40 Books to Read Before You Die According to Independent 

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! 

Books in a library
40 Books you need to read befoe you die!

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 

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.

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21 thoughts on “40 Books to Read Before You Die According to Independent 

  1. Olga says:

    This is interesting! I have read most of them already, but there are some in there that I probably would not have otherwise considered, such as Dune, and others that I have on my pile but not yet started, such as Clockwork Orange and Catch 22. This list fits me, because I like to explore new things and don’t have one particular genre that I stick to. Reading shapes you as a person, I think it’s important to read widely, even (or especially) stuff you might not normally pick. X

    1. David Golber says:

      What ever happened to “The Magic Mountain”? And I rank “The Autumn of the Patriarch” far above “One Hundred Years of Solitude”

    2. Victoria Williams says:

      You’ve got this Wrong! It makes No difference What/Who your so-called target audience is! How ridiculous! If there is a list of 40 or whatever number books to read before you die relates to ALL people! Young, old, avid readers/non-readers.

    3. A. Stillmark says:

      I would rather die early (but it’s too late for that) than to have to read several of those listed books. Many of them I wish not to have read since there are so many others more edifying, instructive or simply greater. Where are Homer, Dante, Goethe, Pushkin, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Goncharov, yes and even Lewis Carrol?

  2. Nigel Teasdale says:

    Jude the Obscure over Tess, if there is a one book per author limit. I would also like to find room for ‘The Sun also Rises’ I know its not fashionable to like Hemingway, but what a book.

  3. Tanaz Masaba says:

    I honestly thing lists like these should have some criteria for the books. Like the audience is definitely something that should be considered, but also what’s the actual message of the book? I do agree with several on this list, but like you said, it goes off the rails for a bit after Pride and Prejudice.

    1. Oda Baku says:

      What about Joyce?!

      Or Poe?

      Norman Mailer?


      Old Testament?










  4. Markiepoo says:

    Negatory. Charley and choc factory and many others are not candidates for a list. Nothing from Hemingway – A moveable Feast? The snows of Kilimanjaro? Too many western-centric novels. What about Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz? The Art of War? (Not a novel, but still a good read), Absent by Betool Khedairi? The Color Purple?

  5. DJ Hambone says:

    Drives me nuts when reviewers say things like “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,” and leave the rare reader hanging!

    Which ones would you leave off? Which would you add? Recently retired, former rabid reader who suddenly has TIME!

  6. Sophie Fermando says:

    Read any book that is recommended or that you see in a book shop, library or from a friend. After reading you will decide for yourself if the book is woth reading. You cannot judge a book before reading it!

  7. Rona says:

    It’s just somebody else’s taste. I’d say someone who likes movies made after books. There are so many world class excellent novels not on the list. There are also books not in English!!! — That should be on it. Read what attracts you the most and you won’t be far wrong.

  8. Kathie Clifton says:

    Interesting to me that A Clockwork Orange and 1984 is on the list-but not Brave New World. Because these are the three that we all need to read NOW.

  9. Lawrence Sher says:

    The best known of any fictional character is Sherlock Holmes. Doesn’t he rate a mention? I would use “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” rather than the novels, but the first part of “A Study in Scarlet” is the most important introduction of a character in literature.

  10. Theo says:

    Why in the world is that Harper Lee thing on every list?

    1. Anonymous says:

      At age 59, I still refuse to watch the movie, or to read “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
      Neither was forced on me in school, and I rarely choose Fiction, anyway. Currently, I am reading some Hemingway, but only because I reside in the town where some of his “best” was penned–Piggott AR.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I prefer Biography and True Crime over Fiction. My three top subjects: UAP’s, R.M.S TITANIC, and the political environment surrounding the assassination of Kennedy, our 35th President (1945-75) These three areas contain plenty of deceit, cover-up, and misdirection. Who needs books described as “100% lies?”


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