100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

100 Books to Read In A Lifetime

While doing my daily email cleanse (another slight OCD-ish complex of mine) I came across an email with the subject, “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime”. Of course, this piqued my interest, I love lists and I’m always intrigued by the varied “best of” collections; from the BBC’s Big Read list of the nations’ favourites, to The Guardian’s list of The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time (not to mention my obsession with Buzzfeed). I take issue with the idea that these lists are definitive, but I always think it’s interesting to see which reads make them, and which don’t.

Compiled by the Amazon UK Book Editors, the list sets out 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime to create a “well-read life”. The list covers all stages of life, from children’s stories to classics, and I obviously had to “tick off” those I’d read:

Children’s Books:

100 Books to read in a lifetime children's

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: Has anyone not read this book? Or seen the (original) movie adaptation? I love me some Johnny Depp, but the original is the best! I read loads of Dahl when I was a kid, and I LOVED Quentin Blake’s illustrations. In fact, I know his name and work as well as I know Dahl’s. Amazing stories that are basically timeless.

2/3. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne: My mum bought me beautiful hardback editions of these books from a catalogue when I was very young (it may even have been from my beloved Book People). She must have bought them for an occasion, but I remember finding them behind her bedroom door one day, and I still have them today in mint condition.

4. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson: Oh, how I loved Jacqueline Wilson, and oh, how much do I kick myself that I no longer own my impressive collection?! I’ve talked about my love for this author previously, though I wouldn’t have picked Tracy Beaker as my must-read from her work, but I definitely have a lot of respect for this lady and her books, I devoured them and reread them continuously.

Older Children and Young Adults:

100 Books to read in a lifetime young adult

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling: Do I even need to say anything?! Really?? Though apparently I have a pretty special edition of the first book in the series. It’s a paperback, but the artwork on the back is “wrong”, it’s supposed to be Dumbledore but my wizard-dude has brown hair and a short beard…

always harry potter

6/7. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz: I know I read Artemis Foul, and I think I enjoyed it. To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about it… but I do know I’ve only read the first in the series. Again, I’ve only read the first book in the Stormbreaker series, but this one I know I enjoyed. I’ve seen bits of the movie and thought it was pretty decent too. Alex Rider is the teen James Bond.

8. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman: Ahhh, Noughts and Crosses. This book had a massive impact on me when I first read it as a young teen, and I recently purchased the whole series to reread it as an adult (you can read my review here). This is a fantastic series, I have yet to find someone who read it and didn’t enjoy it.

9. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend: I picked this up at a car-boot sale, when I was probably a little too young to fully grasp it, but I reread it and other books in the series throughout my teenage years and absolutely loved them! Pandora, Mr. Lucas, Bert and Queenie; brilliant characters and very funny. I only recently discovered just how many books are in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading them all… someday.

10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: I read this book when I was much too young to understand the background to this story. I’ve read quite a lot of books that focus on this period of history and I want to read it again.

Approachable Classics:


I know. I’m so bad. I haven’t read very many classics at all, let alone the ones on this list. I know I’ve read parts of Little Women, when I was too young to appreciate it (seems to be a habit of mine) and I’ve made a start on Pride and Prejudice… My Classics Club challenge will soon sort this out!

Something More Modern:

This should have been much better… but I blame the listI have read The Wasp Factory, but I’ve yet to finish it. I know it is supposed to be a cult classic, but it’s very dark and strange and I’m not afraid to admit that I struggle with it.

Classics – 19th Century and Earlier:

Aw, come on!

100 books to read in a lifetime other worldsExplore Alternative Worlds:

I would have thought I’d do better with this one, who knew The Hunger Games or Divergent wouldn’t be listed?? I’ve bought Game of Thrones (actually, I took the plunge and bought all 7 of them, don’t ask) but haven’t started them yet. I’m partly afraid of the SIZE of them, and partly afraid of the High Fantasy genre… I’ve also started The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy (another impulsive collection purchase, I curse The Book People!). I didn’t get on too well with this one, but I’m going to persevere, they’re short reads, and if I still don’t enjoy them much when I’m done they’ll find a loving new home.

Contemporary Fiction:

100 books to read in a lifetime contemporary

11. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding: Finally, something I can talk about! I loved this book, and the movies. I loved the characters, I loved how Bridget was just so damn endearing and I loved the friendships! I refuse to consider reading the most recent edition to this series, I just can’t do it (Mr Darcy… *sob, sob*).

12. The Book Thief by Markus Zusack: I listed this book in my Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’ve Put Down and had so many comments telling me I should read it. I found them hard to ignore. I’m currently on *goes to check* page 82 and I’m enjoying it so far. It is very different. The writing style is quite unique and I’m taking my time with this one.

13. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: This was another one I listed in the Top Ten Tuesday post above, and it seems to be a “marmite” book, you either love it or hate it. I haven’t tried to get back into this one yet, I think I need to work my way up to it!

Non-Fiction Essentials:

None of the non-fiction books I have read are listed, but there’s one or two on this list that are in my TBR pile.


Overall, I have completed 11/100 books on this list, though by the end of my Classics Challenge and TBR pile the final figure should be healthier. It should be noted that the complementary user-generated Goodreads list of the 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime looks quite a bit different… I may not have a “well-read life” but it appears I had a “well-read childhood”.

What about you? How many of the 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime have you read? And what do you think of this list? Are there books on it you don’t agree with??

About Rachel

Avid reader & #bookblogger. Lover of all things business. A fan of drinks & dancing. Ever optimistic. Feminist.

10 Responses

  1. Hmm,

    I read:

    1.Lord of the Flies
    3.Crime and Punishment
    4.The Great Gatsby
    5.To Kill a Mockingbird
    6.Never Let Me Go
    7.The Picture of Dorian Gray
    8.Anna Karenina (Goodreads List)
    9.Brave New World (Goodreads List)
    10. The Harry Potter Series ( 7 books)
    11.Animal Farm

    Owned,but not yet read:
    1.100 Years of Solitude
    2.Midnight’s Children

    Well,goodreads lists are not really big references.I mean fangirls will always be adding Hunger Games,or whatever next to books that have mesmerized and awed people for countless decades,such as Anna Karenina,or Great Gatsby.Because nowadays people have read not so many quality books in their lives, (classics or Booker Prize winners and nominees), they have nothing of quality to compare books which have had a gratifying effect on them with; this is why they eventually reckon that these books,which belong to pop literature,are among the best ever written. 🙂


  2. Cait

    I’ve not read many classics so I would probably flunk that list quite badly. x) I love the Harry Potter’s that I’ve read and ALL the Roald Dahl’s. I went on a Roald Dahl binge when I was smaller and gosh, I just couldn’t read enough. x) I want to try The Book Thief! I LOVED the movie and I feel bad for having watched it before reading!

    Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!


  3. Interesting. I think if anyone has read ALL the book on ANY “top 100” book list, then they have no personal taste, and are only reading what they think the “should.” These lists span so many different genres and ages and styles. No one person could like or want to read them all.

    I may have to steal one of these lists and do a post like this myself 😉


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