A hundred years of solitude, The Catcher in the Rye, Don’t Shoot the Mockingbird, The Children of Midnight… By comparing the many choices of readers, authors, publishers and critics established over time, Vogue draws up a non-exhaustive list of the essential novels to have read in his life. A solid starting point for getting to the heart of literature.
Top 15 of the best books to have read at least once in your life
It is an almost masochistic exercise for literature buffs. If we were to have read only one book, one in a lifetime, what would it be? Which novel has taught us our values, transformed our vision of the world, offered a different reading at each stage of life, to the point of always returning to it as a landmark? The answer is of course subjective. However, there are some great classics that over time have brought everyone together, or almost everyone, sometimes for the time they embody, sometimes for the values they teach, for their narrative point of view or simply for the beauty of the sentences. By comparing the various lists drawn up over time by newspapers, publishers, authors and, of course, French or Anglo-Saxon readers, these are the ones who tirelessly dominate the ranking. These are the best-selling books on second-hand book sites! An already very rich base for those who would like to immerse themselves in literature.
In search of lost time, by Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust’s literary monument is at the top of the list, tied with the next eight. For all those who once said, “This summer, I’m reading Proust”, hang on, this seven-volume work alone has transformed the definition of the novel.
A hundred years of solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This great family epic over seven generations is considered one of the most important novels in Latin American literature, just like Don Quixote.
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
More than sixty years after its first publication, Lolita is still dividing. However, on the fringes of a regularly relaunched debate (love story or paedophilia?), it displays a sublime use of the English language to which the translations have been able to give honour.
Gatsby the Magnificent, by Francis Scott Scott Fitzgerald
A flamboyant painting of the American high society of the 1920s, where we can find the beginnings of the great black novels.
1984, by George Orwell
Video surveillance, fake news, hyperlinking, does that mean anything to you?
Anna Karenina, from Leon Tolstoy
A critical look at the Russian nobility of his time, prey to appearances, through the sentimental history of one of the most famous heroines in literature.
J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye
Whoever read Catcher in the Rye in Teenage fell under the spell of Holden Caulfield, who in three days of wandering in New York says a lot about how a teenager can reflect on the world, with all the beauty of language tics.
Raymond Chandler’s Great Sleep
Chandler’s first novel is a must for crime book lovers, first encounter with Philip Marlowe, the character who gave birth to the archetype of the private detective.
Ulysses, by James Joyce
The peregrinations of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in Dublin City, a modern rewrite of Homer’s The Odyssey, which since 1920 has divided critics and analysts.
Moby Dick, from Herman Melville
All the complexity of the human soul, its fears and obsessions through the story of a whale that has become mythical, whose reading seems perpetually renewed.
The midnight children of Salman Rushdie
Winner of the Booker Prize in 1981, a family epic that tells the story of independent India.
Don’t shoot the mockingbird, Harper Lee.
A sublime lesson in humanity through the story of the young Scout, her brother Jem and their father Atticus Finch, a lawyer appointed to defend a black man in segregationist America.
On the road, from Jack Kerouac
A founding novel of the Beat Generation, where Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs are met, and to be read in all the fulgacity of the original text.
The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s universe is undoubtedly one of the richest ever invented in literature. But who has never managed to finish reading his work?
The trial of Franz Kafka
Published posthumously, The Trial tells the story of Joseph K. condemned to defend himself from crimes he ignores, until he ends up believing in them, in a mixture of the absurd and the real characteristic of Kafka’s work.