23 Books To Read Before You Die, Because They're That Good

I've got about six bookshelves around my house that are overflowing with reads. And yet every time I'm at Barnes and Noble, I can't resist buying more. I'm a bookaholic, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Everyone knows there are books you should read, the so-called classics, the books that get worked into school curriculums around the world. But what about the lesser-knowns? The books to read before you die that aren't necessarily on everyone's list, they still deserve to be read.

I'm one of those whose bookshelves are split down the middle between books I've read, and books I haven't read. I promised myself last week that I wouldn't buy another book until I read ten books on my shelf. But then I found myself at a bookstore yesterday and, as any bibliophile can predict, I wound up with another book to stow on my shelves. I'm a voracious reader, but there's no way I'm going to make it through all the books that catch my eye before I die. Even if I live to 102 years old. So I've prioritized a list of 23 books to read before you die, for you, for me, and for you to pass along to your favorite bibliophile. Happy reading!


'The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time' by Mark Haddon

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, 15-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is on a journey to solve the neighborhood murder mystery of the poodle Wellington. You'll become captivated by his world and just as curious to find out who killed his neighbor's pup.

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'The Year Of Magical Thinking' by Joan Didion

Following the death of her husband and the hospitalization of their daughter, Didion embarked on a journey of self-discovery. The Year of Magical Thinking takes readers right along with her as she mourns, recovers, and thinks magically.

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'The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao' by Junot Diaz

Oscar is an overweight ghetto nerd who dreams of falling in love, becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien, and much more. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao follows the young nerd as he attempts to pursue his dreams in the face of an old family curse he knows is preventing him from living life to its fullest potential.

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'The Phantom Tollbooth' by Norton Juster

Though The Phantom Tollbooth is geared towards middle-readers, this is a must-read for any adult who hasn't already read it. Even adults who have read it. Just everyone. Everyone should read this book.

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'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro

A story of nostalgia, friendship, and the way love changes over the years, Never Let Me Go is a tour de force that will stick with you long after you've stopped turning the pages.

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'Geek Love' by Katherine Powell

Geek Love tells the tale of the Binewski family, full of oddities and gifts. This family of misfits travels across the United States, inspiring, mesmerizing, and inciting riots. This is a family tree like you've never seen.

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'All About Love' by bell hooks

bell hooks takes to the page in All About Love to answer the age old question, "What is love?" And she does not disappoint.

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'The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay' by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is an incredibly original adventure when young escape artist and magician Joe Kavalier arrives on his cousin Sammy Clay's doorstep. Things only get better from there. Together, they spin comic-book tales together in the late '30s in New York, and captivate readers with their stories.

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'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle' by Haruki Murakami

A love story, a mystery, and a veteran memorial all at the same time, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a gripping novel you won't want to put down.

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'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

In postapocalyptic novel The Road, a father and his son traverse what is left of America. As they travel, they take readers on a true journey through complete devastation, and a labor of love.

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'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver

Documenting one family's history through their time in the Belgian Congo, The Poisonwood Bible tells the tale of their losses and how it shaped each of them, whether they wanted it to or not.

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'The Liars Club' by Mary Karr

In The Liars Club, Mary Karr recounts her comical childhood in the south with sharp wit and tall tales.

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'A Short History Of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson explores the age old questions of the universe, and attempts to understand the world as a whole. Diving in, with the help of scientists, anthropologists, mathematicians and more, he provides readers with all the information they'll ever need.

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'The Godfather' by Mario Puzo

You've surely seen the movies, but have you read the book that started it all? The Godfather paints a picture so beautiful and horrifying that you'll have a hard time turning back to the movies after you've finished.

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'Bel Canto' by Ann Patchett

Through the stunning beautiful theme of music, Bel Canto delivers a tale of love and crisis like no other. Profound, lyrical, and unforgettable, you'll want more of this book even after you've finished it.

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'The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot

How did a poor black tobacco farmer become one of the most important keys in modern medicine? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will take you on a bumpy ride encompassing race, politics, science, and medicine to help you find out.

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'The God Of Small Things' by Arundahti Roy

A family saga, a political powerhouse, a forbidden love story, The God of Small Things has it all. Set in 1960's India when Communism is rattling their caste-system, this beautifully constructed tale will leave you changed.

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'Valley Of The Dolls' by Jacqueline Susann

Since made into an iconic movie, Valley of the Dolls began as a raucous novel that shook a generation and captured it perfectly.

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'Life After Life' by Kate Atkinson

As Ursula Todd grows, she dies repeatedly. Crafting a tale of an obviously unusual life, Life After Life follows Ursula as she attempts to change the course of the world, one life at a time.

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'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamant

In the Bible, Dinah's story is barely touched upon. The Red Tent gives Dinah a voice, and tells the story of the women in her family, her love, her tragedy, and ultimately, her life.

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'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini

This sweeping story takes place across the backdrop of tumultuous Afghanistan, and an unlikely friendship formed between a wealthy son of the nation, and the son of his father's servant. The Kite Runner will change the way you think about betrayal and redemption, and take you on a beautiful journey.

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'The Stand' by Stephen King

In one of the most incredible, well-written, and terrifying apocalyptic novels of our time, The Stand weaves its tale by tugging on the human condition while keeping readers balanced on the precipice of good and evil.

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'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues' by Tom Robbins

Freedom, and a band of whoopin', rebellious cowgirls take the stage in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, leaving you wishing you'd spent a night or two at the Rubber Rose Ranch, finding your own freedom.

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