Here at Books of Brilliance, we love looking at various lists and seeing how they hold up. Today, we decided to look at the 40 books to read before you die according to Independent. See which 40 books made their list and what they think are truly worth reading!
Independent is a news organization that is based in the United Kingdom. The list was curated by two writers of the organization. I liked the list but do not agree with a lot of these novels being must reads. You can see the full list below.
40 Books to Read Before You Die
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾, by Sue Townsend
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
- The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
- 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- The Trial by Franz Kafka
- The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
The List Gets the Core Audience Wrong
The list starts off strong with Pride and Prejudice and then completely goes off the rails. The Secret Diary of Adrain Mole, Aged 13 ¾ and Charlie and the Chocolate and not the top 40 must reads before you die. Even Things Fall Apart is debatable.
That doesn’t mean that they aren’t great novels. My issue is that this list isn’t sure what the audience is. If I were to go up to a stranger and had no idea whether they are avid readers or haven’t read a book since high school, I wouldn’t tell them Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a book you should read before you die.
If the audience were avid readers, then novels like The Big Sleep and Americanah would be top tier recommendations. I loved these novels but I don’t think people that don’t read often are going to enjoy them as much.
What the List Got Right
With that being said, I did like some selections. Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies, Heart of Darkness, and The Catcher in the Rye are great recommendations. The list is a good mix for readers that read about 20 to 30 books a year. But for someone that rarely picks up a book, I would not recommend half of the books on the list, even if I enjoyed them.
The list by Independent doesn’t get the audience right. They have impeccable taste in book though! There are a bunch of great gems on this list and this is a great list for avid readers that are looking for new books to read.