"100 Books To Read In a Lifetime," according to Amazon


I was glad to see Vonnegut and Irving, a little surprised at some of the others posted, and many that are missing.

I’ve read a lot of these. Whenever anyone asks me which classics I’ve read, I always joked, “Valley of the Dolls”. Now it looks like I’m going to have to follow through.

And everything else I’ve read so far are from non-DRM sources.

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Wow, no Bible? I’m impressed! :stuck_out_tongue:

No Shakespeare, no Voltaire, no Machiavelli, no Plato / Aristotle / Socrates (/ Vizzini)?

No Dante, no Chaucer, no Milton, no Poe, no Swift, no Twain, no Hemingway, no Brontë, no Dickinson, no Darwin, no Douglas Adams?

No Kant, no Heidegger, no Hume, no Hegel, no Wittgenstein, no Nietzsche, no Mill, no Hobbes, no Descartes?

And - really now - no David Rees? His seminal work How To Sharpen Pencils is clearly the greatest written work of any language and of all time, past and future. Just ask John Hodgman!


It’s a smooth transition from Scholastic Book Club hits through Oprah Book Club hits! Pretty much the most cowardly assessment of the state of literature you can find. Blarg.


Who’re all those people? I recognise a few, but can’t say for sure I really know.

There’s no argument that could put Hunger Games on this list. Unless it’s an argument about whether or not to commit the list-maker…


They included The Phantom Tollbooth; I’m good.


Very Hungry Caterpillar is a stone classic, though.

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I think you are looking for the Five Foot Shelf. I wonder how many people actually read them rather than just put them on their shelves, though.

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Is including Harry Potter as they did that much different?

Let’s keep in mind that we’re not supposed to just stop after these 100.


It’s a good starting place; all of those on that list which I’ve read have been very good. Still, I would have said “Jailbird” instead of “Slaughterhouse-five” for Kurt Vonnegut, and I definitely would have thrown “Siddhartha” or “Steppenwolf” on there. And “Henderson the Rain King” is an absolute must, in my opinion.

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Yeah, I saw 100 books to read in a lifetime and assumed they must be loooooooong books.

Perhaps just In Search of Lost Time, 100 times,

The Sun Also Rises is on there.

I kind of like the idea of making a list based on a lifetime’s growth and change, I’ll give them points for at least doing that instead of another 100 Best (whatever). I kind of want to make a list based out of my own life now.


I’ve been doing this for decades now. I have a terrible memory, but I write a small paragraph about each book after I finish it. There is a great joy in rereading some of the entries every few years.


I’m always amused at “100 best…” lists that are somehow always heavy on the most recent decade. There ARE things there that should be required reading of any college grad like “The Power Broker”, but there’s others that are pretty trite, or no longer as meaningful as when published. “Power Broker” is the key to understanding how modern gov’t works, LOTR is ultimately the key to nothing except a LOT of wasted time. And a list that includes a hack like Rick Riordan has no validity at all.

No one I can think of. The main character in the Wheel of Time series is Rand al’Thor though. Those are pretty good, but a bit of a slog.

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William Shakespeare, of course, is the English poet and playwright from the Elizabethan Age who wrote works like Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet.

François-Marie Arouet, under the pen-name “Voltaire”, wrote witty social commentary during the French Enlightenment, often at odds with the Church and the concept of Monarchy, but covering many, many topics, with perhaps his best known work being Candide, ou L’Optimisme.

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was a Florentine writer and politician during the middle Rennaisance and his most famous work, The Prince, is one of the foundational works of political theory, albeit with a definite absolutist monarchical slant which is today out of favor.

Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates were ancient Greek philosophers who helped develop and formalize modern logic and debate, while Vizzini was a minor antagonist with an inflated ego in The Princess Bride, included as a joke since he compares himself to the other three by labeling them morons.

Dante Alighieri was another Florentine writer of the Rennaisance, although much earlier than Machiavelli and more concerned with poetry and religious writing, with his best know work being The Divine Comedy, the first section of which, Dante’s Inferno, is the most famous and influential.

Geoffrey Chaucer was an English poet from the Middle Ages, writing in a form of English known as Middle English which is largely incomprehensible to modern sensibilities without translation, and he is best known for The Canterbury Tales, a sort of allegorical reflexion on humanity as he saw it, with a religious overtone and foundations.

John Milton was another English poet, this time from the later Rennaisance, and is best known for Paradise Lost, a literary exploration of the character of Lucifer and Satan which ended up having sweeping influences over the modern day concept of that figure.

Edgar Allan Poe was an American author during the first half of the 19th century who was known for his dark and macabre contributions to the Romantic movement, with The Raven being his best known piece.

Johnathan Swift was an Irish satirist of the 18th century, known for works such as A Modest Proposal in which he sarcastically suggested that the problem of the Irish starving in the wake of the potato blight and English political and economic oppression and mismanagement was to introduce cannibalism, thereby providing a ready source of food while simultaneously reducing the number of mouths to feed.

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was an American humorist of the 19th century, whose works, including such well known pieces as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, reflected the nature of the growing American nation with the bustling steamboat trade on the Mississippi and the economic and cultural disparities between the western frontiers stretching out to the newly settled Pacific, and the old established urbanity of New England and the north-eastern Atlantic coast.

Ernest Hemingway was an American writer of the 20th century, best known for The Old Man and The Sea, and for his sparse writing style and themes of nature and Americana.

Emily Brontë was an English poet of the early 19th century who is known chiefly for her one and only novel, Wuthering Heights, a shocking work for its time which challenged concepts of gender and sexuality in the context of the decayed gentry and society of the English countryside.

Emily Dickinson was an American near-contemporary of Brontë, also writing chiefly poetry, perhaps best known for Because I Could Not Stop For Death, and important alongside Brontë chiefly as one of the earliest widely successful female authors of the modern age (albeit posthumously in Dickinson’s case).

Charles Darwin, of course, was the famed British naturalist of the 1800s whose controversial On the Origin of Species sparked the debate between the concepts of Evolution and Creationism, on which I choose not to editorialize - at least not here. :stuck_out_tongue:

Douglas Adams, another joke like Vizzini, was the author of the comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in all it’s myriad forms.

Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Friedrich Nietzsche were German philosphers writing in the 19th and 20th centuries whose various theories are a little too complicated and even interconnected to do justice to here.

David Hume was a Scottish Philosopher in the 18th century with a strong sceptic slant and a passion for empirical observation.

John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher from the 19th century largely concerned with the concept of Free Will.

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher from the 17th century who had - in the words of Bill Watterson - “a dim view of human nature”.

…and René Descartes was a drunken fart - “I drink therefor I am!”

And David Rees, of course, is the man whose enlightened followers will lead the revolution that will free the world from the tyrrany of improperly sharpened pencils - and they shall be known by their blood-stained, whale-shaped, hand-forged, kid-friendly, pencil sharpening knives.


Some good reads on this list. And some books that I consider “well, at least they’re reading a book, instead of US Weekly” books (Hunger Games, I’m looking in your direction). And some books that I read, and loved, but that I would in no way recommend to somebody who isn’t much of a reader (Lord of the Rings, and Dune, I’m looking in YOUR direction). Also some very pleasant surprises (Very Hungry Caterpillar! I’ve read this book hundreds of times, my kids love it).

All in all? It’s a decent-ish list. I appreciate that they didn’t call it “100 best”.

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