A book lover’s guide to the best books of all time

Who needs Mr. Right when a good book can satisfy your cravings, right?

Avid readers, literary critics, and even those reading for fun have vastly varied perceptions about which book is “the greatest book ever.”

Is it a romance with beautiful, captivating images? Or dark realism? A novel with a huge social impact? Or maybe, a book that influenced the world more subtly?

When we are looking for great books, we cruise through bestseller lists, check Goodreads or Instagram, or ask our trusted friends to recommend something. However, the usual categories and genres can be too broad, and we often end up finding a good read in a book that matches our mood or interest.

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Regardless of your literary affiliation, a true reader knows some books just speak to your soul and fill your thirst for a good story. Therefore, from one book lover to another, here are a few books that we recommend reading to satisfy your literary cravings.

1.    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Any fan of spicy stories like infidelity, gambling, unexpected marriages, and yes, Russian feudalism would immediately put Anna Karenina at the top of their list of “best novels.”

You would agree with the fact that very few men can do justice to how female characters are portrayed in a story. However, Tolstoy reflected his understanding of women well, and this is what adds to the appeal of this book.

Some may question what makes this book so great. After all, an aristocrat originally wrote it in Russian in the 19th century about people who fell in and out of love when moral resolutions and social frugality were different from today, where divorce was rare and infidelity could lead to social destruction. What can this tell us now?

Well, to be precise. Anna Karenina is a novel that seduces and fascinates. The world she portrays and analyzes remains mesmerizing in its own right. The characters are some of the most remarkable ever created. In addition, the goals and external forms of social disapproval today may be different than then, but they remain. The world is still a hard place for those who are out of step or unable to think and feel according to the norms of society.

2.    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

This book reflects the terrible silence of dead civilizations where there was once courage.

This wonderful book questions the notion of African brutality. It portrays the culture, especially the culture of Nigeria, as multifaceted and complicated, rather than the “uncivilized” society as it is often perceived. Okonkwo is an interesting character because his resistance to changes represents the internal fight that many pre-colonized Africans faced after colonization. The finale is symbolic as it represents the final death of culture in the wake of the European invasion.

Overall, the novel provides a good introduction to a different culture that is often overlooked in the general media.

3.    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

It is a mixture of old-fashioned gallantry and modern romance. It is very intervallic as the novel takes place over a long period, with various adventures connected by mutual themes, and the structure of the novel is easy to read. However, unlike the primitive romances that Cervantes emulates, Don Quixote reconnoiters ideas of individuality and examines the life of the hero beyond his adventures. It makes for an interesting combination.

The novel often straddles the line between comedy and tragedy, but it has plenty of farce, including the famous windmill scene that may resemble early modern comedy.

4.    Beloved by Toni Morrison

In all honesty, it is a ghost story, but it will for sure be unlike any other story in this genre.

The story centers around the ghost of the soul, that things cannot be seen, felt, or remembered. The ghost is the protagonist, Setes’ child, whom she killed a few years before the end of the Civil War when she was confronted by prison guards who wanted to forcefully take her family back to the plantation. She chose to kill her blood rather than letting the child return to the horrors of slavery. Because of this horrific event, she is haunted by the death of her child and her life as a slave, the life that led her to take such severe actions.

5.    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

While it seems scandalous to not put our beloved Pride and Prejudice on the list, Wuthering Heights seems a more fitting pick.

Why you may ask? Because it is an engaging, captivating story, one of wilderness and the dark, that portrays the destructive side of love. Much more relatable, no? After all, a fairytale rarely comes without heartbreak in the real world.

Where do we begin to describe it though? Wuthering Heights is an epic book. Indomitable individuals, who love the game, behave wildly and are unsocial, and act as a force of nature when it suits them. This book delicately yet intensely paints a beautiful picture of how animalistic and raw human nature can be when engulfed by overwhelming emotions. Now is not that something we can relate to?

The landscape plays a big role in telling this story as does the portrayal of similarities between the scenes and the description of nature.

It is melodramatic, of course, and most of the characters are obnoxious and socially unacceptable. Moreover, the cruelty found in the characters varies. Isabella Linton suffers greatly from succumbing to her foolish feelings for Heathcliff, and he exploits them. Heathcliff’s emotions are nurtured and consumed by his ferocity towards Cathy.  It seems to take on a life of its own, growing until it encompasses almost his entire life and every decision or choice he makes.

Wuthering Heights shows the cyclic form of nature and life. Consequences follow actions. Yet these cycles inevitably repeat themselves in an endless loop of repetition. The takeaway is that cycles of trauma and grief can be interrupted. Good can come from evil.

The final word

Those who love reading books understand the feeling of finding stories that trigger your imagination, seem relatable, and widen your mindset. While this list barely scratches the surface, we hope you enjoy our recommendations and stay tuned for more!

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