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Over the last couple of months or so, I’ve been reaching out to book lovers to compile a list of the 101 books everyone should read before they die. I was recently gifted a copy of Peter Boxall’s book “1001 Books to Read Before you Die” and as much as it’s been fun flicking through the pages to see what it includes, there are so many books in there which I know I would never read…and it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be cool if a similar list was created, but one curated by book lovers for book lovers?

As a result I have had a lovely response, and so many people have been suggesting really great books, some of which I’d never heard of and will definitely be adding to my tbr! You can find part one of the list below. I have chosen to publish the list in three parts so the posts aren’t really long, so keep your eyes peeled for parts two and three which will be posted some point soon! Once all three have been posted, I’ll also share a link to the spreadsheet so you can peruse the list in full if you so wish!

A

Ashton Hall @bookish.ashton

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
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Hilarious, witty, brilliantly-written book that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible

Hilarious, witty, brilliantly-written book that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible

Hilarious, witty, brilliantly-written book that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible

Anonymous

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass
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A tale of amazing friendship, strength, and a woman treated as an equal.

A tale of amazing friendship, strength, and a woman treated as an equal.

A tale of amazing friendship, strength, and a woman treated as an equal.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
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It will stay with you emotionally for a long time.

It will stay with you emotionally for a long time.

It will stay with you emotionally for a long time.

Anonymous

A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
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Originality and unique voice.

Originality and unique voice.

Originality and unique voice.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
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It's different from those teenage fiction.

It's different from those teenage fiction.

It's different from those teenage fiction.

Jennifer Bairos @jennbairos
& Emily Edwards Little @Emedwardslittle

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
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It's different from those teenage fiction.

It's different from those teenage fiction.

This book shows that anything is possible for anyone (plus it will make you laugh out loud!)
&
The story of Owen is hilarious, serious and gut wrenching

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandana (The Celestial Trilogy)
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It's different from those teenage fiction.

It's different from those teenage fiction.

A perfectly diverse science fiction-fantasy written by a WOC that highlights South-Asian mythology because it draws inspiration from the epic Mahabharata.

Isla Aitken @readwriteandrave

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
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It is rich, and deep, an epic love story, beautifully embroidered, touching and eye-opening.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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Isn’t Sydney Carton reason enough?

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
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It’s an utterly heartbreaking but also utterly beautiful novel that has stayed with me since the day I read it.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
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I have read it six times or more and still snort laugh every time.

Hannah Cowan @hannah_1604xx

And the Mountains Echoed by Khalid Hosseini
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It is incredibly heart breaking but beautiful, so gripping and impossible to forget, the characters are so vivid and remain with long after you’ve closed the book.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
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It’s the OG “we’re all in a house and everyone is slowly dying off, which one of us is the killer?” book

Animal Farm by George Orwell
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Even though it’s a simple book on the outside, it’s one of these books that make you think. After you read it once you’ll notice similar things happening all around.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
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There are few book characters I have related to more than Anne Shirley. Her story of adolescence to adulthood is one filled with tears, tender moments, and the magic of imagination. The escapades, challenges, and trials she experiences are filled with hope, learning, and the opportunity for change. It's a wonderful story all book lovers and writers are able to appreciate.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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It’s so full of meaning and emotion. I don’t see how someone can walk away from this book and not gain something.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
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Autoboyography is about two boys - Tanner and Sebastian. Tanner is happily bisexual, but Sebastian has never considered that he’s gay. It’s such an excellent exploration of sexuality, religion and love. It’s a beautiful read and a wonderful book.

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B

Aimée C.G. @aimeeinireland

The Beach by Alex Garland
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It will stay with you emotionally for a long time.

It will stay with you emotionally for a long time.

Because it's the most awesome book ever, especially for a little escapism.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
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Hilarious, witty, brilliantly-written book that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible

Hilarious, witty, brilliantly-written book that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible

This was a no brainier for me as this book was honestly incredible and I’ve been telling everyone to read it. It’s set in a small town in Sweden, and it’s based around an ice hockey team. But it’s so much more than that. What this book did particular excellently, and what really made it stick out for me as such a good read, was Backman’s ability to commentate on society in such a powerful way. Everyone should read this book.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
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A tale of amazing friendship, strength, and a woman treated as an equal.

A tale of amazing friendship, strength, and a woman treated as an equal.

It’s an inspiring story of an incredible woman and will fill you with hope.

Emma Farley @acornishgeek

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
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I re-read The Bell Jar every few years and I get something different from it at different stages of my life.

The most memorable part for me, and most readers, is the second half, which details Esther’s suicide attempt and subsequent treatment. For years, that was my takeaway from the book. When I re-read it earlier this week there was an element which resonated more clearly with me, something which I hadn’t paid much attention to when reading it before:

“The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way.”

I really identified with Esther’s independence and feminist tendencies, her desire to write what she wanted and not to serve anyone else’s ideas and expectations. This book is more than 50 years old but so much of its themes still feel contemporary.

Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann
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It challenges the assumption that Britain lacked diversity until the slave trade in the C17th and improves your understanding of different lifestyles/careers in Tudor England.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
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It’s a book unlike any other you’ll ever read because it doesn’t really “fit” into a genre. It also shows the realistic growth of a character as she faces things she couldn’t even imagine.

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
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Probably not the most suggested book but one of my all time favourites, a dark fantasy novel that teaches the reader about the power of books. It's every bit as dark and magical as I wanted it to be an will always be one of my must-reads when I recommend people new books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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Not another historical fiction about ww2, it’s a gorgeously written book told from the perspective of death.
&
It’s one of my favourite books - it’s heartbreaking and tender and showed me a different side to WWII and its effects on people living in Germany at the time!

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Lauren Dentler @muchadoaboutbooks__

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinetterie Kowal
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The Calculating Stars is speculative fiction showing how the impact of a meteorite on earth may have impacted the space race due to humanity’s need to colonize Mars. The book has many wonderful discussions about privilege, global warming and the life of a female astronaut.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
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This book broke my heart. I always recommend it to everyone, because even though I read it last year, it still had strong grip on my heart.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
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Heartfelt, funny and utterly magical take on ‘the chosen one’ trope.

Shannon Clark @talesfromthecountry

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
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Cat's Eye gives an interesting and usual insight into the complexity of female friendships, of growing up, and of the many aspects of childhood bullying. Both funny and serious, heartbreaking and heartwarming, Cat's Eye is beautifully written and is 100% one book that I think everyone should read at least once.

Elle & Charlotte @wonderfullybookish

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
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It provides a very accurate description of mental illness free of romanticism
&
Challenger Deep explores mental illness in a way that feels completely unique, and it sets it apart from other YA novels. It follows Caden's everyday life as an American teenager, but also follows the world inside his head, on board a pirate ship heading towards to the Marianas Trench. It grips you right from the start, and you begin to see reflections of people in his everyday life appear on board the ship. It's unique, imaginative, and the style will make you fall in love with it.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
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I read this book when I was quite young and it totally changed my perspective on a lot of things. Getting to know a character that has come from so little and has so many opportunities taken away from her on the basis of her race, social status, and sex yet still persevered and found her voice really makes you appreciate what you have so much more and makes you want to use your own voice/privilege for the better!

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Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
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It’s the perfect slice of summer life, growing up, and small town magic.

Mindy L. @heymindbae

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
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An intense thriller from start to finish with so many twists and turns that will take your imagination to places you never otherwise would have thought of.

Anonymous

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
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Great read from an era that should not be forgotten from the perspective of a young female.

Becca Richards @book.matters

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
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Honestly the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. It’s a modern-day manifesto for kindness over apathy.

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Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
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Such an important read, especially for the society we live in today. Deeply moving, deeply disturbing, but telling all the while a truth every consumer should have to confront. Although non-fiction, this book reads like a novel!

Martina

Everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
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It's original and beautiful.

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Alessandra Erazo @alesserazo

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
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I really felt identified with the character

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
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I read this book after seeing a fellow Tumblr friend talk about it, she resonated with it a lot so I took it out from my local library. Little did I know what it would become for me. It genuinely ripped me apart and Hazel's story was something I just couldn't stop thinking about for months! I love everything about it and could read it over and over. When this friend passed away in 2014 due to cystic fibrosis it became something that I hold dear to me and thank her for introducing me too. I'm more gutted she didn't see the film adaption either! X

Thea Jacobs @theafmjacobs

Five Chimneys by Olga Lengyl
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It gives a real life account of women in the Auschwitz Camp. It's different to the narratives we know and shows the incredible strength women have and the lengths they went to in order to protect each other

Rana Fathi @booksandbeehives

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
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A short book about human intelligence and emotion, gave me a new perspective on “intelligence”.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
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It's not the horror that everyone expects, but is instead a perfectly eerie, gothic, philosophical and compassionate masterpiece.

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
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It's a postmodern historical fiction, the characters are flawed but so fascinating, the connections with Thomas Hardy are brilliant (especially if you're a fan of Tess of the d'Urbervilles) and there are some incredible narrative devices used that I've not read anywhere else.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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This novel became an essential part of me, the piece of my soul was separated and stayed on the pages when I turned the last one. No need to mention the perfect writting and intriguing plot (but I am still mad when I see Goldfinch on the ""detective"" or "" thriller"" shelf. In fact, it is, but for me it is something more that just a story, but also a painful experience which fulled with adolescence anxities,losses and despair. You can hardly define it as a mysterious novel if you've readed it once. It is not about orphan moral, the target of this book not to educate us or entertain, Donna Tartt is willing to show to her readers the sorrow and rock in everyday life and how fragile is it.

Lia Green @life_oflia

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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It is the perfect book to read for a story and meaning. Definitely a get cosy in a corner and read with a blanket.

Rose Schwager @literary_nerd

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
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It is a fantastic read that has all the stuff that makes a book fun: it’s adventurous, funny/witty, has amazing and relatable characters, there are tidbits of history in it, and has a cute love story to go with it.

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