Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

So I’m a little late to this party–Amazon published this list in early 2014–but I just heard about it recently (that fits, right?). Anyways, it’s not a particularly inspiring list as far as I’m concerned. Amazon’s editorial team compiled it through “taxing months of deliberation,” basically picking books they liked. It does, though, offer a nice range of books and gives me some idea of books I may want to think about reading. That, and dredges up memories (good and bad) of high school English class. I don’t know what list I was looking at the first time I counted, or maybe it was just past my bedtime, because I determined that I had read 26 of these…No. I’ve read 18. But I still consider that pretty good.

Here’s the list, with the ones I’ve read bolded and starred, sometimes with a comment. Note that I only star the books I’m sure I’ve read. Look through the list and let me know what you’ve read from the list!

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  4. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
  5. A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition by Lemony Snicket
  6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  7. Alice Munro: Selected Stories by Alice Munro
  8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  9. All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  10. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt***
  11. Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  12. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  13. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  14. Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  15. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  16. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  17. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl***
  18. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  19. Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
  20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  21. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney
  22. Dune by Frank Herbert
  23. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  24. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson
  25. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  26. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown*** (Has anyone NOT read this? a million times?)
  27. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  28. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond
  29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  30. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote*** (This was the first book to actually terrify me. I slept with the lights on while I was reading it.)
  31. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  32. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  33. Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
  34. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  35. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  36. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder*** (I read the whole series, starting in 2nd grade. I decided I was going to be President when I grew up and return the whole country to covered wagon times. HA!)
  37. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  38. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  39. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  40. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl***
  41. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  42. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  43. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  44. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  45. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  46. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  47. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  48. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  49. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  50. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen***
  51. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  52. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  53. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  54. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  55. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  56. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  57. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  58. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  59. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger*** (I unconvincingly played the prostitute in my 11th grade class’s movie about all the books we read that year; I did not, however, wear a green dress, which was silly of us…)
  60. The Color of Water by James McBride
  61. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  62. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson*** (Disturbing. BUT I learned a lot, including about the invention of the Ferris Wheel!)
  63. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  64. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  65. The Giver by Lois Lowry***
  66. The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  67. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*** (I really, really disliked this book. As a result, I will not see the movie.)
  68. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  69. The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
  70. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  71. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot*** (I read this earlier this year – VERY interesting discussion of where the cells for so much of our medical advancements came from)
  72. The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
  73. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
  74. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  75. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  76. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
  77. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien***
  78. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks***
  79. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  80. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  81. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
  82. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
  83. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
  84. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  85. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  86. The Shining by Stephen King
  87. The Stranger by Albert Camus***
  88. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  89. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  90. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  91. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  92. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami
  93. The World According to Garp by John Irving
  94. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  95. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe***
  96. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee***
  97. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  98. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann***
  99. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  100. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak


  1. G says:

    I thought everybody everywhere had to read “The Diary of Anne Frank”! “The Things They Carried”. Heavy. Moving. Reflections of life, war, & peace from a soldier’s perspective. You couldn’t graduate from my school without being slapped by references to “The Little Prince” in almost every grade! Also I prefer some of Garcia Marquez’s other works & was surprised to see “Love in the Time…” on the list. “A Wrinkle in Time” is a must! One of my favorite books as a teen. It enthralled me. I still think about the Tesseract today…ALL the time. Lol. Thanks for sharing these, Kris!


    1. Kristin says:

      Well, that’s why I only highlighted the ones I’m SURE I’ve read. I know the story of Anne Frank, and I have a “Behind the Diary” book from when I was a kid… but I’m not sure if I’ve read the whole thing? There are a few others like that on the list, too.


  2. Julie says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read 19, but I can honestly say that at last half of those that I KNOW I read I do not remember anything about – which seems really sad. I too read all of the Little House books thought and do remember loving those!


    1. Kristin says:

      Same for me… I don’t remember much of a lot of them. I almost felt like then I shouldn’t count them, OR that maybe I should reread them. But really…I have no inclination to reread things like Cather in the Rye. I don’t remember much about it – but enough to remember I didn’t enjoy it the first time around.


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