21 Books Every Student Must Read
Words are the most inexhaustible source of magic and when they flow through a writer’s pen, a magnificent story is born. Just like each person has a different story to tell, each book too has a completely fresh story to let you know. In a world full of Avid reader’s the need for good books obviously increases. Which is why we are here to present you with the top-reads from different genres. From famous plays by writers like William Shakespear to diary entries by the famous holocaust victim Anne Frank, dive into a world of must-read books and plays and get to know the world of English literature like never before.
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Published in 2003, the first novel written by Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner, which turned out to be the New York Times bestseller for 2 years is based on the story of a young boy named Amir belonging to the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose beloved friend is Hassan. The story is set against a backdrop of wild occasions, from the fall of Afghanistan’s government through the Soviet military mediation, the mass migration of outcasts to Pakistan and the United States, and the ascent of the Taliban system. Hosseini has remarked that he believes The Kite Runner to be a father-child story, stressing the familial parts of the story, a component that he kept on utilizing in his later works. Themes of blame and reclamation include unmistakably in the novel, with an essential scene delineating a demonstration of rape that occurs against Hassan that Amir fails to avoid. This circumstance was the primary motivation behind why Amir and Hassan’s fellowship came to an end. The second half of the book focuses on Amir’s endeavours to make up for this offense by saving Hassan’s child two decades later. Over 7 million copies of this gripping novel was sold in the United states.
Number the Stars – Lois Lowry
The historical fiction – Number the Stars (1989) written by American creator Lois Lowry, is about the rescue of a Jewish family (the Rosens) from Copenhagen, Denmark, during World War II. The story fixates on ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen, who lives with her family in Copenhagen in 1943. She becomes a part of the salvage of the Danish Jews when a large number of Jews were helped to arrive at an unbiased ground in Sweden so as to abstain from being migrated to inhumane imprisonments. The story revolves around how in order to help her dear companion, Annemarie willingly risks her own life by plotting a whole story. The story’s title is taken from a reference to Psalm 147:4, which states that God has numbered every one of the stars and has named every single one of them. It integrates with the Star of David, worn by Ellen Rosen on her accessory, which is emblematic to Judaism.
The epic was granted the Newbery Medal in 1990 as the earlier year’s “most recognized commitment to American writing for children”.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
This novel published way back in the year 1960, gained instant success for its combination of humour and warmth, despite the references of serious issues such as racial inequality and rape. The story is narrated from the point of view of a six-year old child named Jean Louise Finch and is grasped within the boundaries of the period of The Great depression. To Kill a Mocking bird is one of the books dealing with race that have been widely read in America and continues its reach throughout the world as the main character of the story, Atticus Finch bags the title of ‘the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism’. As a matter of fact, this novel is one of the only two novels authored by Harper Lee and is worth a read.
Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood is a book that gets its name from a popular song of 1965 sung by the Beatles. It is one of the most mainstream books of Murakami and is set in Japan of the 1960s during the time of the student revolution. The setting reveals to us a ton about Japan in the 1960s and what it resembled to be a developed grown-up (in the midst of the frail willed two-faced student upheaval) back then.
The story is narrated by a person called Toru Watanabe. Toru moves to Tokyo fto pursue his further studies which is a cover for him requiring to escape from his melancholic past – the suicide of his closest companion Kizuki has him broken and his solitary path forward is to proceed onward. Naoko, the then sweetheart of his dead companion additionally comes to Tokyo for a similar explanation and coincidently unites them one day. Toru is infatuated with Naoko yet Naoko is broken. In the middle of comes Midori, who is fun and vivacious yet simply like the others, she is broken as well. Midori goes gaga for Toru yet it’s not as simple as it appears. As they all battle to keep their individual beasts under control, life proceeds onward and the characters wind up in a world which is scarred by enthusiasm, anguish, unusual friendships and demise.
This transitioning combination of drama and romance is melancholic and unusually tranquil simultaneously, which makes it a good and gripping read.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Shelved 6 times as a must-read fiction, the plot of this novel is mind blowing and regarded as the authors best work. The story is about a Fellow Montag who is a firefighter. In his reality, where TV rules and writing are on the precarious edge of eradication, firefighters light fires as opposed to putting them out. His main responsibility is to annihilate the most unlawful of wares, the printed book, alongside the houses where they are covered up.
Montag never questions the pulverization and ruin his activities produce, restoring every day to his insipid life and spouse, Mildred, who goes through the day with her TV ‘family’. In any case, at that point, he meets an unpredictable youthful neighbour, Clarisse, who acquaints him with a past where individuals didn’t live in dread and to a present where one sees the world through the thoughts in books rather than the careless babble of TV. When Mildred endeavours suicide and Clarisse all of a sudden vanishes, Montag starts to address all that he has ever known.
Similarly, this book is sure to leave you awestruck and challenge you with an urge to think intellectually which has made this yet again a bestselling novel.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
With a country nineteenth-century England setting, Bronte has made an anecdotal record of the early existence of Jane Eyre which every kind of reader cannot help but appreciate. In this novel, we get the opportunity to perceive the contentions among adoration and freedom, inner voice and enthusiasm, and the battle of a little girl and lady to keep up her confidence. These were all spearheading subjects in the male centric culture of Victorian England during the 1800s.
The plot of the novel pursues basically five phases: one, Jane’s adolescence at Gateshead; two, the young lady’s education at Lowood School; three, Jane’s work as the tutor at Thornfield Hall; four, time went through with the Rivers’ family at Moor House; and five, a surprising climax that comes after some unexpected twists in the story.
Considering how different experiences and emotions such as happiness, fear, sorrow, anger, pity and hate are beautifully portrayed and brought to life in this novel, Jane Eyre should be read by every single individual at some point in life.
The Art of Happiness- Dalai Lama
This book has been written by Dalai Lama, one of the most influential monks of the 21st century. The book has been co-authored by a well-known psychologist Howard cutler, who had spent some days interviewing Dalai Lama. The book revolves around how Dalai Lama attained calmness, inner peace, and happiness. Together, the Dalai Lama and Howard combined the teachings of Tibetan Buddhist philosophies of living life along with the psychological definition/ idea of the term happiness. The book is considered as a complete guide to living a happy life. He reflects his thoughts in this book by saying that all humans are naturally gentle and peaceful creatures, who only get agitated and aggressive when their basic requirements like food, water, and shelter are not being fulfilled. The Art of Happiness is one of the reads for achieving happiness. It throws light on the most important lesson for change. Happiness is obtained only from devoted, focused attention on changing your style of thinking. Like anything else worth attaining, it takes is effort. Pointing to external circumstances or people as the reasons for your unhappiness is a denial of reality. Only you get to decide how you feel and you have full control of it. You can change it whenever you want to.
The Last Lecture- Randy Pausch
The story unfolds as Randy Pausch gets to know that he has barely a few months to live, courtesy, pancreatic cancer. Randy had fought cancer previously but sadly, this time he had been informed by the doctors that he won’t be able to make it. After knowing that he has limited time on this earth to live, Randy decides to buckle up and finishing the pending tasks which would ease the lives of his loved ones when he won’t be there anymore to nurture them. Professionally, Randy was a computer science professor who was asked to give his last lecture at a university. Ironically, it was the last lecture of his life for real. After thinking for days, he finally came up with the perfect title of his last lecture, which was- really achieving your childhood dreams. In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humour, inspiration, and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon. The book covers all the aspects of Randy’s life. He deeply thought over various situations where he won’t be there to guide his children in times of need and his youngest son probably won’t even remember his face during his twenties. All of this made Randy decide that his last lecture should also cover lessons for his children and not just his students and fellow faculty members.
Failing Forward: Turning Failures into Stepping Stones for Success – John C. Maxwell
Failing forward is not just a motivational book, but also a source of abundance of inspiration when life is pulling you backwards. The book highlights the fact that a common ingredient between all the successful people is that they face temporary setbacks on the road to success and still manage to move forward like an arrow. 7 ways to fail forward have been mentioned in this book and each one of them has a lesson of its own. The author talks about the days when he felt flushed out and was working on a job which he hated, and broke for most of the days. Credit card bills were piled up and he found himself good for nothing.
Majority of people are never prepared to deal with failure. Maxwell says that he has learned to make failure his friend, and he can teach you to do the same. He believes that failure cannot be avoided, so one has to think of it as a critical part of moving forward. Failure is inevitable, but it can also be beneficial. From unlocking fresh ideas to pushing ourselves to become our best, experiences of failure provide us with significant opportunities. Along with clear setting of your goals and a positive state of mind, embracing failure is a key ingredient to success.
Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
The book Lean In is about a successful businesswoman who wants to help other women succeed in business and move forward in the corporate world. The book had become a controversial issue since many people believed that the author is representing negative beliefs on behalf of many other women. However, if you have read the book then you may think the opposite. The author gives a number of examples from her personal as well as professional life. Feminism being a hot topic of the 21st century is covered in this book in a fine way. She has made an attempt to unfold the true meaning of feminism and feels that the word feminism has been misunderstood by so many people that it has lost its essence in the midst of the war between equality for all and pseudo feminism.
“ A feminist is someone who believes in social, economical and political equality of the sexes”. The author asks women to keep the above definition in mind and make informed decisions on the same.
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Julius Caesar is the first of Shakespear’s plays which showcased a series of back to back tragedies, revolving around the Roman history. After Julius Caesar’s triumphant return from the war, The citizens of Rome were in a jolly mood of celebration. However, destiny had some other plans for this Roman warrior. Jealous conspirators were plotting Caesar’s death, so that he doesn’t gain much power. They knew that there could only be one way of making this plan a success, which was to take Caesar’s friend Brutus in their confidence. The play is broadly divided into 5 acts, each of it has a special significance of its own. The play starts off on a good note, where the Roman citizens are celebrating the victory and return of Caesar. On his way to the arena Caesar is stopped by a stranger who warns that he should ‘Beware the Ides (15th) of March. Caesar’s fellow senators are jealous of Cassius, Cassus and their other allies visit Brutus, who is also Caesar’s friend. On March 15th, Caesar’s wife Calphurnia asks him not to go to the Senate since she had a nightmare of Caesar being murdered. This dream comes true as Caesar gets murdered by the conspirators. After his death, Caesar’s friend Mark Antony begins a war against the conspirators and one by one, they all either get killed or commit suicide, which marks the end of the play.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Two of Scottish King Duncan’s generals are returning from a battle, one of them being Macbeth who encounter three witches on their way back to the kingdom. The witches tell Macbeth of how he will become the Thane of Cawdor and then the King of Scotland. Immediately upon his arrival, Macbeth discovers that the King has made him Thane of Cawdor. Astonished and excited at the same time, he shares his happiness with his wife, Lady Macbeth, who believes in his husband’s luck and is very sure of the fact that one day he will become the King of Scotland. However, the thirst for power and luxury made Lady Macbeth blindfolded by greediness and she advised Macbeth to kill Duncan. Somehow, she managed to convince Macbeth to kill King Duncan. The two plan to get Duncan’s chamberlains drunk enough that they will not remember the evening and blame them for the murder. When the body of Duncan is discovered in the morning, Macbeth quickly kills the “culprits” and assumes the kingship. Immediately, Macbeth’s misgivings a force his hand in the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance as well, afraid that his heirs will seize the throne. Successfully killing Banquo, the murderers fail to kill Fleance. To ease his fears, he visits the three witches again and they offer to him more ways to tackle the situation. He must beware of Macduff, a chief opponent to Macbeth taking the throne. Towards the end of the play, Macduff kills Macbeth and gives the crown to the heir of King Duncan.
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
The play revolves around a main character named Willy, who is a father of two boys and has a beautiful loving wife, Linda. His kids aren’t doing great in their professional lives, which was a concern for Willy as well as his wife. Problems begin when Willy starts having trouble driving, which Linda closely observed. She always thought that it was nothing but a phase of life which shall pass. Days went by and Willy’s behaviour started changing drastically. He began hallucinating and started talking to himself and sometimes even to his dead brother. Willy was living in an imaginary world which he had created for himself and was far away from reality. On top of that, he had a home loan to pay off, and his mental health condition had led to a demotion in his job, which meant that Willy and Linda barely had money to survive. The boys took note of it and started getting their life back on track and moved closer towards the family. On one instance, Willy’s sons forgot him at a restaurant, which made Linda furious. However, Willy and Ben had a heart to heart talk it was then, when Willy realized how much his son loved him. He spoke to Ben and decided to kill himself. After which, Linda has a hard time dealing with Willy’s death. She cannot bring herself to cry, because she keeps on waiting for him to return from another business trip. She is sad, because finally the house is paid for and now she does not have a husband to share it with. The story has a tragic ending but leaves a huge impact on the minds of the audience about priorities in life. The question which still remains is that a house which was brought at the cost of someone’s life was really an investment or a liability for lifetime for its family members who lived there with heavy hearts?
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Published in 1970, the book has all the reasons to keep you hooked – tragedy, love affairs, relationships, violence. Interestingly, the thought of writing this book came across Marquez’s mind while he was vacationing and so he cut short on his vacation, turned his car around and started writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. The book talks about the deserted town of Macondo and the family that founded it. The town gradually comes in contact with other regions and civil wars break out. The town loses its individuality. So how do family and friends stick together through these difficult times? Through this book, you are sure to find out the importance of good people around you.
This Side of Paradise, F Scott Fitzgerald
Making his debut in the world of writers with this novel, Fitzgerald explores the rights and wrongs of the youth after the first World War. The protagonist, Amory Blaine is a pleasing personality who goes to the Princeton University and falls in love with a certain Ms. Rosalind Connage, who later breaks off her courtship with Blaine due to his poor economic status and goes on to marry a wealthy man. The novel emphasizes on the hunger for acquiring status and money. The novel is also popularly known to have let Fitzgerald win over his lady love, Zelda Sayre as the publishing of This Side of Paradise acted as a token of her acceptance.
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Lord of the Flies was written in 1954 by William Golding, a British origin Nobel Prize winner. The book talks about a group of young lads who are stranded on an island after an air crash and figuring out ways to keep themselves in check. They mutually come up to three conclusions – one, to have a joyful time during their stay; two, to daily find something to eat in order to survive, and three, constantly release a smoke signal so that they are somehow discovered. Their ups and downs, their friendship and how they deal with situations is beautifully described in this book. The Time Magazine declared Lord of the Flies to be one of the 100 best-read Classic books of all time.
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Crime and Punishment comes at number two of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s full- fledged novels after his return from Siberia, where he served 10 years of exile. The book deals with a young student Raskolnikov’s life – what he thinks, why he thinks so and how he plans to kill a pawnbroker as she is an evil to the society and what is the dilemma he faces after killing her for the good of the people. Raskolnikov believes in the Superman Theory which means he believes he has a superior power in him where his actions can be justified if it is for the betterment of the people around him. Dostoevsky tries to get into the protagonist’s mind and give us a detailed overview of his thought process. Why not read Dostoevsky’s masterpiece to dig deeper into Raskolnikov’s mind?
Paradise Lost, John Milton
The poem Paradise Lost, as the name suggests talks about the Fall of Man from the biblical perspective. Paradise Lost who’s second and final edition was published in 1674 is divided into 12 books written in the form of a blank verse. The book explores how Adam and Eve are tempted by Satan, the fallen angel in the form of a talking snake. The snake lures Eve out in the garden sitting on the Wisdom tree who’s apples were strictly forbidden to eat. In turn Eve convinces Adam to consume the apple which results in their dismissal from the Garden of Eden. Milton in the Book 1 clearly states that his real purpose is to justify to men the ways of God. Learn how greed doomed the whole mankind through the beautifully written Paradise Lost.
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Set during the time of the Great Depression, the book talks about the Joads, a family of poor farmers who are forcibly driven out of Oklahoma due to economic problems, drought and changes in the agricultural sector which leaves them jobless. These farmers completely shaken by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl then collectively set out on a journey to California to find jobs, their lost respect and a future. Published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American Literature due to its great historical context.
Hard Times, Charles Dickens
One of Charles Dickens’ shortest novels, Hard Times has three parts to it – Sowing, Reaping, and Garnering. The novel starts with the school superintendent Mr. Gradgrind, a man devoid of any feelings, who believes in nothing but facts. The book has many characters, each playing an important role as Dickens believes in the power of imagination – how people should not be reduced to materialistic things or facts in their lives. They must let their imagination flow. He also highlights the working conditions during that time – how children were exploited at homes and circuses.
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
This is a novella written by John Steinbeck, which means it’s longer than a short story and lesser than a novel. The book talks about the story of two men, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are displaced and unemployed during the time of the Great Depression. He has connected this story to his own experiences of working with migrant workers at an early age. Steinbeck in his novella puts emphasis on the idea of dreams – how it is so important to have individuality, how one can move forward only if he dreams of the future. The book also explores loneliness in its characters’ lives. After reading this book, he leaves us with a thought that it is us humans who have created unnecessary boundaries which leads to further loneliness in people’s lives.