There are books that you should read, there are books that your friends may recommend, and then there are must read books that everyone has to read at least once in their lifetime. These must read books encourage thought and debate about the world today, as well as getting you up to date with the essential fictional works of the 20th century.

Without further ado.

Must Read Books: 8 Books Everyone Must Read In Their Lifetime

1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

must read books

Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1961, To Kill a Mockingbird has been essential reading for the last 50 years. The book follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus–three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Although banned for a number of years because of its controversial story line during a volatile time in US history, the ban was lifted and the book is part of many schools curriculum.

2. 1984 – George Orwell

must read books

Orwells depiction of the totalitarian state bares stark resemblance to many of the powerful nations of the world today, and although the year 1984 has come and gone, the warnings of the book are as relevant today as they ever were.

3. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

must read books

An absolute masterpiece of the 20th century, to say The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a must read book is an understatement. Along with its detail and incredible storytelling, the book as been a best seller of almost 60 years. If you haven’t seen the movies, you are lucky to be able to read the book without the characters already established, and if you haven’t seen the movies, you are very lucky to be able to enjoy the book for the first time.

4. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

must read books

A personal favorite of mine, The Count is a masterful work. Charting the story of Edmond Dantes and his betrayal, the book shows his incredible comeback as a force of vengeance, fighting for the good guys and punishing the bad.

5. The Book Thief  – Markus Zusak

must read books

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. This book is truly beautiful and the story it tells is one that we should never forget.

6. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

must read books

Paulo Coelho struck a chord with readers in this story of life’s journey and listening to the cravings of your heart. He has gone on to create many similar works, but this classic is a must read book. It charts the story of young Santiago as he searches the world for treasures and the many gurus which he comes across. Filled with valuable lessons, The Alchemist has to be on this list.