Must-read books: There are so many out there – so don’t waste your time on average books!

Still, it can take time to find books worth reading. That’s why we’ve compiled this epic must-read book list to make your life easier. It features 40 top books to read in popular categories, such as fiction, business, personal development, travel, and more.

So, if you’re wondering, “what book should I read next?” we’ve got you covered. This list is jam-packed with great books to read!

Now, let’s get into it. Just use the contents to jump to the section you’re most interested in, or start scrolling.

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Classic Novels to Read

1. 1984 by George Orwell

1984 – George Orwell

1984 tells the futuristic story of a dystopian, totalitarian world where free will and love are forbidden. Although the year 1984 has long since passed, the prophecy of a society controlled by fear and lies is arguably more relevant now than ever.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R.Tolkien

Tolkien’s fantasy epic is one of the top must-read books out there. Set in Middle Earth – a world full of hobbits, elves, orcs, goblins, and wizards – The Lord of the Rings will take you on an unbelievable adventure.

3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is a moving story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant. Set in Afghanistan during a time of tragedy and destruction, this unforgettable novel will have you hooked from start to finish.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – J.K. Rowling

This global bestseller took the world by storm. So, if you haven’t read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, now may be the time. Join Harry Potter and his schoolmates as this must-read book transports you deep into a world of magic and monsters.

5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five is arguably one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. This rich and amusing tale follows the life of Billy Pilgrim as he experiences World War II from a peculiar perspective.

6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S.Lewis

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is undoubtedly one of the great books of all time. This renowned fantasy novel is set in Narnia, home to mythical beasts, talking animals, and warring kingdoms. The story follows a group of school children as they become entangled in this incredible world’s fate.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the top must-read books of all time. Published in 1960, the story explores life in the Deep South during the early 20th century through the story of a man accused of a terrible crime. It’s poignant, humorous, and gripping.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is a story of bravery, hope, and friendship in a time of Nazi tyranny. Narrated by Death itself, this novel will have you holding your breath for chapters at a time.

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights is a classic novel published way back in 1847. This harrowing story, set on a lonely English moorland, follows Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff’s struggle with love, betrayal, and revenge. If you love dramatic novels, add this to your must-read book list.

10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is the classic coming-of-age story. It follows sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield’s adolescent journey of angst and alienation as he leaves his prep school and moves to New York City.

11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is often considered one of the must-read books of all time. It follows the emotions and experiences of a strong, unbroken woman who continued to grow morally and spiritually despite a troubled childhood and a sexist, repressed Victorian society.

12. Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Orwell tells a fairy tale of a revolution against tyranny that ends in even more unjust totalitarianism. The animals on the farm are rife with idealism and desire to create a world of justice, equality, and progress. However, the new regimen attempts to control every aspect of the animals’ lives.

13. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s dystopian world shines a light on Western societies’ dependence on the media. The main character’s job is to find and burn any books he can find – until he begins to question everything. Considering the state of current politics and world affairs, this is one of the absolute must-read books in life.

14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women – Louise May Alcott

This is a tale of four sisters with their own very different and very prominent personalities. The novel draws the reader deep into their lives as we get to know each of their flaws, joys, struggles, and fears.

15. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web – E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web is a great reminder to be kind to all living creatures. This magical story takes place on a farm where a little girl tries to save her piglet from slaughter. Fern, the little girl, enlists the help of her farm friends to execute her clever plan. 

16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

English author Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a monster and brings it to life. This gripping novel evokes questions about what makes us human and what love and kindness truly mean. 

17. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men should be on every must-read book list. Set in the Great Depression, this is a controversial tale of friendship between two migrant workers in California. Filled with hope and tragedy, the two work towards the dream of owning land and pets.

18. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

In Guardians of the Galaxy, Arthur Dent sets off on a hilarious and fantastic adventure across the stars. He learns not to take the universe seriously as he meets all kinds of interesting characters.

19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is said to be the quintessential novel of the Jazz Age. Set in 1922 amongst unfathomable indulgence and decadence, the novel highlights a man’s struggle to earn the love of the woman he’s obsessed with.

Business and Money Must-Read Books

20. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a classic bestseller that has sold millions of copies worldwide. It’s packed full of money-making tips, techniques, and strategies. If you want to improve your mindset around money, this book can potentially change your life completely.

21. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad explains how wealthy people and poorer people think differently. It challenges commonly held beliefs about money and explains how you don’t need to have a high income to become rich.

22. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham

If you want to learn how to invest, add this to your list of must-read books. Author Benjamin Graham is considered one of the greatest investment advisors of the twentieth century. In The Intelligent Investor, you’ll learn about Graham’s philosophy of ‘value investing’ and how to develop long-term strategies that are used by the most successful investors in the world.

23. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Principles – Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio’s investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, has made more money for its clients than any other hedge fund in history. In Principles, Dalio shares everything he’s learned about investing, business, and life over the years.

24. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence – Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D

In this New York Times bestseller, DR. Robert B. Cialdini reveals the psychology behind influence – and how to apply the principles of persuasion in business and everyday life.

Personal Development Books Everyone Should Read

25. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s classic self-help book has stood the test of time. How to Win Friends and Influence People will teach you straightforward methods to improve your relationships – and as a result, your business and personal lives.

26. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

If you’ve ever tried to change a habit unsuccessfully, this should be one of your must-read books. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg reveals the empowering nature of how habits are formed and – crucially – how you can change them.

27. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now has sold more than two million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages. This groundbreaking book has the potential to completely revolutionize how you experience life – making life far more joyous and prosperous in the process.

28. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

The Body Keeps the Score – Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma – something that virtually everyone experiences to some degree. The Body Keeps the Score unravels the science behind emotional and psychological trauma and offers new paths to recovery.

Science and Technology Books You Must-Read

29. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time is one of the most famous books in science. It discusses the history of cosmology and its development from Ancient Greece through to the 1980s.

30. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

Freakonomics – Steven D. Levit and Stephen J. Dubner

If you’re interested in the truth behind controversial social issues, this book should be on your must-read book list. The authors reveal the facts behind issues, such as crime, shopping, and drugs. 

31. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

The age of Surveillance Capitalism – Shoshana Zuboff

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is one of the top must-read books on technology. The author gives us a look at how personal data has become a new form of capital.

32. Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

Uncanny Valley – Anna Weiner

Anna Wiener writes about the frantic, self-important, and often delusional work culture in Silicon Valley, and how millennials in tech are consumed by living a productive life. The Uncanny Valley is one of those books everyone should read. 

Travel and Adventure Books You Must-Read Before You Die

33. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

Inspired by Kerouac’s real-life adventures, On the Road tells the tale of two friends searching for meaning and rich experiences on a cross-country road trip.

34. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

In Notes From a Small Island, Bill Bryson shares a hilarious commentary of his jaunt through the United Kingdom – from the center of government at Downing Street, London, to the Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.

35. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Vagabonding – Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is perhaps the only travel guide you’ll ever need. This must-read book provides practical tips on how to travel safely and spontaneously – and the philosophies you’ll need to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

36. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed thought she’d lost everything at 22. Then, her mother’s passing, family trouble, and divorce drove her to an impulsive decision – to walk more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild will inspire you to see your true self-worth and capabilities.

History and Biography Books Worth Reading

37. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

If you’re looking for interesting books to read, Sapiens should be on your list. It details the development of human beings from the earliest stages until now. The author also shows how our current world systems will banish natural selection and adaptation. 

38. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

Lists of must-read biographies almost always include this wonderful book. Mandela started writing this autobiography in prison and finished it right before becoming the president of South Africa. This inspiring story provides a glimpse into the end of apartheid and the blatant inequality in the country.

39. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World by Steve Brusatte

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs – Steve Brusatte

Do you find dinosaurs fascinating? If so, this is one of the must-read books on the subject. Steve Brusatte reveals the different dinosaurs that roamed the planet – and the different worlds in which they lived.

40. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson attempts to summarize the history of the Earth. He talks about nearly every aspect of the planet – how it formed, how much it weighs, it’s size, the stages it went through, the dangers inherent to it, and how humans have evolved. If you love science and history, this is a must-read book for you.

If you’re wondering “what book should I read next,” look no further. In summary, here are 40 must-read books of all time:

Classic Novels to Read
  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  12. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  13. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  15. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  17. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  18. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Business and Money Must-Read Books
  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki
  3. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  4. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
  5. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Personal Development Books Everyone Should Read
  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  3. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
  4. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Science and Technology Books You Must-Read
  1. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
  3. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
  4. Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
Travel and Adventure Books You Must-Read Before You Die
  1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  2. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  3. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
  4. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Must-Read Biographies and History Books
  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  3. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World by Steve Brusatte
  4. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Have we missed any must-read books? If so, leave a comment below to recommend some top books to read!

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