World Literature: The Books You Need to Read and Why!

world literatureIt can be easy to forget how big the world is, and how extensive and vast the amount of knowledge is throughout the cultures of the planet. Although we’d like to try, it is impossible for most of us to travel all around the world in our lifetime.  Imagine jumping on your own private plane and jet setting back in time to each civilization recognized in history to relive the details of the inception of writing and art!  Although we can speculate about what happened in history and the habits of people around the world, we would be hard-pressed to experience all of the love, war, sacrifice, and nature that humanity has withstood.  However, literature is there to help us better understand, visualize, and feel these things that can be hard though to understand.  Join us as we take a deeper look into World Literature, the classics that epitomized their eras,  and a timeline to see how this extensive amount of knowledge and information came about.  Grab some reading glasses and let’s get started!

World Literature Must-Reads

Writing is powerful , and it is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, tools of communication that we have had in history — alongside of speaking and language.  In history, there have been a vast amount of pieces of literature written that we should take note of — or at least should be reading!  A poll from a group of 100 authors from 54 countries around the world were polled to give what they consider to be the most central and best works of world literature today.  We are going to provide you with that list, because the first step into understanding world literature is to read some of it!

  1.  Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  5. The Aeneid by Virgil
  6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  8. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
  9. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  10. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
  11. The Book of Job by Israel
  12. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  13. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  14. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  15. The Castle by Franz Kafka
  16. Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz
  17. Collected Fiction by Jorge Luis Borges
  18. Complete Poems of Giacomo Leopardi by Giacomo Leopardi
  19. The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka
  20. The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
  21. Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo
  22. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  23. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
  24. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
  25. Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
  26. The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa
  27. Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol
  28. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  29. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  30. Epic of Gilgamesh by Unknown
  31. Essays by Michel de Montaigne
  32. Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Anderson
  33. Father Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
  34. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  35. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
  36. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  37. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  38. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  39. Gypsy Ballads by Federico Garcia Lorca
  40. The Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  41. History by Elsa Morante
  42. Hunger by Knut Hamsun
  43. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  44. The Iliad by Homer
  45. Independent People by Halldor Laxness
  46. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  47. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  48. Jacques the Fatalist and His Master by Denis Diderot
  49. Journey to the End of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  50. King Lear by William Shakespeare
  51. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  52. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
  53. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  54. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  55. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
  56. Mahabharata by India
  57. Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett
  58. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
  59. Masnavi by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi
  60. Medea by Euripides
  61. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
  62. Metamorphoses by Ovid
  63. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  64. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  65. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  66. Molloy by Samuel Beckett
  67. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  68. Njal’s Saga by Iceland
  69. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
  70. The Odyssey by Homer
  71. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
  72. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  73. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  74. The Orchard by Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi
  75. Othello by William Shakespeare
  76. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
  77. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
  78. Poems by Paul Celan
  79. The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  80. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  81. Ramayana by Valmiki
  82. The Recognition of Sakuntala by Kalidasa
  83. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  84. Selected Stories by Anton P Chekhov
  85. A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
  86. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
  87. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  88. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata
  89. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  90. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
  91. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  92. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass
  93. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  94. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  95. Ulysses by James Joyce
  96. The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
  97. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  99. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

Why Study World Literature?

world literatureWith this list in hand, let’s go over a few reasons as to why you should be learning world literature:

  • To cultivate your imagination.
  • To expand your communication skills to be able to write and talk about anything.
  • To be able to analyze and interpret all types of literary work.
  • To teach us empathy by giving us insight into different perspectives and occurrences that took place around the world.
  • To help us understand the events in history, their connects, and why they happened.

Get Reading!

Books are a portal of imagination, inspiration, and even fun!  Literature is powerful and engrossing, and with this list, you will be sure to expand your verbal and reasoning skills while, at the same time, growing your knowledge of different cultures and enriching your own life.  Get ready for a mind travel you will not forget!