There are good books, there are entertaining books, there are funny books, and then there are necessary books, the ones that you just have to read. I've put together a list of 25 that absolutely cannot be missed. Not necessarily "classics," but each is its own experience, that's for sure. Add some of these to your summer bucket list, if you haven't read them already!
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
I read this book as a preteen, and it's stayed with me ever since. Does it get any more real than the actual diary of a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis for two years? It's a remarkable story told through the eyes of a 13 year old girl and you'll never forget it.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I read this book over and over as a child. It's so easy to immerse yourself in the fun and imaginative world created by Roald Dahl...you almost forget that there are real lessons hidden in this story. And chocolate. So. Much. Chocolate.
This addictive novel has a huge fan following, spawning sequels and even a television series. But it doesn't get better or more romantic than the original that started it all.
Flowers for Algernon
This thought provoking book tells the story of a mentally challenged man who is made smarter thanks to experimental treatments. But the things he discovers with his new found genius are heartbreaking and complicated, to say the least.
This addictive novel with crazy plot twists can't be missed. Its dark, complicated characters will keep you guessing to the very end.
Gone With the Wind
One of my all-time favourite books. I put off reading this for years because I thought it would be boring - I was so wrong. It's funny and romantic and frustrating, with a lot of history thrown in, too. You'll fall in love with Scarlett and Rhett, even if they drive you absolutely crazy.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
The book that made readers of us all! I can't tell you how many non-readers have dived right into this series - it's that good. No detail is ignored, from the creative characters to the quirky names, food and spells. This series has a ton of heart and is perfect for kids and adults alike.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
This non fiction book truly reads like fiction. It tells the story of a poor tobacco farmer whose cells became one of the most important tools in the history of medicine...but she never even knew they were taken. Bought and sold for billions, the Lacks family never saw a penny, not even able to afford health care of their own. I could not put this book down.
This classic is just so much fun to read. I think we all see women we know in the March sisters -- whether it's a fiesty "Jo," a selfless "Beth," or a responsible "Meg." It's easy to get immersed in this story and I find myself crying every time I read it.
Lord of the Flies
This story of a group of boys stranded on an island with no adults forces you to make comparisons with society and the necessity of law and order.
Of Mice and Men
This short story packs a punch - it's my favourite Steinbeck novel (although The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden are not to be ignored). Of Mice and Men tells the story of two migrant workers during the Great Depression - one is a sharp eyed hustler, while the other is a mentally challenged gentle giant. The ending is something you'll never forget.
A Prayer For Owen Meany
I just discovered t his book a few years ago and became absolutely obsessed with it. It's so well written and fun, but also sad and poignant in parts. This is the kind of book that you just want to curl up and live in, and Owen Meany is one of my favourite characters in literature. Ever.
I've read this book several times and it never stops being absolutely shocking and incredible. Roots spawns generations of slaves, starting with Kunta Kinte who is taken from his home and forced on a boat headed for America. It's a very long book, but very hard to put down.
The Fault in Our Stars
One of the best YA novels of all time. I love that this book introduces us to smart, witty, complicated teenagers -- not just the superficial, shopping-obsessed ones that are so often portrayed on television. John Green is a genius, and this will forever be one of my favourites. Hazel and Gus for LIFE!!
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Another book that spawned a world-wide obsession. When I first picked this one up, I didn't understand the hype until I was about four chapters in. Then I absolutely could not put it down. There are two sequels, but they will never live up to the original. An exciting, suspenseful book that you won't be able stop reading.
The Giving Tree
I have always loved Shel Silverstein. The Giving Tree is absolutely his best work, and that's saying something. This lesson in love and giving is one that applies to both kids and adults.
There are few books that I love nearly as much as the film, but this one comes close. The Help tells the story of black maids in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who decide to help write a tell-all book about the white socialites they work for.
The Hunger Games
This book started a dystopian fiction craze that is still going strong. The Hunger Games is unique in that while its main character is a girl, the focus of the book is not on a love story, but her strength and loyalty. It's a entertaining book that will leave you immediately picking up the sequel.
The Kite Runner
This is an unforgettable story about a friendship between two boys in Afghanistan - one wealthy, the other the son of a servant. It is a truly beautiful, heartbreaking story about loyalty and power and relationships.
The Little Prince
The beautiful and poetic story about life has been a favourite since it was published in the 1940s.
The Pillars of the Earth
Oprah's book club skyrocketed this book to fame - it was eventually even made into a mini series. This 12th Century tale of the building of a Gothic cathedral has romance, war, and amazingly complex characters. Hands down one of the very best historical fictions I've ever read, and impossible to put down.
Stephen King is a master and although The Stand is usually his most recommended book, I have to go with The Shining. It's not nearly as long as The Stand and it's so much scarier. I think almost all of us love a good ghost story, and this is truly as good as it gets. If you've seen the film, don't miss out on the experience of this book - it's so much scarier.
I read this book once every year or so - it's that good. The Thorn Birds follows and Australian family through several generations of turmoil, loss, and forbidden love. I'm always surprised by how many people have never read this - it's truly an amazing book!!
To Kill A Mockingbird
This book made Atticus Finch a literary legend and one of the best characters of all time. This story is told through the eyes of a young girl as her lawyer father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman during the Depression in the Deep South.