A continuing of Required Reading, a list of the must-read books for your lifetime.
The Works of William Shakespeare – I’m not saying read all of them, but you should certainly read at least a few of them. In plays like Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Midsummer Nights Dream, and dozens more, this writer crafted stories and characters and tropes that are still used in popular fiction to this day. Reading Shakespeare will give you a better understanding of the art and style of dramatic fiction in all its forms (books, comics, movies, television, plays, and poetry).
The Bible – If you follow the Christian faith, you have probably read this book already. But if you haven’t read the book, you are missing out. As an epic tome of history it is fascinating but as a cultural touchstone for western civilization it is invaluable. This book is the basis for so much art, poetry, and literature, as well as being the basis for many different religions and philosophies.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – This fictional account of the Dust Bowl and one family’s experiences with the Great Depression is one of the great American novels. On its release it won the Pulitzer and the Nobel prize for literature, and all these years later it stands as a novel that is an engrained a part of American history as a nonfiction book.
1984 by George Orwell – Many high school students have been forced to read this book, but honestly I think it reads better for an older, more mature mind. Set in the dystopian future of 1984 controlled by overseer Big Brother, this book was eerily prescient in terms of modern technology and how it is used to monitor and control citizens.
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx – Communism and socialism are both discussed in popular culture quite a bit, but how many people actually understand what they are? In this treatise, Marx sets the groundwork for precisely what communism is supposed to be and how it supposed to work. If you want to know what communism is really about, this is the place to start.
A Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass, by Frederick Douglass – American history is filled with unlikely success stories, but this one in particular is one of the more engrossing. Douglass was born a slave, and throughout a remarkable life becomes a scholar, a leader, and a diplomat. Inspiring doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Franklin was one of the most brilliant, talented, and influential men in the history of our country, and here is his story told in his own words. He has a quick wit, and colorful insight into many important moments in the early days of the country.
Please remember, this is a list in progress. There are so many great books out there, many of which are used in high school and college classes. But a teacher or an assignment shouldn’t be necessary to broaden your mind and give yourself knowledge. So come back soon, for another installment. And hit me up in the comments section for any of your recommendations!