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Fifty books that are worth reading
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

Adlen Robinson’s list of 50 books worth reading:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”

2. George Orwell’s “1984”

3. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” (and anything else she wrote)

4. Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”

5. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”

6. William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”

7. William Shakespeare (as many works as possible)

8. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

9. “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl”

10. J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”

11. Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”

12. Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” (my beloved now deceased poodle was named Chaucer)

13. Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”

14. Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”

15. Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”

16. Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

17. Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca”

18. Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”

19. Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

20. H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”

21. Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and “Fountainhead”

22. Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”

23. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (or anything)

24. Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

25. Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”

26. Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha”

27. Homer’s “The Iliad”

28. Virgil’s “The Aeneid” (I had to read this in Latin in college)

29. Plato’s “The Republic”

30. C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”

31. Seamus Heaney’s “Beowulf”

32. Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince”

33. Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man”

34. Dante’s “The Divine Comedy Vol. 1: Inferno”

35. James Michener’s “The Source”

36. Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”

37. John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

38. Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

39. Sir Arthur Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes”

40. Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”

41. John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”

42. Erich Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”

43. Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”

44. Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”

45. Stanley Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange”

46. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay’s “The Federalist Papers”

47. Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”

48. Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”

49. Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America”

50. The Bible

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson


Happy National Read A Book Day!

One of our daughters recently emailed me a reading list from her college history class and asked if I had any suggestions about which book she should read.

I began going over the list, which was fairly lengthy, and could feel my heart quicken as my excitement grew. The list was comprised of numerous classics, from Plato and Socrates to John Locke and Alexander Hamilton, among others.

How could I possibly whittle that list down to one single recommendation? There was a mixture of fiction and non-fiction as well, making the choice even more difficult.

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. Before I learned to read, and even afterward, I loved being read to.

My father was a big reader when I was a little girl, and that definitely influenced my love of diving into a big book and feeling completely transported.

He suggested I read “big” books and I never acted intimidated, even when I was. After I tackled a “big book,” we discussed it and he helped me understand things.

I remember reading William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” at a very young age. My dad loved talking about history and profoundly influenced my own love of the subject.

I had amazing teachers in high school and college and they challenged me to read books filled with concepts that were difficult to understand, thus fostering and furthering my love of learning.

I decided I would try to put together a list of 50 books that are classics and can be profoundly influential.

Some are just for pure enjoyment. Some are difficult and not at all easy reading, but are still worth the effort. Several on this list should be mandatory reading for our politicians, but clearly are not.

Even if you read most of these books in school, I would encourage you to re-read some of them.

The library system is free and we are lucky to have such terrific library branches.

If you’re wondering what book I finally settled on with regards to my daughter, I didn’t. Instead, I suggested a few I knew she would love, and then included the above list for her to read along the way.

I’m sure I left off some books that have influenced you or you feel should have included. Please feel free to email me your suggestions.


Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at