Books You Need to Read to Deserve 'Well-Read' Status

August 9, 2018

Any serious bibliophile should read these books at least once in their lifetime if they want to deserve the status of being a well-read person.

This is one of our most treasured lists, it includes prominent works of literature in many different genres for every taste.  Read them all to be a member of this select circle of readers.

"There's only one common element that united every writer I've admired... they're all incredibly well-read".

—Steve Toltz

1 The Time Machine

The Time Machine

Herbert George Wells | Sci-Fi Classics

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in 1899, a scientist builds a time machine that can transport him to the future where he meets both good and evil beings.

2 Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare | Drama Classics

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The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (first published 1597) is a play by William Shakespeare concerning the fate of two young star-crossed lovers. Perhaps the most famous of his plays, it is one of his earliest theatrical triumphs and is considered the archetypal love story of the Renaissance.

3 The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Francis Scott Fitzgerald | Fiction Classics

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In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new, something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It

4 Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens | Fiction Classics

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Pip is a poor orphan who grows up in England in the early 1800's. He endures many hardships including poverty and violence.

5 A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens | Fiction Classics

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This novel follows the lives of three peasants who are degraded and subdued by the French aristocracy.

6 Macbeth

Macbeth

William Shakespeare | Fiction Classics

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Macbeth is among the best-known of William Shakespeare's plays, and is his shortest tragedy, believed to have been written between 1603 and 1606. It is frequently performed at both amateur and professional levels, and has been adapted for opera, film, books, stage and screen. Often regarded as archetypal, the play tells of the dangers of the lust for power and the betrayal of friends. For the plot Shakespeare drew loosely on the historical account of King Macbeth of Scotland by Raphael Holinshed and that by the Scottish philosopher Hector Boece. There are many superstitions centred on the belief the play is somehow "cursed", and many actors will not mention the name of the play aloud, referring to it instead as "The Scottish play".

7 The picture of Dorian Gray

The picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde. | Humanities and Arts

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he Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel by Oscar Wilde, appearing as the lead story in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine on 20 June 1890, printed as the July 1890 issue of this magazine. Wilde later revised this edition, making several alterations, and adding new chapters; the amended version was published by Ward, Lock, and Company in April 1891. The novel tells of a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Basil is impressed by Dorian's beauty and becomes infatuated with him, believing his beauty is responsible for a new mode in his art. Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil's, and becomes enthralled by Lord Henry's world view.

8 Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen | Romance Classics

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The beautiful, young Elizabeth falls in love with Mr. Darcy, but he must control his pride while she tries to overcome her prejudice.

9 A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens | Fiction Classics

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Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Christmas past in this classic Christmas tale.

10 Hamlet

Hamlet

William Shakespeare | Drama Classics

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After Hamlet's father is killed by his brother, Claudius, Hamlet struggles with his vow to seek revenge by murdering Claudius.

11 Dracula

Dracula

Bram Stoker | Horror Classics

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Count Dracula is a vampire who terrifies the countryside in his quest for human blood, but the residents soon learn his real identity and vow to destroy him.

12 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain | Children's Classics

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Huck Finn befriends Jim, a runaway slave, and the two travel down the Mississippi River on a raft and share many interesting experiences along the way.

13 The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne | Fiction Classics

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In early colonial Massachusetts, a young woman experiences the results of adultery and must spend the remainder of her life atoning for her sins.

14 Moby Dick

Moby Dick

Herman Melville | Fiction Classics

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Captain Ahab's is fueled by his desire to kill the great white whale that tore off his leg leads, but his attempts lead to disaster.

15 The Iliad

The Iliad

Homer. | Humanities and Arts

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The Iliad (sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium) is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege, the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war and similar, tending to appear near the beginning, and the events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' looming death and the sack of Troy, prefigured and alluded to more and more vividl...

16 The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi

O. Henry | Short Stories Classics

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One of the 16 captivating stories by one of America's most popular storytellers.

17 Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky | Fiction Classics

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Raskolnikov kills two people in the belief that some people are "extraordinary" and have the right to kill others in order to improve the state of the world.

18 Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy | Romance Classics

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Anna is unhappy with her marriage to a powerful politician, and when she falls in love with a dashing young officer, she must endure the criticism of others.

19 Antigone

Antigone

Sophocles | Drama Classics

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Antigone disobeys the royal edict and buries the corpses of her brothers since she believes honoring her family is more important than following the laws.

20 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll | Children's Classics

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In this classic by Lewis Carroll little Alice experiences countless adventures in Wonderland. Download it today!

21 Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley | Sci-Fi Classics

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A scientist creates a monster with pieces of corpses, but the monster develops a mind of his own begins to despise his creator.

22 Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte | Romance Classics

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A poor, abused orphan named Jane uses her cleverness and perseverance to win the love of the man she loves.

23 War and Peace

War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy | Fiction Classics

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The lives of Russian aristocrats become intertwined between the years 1805 and 1812 and during Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

24 Othello

Othello

William Shakespeare | Drama Classics

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Classic theater by the master

25 Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman | Poetry Classics

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The diversity of America's people and landscape is captured beautifully in this extraordinary collection of poetry.

26 Ulysses

Ulysses

James Joyce | Fiction Classics

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It is June 16, 1904, when the events in the lives of Stephen Dedalus, Leopolm Bloom, and Molly Bloom are slowly unveiled throughout that single day.

27 Don Quixote

Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra | Fiction Classics

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Alonso Quixano enjoys reading books of high culture, romance, and chivalry, but he eventually loses his mind while attempting to create justice in the world.

28 The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer | Poetry Classics

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A group of pilgrims embark on a long journey, and each of the characters reflect the irony and criticism of the church at the time.

29 Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe | Fiction Classics

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In order to pay off his debts, farmer Arthur Shelby, so he makes the tough decision to sell two of his slaves.

30 Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Frederick Douglass | Biography

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Autobiographical novel by abolitionist, author, and reformer Frederick Douglass. One of America's most prominent figures in African-American and United States history, Douglass' autobiography historically has been used for teaching the concepts of freedom and social development.

31 The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux | Horror Classics

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A disfigures musical genius haunts the catacombs under the Paris Opera and terrifies the community until he falls in love with Christine, a budding young singer.

32 The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame | Children's Classics

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The classic book, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame.

33 Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

Daniel Defoe | Children's Classics

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When Robinson Crusoe is shipwrecked on a deserted island , he builds a house, grows crops, and saves the life of a native.

34 Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

John Milton | Poetry Classics

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Adam and Eve's innocence in paradise, their fall from grace, and the origin of Satan are explored in this groundbreaking book of poetry.

35 Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte | Fiction Classics

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A servant in the house at Wuthering Heights reveals the historic story of the love affair between Catherine and Heathcliff to a visitor who is currently staying there.

36 The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas | Fiction Classics

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Edmond Dantes is imprisoned on a false political charge. He makes a daring escape, finds the treasure of Monte Cristo, and seeks revenge upon his enemies.

37 Swann's Way. In Search of Lost Time

Swann's Way. In Search of Lost Time

Marcel Proust. | Fiction Classics

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In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) is a novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. His most prominent work, it is popularly known for its considerable length and the notion of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the "episode of the madeleine." The novel is widely referred to in English as Remembrance of Things Past but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, has gained in usage since D. J. Enright adopted it in his 1992 revision of the earlier translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. The complete story contains nearly 1.5 million words and is one of the longest novels in world literature. The novel as it is known today began to take shape in 1909 and work continued for ...

38 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson | Children's Classics

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In short format, this classic story that was born from a nightmare and produced in "white-hot haste", is arguably Stevenson's most famous work, that has had a cultural impact out of all proportions, in contrast to its length.

39 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Victor Hugo | Fiction Classics

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The story of Quasimodo, the hunchback bellringer of Notre-Dame cathedral and his devotion to the beautiful gypsy dancer Esmeralda. When the demented archdeacon Frollo sets out to abduct Esmeralda, he uses Quasimodo to do the evil deed on his behalf. However, Quasimodo turns from captor to saviour.

40 Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert | Fiction Classics

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Emma Bovary and her reviled husband are at breakfast on the morning of Emma's last day alive. As they bicker, scenes from Emma's past are called to mind and played out with all the passion for which Flaubert's novel is famous.

41 Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen | Drama Classics

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By the father of modern drama, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, this dark, psychological Play follows its reckless, manipulative heroine to her tragic end. Download it now!

42 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving | Sci-Fi Classics

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The classic work of Irving

43 Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo | Fiction Classics

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Ex-convict Jean-Valjean struggles to find redemption after his release for a 19 year prison sentence for stealing food for his starving family.

44 The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling | Children's Classics

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After getting lost in the jungle, Mowgli is adopted into a family of wolves where he learns Jungle Law, the importance of loyalty, and survival skills.

45 The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans

James Fenimore Cooper | Fiction Classics

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During the French and Indian War, half-sisters, Cora and Alice, are rescued by a Hawkeye who leads them to the safety of the last of his tribe, the Mohican Uncas.

46 The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy

Dante Alighieri | Poetry Classics

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A pilgrim named Dante receives help of the Roman poet, Virgil, on a journey through Purgatory, on their way to Heaven.

47 The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas père | Fiction Classics

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Dramatic, stirring, and romantic, the story of D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and their famous code of "one for all and all for one," remains an unsurpassed tale of adventure and heroism.

48 The Swiss Family Robinson

The Swiss Family Robinson

Johann David Wyss | Sci-Fi Classics

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The classic book, The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss.

49 Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad | Fiction Classics

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Captain Charles Marlow describes his experience transporting ivory along the Congo River in Africa where he encounters many instances of ruin and destruction.

50 The Adventures of Peter Pan

The Adventures of Peter Pan

James M. Barrie | Children's Classics

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Peter Pan, a little boy who can fly, experiences many adventures in Wonderland with Wendy, her brothers, Tinkerbelle, and Captain Hook.

51 Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

Jonathan Swift | Sci-Fi Classics

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During his travels, an Englishman encounters tiny people, giants, sorcerers, and horses who control humans.

52 Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka | Fiction Classics

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Kafka's maserpiece about a man who wakes up one morning to find himself changed into a cockroach

53 Little Women

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott | Children's Classics

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The March sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, survive poverty and the absence of their father during the Civil War.

54 The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett | Children's Classics

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After the death of her parents, Mary is sent live in her uncle's great lonely house on the Moors where she discovers the key to a Secret Garden.

55 A room with a view

A room with a view

E.M. Foster | Humanities and Arts

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A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman in the repressed culture of Edwardian England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century. Merchant-Ivory produced an award-winning film adaptation in 1985. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked A Room with a View 79th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

56 Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya

Anton Chekhov | Fiction Classics

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Details the disappointments of Ivan Voitski ("Uncle Vanya"), who comes to see that he has wasted his life managing the business affairs of his brother-in-law, Serebrakoff--who has squandered his entire career in a futile attempt to succeed as an academic and scholar.

57 Complete Tales and Poems

Complete Tales and Poems

Edgar Allan Poe | Short Stories Classics

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Poe combines horror, mystery, and science fiction to create 73 short stories and poems.

58 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Anne Brontë | Romance Classics

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The classic book, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë.

59 Silas Marner

Silas Marner

George Eliot | Fiction Classics

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Download the FREE e-Book version of English author George Eliot's classic story about a linen weaver who loses everything in his life, only to discover it in a more divine, vibrant, and concord dimension. Download it today!

60 The Prince and the Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper

Mark Twain | Children's Classics

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The classic book, The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain.

61 Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days

Jules Verne | Fiction Classics

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Eccentric English man, Phileas Fogg, wagers his fortune that he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days, much to the astonishment of his London Club.

62 The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allan Poe | Short Stories Classics

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"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe first published in 1843. It follows an unnamed narrator who insists on his sanity after murdering an old man with a "vulture eye". The murder is carefully calculated, and the murderer hides the body by cutting it into pieces and hiding it under the floorboards. Ultimately the narrator's guilt manifests itself in the hallucination that the man's heart is still beating under the floorboards. It is unclear what relationship, if any, the old man and his murderer share. It has been suggested that the old man is a father figure or, perhaps, that his vulture eye represents some sort of veiled secret. The ambiguity and lack of details about the two main characters stand in stark contrast to the specific plot details leading up to the murder...

63 The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit

Margery Williams Bianco | Children's Classics

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The classic book, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams Bianco.