100 of the Greatest Books Ever

100 of the Greatest Books Ever

1. Frankenstein ~Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Every time I read Mary’s classic tale, I find new insights, new ideas. She really constructed something amazing.

2. The Holy Bible, The King James Version

Like a friend of mine said, this is one you can read over and over again. Also, most of the plots of modern literature were derived, directly or indirectly, from this collection of ancient writings.

3. The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ

I love this book. My inspiration to quit smoking (tobacco, in case you were wondering) came from this book.

4. On The Origin of Species ~Charles Darwin

The general public understands this man’s work by what they hear in the general media. Which means they don’t understand it. Written like a textbook it’s difficult to get through, yet reading it and understanding it is extremely rewarding.

5. The Mismeasure of Man ~Stephen Jay Gould

This one is much like Darwin’s great book, and yet it tackles another, subsequent idea concerning skulls and such.

6. A Clockwork Orange ~Anthony Burgess

A bit of the old Moloko, brother? And Burgess was right—chapter 21 seals it.

7. Tao of Jeet Kune Do ~Bruce Lee

My absolute favorite philosopher. The world could learn a lot from this man.

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8. Crucial Conversations ~Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

I wonder if this should be required reading for anyone considering marriage or a business career. The perfect book for learning tact in speaking to other humans.

9. Fox in Socks ~Dr. Seuss

Of Dr. Seuss’s books, this tongue-twister collection is my favorite.

10. Calvin and Hobbes ~Bill Watterson

Inspired and influenced, and continues to do so today. Great comic strips.

11. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ~Philip K. Dick

This science fiction thrill-ride should be on every “Best Book” list. I have the first few paragraphs memorized I’ve read it so much.

12. The Shape-Changer’s Wife ~Sharon Shinn

Brilliant descriptions and fantastic twists. You’ll believe magic is everywhere.

13. The Alienist ~Caleb Carr

Caleb Carr is a world builder. This is a rich story with texture and gravity (it pulls you in).

the alienist

14. Fragments of a Hologram Rose ~William Gibson

This sci-fi original is found in his collection titled, Burning Chrome.

15. Necroscope ~Brian Lumley

A horror/science fiction novel that stands above in both categories.

16. Dragonborn ~Toby Forward

Beautiful writing, and an all-around fun magical fantasy story.

17. I’ll Mature When I’m Dead ~Dave Barry

Dave Barry is a master story-teller. He leads you down the path and then hits you in the gut with the punch line.

18. The Meaning of Tingo ~Adam Jacot de Boinod

Why do book lists only have story-books? This one shall go down in history as a great reference tool that manages humor. Yes learning can be fun.

19. The Hobbit ~J. R. R. Tolkien

For me, the riddles are what make this one a classic fantasy favorite.

20. The Chronicles of Narnia ~C. S. Lewis

Another classic fantasy with swords and mythical beasts. Worth reading multiple times.

21. The Arena ~Karen Hancock

Here’s an interesting science fiction fantasy, in the form of an allegory.

22. Dandelion Wine ~Ray Bradbury

Perfect reading for springtime weather. Read it with your sneakers on.

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23. The Bourne Identity ~Robert Ludlum

This is a terrific adventure with an indestructible spy/assassin.

24. They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? ~Patrick F. McManus

This is outdoorsy humor at its finest.

25. Call of the Wild ~Jack London

A book about a dog as the main character. Who says originality is dead?

26. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer ~Mark Twain

Adventures: not only in the title, but in the book as well.

27. Riddlemaster of Hed ~Patricia A McKillip

Beautifully crafted lands of fantasy, and thoughtful character progression.

28. The Hero and the Crown ~Robin McKinley

This is one you can read as a youth or an adult and enjoy. All novels should aspire to cross the age boundaries so well.

29. Pride and Prejudice ~Jane Austen

Women love this one, for the relationships.

30. Spacewolf Omnibus ~William King

Men love this one, for the brutality.

31. Kiki Strike ~Kirsten Miller

What is under New York? Read Kiki Strike to find out.

32. School of Fear ~Gitty Daneshvari

Fun mix of characters in a youth fiction classic.

33. More Than Human ~Theodore Sturgeon

Optimal science fiction writing from a master craftsmen.

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34. Danse Macabre ~Stephen King

Haunting and creepy (to me): a how-to-write book in which you must read between the lines.

35. Hard Magic ~Larry Correia

Excellent magical super power tough guy private eye novel. Larry’s best (so far).

36. Diary of a Wimpy Kid ~Jeff Kinney

One of the funniest books “for kids” to come out in a long while.

37. The Firm ~John Grisham

Brilliant writing, and I love, love, love the ending. My all-time favorite ending.

38. The Thief of Always ~Clive Barker

This book is another supposedly “for kids”, but it is really a great story for all ages.

39. To Kill a Mockingbird ~Harper Lee

Classic anti-prejudice literature. We need more Boo Radleys in this world.

40. Curious George ~H. A. Rey

And how can we forget the monkey who taught us how to have so much bad fun?

41. Goodnight Moon ~Margaret Wise and Clement Hurd

Go ahead and try to read this book aloud without whispering.

42. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ~Douglas Adams

This book title belongs at 42, doesn’t it?

43. Lord of the Flies ~William Golding

Absolutely haunting and hypnotic.

44. Of Mice and Men ~John Steinbeck

This one might be a “message” book, but it is too soft and cuddly to put down.

45. At Wit’s End ~Erma Bombeck

Erma is another of our worldly treasures. She deserves more praise than she gets.

46. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ~Roald Dahl

This fun book is your golden ticket to a very imaginative and happy place.

47. The Arrival ~Shaun Tan

Who needs words to tell a story? Not Shaun Tan. He built a captivating world of pictures.

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48. A Wrinkle in Time ~Madeleine L’Engle

And this one makes math fun for children, among other things.

49. The Secret Garden ~Frances Hodgson Burnett

Take a trip into a beautiful landscape that lasts well after you’ve closed the book.

50. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  ~Lewis Carroll

This one could be at number 42. Why? Go ask Alice.

51. Mirror Mirror ~Marilyn Singer

Verse and reverse. A children’s favorite that is clever and worthy of any Greats list.

52. I Am Legend ~Richard Matheson

Perfect suburban vampire story from a man who also wrote Twilight Zone episodes.

53. From the Dust Returned ~Ray Bradbury

Because I think Ray really struggled writing novels, this one is a pleasant surprise.

54. Dracula ~Bram Stoker

The Count and his “children of the night”.

55. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ~Robert Louis Stevenson

This one, like H. G. Wells’s Invisible Man, is sort of a horror sci-fi story.

56. The Black Cauldron ~Lloyd Alexander

Wonderfully written fantasy with interesting magic.

57. The Maltese Falcon ~Dashiell Hammett

Hammett goes over the top with some of his descriptions, but I love it anyway.

58. Big Fish ~Daniel Wallace

The book and the movie bear distinct (and pleasant) differences.

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59. Coraline ~Neil Gaiman

Reminds me more of The Thief of Always than Alice in Wonderland.

60. Rollerball ~William Harrison

Dystopia writing before it became a separate category.

61. Mr. Boffo: Unclear on the Concept ~Joe Martin

Comic strips shouldn’t be smart should they? Well this one is. It is a look at human behavior in not so much a clinical way as a funny way.

62. Your Momma Thinks Square Roots Are Vegetables ~Bill Amend

This one is supra-uber-smart, and funny too. Deals more with family relationships.

63. The Crow ~James O’Barr

This is a comic book (or graphic novel, if you prefer) that is ultra-violent, and yet it waxes poetic and brilliant at times. J. O’Barr knows how to mix intellect and madness artfully.

64. If I Built A Car ~Chris Van Dusen

A children’s book with graphic and literary imagination.

65. Star Trek Book of Opposites ~David Borgenicht

Hilarious combination of classic TV and young person learning. A parent may not be able to read this to their child the first time through without laughing all the way. Especially not if they’re a Star Trek fan.

66. The Poisonwood Bible ~Barbara Kingsolver

The father in this is so ornery, it makes me laugh.

67. Silent Spring ~Rachel Carson

Classic Mother Earth love song.

68. Black Holes and Baby Universes ~Stephen Hawking

Makes you love to learn about black holes.

69. Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic ~Martha Beck

About a Down syndrome boy and his mother.

70. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative ~Roger von Oech

One of the best how-to/self-improvement books of all time.

71. The Fly ~George Langelaan

Perfectly crafted horror sci-fi.

72. Deep Six ~Clive Cussler

You really can’t go wrong with any Clive Cussler novel. I especially enjoy reading his Dirk Pitt character. Classic tough guy stuff.

deep six

73. The Cask of Amontillado ~Edgar Allan Poe

Who is the bad guy here?

74. Flowers in the Attic ~V. C. Andrews

A frightening environment. How much does our environment shape us?

75. Where the Sidewalk Ends ~Shel Silverstein

Poetry from a man who never wore shoes.

76. The Hiding Place ~Corrie Ten Boom

A story that will hit you in your visceral core, unless you’re heartless.

77. The Diary of a Young Girl ~Anne Frank

Like The Hiding Place, with this story you’ll wonder at human nature.

78. The List of Seven ~Mark Frost

This is a Sherlock Holmes story with a horror twist.

79. Holes ~Louis Sachar

Thought-provoking story about youth camps. But again, this is one that is for all ages.

80. Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share ~Ken Denmead

What are we going to do next, Dad?

81. If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor ~Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is one you may wish was your best friend.

82. Fatherhood ~Bill Cosby

And you’ll wish either Bill Cosby was your best friend or your Dear Old Dad.

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83. Gulliver’s Travels ~Jonathan Swift

Classic fairy-tale adventure.

84. The Thirty-Nine Steps ~John Buchan

From this one, I got attitude. I love it when books give me attitude.

85. Unlimited Power ~Anthony Robbins

Self-improvement is a subject we too often forget.

86. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar…:Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

~Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

Philosophy made easy, and unforgettable.

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87. 2001: A Space Odyssey ~Arthur C. Clarke

I kind of liked 2010 better, but you can’t quite read it first, you know?

88. Moneyball ~Michael Lewis

You might not like this if you don’t like baseball, but the writing is so hearty it just may turn you into a baseball fan.

89. The Simple Art of Murder ~Raymond Chandler

Attitude. Tough guy private eye short stories. Chandler does it best.

90. Where All Things Perish ~Tanith Lee

Hard to find, but Tanith Lee is a writer worth reading. This story is a horror story with that perfect garnish of frisson.

91. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ~J. K. Rowling

She spins a delightful yarn, doesn’t she?

92. The Monster at the End of This Book ~Jon Stone and Michael Smollin

Classic book that children love to hear and parents love to read.

93. The Haunted Mesa ~Louis L’Amour

Louis L’Amour is best known for his cowboy stories. This is a somewhat frightening cowboy story with a little sci-fi thrown in. Don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself to find out how great it really is.

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94. The Sound Machine ~Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl didn’t only do lovely children stories. This sci-fi story can be found in The Best of Roald Dahl.

95. The Time Machine  ~H. G. Wells

Great stories often generate imitators. This one probably had the most.

96. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz ~L. Frank Baum

The writing style is a little strange to me, but that’s part of the fun.

97. Shogun ~James Clavell

Masterpiece of cross-cultural understanding.

98. Welcome to the Monkey House ~Kurt Vonnegut

Short stories from a literary wit.

99. The Old Man and the Sea ~Ernest Hemingway

Arguments may be made that this was better as a movie than as a book. Try both, then tell me what you think.

100. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ~Robert M. Pirsig

Enough said. Robert M. Pirsig said it better than me. Go read.

Amazon’s Awkwardness

I’m a little disappointed in Amazon. They’re supposed to be in the business of selling books. Of course, they also sell lots of other things, so maybe, just maybe we can chalk this latest foible up to the pressure of their massive expansion over the years. Massive expansion equals not enough time to focus on reality. That is only one hypothesis and will have to be tested. I could drive the ship for a while. No, instead I’ve decided to correct what they have done wrong. Recently the good folks at Amazon published a list of the 100 books to read in a lifetime and though there were some good books in the list, I was mightily drawn at how many dull and boring books were in there. Like I said, they’re supposed to be in the business of selling books, so the question that immediately comes to mind is: “Why limit it to so many dull selections?” Well, I’m making my own list, and it does take a while to collect that many titles, though my list was nearly instantly filled with books that I thought were interesting enough to buy and read more than once. Some of the rest of my list I gathered from other people I’ve been talking to about their favorite books, and so I’ve had some fun conversations over the past few weeks; I highly recommend starting up a conversation this way: “What’s one of your favorite books you’ve read that you could read over and over again?” Anyway, I have no attention span for books that are made up of slow action, or no action, and dull, lifeless topics that don’t encourage repeat visits.

To complete the list, I wanted to make sure these were books I had actually read, and not stuff that came off of an old dead-letter office list that got dusted off for re-release. Not saying that Amazon came up with their list by such a method, but I am saying that their list is chock full of boring titles that will make the already timid reader run to the movies and discard books forever. That is not what we need. So, I’ll read a couple more books and then post my list next week. Don’t be afraid to let me know if my list needs improvement. Also, don’t be afraid to check out Amazon’s list just because I said it stinks. They included a few good titles worth reading.