Amazon put out a list of 100 books to read in a lifetime, with the possibility of voting on selections on Goodreads. Lately, I've become rather disenchanted with lists like these. Just over a week ago I started to read the books I had not yet read on another list and was the opposite of impressed. So I may not rush out to get the 15 or so books I haven't yet read on the list right away.
I noticed that there is some bias toward relatively recent works (nothing earlier than Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in contradistinction to The Guardian's list of 100 greatest novels, which includes works like Robinson Crusoe and Clarissa) as well as quite a bit of children's and YA literature.
The children's literature includes excellent choices:
Goodnight Moon (which I know by heart)
Where the Wild Things Are
A Wrinkle in Time
The Little Prince
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though I prefer Mathilda in some ways
Alice in Wonderland
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Golden Compass was engrossing, but the series does peter out, and I believe I gave up on the third book of the trilogy.
With respect to The Phantom Tollbooth, I've seen it recommended elsewhere and so started reading it fairly recently. While it certainly packs whimsy and some charm, I didn't feel compelled to finish it, and I really do tend to finish the books I start.
Noticeably absent here: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Not much surprise in YA selections like:
The Fault in Our Stars
The Percy Jackson books I haven't read, but my daughter in the target age group really enjoyed them.
Lord of the Rings
We get some typical high school reading selections that have become canonized, though, perhaps not quite as great as their reputations like
The Great Gatsby (see http://uncommoncontent.blogspot.com/2012/04/great-introvert.html)
Catcher in the Rye
But I agree that every teen should read
To Kill a Mockingbird
Other excellent choices include:
Man's Search for Meaning (I blogged about it here)
Ellison's Invisible Man
One suggestion I'd have for great novels that raise serious societal issues is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
I was struck by seeing a special category for The Handmaid's Tale as speculative feminist fiction. I know that the novel has been the subject of debate over categorization. Is it science fiction or not? Another interesting thing about it is that it has both made the banned and required reading lists of schools. The inspiration for this novel, 1984, is on the list, though I don't see the alternative dystopian vision, which offers quit a few parallels to , Brave New World.
Interesting choices in the novel category include:
The Age of Innocence, though I also like The House of Mirth
Of Human Bondage, the author is a master writer, though his far from happy stories would not be everyone's cup of tea. Speaking of which, why nothing by Hardy, like Tess of the D'Ubervilles or Jude the Obscure?
Yes, I have a bias for 19th century English novels, and I would definitely add on at least:
and from the US: Huckleberry Finn
One other addition I'd make to what I consider recent literature is The Princess Bride.
I'd love to hear what other people think should have been added to or omitted from the list.