Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

Cheers! :slight_smile:

I’ve read at least 40 of these. A few, like The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I couldn’t finish because I dreaded picking them back up; if a book engages me I have trouble NOT reading it in a sitting (or two).

I don’t think the list is meant to be comprehensive or best. After all, it includes Diary of a Wimpy Kid, “for reluctant readers.” I read that once because my son left it lying around. It’s to describe a common, popular literary vernacular, as others above have suggested. Nothing wrong with that. I’d throw out the book on running and include something like Pinker’s The Language Instinct, for example, but that’s just me.


I read 51 books on that list. I just love reading.

51 too. But yeah, there is a lot of crap on that list.

I’ve read 33, and have a few on my “to-read” list. There are also quite a few I have no interest in ever reading (Harry Potter), or that I’ve tried to read and couldn’t get through (Midnight’s Children, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks).

57 plus others I’ve read in part. Meh on the list generally, although I did enjoy (and have read) all the kid or YA lit on there except Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

For breadth and depth in the classics, I like Clifton Fadiman’s New Lifetime Reading Plan, although it’s not exactly ‘new’ anymore with a 1999 publication date. It did introduce me to a lot of non-Western classics.


Read 25, tried to read a couple others… there are at least several books on that list that are on my personal “Books to Avoid Reading at All Costs” list.

  1. But not being a teenage girl, I’m not going to read The Hunger Games.

And while I never read the graphic novel Persepolis, I did see the film, which I would think would be almost the same thing. And if they’re including graphic novels, why no Maus?

51 on the Reader list (what you get if you click the picture at the top), which is skewed toward popular novels.

24 on the actual Amazon list, which is skewed toward recent novels.

But are you going to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

Whatever its merits, The Hunger Games is at least as worthy of being read by adults (male ones, at that) as some of the other books on the list.

I’ll second the reading of Hunger Games as an adult, male or female. I loved 'em, and I’m practically an old lady.

Thanks. I was under the impression it was another Twilight. Still might take me awhile to get to it though.

34 completely, plus parts of two others.

Around 51 - not counting Guns, Germs & Steel, since I know I only made it partway & there’s a few others I vaguely remember reading, but couldn’t tell you much about them (On The Road, Invisible Man, Beloved, Love in the Time of Cholera). I counted 21 as “Read in the Last Decade” and 29 in the “Read sometime before that” list. I agree the list is US-centric & biased toward recent books, but it’s a starting point for discussion (obviously!)

Here’s my personal recommendations from the list - books that I either have read multiple times or plan on returning to again someday:
*In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
*Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
*Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
*Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
*Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
*The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
*The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
*The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
*The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
*The Shining by Stephen King
*A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
*Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
*To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I have the following in my Haven’t Read Yet list - any feedback will help bump titles toward the top of the list.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien ( don’t judge me! :smiley: )
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

I have read 20. I am surprised the Maltese Falcon didn’t make it. I love The Long Goodbye so I am happy to see it there. I see people complaining, but this isn’t a list of the greatest books ever, as the title says it is a list of books to have a “well-read life”, not sure what that means exactly, but it could mean that popular books are not great literature but they are cultural cornerstones.

from that list, I can only say that *Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas *and *Team of Rivals *are both very well done and worth reading. They’re quite different, needless to say.

34 from the Amazon list and 43 from the Goodreads list. Plus a the beginning of “A Brief History of Time,” but not enough that I can honestly say I’ve read it. A bunch of my very favorite books are on these lists: Lolita, Gatsby, Midnight’s Children, Kavalier & Clay, Brave New World. The only book on either list that I actually hated was On the Road. I’m still not over that burning disappointment. I was sure I’d love that one and was stunned that I didn’t like it at all.

I think the most recent entry that I read is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I can’t recommend that strongly enough. It’s a great read and it explores issues of medical ethics and American race and poverty in a unique way, and it shows that these things are all tied together in a complex and sad knot.

I would read the shit out of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1860.

I’ve read 30 of the books on the Amazon list, but don’t think much of the list. I take no real pride in having read “Goodnight Moon” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to my son when he was little. And I don’t feel I’ve lost anything by NOT reading Valley of the Dolls.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s some fantastic Victorian and Edwardian books out there (Dickens and Twain as you mentioned, and I’d add H Rider Haggard and HG Wells to the list too) but I’ve read plenty of stuff which I thought should have been a cracking yarn and instead it was a a real effort to get through - The Four Feathers and Beau Geste spring to mind as examples.

And that’s without stuff like Pride & Prejudice, which I know is quite readable but simply of no interest to the average guy, just as most women aren’t interested in reading King Solomon’s Mines. Of course, all eras have those books, regardless of whether the works in question are Classics or penny dreadfuls.

25-27, but half I read as a child and half because they were assigned in school. There still are several that I intend to read (I’ve never been able to get through either To Kill a Mockingbird or The Catcher in the Rye)… Does it count if you listened to the unabridged audiobook? Because I’ve not technically read the Harry Potter or the David Sedaris but I feel as if I have.