18 books to read before you die

Welcome to your definitive guide to reading some of the world's most classic novels ever written

The Circle, Dave Eggers

A critique of the social media age so prescient and harrowing it should be covered in schools, never mind your book shelf. A story depicting the morality and potential pitfalls of our modern society, tech-obsessed world.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

One of the great stylists of modern literature creates a vision of the future- and a father son relationship that you’ll find difficult to forget.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Few modern novels can match the scale and ambition of this Colombian master’s great work. There is a lot to take in, but worth sticking with.

Middlemarch, George Eliot

The masterpiece you’ll actually manage to get through, thanks to some astute character studies and brilliant moments of humour.

The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

Encounter some big and important themes and embark on what is simply an enjoyable, colourful, and timeless read.

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

From its opening scene onwards, this novel truly captures the tensions at the heart of every marriage. Depressing, but captivating.

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

Set in rural India, this Booker Prize winner is an intoxicating tale about childhood, family, and the difficulties that arise from social class stigmas.

The Wasteland, TS Eliot

Every man should know a little poetry. Make it this collection – and the Love Song of J Alfred in particular – from the British modernist who revolutionised poetry.

Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming

This novel captures the best of Bond, Fleming takes the agent from Harlem to Jamaica on a hunt for a brilliant but deadly gangster and his network of associates.

The Fight, Norman Mailer

This book is the real-life story of a clash between two of the world’s greatest boxers George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, both in and out of the ring.

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

Four young men take the transition from college to adult life in NYC, banding together around one of their friends, Jude, who is haunted by the horror of his childhood. This is a story about the strength found in true male friendships.

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

One of the most controversial novels of the 20th Century, Lolita is a strange, troubling story of lust told by one of the most unreliable narrators in literature. Suffused with a savage humour and rich, elaborate verbal textures, this novel prevails, losing none of its shock factor.

Frank Sinatra has a cold and other essays, Gay Talese

Gay Talese’s profile of Old Blue Eyes is precise, elegant, and endearing. This collection is a bedside table fixture, to be returned to time again.

Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin

This story takes from Baldwin’s own experience as an adolescent minister and depicts the protagonist’s struggle with his city, church and sexuality.

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

Miller gives a rich account of an everyman losing his grip on reality and the tragic consequences he must face as a result. Through a clear cut narrative and crisp exchange between characters, this novel masters the art of written conversation.

Persuader, Lee Child

Jack Reacher is a dashing former military cop with a knack for landing in sticky situations, living without family, possessions, or fear. Think Die Hard with a twist.

Ask the Dust, John Fante

Fante illustrates the life of a struggling writer Arturo Bandini during one of the darkest times in American history, the Great Depression. The protagonist is full of humour and despite his situation, remains hopeful, making this excellently drawn character come to life on the page.

A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James

This book is not for the faint of heart- it’s got a lot going on. Spanning different continents with multiple narrative voices, not to mention the gunpowder, and blood, James boldly takes you through the event and aftermath of the 1976 attempted shooting of Rasta King Bob Marley.

Further Reading