105 books to read before you die 4/5

Before reading this list, make sure you have seen :

  • The most important books to read before you die 1/5
  • LIST 2 – Most important books to read before you die 2/5
  • LIST 3 – The most important books to read before you die 3/5.

Now, let us move on to the books written between 1938 and 1980 that deserve their place in our selection of the books that every person must have read in their life.

  1. Kressmann Taylor – Unknown at this address – 1938: epistolary novel, it is set at the time of the Second World War. If you can get bored while reading it, the ending is so exceptional that it is worth reading. You will be blown away by the twist of fate, and you will not regret opening this book. Plus, it is a pretty quick read since it is pretty short.
  2. Jean-Paul Sartre – La Nausée — 1938 : philosophical novel, which made Sartre famous. At the beginning, it is purely philosophical; but gradually, Sartre changed his mind and wanted it as a novel. Existentialism and history permeate this work.
  3. John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath – 1939: Pulitzer Prize winner in 1940, Steinbeck depicts the Great Depression with incredible force. A film was made from it, which won two Oscars.
  4. Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None – 1939: The Ten Little Indians is a prodigy of the detective novel. It truly embodies the word suspense. You will be glued to your book so much you will want to know the end, which, moreover, is the occasion of an extremely well-found denouement. Agatha Christie masters the art of the detective story like no one else. You probably know the story: ten characters are killed one by one on an island. Who will be left, who is the murderer? The poem that follows the story and that prophesies the death of each one seems inescapable. Will they manage to get out of it? That is to say, will they simply manage to get out of it?
  5. Albert Camus – The Stranger – 1942: “Today, Mom died. Or maybe yesterday, I do not know.” Albert Camus’ style is very simple, without any embellishment, and therefore effective. On the bottom, it is the philosophy of Albert Camus which is in play: the philosophy of the absurd. L’Etranger is a quick read and was ranked first in the 1999 French ranking of the 100 best books of the 20th century.
  6. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry —The Little Prince – 1943: You can read this work at any age, regardless of your maturity level. Because there are several readings to this tale, and a very strong philosophical background. The Little Prince is one of the most translated books in the world. It is quite simple, almost every country in the world has fallen in love with it. So read it with your heart, and the reflection will come spontaneously. The humanism of The Little Prince will necessarily touch you.
  7. Albert Camus – The plague – 1947: one dead rat, then several dead rats, then many dead rats. And soon, human beings. The plague is a plague, which strikes in this case French Algeria. You can also read in a historical perspective this disease as the brown plague, which represents the advance of the Nazis: “The Plague, which I wanted to read on several scopes, has, however, as obvious content the struggle of the European resistance against Nazism,” says Camus.
  8. Primo Levi – If this is a man – 1947: one must have a strong heart to get to the end of this work. It tells the story of Primo Levi’s survival in an extermination camp during the Second World War. The conditions are so atrocious, the evil is so powerful that one does not leave this reading unscathed. Especially since it is an autobiography, and as such is even more realistic, for better and especially for worse. The duty to remember is obvious, and it is even more so after reading such a book. Never again. Never again.
  9. George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four – 1949: This book, entitled 1984, is one of the best works of science fiction ever written. It is so relevant and visionary that you will blush when you read it, so much fiction seems to meet your reality. The key phrase, “Big Brother is watching you”, announces the theme: a totalitarian system, where everything is controlled to the extreme.
  10. Simone de Beauvoir – The Second Sex – 1949: When existentialism and phenomenology mix with feminism. Everyone is responsible: women and men. The book spread around the world like a feminist star. Translated into many languages, the millions of readers of The Second Sex were not disappointed by the author’s encyclopedic culture.
  11. C. S. Lewis – The lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – 1950: a dive into Lewis’ fantasy world, which takes the world of Narnia as its general setting. But we advise you to read this second opus, which is the most representative and the most brilliant of the saga. Some people see Christian references in it. The lion of Narnia looks like the message of salvation of Christ. But Lewis’ imagination is even broader than that, and you will be swept up in this clever blend of legendary culture.
  12. Diary – Anne Frank – 1950: Anne Frank’s diary is no longer in the news. The young Jewish girl hidden in Amsterdam, and who will know a tragic fate, since she will die of disease in a concentration camp. The emotional strength of this diary lies in its autobiographical essence, sadly autobiographical. You can complete the reading of this book by visiting the house museum that is devoted to her in Amsterdam.
  13. J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye – 1951: The Catcher in the Rye has sold over 60 million copies. It is a hit. Criticized for its themes, which include prostitution, sexuality, and school, and for its style, which is too familiar, it is nonetheless a must-read. In addition, there is something funny about the author’s freedom of tone.
  14. Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea – 1952: Hemingway experienced tragedy after tragedy throughout his life. His works have remained famous, and among them, The Old Man and the Sea. The exam question is simple: it is the fight of a man against a marlin, or more philosophically, of humanity against nature. The novel is very short, and therefore reads quickly, so that one would hesitate to call it a short story.
  15. Eugene Ionesco – The Bald Cantatrice – 1952: Absurdity is the word that would best characterize this play by Ionesco. Just look at how Ionesco came up with the idea for this play: he was fascinated by the illogical sequence of sentences in the Assimil English learning method. Be prepared not to understand everything, but to like this play curiously.
  16. Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett – 1952: Vladimir and Estragon will transport you into absurdity, which is once again the key word in this play. They are waiting for Godot. But who is Godot? We do not know, and maybe we never will. To escape boredom, the two companions find all sorts of entertainment. But the fact remains that they are waiting for Godot.
  17. J. R. R. Tolkien – The Lord of the rings – 1954–1955: epic, fantastic, extraordinary… Everyone knows this series of Tolkien, which has given rise to films that have marked the history of cinema. The philosophical themes, besides the story that can be taken at face value, are very numerous. This is why the series has been so commented on. Tolkien described it as a tale for adults. This is what it is. Fantasy reaches a peak.
  18. Claude Lévi-Strauss – Tristes Tropiques – 1955: Ethnology is a discipline that is too often ignored, and that will fascinate you as soon as you open this book by Lévi-Strauss. It compiles his memories and thoughts from his travels, and yet he says: “I hate travel and explorers.” He is in fact questioning civilization.
  19. René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo – Asterix the Gaul – 1959: the only comic book on this list of books to read before you die, Asterix was selected because it symbolizes the art of comics brought to its excellence. Full of references, the work uses a simple plot: a village of Gauls resisting the Romans, to tell the story of human life with humor. It is the bestselling European comic book in the world.
  20. Raymond Queneau – Zazie dans le métro – 1959: Zazie discovers Paris. She has a goal: to see the subway. Will she succeed? Themes: identity, truth, homosexuality, work, friendship, tourism.
  21. Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird – 1960: the book is set in the segregation of South America. It can be compared to a thriller, but it is above all a novel of learning. It was adapted for the cinema and, like the book, it was a huge success.
  22. Gabriel García Márquez – Cien años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) – 1967: This is the story of the Buendía family, who, according to the prophecy, must live one hundred years of solitude. They will experience wars, success and downfall. The book has been translated into 35 languages. The themes are solitude, as the title indicates, but also the border between fiction and reality, incest.
  23. Albert Cohen – Belle du Seigneur – 1968: “absolute masterpiece” according to Joseph Kessel, it is about the morbid love story between Ariane and Solal. On the political level, the League of Nations is vigorously criticized, but with humor.
  24. Alexander Solzhenitsyn – The Gulag Archipelago – 1974:227 testimonies of prisoners have composed this book. We are in the Soviet Union, and its system of forced labor. “This book contains neither invented characters nor events. Men and places are referred to by their real names,” according to the author’s own words. It is necessary to read it to understand the atrocity of this system, within which we find summary courts, arbitrariness, death.
  25. Umberto Eco – The name of the Rose – 1980: a famous movie came out of this book. It is a medieval detective story. Everything starts with a suicide, which we quickly wonder if it is really a suicide. The setting is an abbey. In this abbey, a secret place: the library. This place represents knowledge, openness to the world, the fight against obscurantism.

→ The most important books to read before you die 5/5