism confronted with bigotry.

#8 - Angels and Demons
When a canister of anti-matter is stolen from a Swiss research facility, Robert Langdon is called in to investigate. In Angels and Demons, a Harvard professor, Langdon is an expert on the ancient, quasi-scientific, and widely feared organization know as the Illuminati, who may or may not be wrapped up in the mystery.

#9 - Atlas Shrugged
Rand's 1200-page novel Atlas Shrugged is a hymn of praise to the concept of rugged individualism, personified in John Galt. This polemic for Rands philosophy of "rational self-interest" has been a steady seller since it was published in 1957.

#10 - The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger's famous and enduring chronicle of Holden Caulfield's journey from innocence to experience is the quintessential coming-of-age novel. Salinger's 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye was a bestseller and became an immediate cult favorite, but it has also, over the years, been subject to criticism and even censorship because of its liberal use of profanity, its frank conversations about sex, and its generally irreverent view of the adult world.

Note: This list is based on the results of a Harris Poll that asked 2,413 U.S. adults to name their favorite books.

As a follow-up piece more recently, AOL posted the top books derived from their readers' comments:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Swan Song, Robert McCammon
Up a Road Slowly, Irene Hunt
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Between the Bridge and the River, Craig Fergus
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Roots, Alex Haley
Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier

How many of the books listed have you read? How many do you think you should have read? How many do you want to read eventually?

What books do you think everyone should read before they die?
My favorites of all time:

THE STAND, Stephen King
REDEEMING LOVE, Francine Rivers (the original version)


  1. Wow. Only one on the list I need to read...if I put it off, can I live forever? :)

    I didn't do so well on the AOL list--I've only read a couple of those.

    What do I think people should read? Besides my books? :P Anything they like. The point, in my mind, is to read! And if you can't read--like you're driving--then listen to an audiobook.

    Sheesh, that sounded like a public service commercial. :)

  2. Well, I've read 6 of them so I guess I have a way to go! I agree with Lizzie, people should read anything they like. I think more people are getting back to reading, at least I see people carrying books around with them more.

  3. Read six out of the top 10 list. (OK--only read one Harry Potter and hated the whole thing--just because it sold doesn't make it a classic!)

    Read two off the AOL list. I agree that "Up a road slowly" should be on the top ten list--perhaps dump H.Potter for it!